Many developing countries stated in their INDCs that urgently addressing loss and damage is central to the continued development of their economies and the wellbeing of their citizens. The references to L&D in the INDCs show that although developing countries have begun to take unilateral action to respond to loss and damage, they require much greater international support to do so more effectively.
In the lead up to the UN climate talks in Paris, a significant number of developing countries submitted INDCs that mentioned loss and damage. Out of 153 submitted INDCs, 57 mentioned climate-related losses, damages, or the issue of “loss and damage” specifically.
Prominent loss and damage-related topics in countries’ INDCs included flooding (mentioned in 34 INDCs), infrastructure damages (mentioned in 21), reduced agricultural productivity (mentioned in 19), and sea level rise (mentioned in 12).
Many INDCs that mention “losses” and/or “damages” provided cost estimates of damages resulting from recent climate-related disasters, as well as tallies of deaths, injuries, and other effects. They also provided estimates of projected damages under future climate change scenarios. Bangladesh’s INDC estimated that floods in 2007 caused damage of over $1 billion and that the country may experience a 2% GDP annual loss by 2050 resulting from climate change. Meanwhile, Comoros’ INDC estimated that costs associated with climate change will surpass the value of its GDP by 2020.
23 INDCs acknowledged “loss and damage” as a discrete issue area requiring action, providing details on national actions or plans for action to address loss and damage while also calling for international support for loss and damage response efforts. The Gambia devoted an entire section of its INDC to L&D, proposing a number of activities to reduce the vulnerability of its communities, such as strengthening disaster risk reduction through capacity building, integrating efforts to combat L&D into adaptation, education, and healthcare policy, and improving building codes and zoning.
The INDCs’ references to national efforts to combat L&D are encouraging in that they show that loss and damage is being taken more seriously than ever by some Parties to the UNFCCC. However, developed and developing countries remain starkly divided on the issue of L&D.
Of the 23 countries that acknowledged “loss and damage” as a discrete issue area in their INDCs, 21 are members of the Group of 77 + China and none are Annex I Parties. Of the 57 countries that submitted INDCs mentioning “loss,” “damage,” or “loss and damage,” 52 are members of the G77 and none are Annex I Parties.
Despite the creation of some national L&D initiatives, the issue of loss and damage remains of the utmost importance for developing countries. L&D is growing so severe that even nations lacking the necessary international support to respond adequately to loss and damage must attempt to do so nonetheless. The UN climate change talks and developed countries now must rapidly catch up.
This article is based on a policy brief co-authored by Tory Hoffmeister and Saleemul Huq for the International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD). Read more here.