by Kevon Browne
St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN): A few days are left for the UN’s Climate Conference, COP27, where world leaders will continue the fight against the climate crisis with the critical issue of “loss and damage” funding making the agenda this year.
The fund is primarily for the benefit of countries most vulnerable and most affected by climate-related disasters.
Every year it is estimated that Small Island Developing States (SIDS) lose 20% of total social expenditures from climate-related disasters compared to 1.2% in North America and less than 1% in Europe and Central Asia.
The consensus has been that the topic of loss and damage funding needs to be more substantive.
Vulnerable countries considered it a huge success that loss and damage funding made it onto the formal agenda for COP27, holding wealthy countries’ feet to the fire and pushing for a binding commitment this year.
However, international reports suggest that amid a tough economy, US and EU leaders worry they won’t be able to get this funding passed through legislatures at home, where they’re already facing an uphill battle to marshal more money to fulfil climate finance commitments.
With the slow movement of getting richer countries to commit to substantial funding for climate-vulnerable territories, what are vulnerable countries doing to secure their own local loss and damage funding?
Prime Minister of the Bahamas, Phillip Davis, unveiled the Bahamas Blue Carbon Credit Management Initiative at the CARICOM Pavilion at COP-27 on November 11.
The Blue Carbon Credit Management Initiative will introduce carbon credit – a tradable permit or certificate validating an offset. One ton of carbon is onecarbon credit.
Davis expressed the importance of innovation and collaboration with the private sector and non-profit partners to bring about climate action within the Caribbean.
At home in St. Kitts and Nevis, Prime Minister Hon. Dr Terrance Drew acknowledged the importance of loss and damage funding being included on the agenda for COP27 in response to a question from a WINN reporter.
Dr Drew brought up the need for a Multidimensional Vulnerability Index which many Caribbean countries have been calling for, especially during COP26.
“You might have heard this [speak] about MVI – Multi Vulnerability Index, which means you just cannot judge us on GDP alone to determine if we could have access to concessionary loans, which we don’t have because we are considered a high-income country. Yet we are expected to deal with loss and damage. We are expected to convert our country, at least from an infrastructural standpoint, into a resilient country… I would speak all the time about the sustainable island state; that costs money – just to build a climate-smart hospital could cost us up to $100 million. Climate-smart means that we are building a hospital that will be able to resist the issues to deal with climate change. So if we [were] hit by a heavy hurricane, at least we should have a hospital that can stand up and treat our people, and that is just one infrastructural change.”
However, the Prime Minister also suggested that the government is looking to create a fund as a buffer locally against climate-related impacts.
“What are we doing here? Excellent point. We want a Sovereign Wealth Fund, and we intend to create a fund like that… In that fund, we can deposit monies… just in case we have a buffer, and we want to fence it around so that it is not used other than for emergency situations. And so that is one of the ways in which we want to secure [funds]; [so] that we can have some money put aside to deal with things like loss and damage in acute situations. More chronic situations, I guess we can deal with them through the recurrent budget and so forth.”
Meanwhile, in Egypt, the Minister of Environment, Hon. Dr Joyelle Clarke signed, on behalf of the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis, a Memorandum of Understanding with the Government of Italy on November 15, during COP27, in support of the Federation’s environmental action and fight for climate justice.
In a Facebook post, the Environment Minister shared that the MOU “allows CARICOM Member States to access much-needed finance to combat climate change and climate change vulnerability. Additionally, projects directly related to Adaptation and Mitigation will be supported through this MoU.”