Full text: Loss and damage! / Schumacher, Juliane

ANALYSEN SUSTAINABILITY LOSS AND DAMAGE! WHAT ABOUT CLIMATE JUST POLITICS? JULIANE SCHUMACHER CONTENTS 1 Introduction: The party is over ... 2 2 Negotiations: climate policy after Paris 4 3 Vulnerabilities: who is (most) affected? 7 4 Losses: that which can(not) be repaired 10 5 Treaties: loss and damage in the Paris Agreement 13 6 Responsibility and insurance: beyond loss and damage 15 Literature 20 2 1 INTRODUCTION: THE PARTY IS OVER ... On 12 December 2015, at 7:26 pm, Lau­ rent Fabius banged his gavel – and cheers broke out at the Le Bourget congress cen­ tre near Paris. Thousands of people em­ braced each other, laughed, took photos and applauded for minutes on end. After two weeks of dramatic negotiations, the plenum of the climate conference had adopted a new climate agreement and French foreign minister and President of the conference Laurent Fabius closed the historic event. Political leaders from all corners of the globe hailed the outcome. “It is a victory for all of the planet and for future generations,” said US Secretary of State John Kerry. “This is a moment in his­ tory,” UN General Secretary Ban Ki Moon promised. And French President François Hollande passionately exclaimed, “In ­Paris, there have been many revolutions over the centuries. Today it is the most beautiful and the most peaceful revolu­ tion that has just been accomplished – a revolution for climate change. Thank you. Vive les Nations Unis, vive la planète, et vive la France!” ... but who is going to foot the bill? Nearly one year on and the next climate conference is now set to take place. In November 2016, representatives from 195 states will again convene, this time in Marrakesh, Morocco. Whilst the joy over the global climate agreement remains palpable, negotiations will be less spec­ tacular this time. In terms of determining the course of climate change, however, and the future of those who are already suffering its effects, they will be more im­ portant than last year’s adoption of the Paris Agreement. Following last year’s symbolic decision, and far from the pub­ lic stage, governments will now have to answer two fundamental questions: who will do what? And who will pay? Heads of government will have to dis­ cuss how industrialised countries can implement the promised reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. How will reductions be calculated? Which loop­ holes will be accepted and which will need to be closed? Negotiations will need to determine how we will adapt to climate change and who is going to pay for these measures. Where will the envisaged one hundred billion EUR, which should be made available annu­ ally from 2020 onwards, come from? Who gets what and how much? What about the damage caused by manmade climate change? Even the most ambi­ tious climate protection measures will not prevent the irrevocable destruction of the natural, social and cultural fab­ ric of people’s lives. Oceans will swal­ low large swathes of land or even entire ­island nations, coral reefs will die and agricultural lands will become salinated or dry up. For years, the question of re­ sponsibility has been discussed under the label of loss and damage. The Paris Agreement is the first to contain a ­specific article on loss and damage. A victory for those affected most severely by rising sea levels, storms and droughts and a good opportunity to take a closer look at this concept. This is not only because, as has been clear for some time, global warming can no longer be stopped, and humanity will therefore have to find ways of adapting to the challenges and ­losses, but also because loss and damage touches on one of the central questions for climate policy, namely that those who contributed the least to global warming are the ones who suffer most from its consequences. What implications does this fact have for a just climate policy? In Marrakesh and beyond heads of state will also have to negotiate this ques­ tion. It will show who is truly willing to go beyond mere words and promises to mitigate the consequences of climate change. 3 4 2 NEGOTIATIONS: CLIMATE POLICY AFTER PARIS In December 2015, the representatives of 195 states convened for the Paris ­Climate Conference and on 12 Decem­ ber, after two weeks of negotiations, they agreed on a new global climate agree­ ment, the Paris Agreement. Politicians and the media hailed the agreement and even the staunchest critics joined in the praise. In the following weeks, however, individual nations from the ­Global South, activists, scientists and others tentatively began voicing criticisms. This was hardly enough to tarnish the shine of the agree­ ment and it retains the aura of a “­historic breakthrough”, of a great success. Yet, was it really such a success? Was the agree­ment a failure wrapped up in beau­ tiful packaging? What are the agreement’s strengths? What are its ­weaknesses, and most importantly: what comes after ­Paris? From a diplomatic point of view, the ­Paris Agreement was definitely a success. Re­ quiring the approval of all 195 nations party to the Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), a new, le­ gally binding climate agreement seemed impossible to achieve just a few years back. Since the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, the thousands of repre­ sentatives from member states have met every year at World Climate Conferences and attempted to agree on subsequent steps. During all those years, the only legally binding climate agreement govern­ment representatives ever agreed on was the Kyoto Protocol adopted ­during the 1997 summit in Japan. The Protocol committed countries party to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by a fixed percentage between 2008 and 2012. However, implementation of the Kyoto Protocol turned into a disaster with key nations such as the US never implementing it. China, still considered a developing country at the time, also did not become party. The 2009 climate summit in Copenhagen was then sup­ posed to deliver a new climate agree­ ment for the post-2012 phase, but ended in open confrontation and with no agree­ ment being reached. It took climate poli­ ticians years to launch a new attempt – a process, which finally culminated in ­success in Paris. From the large number of proposals (and objections) and with a great deal of diplomatic skill, the French conference organisers drafted a text that all nations could agree to. As this put climate change firmly onto the public agenda and emphasised that the inter­ national community considers climate change a central challenge, this