“Loss and damage” – there is an example that, better than any other, helps to understand what these two words mean: imagine that your neighbour drains the dirty water from his washing machine into your living room. As a first step, surely, you will try to stop this drainage. This action, when we talk about the Climate, is called mitigation and concerns gas emissions such as CO2. Another thing that can be done is to try to adapt to the drainage. These are adaptation measures. The other move you will make is to ask for compensation: not only dealing with preventing the problem but also asking for money for the damage already done. Hence, translated into the language of climate negotiations, this is “loss and damage.”
The copyright of this example belongs to Professor Stefano Caserini. It is useful for understanding the sense of a battle that has been waged for more than thirty years by the countries of the Global South. Those who have contributed the least to creating the climate crisis but are suffering the most from its consequences. It was the floods that devastated Pakistan in the summer of 2022 that influenced the negotiations of the last United Nations Climate Conference, COP27, held in Sharm el-Sheikh. In Egypt, the creation of a fund for loss and damage was decided, despite the resistance of the United States and the European Union, which have always been against it. An opposition dictated by fears of legal responsibilities related to historical damages.
Nearly a year after that historic decision, discussions have begun on how to make the fund operational. There are many uncertainties: who will have to put in the money, who will benefit from it, and how. Issues that therefore concern the ambiguity of China (how to consider Beijing in this game?), the “science of attribution” (not all extreme events are linked to climate change), and obviously, finance.
Topics that will also return at the end of the year at COP28, which will be held in Dubai. However, the conference cannot neglect the other side of the coin, the cause of the problem, loss and damage. That is the reduction of emissions and the goal of one and a half degrees that is drifting further and further away.
Article by Alberto Giuffrè, SkyTg24 journalist