Monday, September 17, 2018

It’s Time to Make Polluters Pay for Climate Damages

School children in the Philippines contemplate the aftermath of Super Typhoon Haiyan in 2013. Climate change is making tropical storms more intense (Picture Credit:  Pio Arce/Genesis Photos) Click to Enlarge.
In the last few days as Hurricane Florence battered the east coast of the United States of America and Super Typhoon Mangkhut hit Philippines and China an important scientific breakthrough took place.

Previously, scientists have taken weeks to assess the contribution of global warming to extreme weather events such as storms, droughts and heatwaves.  This time, a study emerged as the storms were gathering and even before they made landfall.

It estimated that Hurricane Florence carried up to 50% more water (which led to extreme rainfall and flooding) than it would have done without human influence on the climate.  Experts say with increasing confidence that climate change makes storms wetter and fiercer.

In many cases the damage caused by such events is non-linear, in that it is the extra severity due to climate change that causes most of the damage, like the proverbial straw that breaks the camel’s back.  We now have unequivocal scientific proof that human-induced climate change is causing loss and damage to lives, property, and livelihoods here and now.

This is significant in the context of the ongoing negotiations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), where the discussions on loss and damage under the Warsaw International Mechanism (WIM) and Article 8 of the Paris Agreement have stalled.

The main issue for discussion is financial support for the victims of climate impacts.  Developed countries have promoted insurance against these risks but proved unwilling to consider other solutions.  While insurance can certainly play a role and there are several pilot programs going on around the world, it is no panacea.  It is particularly unsuitable for the poorest and most vulnerable communities who cannot afford to pay of the insurance premiums, even if they are subsidized.

Hence the time has come to think about raising money for compensate victims of climate change through innovative sources, applying the “polluter pays” principle wherever possible.  A global fund does not require developed countries to accept liability but could be based on solidarity contributions or a tax levied on polluters.

Read more at It’s Time to Make Polluters Pay for Climate Damages

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