alone was a significant achievement. The posi­ tions of climate sceptics (including those who simply deny humanity’s responsi­ bility for climate change) played no role in Paris. In future, they will probably re­ main reduced to marginal positions. The Paris summit has provided climate policy with new momentum: the trea­ ty officially enters into force when at least 55 countries accounting for at least 55 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions ratify the international agree­ ment. Unlike the Kyoto Protocol, where this process took years and required nu­ merous concessions, the Paris Agree­ ment passed this threshold on 6 October 2016. The agreement will therefore enter into force at the beginning of November, in time for the next climate conference in Marrakesh.1 In terms of climate protection, Paris could, however, easily be described as a fail­ ure. The physical principles underlying global warming are not interested in dip­ lomatic successes on paper. It is there­ fore hardly surprising that some scien­ tists shook their heads in despair over the Paris Agreement. Whilst the Paris Agreement definitely includes ambitious goals and aspirations for climate policy, a huge gap nonetheless remains when it comes to actual measures. The attempt to limit global warming shows this clear­ ly. Whereas global climate policy up to Paris aimed to limit global warming to 2°C above preindustrial levels, global ­leaders now lowered this threshold to 1.5°C. This did not include, however, cor­ responding measures to achieve this. To the contrary: whereas the Kyoto Pro­ tocol specified binding emission reduc­ tion goals for each state party individual­ ly, the Paris Agreement merely contains voluntary pledges. Every nation individ­ ually decides the degree to which it will reduce its emissions. Yet, the voluntary pledges states have made in the run-up to the conference are not only in no way sufficient to meet the 1.5°C target, they do not even go far enough to stick to the more “conservative” 2°C goal. Even in the unlikely event that states implement their commitments one hundred per­ cent, forecasts predict global warming will reach at least 2.7°C.2 The great deal of approval the Paris Agreement enjoyed is also due to its very vague language. During such large con­ ferences, it is standard procedure dur­ ing the final phases of negotiation for resourceful lawyers to codify sentences that everybody can agree to. In parts, the Paris Agreement is therefore very vague and postpones critical issues to future conferences. Moreover, many aspects of climate policy are “uncharted territory”, i.e. there are no legal precedents or ex­ periences to build on. This concerns not merely details. As a key element of the agreement, article 4 states the long-term goal of achieving a “balance” between emissions and the capacity of sinks to absorb them from 2050 onwards. Under­ lying this idea is the older demand for a decarbonisation of the economy, i.e. the development of a society that no longer depends on fossil fuels and strives to achieve zero emissions. It could, how­ ever, also refer to the “net-zero emissions” approach, a concept recently embraced by the IPCC. According to this proposal, emissions are not a problem as long as solutions exist to store greenhouse gas­ es, for example, through Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage technologies (BECCS) that use biomass to gen­ erate large amounts of energy and then store the resulting carbon dioxide under­ ground. So far, these technologies do not exist. Moreover, they are considered risky and will lead to increased land grab­ bing, i.e. the practice of major investors buying large swathes of land, frequently leading to the displacement and impov­ erishment of local populations and the ecological downsides related to largescale plantations. A decision has yet to be made on whether countries can factor in technologies such as BECCS, and con­ troversial issues, such as whether forests should apply as sinks, or whether to per­ 1 Rapid ratification is also linked to US presidential elections in November. Donald Trump, the republican candidate, has an­ nounced that should he win the elections, he would withdraw from the Paris Agreement, something President Obama and other international figures hope to prevent. If the treaty can be ratified before the end of the year, it would make it much harder for Trump to pull out should he win. 2 http://climateac­ 5 6 mit geoengineering, i.e. large-scale tech­ nical solutions to slow global warming such as space mirrors or promoting the growth of algae in the oceans, have re­ mained unresolved for years. The Paris Agreement leaves much room for interpretation. In Marrakesh, during future climate summits and countless further conferences, states will struggle over how to understand the paragraphs of the Paris Agreement. Only this pro­ cess can define the climate agreement, and decide whether it truly is a first step towards effective and just climate policy. 3 VULNERABILITIES: WHO IS (MOST) AFFECTED? Anthropogenic climate change is not a far-off future scenario; even today, we can measure and feel its effects. In 2016, an unprecedented early melt of the ice sheet in Greenland was recorded. August 2016 was the warmest August since systematic temperature records began in 18803 . It looks like 2016 will break all records4 . The consequences of climate change, therefore, are already here. We can distinguish between two types of consequences: there are extreme ­weather events such as storms, torrential rain­ fall and heatwaves. Higher temperatures mean more energy and greater evapo­ ration. This translates into higher wind speeds and larger amounts of water and therefore can lead to torrential rainfall and flooding. Weather extremes, how­ ever, are hard to predict because a storm or a heatwave is always the result of a combination of several factors, and large natural fluctuations obviously also occur. Creating a causal link between a particu­ lar weather event and climate change is therefore nearly impossible. Notwith­ standing, it is safe to say that the prob­ ability, and therefore, on the long-term, the frequency, of such extreme weath­ er events is higher in a warmer climate. Measurements from Switzerland, for ex­ ample, show a steady increase in strong rainfall events since the 1970s. Most ­climate models predict that the frequency of category four and five tropical storms is likely to increase with the rise of ­global temperatures. Satellite weather data collected since the 1970s confirms this trend. There is, however, little doubt that ­global