Who will compensate for the damage caused by climate change?

Who will compensate for the damage caused by climate change?

Climate change is already causing enormous damage to many countries. Ineza Umuhoza Grace from Rwanda experienced what this meant. “My family had a small, cozy house in the north of the country,” said the 25-year-old in a video call. After days of heavy rain, one night a landslide occurred and houses were buried in the village. His family was able to save themselves in time, and the other villagers died in their sleep.

According to the United Nations World Meteorological Organization (WMO), extreme weather conditions have increased five-fold in the past 50 years. converted, resulting in loss of amount From $202 million per day. Scientists predict that global warming will lead to more frequent storms, heavy rains and heat waves. Germany also experienced it this summer: more than 180 people died in floods in the west of the republic. The cost of reconstruction is about 30 billion euros.

The damage is serious, irreparable damage.

Ineza Umuhoza Grace, Loss and Damage Youth Coalition

But what happens when countries are financially unable to cope with the consequences of such climate change? At the United Nations Climate Conference in Glasgow, this question was discussed under the title “harm and damage”.

It is a sensitive issue because it raises the question of responsibility for global warming: many of the countries already suffering the most from the climate crisis have contributed the least. This is true not only historically, but even today: for example, in Rwanda, per capita CO2 emissions are 0.1 tonnes, according to the World Bank, while in Germany it is 8.6 tonnes. So poor countries are demanding more support from industrialized countries.

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With her organization “Green Fighters”, Ineza Umuhoza Grace educates school children in Rwanda about the consequences of climate change.
© Private

Rwandan Grace made the trip to Glasgow specifically for this. She founded the organization “Green Fighters” in her country, with which she educates schools about climate change. He is also involved in the “Loss and Disadvantages Youth Coalition” – a coalition of youth organizations whose purpose is to draw attention to problems in the respective countries and to put pressure on international politics.

In the last heavy rain in Rwanda, many people died, roads and parts of infrastructure were destroyed. “The loss is serious, the loss is irreparable,” Grace says. Another problem: the funds needed for reconstruction are missing elsewhere in the East African country – for example for the construction of schools or hospitals. Climate change means that sustainable development is slowing down.

And it has an impact on development: Marina Andrijevic, a climate analyst at Humboldt University in Berlin, has investigated this relationship. It concludes that the states most affected by the consequences of climate change are at risk of massive climate-related collapse in their economic strength.

Floods in Rwanda’s capital Kigali in May 2020.
© Imago Images / Xinhua

The scientist modeled the outcomes for 65 poor countries and small island states. By 2050, their GDP is at risk of falling by an average of 19.6 percent. Even if the increase in global temperature was limited to 1.5 degrees as agreed in the Paris climate agreement, these countries would still experience a decline in economic output of 13 percent. According to the study, Africa is suffering particularly badly: eight of the ten most affected countries are located there.

Irreversible “damage” due to climate change: this affects human life, but also, for example, archipelagos, which are at risk of sinking due to rising sea levels. The World Bank estimates that 143 million people worldwide could become climate refugees in the next 30 years because the impact on their living space will be so dramatic.

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they still Appointments on the topic “harm and harm” Those that met at previous climate conferences remain unclear. Article 8 of the Paris climate agreement, which deals with “loss and damage”, does not cover liability or compensation, not least because of the concern that individual countries could be prosecuted.

The stewardess of COP26 brought new movement into the debate: Scottish Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon agreed that Scotland would be the first country to provide £1 million for “loss and damage”.

So far, rich countries have given grants to reduce emissions and, above all, loans to pay for climate protection projects. Money also goes into adapting to climate change. Apart from international emergency aid, there is no separate funding for quick assistance in the event of a disaster – for example after a storm or heavy rain.

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Apart from finances, it is about organizational support. At the last climate conference in Madrid, the “Santiago Network” was established, which aims to create an international coordination point for loss and damage. Among other things, it can advise countries on how they can better prepare for extreme weather.

Jürgen Zütler, head of the Department of Climate Protection at the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), sees “small progress” here. The next climate meeting in Bonn should be about how to “drive it forward”.

He also hopes the summit in Glasgow will send a clear signal: “Industrialized countries must show they are open to serious discussions.” From the perspective of Rwanda Grace, this would be a sign that is overdue.

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