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Environmental Racism & COP27 Loss-and-Damage Discussions

Posted on the 14 November 2022 by Angela Young @AngelaYoung4

Environmental Racism is the disproportionate impact
of environmental hazards on people of color.

That’s Joycelyn Longdon’s succinct definition. Joycelyn Longdon is the founder of Climate in Colour, an online education platform that combines climate science with social justice. In her 2020 video, below, she talks about developing countries and their particular vulnerability to extreme events such as hurricanes, cyclones and floods, events that wealthier countries have the means to recover from far more quickly. Samuel Webb, in the Independent online wrote, in November 2021:

It takes longer for low-income communities to be rebuilt after natural disasters, and many people in poorer nations don’t enjoy the same social safety nets as those in wealthier nations if their livelihood is crippled by a climate disaster. There are also geographical considerations. Many developing nations are coastal, and therefore more vulnerable to storms and floods.

According to the Red Cross, The fingerprints of climate change are present in the unprecedented floods [in Pakistan, in October 2022]. In Joycelyn’s video, she explains that 80% of the world’s biodiversity – the world’s lungs – are looked after by indigenous people, but they only make up 5% of the world’s population.

She goes on to say that 10% of the world’s population contribute 50% of global emissions, but the poorest 50% are responsible for only 10% of emissions. She suggests that Climate Reparations are one way to begin to repair the damage: wealthier nations would compensate poorer nations for damage caused by climate change.

Now, for the first time in the history of the twenty-seven annual climate change conferences, at COP27 in Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt this month, Climate Reparations or the preferred term, Loss and Damage, is on the agenda. Sarah Kaplan and Susannah George wrote, in the Independent online, on 8 November:

At the UN climate negotiations in Egypt, Pakistan will lead a bloc of more than 100 developing nations insisting on compensation for the irreversible harms of climate change – a class of impacts collectively known as “loss and damage”. The bloc has called for the creation of a dedicated loss-and-damage fund, which hard-hit countries can rely on for immediate assistance after a disaster, rather than waiting for humanitarian aid or loans that will drive them into debt.

At last year’s talks [COP26] in Glasgow, a cohort of developing nations that included major emitters like India as well as tiny island states like Vanuatu, fought for language that urged their rich counterparts to fund loss and damage. A majority of countries supported it, but that text was ultimately dropped amid opposition from the US and EU.

At Glasgow last year a two-year dialog on loss and damage was agreed, because an outcome couldn’t be agreed on. So the conversation is one year in. Another idea I heard on BBC Radio 4’s Inside Science on 10 November is that if there was a 10% tax on the windfall profits of just thirty-five of the largest listed oil and gas companies, that would generate $37billion into a loss and damage fund.

In terms of contributions from countries, in September this year, Denmark announced a $13m fund to assist vulnerable countries – the first UN member state to do so. Since then Austria, Belgium, Germany, Ireland, New Zealand and Scotland have also done so and I hope other wealthier countries will follow suit. If their leaders have anything resembling a conscience about the world’s fast-changing climate, they will.

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