COP26 touted to resolve long standing issues on climate debt - The Mail & Guardian

Only 16% of losses in South Africa from weather-related disasters in the past four decades were covered by insurers, leaving governments and communities unable to build back.

2021-10-17 02:01:00 PM

COP26 touted to resolve long standing issues on climate debt - Only 16% of losses in South Africa from weather-related disasters in the past four decades were covered by insurers, leaving governments and communities unable to build back

Only 16% of losses in South Africa from weather-related disasters in the past four decades were covered by insurers, leaving governments and communities unable to build back.

, signed at COP19 in the Polish capital, sought to deal with compensation from those responsible for damage from extreme weather, according to the Grantham Institute, Imperial College London’s climate change and environment hub. It was reviewed in 2019 at COP25, with developing countries demanding that it be enhanced to include additional finance from developed countries, but consensus was not reached on the latter’s obligations. The

, Spain, only committed to a committee setting out a five-year working plan. “This technical issue is set to be discussed further at theCOP26conference in Glasgow,” said the Grantham Institute.During the talks in Scotland next month, parties to the framework convention on climate change will be tasked with

and the financial mechanisms needed to ensure that those most responsible for current disasters pay for damages. The African continent is particularly vulnerable as it isthan the rest of the world, with temperatures having already increased by 2°C. headtopics.com

But arecent assessmentof climate debt by Carbon Brief, a UK-based website specialising in the science and policy of climate change, ranked South Africa 16th among the countries most responsible for climate change as a result of historical greenhouse gas emissions. 

South Africa, currently the 12th highest emitter of carbon dioxide in the world, might find itself liable for a share of the climate debt owed to the continent, although Brandon Abdinor, a climate advocacy lawyer at the Centre for Environmental Rights, believes it will be years before this is resolved.

According to theInstitute for Security Studies(ISS), in South Africa only 16% of R95-billion worth of losses from weather-related disasters in the past four decades were covered by insurers, “leaving governments and communities unable to build back”.Researchers say more weather disasters, coupled with surging informal settlements, poor land use and inadequate infrastructure, will cause further significant losses.

“Only five months into 2021, all nine provinces have experienced floods on top of a series of devastating fires in the Western Cape,” ISS noted. It drew on the International Disaster Database, which hasrecorded90 noticeable weather-related disasters in South Africa since the early 1980s.  headtopics.com

“These events caused R95-billion in associated economic losses and directly affected about 22-million South Africans,” said the ISS researchers. Although discussions about loss and damage at COP level are tricky, it is where “the rubber meets the road in terms of actual compensation in monetary terms”, said Abdinor.

“The adaptation science is a lot stronger than it used to be, and it is still tricky but one can actually draw linkages between certain acts by certain actors and certain damages that are caused,” he said. “Once we talk about compensation for damage as a result of climate change impacts we are talking about a very well defined price tag and that is putting liability on developed nations that they never had before, and that is probably why they have been putting out for so long.”

Tunicia Phillips is a climate and economic justice reporting fellow, funded by the Open Society Foundation for South AfricaSubscribe for R500/yearThanks for enjoying theMail & Guardian, we’re proud of our 36 year history, throughout which we have delivered to readers the most important, unbiased stories in South Africa. Good journalism costs, though, and right from our very first edition we’ve relied on reader subscriptions to protect our independence.

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