Demolished building in Grenada. Photo: © Valery Shanin / Shutterstock.com
Call for loss and damage and climate finance
The Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) is urging support for the adoption of loss and damage response finance at COP27 in Egypt in November 2022. “We have run out of time to waste – our islands are being hit with more severe and more frequent climate impacts and recovery comes at the cost of our development,” says AOSIS. “GDP losses from tropical cyclones average at 3.7% per year. My home of Antigua and Barbuda is still picking up the pieces from Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017 which wiped out Barbuda – that hurricane season cost the Caribbean a record-breaking $300 billion in damages,” says the AOSIS chair.
“Where are we finding the money to rebuild? Why must our islands, which contribute the least to the emissions that cause this crisis, pay the highest price?” AOSIS argues that the IPCC Working Group report makes it clear that for our vulnerable countries there are severe impacts that simply cannot be addressed by adaptation efforts.
There is presently no multilateral fund that is fit for purpose to address the immediate needs of territories which lose lives, livelihoods, lands, ancestral monuments, historical artefacts and more, due to climate disasters. The devastating floods in Pakistan and record-breaking heatwaves in Europe and the US are fresh reminders that climate change is wreaking havoc on lives and livelihoods.
According to AOSIS, examples of severe impacts on island territories include:
• In 2004, Hurricane Ivan ravaged Grenada, causing damages costing twice the island’s GDP.
• In 2017, Hurricanes Irma and Maria caused catastrophic damage to Antigua and Barbuda, totaling US$136.1 million with the tourism sector accounting for 44% of this cost.
• In 2020, category 5 tropical Cyclone Harold devastated Northern Vanuatu, resulting in more than US$500 million in L&D. Development aid to Vanuatu for recovery was less than US$100 million.
• In the Cook Islands, cyclones and rising temperatures damage crops and decrease water availability. Islanders are forced to leave their homes and livelihoods behind.
• Tuvalu is continuously threatened by sea level rise. Groundwater is no longer drinkable, saltwater intrusion damages crops, fisheries are dwindling, and families are more prone to water-borne disease. Loss of land is beyond adaptation efforts.
• Marine heatwaves have doubled in frequency, causing widespread coral bleaching and reef degradation. Islands which are dependent on tourism and marine life for food are losing marine and coastal ecosystems.
At the same time, developing countries are demanding that wealthy nations provide at least $1.3 trillion in climate finance to them annually starting in 2030. African countries and a group called the LikeMinded Developing Countries, which includes China, India and Indonesia, said in a statement they submitted to the United Nations at the climate summit in Glasgow in 2021 that half the money should go toward funding renewable energy in the developing world and half toward protecting these countries from the effects of global warming.
Compiled by Reinhold Pape
Source: AOSIS Press release, 14 September 2022