Friedrich Ebert Stiftung Nigeria, in collaboration with We The People and Policy Alert organized a two day Regional Conference on Loss and Damage, on 9 – 10 May 2023 in Port Harcourt, bringing together participants from communities in the Niger Delta, CSOs and researchers. The conference was designed to engage actors and people affected by the impacts of climate change to collective define what loss and damage means for ordinary people in the Niger Delta region and help chart a collaborative approach to the articulation of issues.
For many advocates of climate justice as well as ordinary people living in communities in the Niger Delta, the biggest question this season is “Who will pay for the harms caused by climate change impacts that are difficult or impossible to avoid through mitigation and adaptation, now described as losses and damages?”
To understand the country-centric framing of Loss and Damage (L&D), it is important to mention that in the UNFCCC negotiations, L&D got stuck due to the debate on whether it is about the rights and responsibilities of countries or the claims of vulnerable groups.
Tijah Bolton, the Executive Director of Policy Alert, while speaking as a resource person at the conference, informed that “Rather than a framing in terms of support and assistance of groups most at risk of losses as a result of climate change, the conversation on Loss and Damage (L&D) have become bogged-down as a debate about rehabilitation and compensation of vulnerable countries, leading to defensiveness and throwing up many difficult technical, political, and legal questions”. He went further to ask “How do we attribute specific losses to climate change? When, and to what extent, did rich countries become liable for the losses associated with their emissions?”
The keynote speaker, Ken Henshaw, who is the Executive Director of We The People, stated that “while the recognition and agreement on Loss and Damage is useful progress towards addressing long standing impacts of climate change, it does not really make meaning in the face of continued extraction and pollution. It is a fact that the impacts of climate change are increasing. There is almost a consensus in the scientific community that the world will likely miss the 1.5 degrees target, a target made 8 years ago. In the face of continued emissions, loss and damage is a fund that will keep increasing in tandem with emissions and its destruction. Loss and Damage won’t save the planet. At best it is a “fund for the end of the world”.
Participants agreed to work together to consolidate on their discussions and outline collective position on the way forward.
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