7 Nov 2022

COP27: Time for rich countries to pay poorer ones for years of climate damage - expert

12:19 pm on 7 November 2022
An aerial view of homes next to the Pacific Ocean on 28 November, 2019 in Funafuti, Tuvalu.

University of Otago professor Ivan Diaz-Rainey says time will tell whether promises by rich countries actually eventuate. Photo:

A climate finance expert says it is only right that rich countries should pay poor ones for the damage of more than a century of belching climate gases.

The two-week annual UN climate summit kicked off in Egypt overnight.

And for the first time the issue of 'loss and damage' has finally made it onto the official agenda at the COP27 climate conference.

Wealthy nations including the US and EU have blocked it for years.

University of Otago professor Ivan Diaz-Rainey said there would have been a lot of reluctance from developed countries because it opens up a whole load of potential liabilities to western governments that have been polluting since the industrial revolution - in the case of Europe.

"It is momentous, it is important."

Diaz-Rainey said some estimates put the figures at half a trillion US dollars' worth of damage in just the past decade alone.

He expected developed countries to push for funding to come from, and be administered by, a number of different sources including the private sector.

But he said poorer countries would want a centralised funding facility, with specific pledges from each country.

New Zealand climate change ambassador Kay Harrison said New Zealand would work to help parties find some common ground.

It supports more funding, but would not pre-judge whether that meant setting up a new separate financing mechanism.

Loss and damage funding would be a new category, on top of money for reducing emissions, or mitigation, and adapting to the consequences of climate change.

Diaz-Rainey said time would tell whether promises by rich countries actually eventuated.

He said rich countries had a poor track record - they were supposed to hand over US$100 billion a year to developing nations as part of the Paris Agreement but they have yet to stick to cough up that whole sum yet.

'We're thrilled' - Māori climate activist

Kera Sherwood-O'Regan is "thrilled" to finally see the item on the agenda.

"Loss and damage is incredibly important for indigenous peoples, front-line communities, and countries who are already experiencing the worst impacts of climate change."

She said it was significant because we were no longer in the era of "preventing" climate change wholesale.

"Climate change is already upon us, and a successful COP requires parties to acknowledge that, and ensure that while they do the best to mitigate further climate change, and adapt to climate change, they also mobilise support for those who are feeling its impacts here and now."

She said a major outcome from talks would be the establishment of a loss and damage financial facility that was equitable and transparent.

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