Global Afro Blog: A Moment of Reckoning for Loss and Damage at #COP27

TCLP Board Chair Kathy Egland speaks at #COP27

by Kathy T. Egland, Advisory Board Chair — The Chisholm Legacy Project

Opening Day at COP 27 in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt was bittersweet. For far too long, rich, powerful  developed nations, have wielded their influence to further suppress the pleas for Loss and Damage from developing, Caribbean and small island nations. The term Loss and Damage is often amended to include Finance and refers to acknowledging that the top carbon emitting countries contributing to global warming are primarily responsible for inflicting insurmountable adverse climate impacts in poorer countries. In a long awaited, historic move, at long last, Loss and Damage, was finally added to the formal agenda of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of Parties (COP) . 

However, acknowledging the damage is one thing, taking full responsibility for it is another. The global emitting titans only agreed to add Loss and Damage to the discussion- not take financial responsibility for it. Hence, why the word Finance has often been added to the term as a poignant reminder. But, financial compensation for the losses and damages incurred is also the very reason why there has been vehement defiance to conceding the obvious. One would wonder why there would be any resistance whatsoever, from a moral imperative, from countries unleashing irreparable harm on others to act responsibly. It has been extremely disheartening over the years to observe the United States, the world’s largest cumulative emitter of greenhouse gas emissions, using its position of considerable influence to block progress on loss and damage. The U.S. and other high emitting countries are fearful that admitting to the obvious loss and damage they’ve cause, could lead to litigation to hold them financially accountable. 

But the moment of reckoning for loss and damage is here. On the opening day at COP 27,  our own U.S. Special Presidential Climate Envoy, John Kerry, finally moved the U.S. from the biggest blockers on loss and damage to the biggest backer. With the U.S. now firmly centered in support of loss and damage, other countries will follow? It’s is simply not enough to admit to what we all knew, it’s time to account for the damages with finance. No more pledges, no more promises- the moment of reckoning is demanding that those rich, powerful nations pay up! 

Katherine Egland

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