warming causes a number of so-called slow-onset events, which develop slow­ ly and are predictable. At first, this may sound less dramatic. Nonetheless, on the long-term, many of these developments will have far graver consequences than extreme events. The most far-reaching “slow-onset” consequence of climate change is the rise in sea levels. When water heats up, it expands, and moun­ tain glaciers and Antarctic ice too is melt­ ing. Together, since the beginning of the 20th century, these effects have led to sea levels rising, a phenomenon currently taking place at a rate of 3 mm per year. According to the IPCC’s most recent re­ port, sea levels are predicted to rise by 28 to 98 centimetres by 2100 and by 1 to 3 metres by 2300.5 This is already affecting low-lying islands such as the Maldives and various Pacific Island nations. Even if sea levels should rise less than predicted, these places would nonetheless become uninhabitable. On the long-term, this will affect millions of people: a third of the global population lives in coastal areas; either numerous large cities would have to invest heavily to implement protective measures or be abandoned completely. However, the issue is not only the fact that sea levels are rising. Higher con­ centrations of atmospheric CO2 lead the oceans to absorb more CO2. Moreover, warmer water contains less oxygen. Both of these factors combined are likely to in­ fluence marine ecosystems and reduce fishing yields. Global warming that ex­ 3 4 media/press-release/global-climate-breaks-new-records-janu­ ary-june-2016 5 IPCC, 2013: Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Stocker, T.F., D. Qin, G.-K. Plattner, M. Tignor, S.K. Al­ len, J. Boschung, A. Nauels, Y. Xia, V. Bex and P.M. Midgley (Eds.)]. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United King­ dom and New York, NY, USA. 7 8 ceeds preindustrial levels by more than 2°C is likely to impact agricultural yields negatively too. Scientific models predict that lower levels of global warming would initially have different impacts in differ­ ent regions. Whereas Northern Europe or Canada could benefit from higher tem­ peratures, regions already struggling with droughts and severe heat could find food production ever more challenging.6 What applies to agriculture is true for nearly all aspects of climate change: the effects will impact upon people very un­ equally. Whether physical phenomena such as wind, rain or heat result in a “natural ­disaster” depends not just on such an event’s intensity, but also on who is affected and under which conditions these people live. A storm surge where water levels are 4 or 5 metres higher than normal is an exceptional event even on the German and Dutch North Sea coasts – however, it is unlikely to cause consider­ able damage or claim many lives.7 Bang­ ladesh’s risk of facing a similar storm or flood is nearly the same. According to the Global Risk Report regularly published by the United Nations University in collabo­ ration with aid organisations, both coun­ tries face more or less the same risk of extreme weather events. The difference lies in the vulnerability of the popula­ tions affected. In the Netherlands, a well-­ developed infrastructure, a wealthy popu­ lation, a functioning administration and efficient emergency response systems mean the country is among those facing a very low risk of large-scale natural dis­ asters. In Bangladesh, by contrast, floods can regularly result in thousands of peo­ ple losing their lives and millions their homes and belongings. In recent years numerous studies and debates have discussed the factors that influence the vulnerability of people to natural disasters. Numerous, frequent­ ly overlapping factors play a role here. The poorer a person or a community is, the fewer opportunities they have to take protective measures or appropriate ac­ tion during an emergency. Moreover, in many regions the poorest live in the least secure areas, for example, in frequent­ ly flooded low-lying lands. Women are often affected more than men because they usually have less money and, as they provide for the family, are also the first to feel the effects of droughts or food shortages. Further factors such as age, health, education, religion, class, caste or minority status also play a role. Focusing on these individual factors of vulnerability, however, masks the fact that the consequences of a natural disas­ ter for the people in a particular area do not depend solely on these people. Peo­ ple do not live in isolation and the social conditions in which they live greatly in­ fluence their resilience, i.e. their capaci­ ty to adapt in the face of crises. More­ over, a country or region’s infrastructure will determine the degree of damage as well as how soon and effectively aid can be mobilised during an emergency. In­ stitutions – which include efficient gov­ ernments, social systems and insurance providers – crucially influence the losses 6 IPCC, 2014: Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability. Part B: Regional Aspects. Contribution of Working Group II to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Barros, V.R., C.B. Field, D.J. Dokken, M.D. Mastrandrea, K.J. Mach, T.E. Bilir, M. Chatterjee, K.L. Ebi, Y.O. Estrada, R.C. Genova, B. Girma, E.S. Kissel, A.N. Levy, S. MacCracken, P.R. Mastrandrea, and L.L. White (Eds.)]. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA. 7 This, however, has also only occurred during the last decades. Storm surges in the Middle Ages reg­ ularly killed tens of thousands of people and entire swathes of land were reclaimed by the sea. Following the most recent cat­ astrophic floods on the Dutch (1953) and on the German (1962) North Sea Coast that claimed thousands of lives, both countries invested heavily in dykes and storm surge barriers, which are maintained at considerable expense to this day. caused by an unforeseen disaster. ­Finally, the existence of strong communities and social cohesion also plays a role. During the 1997 Oder flood thousands of vol­ unteers supported technical relief orga­ nisations, the police and the German ar­ my in their efforts to protect the dykes. When hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans in 2005, government and the wealthier citizens left the people in lower-­ lying areas to fend for themselves. Thou­ sands died and hundreds of thousands lost their houses and flats. 