9 Nov 2022

Govt's climate change payout welcomed amid calls for greater compensation

8:30 pm on 9 November 2022
Cement blocks were stacked on the seafront at Teone to protect the houses from the swell.
Des blocs de ciment ont ete empiles sur le front de mer a Teone pour proteger les habitations de la houle. (Photo by THEO ROUBY / Hans Lucas / Hans Lucas via AFP)

Cement blocks were stacked on the seafront at Teone to protect houses from a swell in 2019. Tuvalu is one of the most vulnerable countries in the Pacific. Photo: AFP

Climate activist groups are welcoming the government's announcement of funding for loss and damage wrought by climate change on poorer countries, but say it is also an attempt to get brownie points on the global stage.

$20 million has been ring-fenced from a more than billion dollar fund set aside last year for climate finance.

Developed countries for years stymied moves to get compensation on the agenda at international climate talks, fearing being on the hook for substantial reparations.

New Zealand has now joined a small group of countries to put money aside for loss and damage. It's more symbolic than financially significant, and gives a nudge to other countries that it is time to reckon with the issue.

Climate group 350 called New Zealand's move a "significant win".

But it said merely re-allocating already announced funding was not good enough given the scale of the need, and new money was needed.

Oxfam has reported climate-induced losses for the poorest countries at more than half a trillion dollars in just two decades.

The Pacific Islands Climate Action Network and New Zealand Climate Action Network want a dedicated loss and damage finance facility at COP27.

Jo Spratt of Oxfam Aotearoa said New Zealand should pledge the money to this proposed funding facility.

Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta said while New Zealand was not opposed to a new facility, it also supported a wide range of funding arrangements.

The Pacific Climate Action Network's Lavetanalagi Seru.

Lavetanalagi Seru Photo: Lavetanalagi Seru

Pacific Islands Climate Action Network regional policy coordinator Lavetanalagi Seru said there needed to be guarantees that loss and damage funds would not be repurposed as adaptation finance.

"That the funds are additional and dedicated specifically for loss and damage initiatives.

"The scale of loss and damage finance required is in the billions, and we need countries to also contribute their fair share to address mitigation, adaptation, and loss and damage."

Pacific Climate Warriors New Zealand coordinator Kalo Afeaki said the New Zealand funding was not explicitly earmarked for the Pacific where it was needed most.

About half of the $1.3 billion dollar New Zealand pot of money is earmarked for the Pacific.

Afeaki also wanted New Zealand to actively push for loss and damage to be a standing item in all climate conversations.

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