Denmark breaks ranks on climate change compensation.
It is the first UN member to provide direct monetary assistance to populations affected by climate change.
Denmark’s decision to give $13.3 million to communities affected by climate disasters in locations like Africa’s Sahel region shattered a taboo that the world’s richest countries had upheld for decades.
Until now, affluent nations have rejected efforts to compel them to contribute funds to reconstruct towns and lives wrecked by floods or storms, or to pay for economic losses caused by droughts—a concept known colloquially as “loss and damage.”
Their concern is that doing so would expose them to virtually unlimited legal exposure for climate damage caused by emissions dating back to the coal-fired industrial revolution.
The subject has long been a source of contention at global climate conferences, and it is expected to dominate discussions at the COP27 summit in Egypt in November.
However, Denmark became the first U.N. member to give direct monetary assistance to communities threatened by climate change on Tuesday.
Despite the fact that the compensation was a “pittance” in comparison to heat-related disasters that routinely cause tens of billions of dollars in damage, Denmark’s move “was important symbolically, sort of bursting the dam,” per Alden Meyer, the International Climate Politics Hub’s head for the United States.
It puts pressure on the United States, which is responsible for a quarter of the additional carbon dioxide pumped into the atmosphere since the Industrial Revolution, as well as the European Union, which is responsible for more than a fifth of the extra CO2.
According to Mattias Söderberg, senior adviser at DanChurchAid, a foundation that helped establish the government’s work on climate relief, Denmark’s divergence with its developed country peers was a “clear tactical strategy” to urge others to follow suit. According to the government’s slogan, “the only way we can contribute is to engage worldwide.” The Danish foreign ministry declined to confirm this.
The Danish declaration set aside €5.3 million for civil society organisations to administer to poor-country communities. A total of €4.7 million will be set aside in a “strategic” reserve to assist loss and damage efforts resulting from COP27, notably in Africa’s Sahel region; €3.3 million will be put aside in a “strategic” reserve to support loss and damage efforts resulting from COP27.
Taking Climate Change Seriously
As the effects of climate change become more severe, the affluent countries’ defences are fraying. Flemming Mller Mortensen, Danish Development Minister, stated, “It is extremely unjust that the world’s poorest should bear the brunt of the repercussions of climate change, to which they have contributed the least.”
Last week, Frans Timmermans, the EU’s top climate envoy, told Le Grand Continent newspaper that EU members “must be prepared to pay a bit more on loss and damage caused by climate.” “Change is required because emerging nations have requested it.”
In both private diplomatic discussions and public pronouncements, the US administration has admitted that more needs to be done. However, it has fiscal issues, as Congress is loath to support international climate aid.
Do you believe this Republican Congress, in which we couldn’t get a single vote for [recent climate] legislation, will stand up and cause loss and damage? “Best wishes,” US climate envoy John Kerry said at a New York Times event.
“I don’t expect the US to put significant money on the table” in the near future, Meyer continued. Requests for information were not returned by the State Department.
Poor and vulnerable nations are bracing for a clash over the issue.
Senegal’s Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development, Abdou Karim Sall, said on Tuesday that increased funding to redress loss and damage was a “basic priority” for the group of 46 LDCs he leads.
Pakistan has demanded “reparations” in the aftermath of floods that have submerged large areas of the nation.
On Tuesday, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres suggested a worldwide windfall tax on fossil fuel firms to compensate for the harm caused by the carbon their goods emit.
According to Sall, the COP27 negotiations in Sharm El-Sheikh “must result in the development of a specific financial structure” to send funds to affected areas.
That is a red line for the EU and the United States. which battled to keep the topic off the COP27 agenda at a preparatory meeting in June in Bonn, Germany.
“We are very sceptical that a new facility is the solution,” said an EU official.However, this places the onus on us to respond, ‘Well, what is the answer?'”
The EU contends that channeling any upcoming funds through existing institutions such as the Green Climate Fund, Global Environment Facility, Red Cross, or insurance schemes would avoid a protracted debate over the creation of a new organization from the start. It may also be primarily political in nature.
Diplomats from the EU and the US are scrambling to find a reasonable solution that avoids any official acknowledgement of culpability. This reduces the overall amount of money they would be required to spend, gives rich nations some control over where the money goes, and fulfills impoverished countries’ increasingly urgent requests for assistance.
“They’ve shown a desire to do something, but it’s unclear what,” said David Waskow, head of the World Resources Institute’s international climate effort.