Developing countries holding back on the L&D review

Many expected the issue of the so-called “loss and damage” (L&D) caused by climate change impacts to be at the center of COP22 negotiations.Yet, during this first week of the conference, this was not the case.

L&D can be broadly referred to as the negative impacts of climate change materializing in vulnerable developing countries after mitigation and adaptation efforts have been undertaken. Think about Small Island states losing their land, ecosystems and traditional livelihoods because of sea level rise, or communities pushed to the limits by severe floods or strong cyclones. COP 19 established the Warsaw International Mechanism (WIM). While the Paris Agreement has secured the permanence of the WIM in the UNFCCC architecture, a number of operative issues still need to be fine-tuned to assure its effectiveness as a third pillar of climate action, besides adaptation and mitigation.

COP 22 is now called to review the WIM “including its structure, mandate and effectiveness”. However, the process is proving to be more complicated than expected. Indeed, developed and developing countries’ perspectives about what the review should actually mean substantially diverge.

While the EU, Switzerland, Australia and New Zealand push for the review to be competed here in Marrakech, developing countries are trying to hold the process back. Since the beginning of the week, Costa Rica for the G77 has underlined how the group would “not be able to complete the review in this session” and that they aim for the adoption of a guiding document or Terms of Reference (TORs) to conduct the review next year and finalise it at COP 23. They propose a “backward and forward looking” process, (i) looking retrospectively at what has been done so far in the context of the two-year workplan and (ii) considering how the WIM could be moved forward to be in line with article 8 of the Paris Agreement.

Discussion on the substance of the review hardly emerged. In G77’s view, trying to answer the “guiding questions for the review” drafted by Parties in the past few days would have meant to get the review already started here. However, the same questions proposed by Parties signal the possible points of contention. For instance, East Timor for the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and Mali for the African Group pointed to adequate financial support to implement the functions of the WIM. Saint Lucia asked if the housing of the WIM under the Cancun adaptation framework would be well situated in view of article 8, hinting to the possibility of moving L&D out from the adaptation pillar.

Yet, the common position of G77 is to postpone discussion to 2017. On the one side, this could be due to difficulties in finding common ground around the review among the same G77+ China members. In the G77 contact group on Thursday Nov. 10, Costa Rica said to be worried about the possibility to come on a common position and to feel “lost and damaged”. On the other side, the delaying strategy could aim to raise the stick for the review and avoid a rushed and less substantial one here in Marrakech. The question is whether it will still be a feasible way forward next year in front of a US delegation with a Trump mandate.

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