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Loss and Damage

The Village Explainer
Loss and Damage
By Dan McGarry • Issue #65 • View online
The Village Explainer is a semi-regular newsletter containing analysis and insight focusing on under-reported aspects of Pacific societies, politics and economics.
In this issue we look at how the Pacific island countries can negotiate for loss and damage caused by climate change, whether COP endorses them or not.

There’s little consolation to be taken from fact that the Pacific proposal to address loss and damage claims due to climate change was relegated to the Too Hard basket even before COP26 finally ground to a halt.
There’s less comfort still in the knowledge that China and India were willing to hold the conference—and the globe—hostage in order to extract delays on the very measures that we need to keep humanity alive.
And there’s no comfort at all to see the duplicity of nations who shamelessly rode on their coat tails, then signed on to the tatters of the final resolution, and then disavowed even those half-measures within a day of returning home.
At a moment when there’s no more time left to mess around, the international agenda is hamstrung by laggards and liars.
Even here in the Pacific, which saves a special place in its heart for laggards and liars, it’s a bit too much.
Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum
Days ago, SIDS were told that our submission for a dedicated financing mechanism on #lossanddamage was “last minute”.

We’re deeply disappointed by the hypocrisy of language on coal going from “phase out” to “phase down” literally minutes before the close of #COP26.
There’s a tendency to think that because the Pacific islands are the first to experience the effects of climate change, this delay affects only us. The world is clearly ready to sacrifice a few small island states if it means they can run the air con a little longer.
But that’s not how global climate change works. Its effects are felt disproportionately, yes. And to varying degrees [sic] at varying times.
But the point of no return is the same for us all.
That’s why I reject the ‘canary in the coal mine’ analogies, and I refuse to argue that we have to stop this process now to save the Pacific islands.
We do have to stop now to save the Pacific islands. But we also have to stop now to save the Great Barrier Reef. And Australian woodlands. And sub-Saharan Africa. And southern Africa. And Spain and Portugal.
And Madras and Delhi and the Karakoram and Beijing and I’m going to lose my cool if I go on.
So fine. There’s that. We are leaving generational challenges to politicians whose self-interest does not extend beyond their own tenure in office.
That’s still enough to work with.
Well, it’ll have to do.
Pacific island leaders have prepared for this eventuality. It’s not what anyone wanted, but it’s what we’ve got.
In July this year, the Forum leadership agreed to a number of innovative financing proposals that would empower member nations to redirect debt service payments to domestic investment in climate change adaptation. It’s a smart move. It not only provides developing nations with a technical lever to pull in their ongoing talks with the IMF, ADB and World Bank, but it’s a powerful moral lever that can help us to shame even our most shameless development ‘partners’.
Whatever they do on the world stage, they still have to keep us onside. And as we dance between China and Australia, we can hold it out as the ticket they need to punch.
With the backing of some bright minds at the Forum Secretariat, even the smallest nations should be well equipped for the conversation.
We don’t even have to wait for them. The Pacific Resilience Facility is already up and running, helping communities to adapt.
The Pacific Resilience Facility- "Join us in the fight of our lives".
The Pacific Resilience Facility- "Join us in the fight of our lives".
This is not the world we would have chosen for our children to grow up in. And the faithlessness and dissimulation of people who hold themselves out as our peers may be hard to explain to them.
But when they ask us what we can do about it, at least we’ll have an answer for that.
The loss and damage that this negotiation has inflicted on the credibility of developed nations is considerable. We’ve been forced to drink deep from a bitter COP.
And that’s nothing compared to the human cost of climate change.
But Pacific island nations will find a way to make them pay.
Did you enjoy this issue?
Dan McGarry

The Village Explainer is a semi-regular newsletter containing analysis and insight focusing on under-reported aspects of Pacific societies, politics and economics.

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Dan McGarry - Port Vila, Vanuatu