9 10 4 LOSSES: THAT WHICH CAN(NOT) BE REPAIRED No matter how the negotiations over the Paris Agreement continue and how it is further developed, one fact remains clear: we will not stop global warming soon. Whilst the Paris Agreement, which is to become effective in 2020, may pro­ vide a long-term climate protection plan, it will certainly not lead to an efficient re­ duction of emissions on the short-term. Even in the unlikely case that emissions should decrease rapidly, global warming would continue for several centuries be­ cause of the long time it takes for CO2 to leave the atmosphere again. Unsurprisingly, therefore, the focus of climate policy has shifted. Currently, we can distinguish two approaches: follow­ ing the adoption of the UNFCCC in 1992, the focus was on mitigation – i.e. possible measures the global community could take to prevent or limit global warming. When it became clear that global warm­ ing had already begun and that even the greatest efforts would not totally offset its consequences, adaptation increasing­ ly became a focus – i.e. how societies can adapt to climate change. Recently, a third approach has developed, loss & damage, which focuses on the climate change-­ related losses and damages – that even optimal adaptation cannot prevent. Obviously, this is not a new issue. Since the early 1990s, and in the context of UNFCCC negotiations, the Alliance of Small Island States has been asking for support and compensation for the loss of land they face due to climate change. Moreover, the issue is not isolated and is in fact closely related to the debates over climate justice. Those who now face damages caused by climate change are not the ones who caused the phenom­ enon. Western nations have been using fossil fuels for 150 years. A part of their current wealth was built on burning fos­ sil fuels. And even now, at a time when emerging nations such as China and Bra­ zil have caught up and are today among the highest emitters of greenhouse gas­ es, the responsibility for climate change is still borne very unevenly between countries. In 2013, US annual per capita CO2 emissions stood at 16.5 tonnes and in Germany at 9.4 tonnes, as compared to 1.64 tonnes in India and 0.08 tonnes in Ethiopia. Countries from the Global South have brought up this argument since negotia­ tions over climate policy began and have insisted on the wealthiest nations from the Global North taking responsibility. To a certain extent, this has also influenced previous climate policy agreements. For example, the countries of the Glob­ al North have committed to an exten­ sive reduction of their emissions, whilst emerging nations and the countries of the Global South were allowed to con­ tinue increasing them or implement re­ ductions later.8 During the 2009 summit in Copenhagen, states established the global climate fund. Mainly industrialised nations pay into this so-called Green ­Climate Fund and poorer nations from the Global South can use these funds to finance climate adaptation and mitigation measures. From 2020, the fund is to pro­ vide 100 billion EUR annually. Truly, this will probably not be enough. In a recent study, the United Nations Environment 8 The Kyoto Protocol therefore divided countries into two groups. Annex-I countries were committed to reducing emis­ sions. States not mentioned in this group had no such com­ mitments. There were some countries that were treated as ex­ ceptions. Programme (UNEP) has calculated that in 2030, adaptation to global warming could cost the countries of the Global South somewhere between 140 and 300 billion USD annually and that this sum could rise to 500 billion USD annually by 2050.9 A wholly different question, how­ ever, concerns the consequences that we cannot prevent. Rising sea levels will lead coastal are­ as and even entire island states to sink into the ocean. What happens to the populations of such areas and islands? How should states who lose their terri­ tory react? Salination and droughts will make agriculture harder or impossible in many regions of the world. Who is go­ ing to pay for the damages and follow-up costs? Who will accept those who may be forced to migrate as a result of these developments? Rising temperatures will lead to the extinction of species, and ­destroy sensitive ecosystems such as coral reefs that took thousands of years to develop. If we are able to single out those who are responsible for these ­environmental damages, how can we hold them to account and what compen­ sation can we demand? Summarised under the title Loss and Damage, these questions first surfaced during the 2007 Bali Climate Summit following the insistence by the repre­ sentatives of island states threatened or already affected by flooding, as well as the group of Least Developed Countries. A group of dedicated NGOs supported their claim. The 2010 summit in Cancun, Mexico, established a work programme on the issue, which became the UNFCCC (sub) organisation known by the cumber­ some name of the Warsaw Internation­ al Mechanism for Loss and Damage ­Associated with Climate Change Impacts (WIM). By 2016, this organisation aims to clarify important issues surrounding the subject particularly focusing on data collection, providing a more precise defi­ nition of the concept and establishing a work programme for the coming five years. An initial task will be to define what pre­ cisely loss and damage is. Cleanly sepa­ rating loss and damage from adaptation is not as simple as it may seem at first glance, and so far no universal definition of loss and damage exists. The United Nations, under whose auspices loss and damage is currently being negotiated, defines loss and damage in a 2012 liter­ ature review as “the actual and/or poten­ tial manifestation of impacts associated with climate change in developing coun­ tries that negatively affect human and natural systems”. Evidently, a very ample concept. Broadly speaking, it currently consists of four different approaches to understanding and negotiating loss and damage: 1. The first approach aims to highlight the vulnerability of the global climate and ecosystems by showing that even today climate change is causing damage by ­irrevocably destroying natural systems and cultural heritage. This can be inter­ preted politically or morally, for example, as a call to the international ­community for greater climate protection efforts. Generally, the difference between losses and damages is that damages are con­ sidered to be reparable whereas losses are seen as constituting the irrevocable, i.e. permanent and irreversible, impacts of climate change. People can rebuild a 9 UNEP (2016): Adaptation Finance Gap Report 2016. Pub­ lished by United Nations Environment Program. Available on­ line: Item%20(pdfs)/UNEP-GAP-report-2016_web-6_6_2016. ashx?la=da. 11 12 roof destroyed by a