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TO HIDE By Saleemul Huq

In recent months, the world has seen some signifcant loss and damage from climate related events

These have included losses of nearly US$100 billion in the US from Hurricane Sandy The developing countries, led by the small island
in the northwest coast and droughts in the south and mid-west, to over 10 billion developing states (SIDS) and least developed countries
from foods in Germany and many other parts of the world. (LDCs), have been arguing for some time for an
international mechanism on loss and damage , which
In northern China foods have caused loss of several hundred lives, and entire towns has been resisted by the rich countries (largely out of fear
have been washed away. that it will give rise to demands for compensation based
on liability).
When these events occur in developed countries the losses tend to be large in
monetary terms but low in human lives lost. However, it is time that the developed countries realised
that loss and damage will not be confned to poor
When they occur in poorer developing countries the numbers of human lives and countries only but that even the rich countries will suffer
livelihoods lost are generally larger than the monetary loss and damage. major loss and damage if temperatures continue to rise.
Hence, it is their own interests to engage constructively
Nevertheless, both developed as well as developing countries are being affected quite with the poorer more vulnerable countries in trying to
severely. address this topic.

Severity Thus, at the next conference of parties (COP19) to be
Several recent scientifc publications, including the special report on climate extremes of held in Warsaw, Poland, in November this year, they
the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) as well as a World Bank report should bring a positive response to the demand for
(called Turn Down the Heat), have shown that the severity of such climatic events in an international mechanism on loss and damage and
future is likely to increase dramatically due to human induced climate change. support the vulnerable countries in this demand.

A more recent study looking at potential loss and damage in coastal cities around One area for mutually benefcial exchange of knowledge
the world estimated that in New Orleans and New York alone the costs may go up to and information between developed and developing
US$1 trillion over this century. countries is research on loss and damage.

While every country has some national level mechanism in place to assess loss and A good example of this has recently been set by the
damage and sometimes also provide compensation (either through private insurance government of Japan, which has allocated nearly US$1
or public purse), they are becoming strained, with insurance companies no longer million for a research programme on loss and damage in
willing to provide insurance against foods and droughts in many developed countries. the Asia Pacifc region. Other developed countries could
follow Japan’s example.
In some cases, where the country is unable to cope by itself, the international
community steps in to provide funding. Although such funds are not called It is high time to move from a confrontational approach
compensation, they are, nevertheless, given because of the sense of shared to a cooperative approach on loss and damage.
responsibilities between rich and poor countries.
The writer is a Senior Fellow in the IIED’s Climate Change
COP 18 Group and Director, International Centre for Climate
In the last Conference of Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Change and Development, Independent University,
Climate Change (UNFCCC) held in Doha, Qatar, last December, the parties agreed for Bangladesh, Dhaka.
the frst time to look at options for a global mechanism to address loss and damage
from climate change.

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