storm; an extinct spe­ cies, however, is lost for good. 2. The second approach too aims to ­describe the consequences of climate change, albeit primarily from an eco­ nomic perspective. The focus is on esti­ mating or calculating the loss and dam­ age caused by climate change. Damage is understood here as the physical im­ pacts; losses as costs. The destroyed roof would be the damage, the loss the 100 USD it costs to repair it. This approach is important for governments and insur­ ance companies that try to calculate how much climate change will cost them. Within this context loss and damage is often referred to as the third cost factor next to climate protection and adapta­ tion. 3. Technical and practical questions are at the heart of the third approach. The aim is, through a careful analysis of the ­potential for loss and damage, to ­develop optimum strategies for adapta­ tion and risk reduction. This approach is ­taken from disaster relief, to which it ­owes many of its tools. Whilst data from ­ limate models does feed into ­prevention c measures and risk assessments, the main focus remains on tested concepts from other fields, such as measures against storms, floods or earthquakes.The reason being that even though ­climate change may increase the ­frequency or strength of natural disasters, it is not of importance to practical disaster management whether a flood is due to manmade warming or ­results from ­natural climate fluctuations. 4. The fourth approach is political and ­legal: based on loss and damage, the approach demands compensation. This aspect is, in fact, the one element that the concept has so far contributed to climate negotiations which can be considered new and also the aspect most closely related to the question of justice. The main proponents of this concept were island states and the groups of poorer countries. They argue that the damages caused by climate change entitle them to compensation from the countries and/or organisations that have caused climate change. 5 TREATIES: LOSS AND DAMAGE IN THE PARIS AGREEMENT For the concept of loss and damage, having made it into the Paris Agreement is a big step forward. In the coming years, it will receive greater public focus and governments will make efforts to develop the concept in more detail. For those ­promoting the concept, this constitutes a great success because, for a long time, it was highly uncertain as to whether it would become part of the international agreement at all. Since 2013, the War­ saw Mechanism, an institution many considered as underfinanced, has been the driving force behind the concept, even though it was unclear for a long time whether it would continue working after presenting its final report scheduled for 2016. In particular, the industrialised nations were against explicitly mention­ ing climate-related loss and damage in a new climate agreement. This was not with­out reason: they feared that, ­directly or indirectly, other countries could hold them to account. Moreover, the ­different interpretations of loss and damage re­ peatedly caused confusion. Whilst the Global South focused mainly on the ­legal level and argued that this was a new ­aspect that needed to be considered sep­ arately from mitigation and adaptation, other groups of states argued that loss and damage should be considered in the context of adaptation and that there was no need to turn it into a separate issue. Moreover, there was fear that the broad­ ness of the concept in its current form would lead to overlaps with other inter­ national organisations and therefore re­ sult in unnecessary costs and frictions. Climate refugees were one such issue. They are an important consideration in loss and damage concepts that nonethe­ less would normally be treated by the UN Refugee Agency. The same holds true for disaster relief where, at present, it is in­ ternational alliances who usually attempt to coordinate measures. Correspondingly, article 8 of the Paris Agreement mandates a co-ordination of all activities in the context of loss and damage with the relevant international organisations. The Warsaw Mechanism (WIM) will continue its work after 2016. During the summit in Marrakesh, the WIM will present its work programme for the coming five years, in addition to probably receiving more powers and seeing its budget increased. In line with the relevant decision contained in the summit document, the WIM has two main tasks. First, it will develop further tools for risk management and insur­ ance of climate-related loss and dam­ age focused on a technical and practi­ cal perspective. Secondly, it will develop proposals to tackle migration caused by climate change. This statement is very weak compared to the demand made by the draft agreement to establish an independent institution to take care of ­climate refugees. Since 2008, natural disasters10 have displaced an average of 26.4 million people annually. With rising temperatures, many, including the UN ­Refugee Agency, expect this figure to rise. Australia, in particular, insisted on deleting this section from the agreement. ­Migration triggered by climate change is a sensitive issue that industrialised nations have always sought to exclude 10 global-estimates-2015-people-displaced-by-disasters/ 13 14 from international negotiations as they fear they might create a precedent if they recognise global warming as a legitimate reason for flight. Finally, the question of compensation al­ so appears in the summit decision, albeit in a very different form than many coun­ tries of the Global South had expected or hoped. A final sentence clearly states: “[…] that Article 8 of the Agreement does not involve or provide a basis for any li­ ability or compensation”. Industrialised nations and the US in particular hoped that this sentence would ensure that even though loss and damage figures in the Paris Agreement, this would nonetheless not create a legal basis for compensation claims as the sums involved are consider­ able. Prognoses estimate that the annual costs from the already irreversible loss­ es and damages of climate change will reach between 100 and 400 billion USD in 2030.11 However, by excluding the pos­ sibility of compensation, the US has unin­ tentionally put the focus on an issue they hoped could be swept under the rug. 11 As no clear definition of loss and damage exists, the figures diverge widely. However, even the most conservative calcula­ tions predict costs of around 100 billion USD annually by 2030 and 200 billion by 2050 just to cover the damages in the least developed countries. The Climate Action Tracker, an instrument used to carry out calculations for Oxfam, has estimated that costs could reach 400 billion annually by 2030 and over a tril­ lion USD by 2050. 6 RESPONSIBILITY AND INSURANCE: BEYOND LOSS AND DAMAGE With its mention in the Paris Agreement, loss and damage is now the third pillar of climate policy. Does this, however, con­ stitute a step towards greater justice in the struggle to adapt to global warming? The answer will depend on the concept’s further development and the actors that dominate this process. Just as the Paris Agreement is more of a framework that will need to be filled with content in the coming years, the mentioning of loss and damage in the agreement will not end but rather fuel a discussion of the issue. So far, a relatively small group of states, NGOs and aid organisations has been key to the development of the concept and the WIM consists of only a small group of experts. Nonetheless, activities linked to climate-related loss and damage are not limited to the sphere of UN climate ­negotiations. Due to the broadness of the concept, there are a number of inter­ national developments and initiatives ­related to loss and damage which influ­ ence the concept’s further development. First, attempts are being made at differ­ ent levels to establish liability for those responsible for climate change – nations of the Global North and corporations – and demand compensation for the damages caused. This is definitely one of the rea­ sons why industrialised nations did not want the Paris Agreement to include the concept as it means appeals are already possible. Both international and civil law contain principles that could also apply to global warming, for example, the “pol­ luter pays” principle which forms a core element of environmental legislation in the US and Europe. It states that parties that cause pollution must remedy the re­ sulting environmental damage. Further­ more, international law contains the prin­ ciple that no state can take actions that damage the territory or the environment of another state. As legal scholars have emphasised in their initial responses, the clause contained in the Paris Agree­ ment does not override the possibility of such appeals in future; this type of agree­ ment does not put legal provisions out of force.12 And, even if the Paris Agree­ ment’s legal status meant it applied to the relations between nations, such a status would not affect legal claims against cor­ porations or other types of organisation. One example of such a claim began in November 2015 when Peruvian farm­ er Saúl Luciano Lliuya, supported by the NGO Germanwatch, filed a legal claim against the German energy giant RWE. The waters of a melting glacier threat­ en to wash his village away. According to studies, RWE has contributed signif­ icantly to global warming, and so Lliuya is demanding 20,000 EUR in compen­ sation, which the village will use to im­ plement protective measures. The dis­ trict court of Essen has admitted the claim; the first hearing will take place in 2016. Potentially this claim could – and should – show that we also need to hold those to account who, through busi­ ness models and acquisition of profits, have significantly contributed to climate change. Recent research on the so-called carbon majors has revealed that only 90 institutions – private and national com­ 12 See: Sharma, Anju; Schwarte, Christoph; Müller, Benito; Abeysinghe, Achala; Barakat, Subhi (2016). Edited by the Eu­ ropean Capacity Building Initiative (ecbi). Oxford. Access on­ line here:­ ital.pdf. 15 16 panies – are responsible for two thirds of the total CO2 emitted so far.13 Lliuya’s case has been well chosen. Scientifically, rising global temperatures conclusively drive both the melting of glaciers and the rising of sea levels. Proving such a link is far harder in the case of extreme weather events. As a recent case shows, ­however, even in these circumstances, there are ­legal options. Victims of Typhoon Hayan, which devastated the Philippines in 2013, joined forces with environmental organi­ sations to file a complaint to the human rights commission of the Philippines in December 2015. The commission has opened one of the largest investigations into the climate crimes committed by large oil and gas corporations to date.14 Claims, however, are not limited to cor­ porations. Children and young people in the US, with the support of Our Child’s Trust, have filed claims against their own government for taking too little action against climate change and courts have partially ruled in their favour.15 Ideally, such claims should be able to achieve various effects. They create pub­ licity and show who is responsible for climate-related damages. If successful, they generate funds to either help pay for adaptation or decrease the damage for those affected. They can, if compen­ sation payments and the costs for litiga­ tion are high enough, lower the profits of corporations and thereby decrease the attractiveness of investments into climate damaging economic activities. They strengthen the position of those who suffer most from climate change – after all, demanding one’s rights is very different from asking for help. Moreover, they increase the pressure on politicians to act and can therefore be an element in a strategy to increase the pressure on those in power from below whilst creat­ ing and expanding the scope for action. Ultimately, only the ways in which peo­ ple embed claims and demands with­ in a ­p olitical strategy can ensure that these are neither superficial nor one-­ sided. At the international level, the ­d ominant ­b attle within the context of loss and ­d amage, one that pits “poor states against industrialised nations”, for ­exam­ple, only works for very few cases, such as with low-­lying island states. At the global ­level, such an approach does not work. This is because the ­differences between the contributions individuals make to climate change are frequently greater within one country than between countries. China, India and Bangladesh all have an upper-class that spend their lives in air-conditioned flats, drive SUVs and jet around the world. At the same time, those who were literally “thrown onto the streets” in the US and (south­ ern) Europe during the most recent cri­ ses no longer have access to the wealth that corporations generate at the cost of the environment in their countries or in­ deed globally. The fact that societies are breaking apart – in the Global North and South – is a first important aspect to con­ sider if we want to construct global alli­ ances for climate justice. In terms of financing measures, numer­ ous proposals have been made in recent years that go beyond simple compensa­ tion schemes for past damages and that 13 14 http://www.greenpeace. org/switzerland/de/Uber-uns/Kontakt/Medienstelle/Medi­ enmitteilungen/-Philippinen-weltweit-erstes-Verfahren-ge­ gen-50-groesste-Klimasuender-/ 15 For a detailed overview of current and possible legal claims in the context of climate justice, see: Boom, Keely; Richards, Julie-Anne; Leonard, Ste­ phen (2016): Climate Justice. The international momentum to­ wards climate litigation. Edited by Climate Justice Programme. Access online at: reports-documents/climate-justice-international-momen­ tum-towards-climate-litigation. set a course for a more climate-friendly future. One example is the idea of a glob­ al tax on fossil fuel production and con­ sumption. First, this would make fossil fuels more expensive and therefore unat­ tractive on the long-term and, secondly, the generated funds could be channelled into financing adaptation and promote a more sustainable economy. The same holds true for the large sums with which governments subsidise corporations: a study by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) shows how oil and gas corpo­ rations annually receive 5.3 billion USD in subsidies.16 According to the IMF, cutting back these subsidies would lead to a 20 per cent reduction of CO2 emissions and these funds could then be used to help those most affected by climate change. That is if these funds actually reach those who need them. Whilst we need to ­develop new sources of fund­ ing, it will ­also be crucial to decide who then ­administers these funds and who receives them. The Green Climate Fund, for example, has also accepted Deutsche Bank as an institution that can apply for climate protection funds. How can we ­ensure that funds reach those in need and are not invested into further ­neoliberal projects that mainly benefit the elites? A further important field closely relat­ ed to loss and damage is insurance. The people affected by climate damages were not the ones to raise this issue. It was Europe, most prominently Germa­ ny, who insisted upon insurance being prominently mentioned in article eight of the Paris Agreement. In recent years, numerous corporations have begun to participate actively in global climate ne­ gotiations, supporting conferences and congresses, and finance studies and oth­ er publications. Large insurers, such as Allianz or Munich Re (one of the world’s largest reinsurance companies) have played a very active role in this process. Ensuring they have the most precise in­ formation on the probability of future damages is naturally in the best inter­ est of insurance companies. They are, of course, also interested in selling pol­ icies. Munich Re, for example, initiated the Munich Climate Insurance Initiative (MCII), which is a partner of the German government’s InsuResilience initiative. Germany launched this programme dur­ ing its Presidency of the G7, the annual meeting of the seven largest economies, and presented it during the G7 summit which took place in June 2015 at Schloss Elmau in Bavaria. The initiative foresees increasing the number of those insured against climate change-related ­damages in the countries of the Global South by up to 400 million by 2020. This includes both indirect and direct insurance poli­ cies. Indirect insurance means that coun­ tries insure themselves against extreme weather events. In the case of a disaster, if events go beyond agreed threshold val­ ues, such as the wind speeds of a trop­ ical storm or precipitation levels, they receive a determined amount of money immediately and independent of the ac­ tual damage. The aim is to fast-track the usually cumbersome process of collect­ ing evidence for any losses that have occurred. During a disaster, insurance policies would immediately pay out the agreed sums, making them available to provide help, which is a great advantage compared to the slow process of having to wait for international aid funds. 16 Coady, David: How large are global energy subsidies? Edit­ ed by the International Monetary Fund. [Washington, District of Columbia] (IMF Working Papers). Available online at: http:// 17 18 The second case, direct insurances, means that citizens privately arrange for insurance. Most farmers in Germany, for example, are insured against crop failure. If a hailstorm or pest destroys the crop, their insurance pays and reduces the ­losses they face. Smallholder farmers, small businesses or homeowners in the Global South are now set to receive ­s imilar insurance policies. During the climate summit in Paris, the InsuResilience initiative received a significant boost: G7 countries agreed to provide 420 mil­ lion USD immediately, not to support those affected by climate change-related ­damages, but to develop new insurance products. Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Devel­ opment (BMZ) therefore aims to “create favourable institutional and regulatory framework conditions for the insurance markets of affected countries that pro­ vide incentives for private investments in insurance”.17 In other words, the goal is to create new markets for (German) insurance com­ panies. In future, the victims of climate change-related damages are expect­ ed to bear the costs via their insurance premiums. Insurance companies aim to develop a new lucrative microinsurance market – and will likely be the only ones to profit. According to the Micro-Insurance-Network, microinsurance is, after microcredits, the next big thing in devel­ opment co-operation, with an increase in demand of ten per cent during recent years. Whilst insurance and precaution­ ary measures are, in principle, a good thing, potential clients will, however, need to have adequate knowledge and be able to rely on sufficient transparen­ cy to judge the probability of losses, so that they can decide whether a particular insurance policy makes sense for them. Moreover, to pay for insurance, they will need an income that is greater than their basic needs. In many of the poorest countries and regions that are hit by the consequences of global warming, this is not the case. Microcredit schemes have shown us where this can lead: once her­ alded as a silver bullet, they did not re­ duce poverty and instead ensured that the banks involved made high profits and plunged many of the poorest into sub­ stantial debt.18 We should not forget that insurance companies, after all, are there to make a profit. Insurance premiums are flexible and depend on the overall levels of damage, yet, beyond financing the amounts disbursed by an insurer, clients also pay for that company’s profits and business structure. Finally, we should ask why those affected have to pay for insur­ ance at all. Would it not be more logical to ask the industrialised nations to pay? Ultimately, they are the ones responsible for climate change and therefore also the damages this causes. Moreover, many people in the countries of the Global South are vulnerable to the consequences of climate change be­ cause, over the course of the last twen­ ty years, countries there have cut back on support schemes and radically dis­ mantled their social security systems, frequently in the context of structural adjustment programmes imposed by industrialised nations. The growing gap ­between the poor and the rich, as well as 17­ ikomanagement/g7_initiative_klimarisikoversicherung/in­ dex.html 18 For example, in South Africa. See: https://www.­ work/2013/nov/19/microcredit-south-africa-loans-disaster. In India and Bangladesh, sources have related a series of suicides connected to microcredits. See: world-south-asia-11997571; world/2011/jan/31/india-microfinance-debt-struggle-suicide the cutback of social benefits achieved through long struggles, has increased the vulnerability of large swathes of the population in the Global South, and in many countries of the Global North too, when natural disaster strikes. Nations have dismantled previously existing aid and support networks. States now pro­ vide little help and the victims are ex­ pected to bear the costs through their insurance policies. This is cynical, just as it is cynical that large corporations use extreme scenarios in the context of the havoc and misery wreaked by climate change to develop lucrative fields for in­ vestment and services. The consequences of climate change and the consequences of neoliberal econom­ ic policies mutually reinforce each other. Considering this fact will be a second im­ portant task for climate justice: in the face of negative climate effects, it is not pro­ tective walls but just social policies that will increase a society’s resilience. Furthermore, we need to make sure that our approaches towards loss and dam­ age do not accidentally further a devel­ opment that has become prevalent over the last couple of years: international ­climate policy could become a powerful instrument to drive the monetarisation, classification and, as a final step, valua­ tion of the natural world. This is more ob­ vious in carbon emissions trading and payment for ecosystem services. Yet the demand for the (calculated) com­ pensation or expansion of insurance, with its all-encompassing mathematical models, drives classification and mon­ etarisation – a pre-condition to open up new fields for the capitalist system. We need to oppose such attempts and insist that not everything can be expressed in monetary terms. No amount of money can replace a custom, a place, a memo­ ry, the existence of a creature or of a hu­ man being. Our long-term aim cannot be to fine those that cause damage; rather, we have to ensure that those responsible stop creating harm. People have come up with numerous proposals to achieve this goal in recent years. Our true aim must be to struggle for measures that slow climate change and increase resilience. Fossil fuels need to be left in the ground and the transport and agriculture sector must undergo profound changes. We need a transfor­ mation of the entire economy that pro­ tects the earth and makes societies in the Global North and South more just again, not only with regard to climate change. Where aspects of loss and damage con­ tribute to such a transformation, they can become an effective instrument for greater climate justice – but this will re­ quire greater efforts in the coming years to fine-tune this concept in order to make these aims reality. Juliane Schumacher, studied geo-ecology, polit­ ical science and philosophy. She is a doctoral student at the University of Potsdam and at the Zentrum Moderner Orient (ZMO) in Berlin, doing reserach on climate change and forest policy in the Middle East and North Africa. 19 20 LITERATURE Bateman, Milford: Microcredit has been a disaster for the poorest in South Africa, in: The Guardian, 19.11.2013, unter:­ global-development-professionalsnetwork/2013/nov/19/microcred­ it-south-africa-loans-disaster. IPCC – Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change: Climate Change 2013. The Physical Science Basis. Working Group I Contribution to the Fifth Assess­ ment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Cambridge/ New York 2013. Boom, Keely/Richards, Julie-Anne/ Leonard, Stephen: Climate Justice. The International Momentum Towards Climate Litigation, hrsg. v. Climate ­Justice Programme 2016, unter: http:// files/file/Report-Climate-Justice-2016.pdf. IPCC – Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change: Climate Change 2014. Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerabil­ ity. Part B: Regional Aspects. Working Group II Contribution to the Fifth Assess­ ment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Cambridge/ New York 2014. Coady, David/Parry, Ian/Sears, Louis/ Shang, Baoping: How Large Are Global Energy Subsidies? IMF Working Paper, hrsg. v. International Monetary Fund, Washington 2015, unter: external/pubs/ft/wp/2015/wp15105.pdf. Heede, Richard: Tracing anthropogenic carbon dioxide and methane emissions to fossil fuel and cement producers, 1854–2010, in: Climatic Change 1/2014, S. 229–241. Sharma, Anju/Schwarte, Christoph/ Müller, Benito/Abeysinghe, Achala/ Barakat, Subhi: Pocket Guide to the Paris Agreement, hrsg. v. European Capacity Building Initiative (ecbi), Oxford 2016, unter: downloads/PocketGuide-Digital.pdf. IMPRINT ANALYSEN No. 30 is published by the Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung Responsible: Stefan Thimmel Franz-Mehring-Platz 1 · 10243 Berlin · ISSN 2194-2951 · Editorial deadline: October 2016 Layout/Production: MediaService GmbH Druck und Kommunikation Translation: Tim Jack (Linguatransfer) Proofreading: Nivene Raafat Printed on Circleoffset Premium White, 100 % recycled paper «Loss and damage touches on one of the central questions for climate policy, namely that those who contributed the least to global warming are the ones who suffer most from its consequences. What implications does this fact have for a just climate policy? In Marrakesh and beyond heads of state will also have to negotiate this question. It will show who is truly willing to go beyond mere words and promises to mitigate the consequences of climate change.» JULIANE SCHUMACHER WWW.ROSALUX.DE
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