Home to charismatic orange and white striped clownfish, blue, purple and pink corals and enormous underwater structures, Egypt’s vast coral reef system generates $7 billion (£6.15 billion) a year in tourism revenue – more than any other country. more. country in the world.
If the planet warms by 2.5 degrees, roughly one-tenth of Egypt’s coral reefs will be lost, unable to cope with warmer seas full of more carbon. Thus, almost 40% of this income comes from the reef, estimates the global Ocean Panel initiative.
Coral reefs simply cannot adapt to climate change, and neither do the thousands of people who rely on them for food and jobs.
Meanwhile, as sea levels rise along the Mediterranean coast of northern Egypt, it destroys cities like Alexandria and poisons the land in the fertile Nile Delta.
“A lot of people are losing their livelihoods there. It affects agriculture. It affects fisheries and infrastructure,” says Ambassador Mohamed Nasr, Egypt’s chief climate negotiator.
Such losses and damages beyond the limits of human adaptation have enormous economic and social costs.
The issue of offsets has long dogged United Nations climate talks, but this year angry developing nations are hoping it will take center stage. At the upcoming UN climate talks COP27 in Egypt.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres called the issue a “litmus test” of how seriously governments are taking climate damage on the most vulnerable countries. Developing nations say there will be no progress at COP27 without fresh and additional cash.
Devastating floods in Pakistan This summer, it reignited the debate over who should pay for climate catastrophes. In addition to killing 1,700 people and uprooting another 33 million, the floods caused $10 billion (£8.54 billion) in damage.
but the Pakistan which contributed very little to the climate change that drove the crash, and most of the worst-affected developing countries do not.
“People are losing their homes. People are losing their livelihoods. Coastlines are sinking, islands are being submerged and ultimately histories are being destroyed,” campaigner Vanessa Nakeit told Sky News.
An analysis of 173 countries by the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), a think tank, found developing countries Burundi, Somalia and Mozambique to be at the highest risk of such losses. The lowest risk developed countries were Luxembourg, Switzerland and Ireland.
Madeleine Diouf Sarr, head of climate change at Senegal’s environment ministry, said: “Our contribution to climate change is small, but its impact affects us first and worst. Every impact exacerbates existing development challenges.”
For years, rich countries have refused to acknowledge the need for reparations.
IIED’s Clare Shakya told reporters in October that the safeguards “have set a precedent for reparations, slavery has become central to the United States.”
Concept of “finance” for loss and damage
According to Ms. Diouf Sarr, developed nations argue that countries can simply adapt to climate disasters such as droughts, sea level rise, floods and the like.
“We are adapting, but we are not good,” added Ms. Diouf Sarr, who is leading the negotiating team of 46 least developed countries at COP27 this year. “This can no longer be ignored, and we increasingly see that we are willing to engage in all aspects of this issue.”
The concept of “finance” for loss and damage is being considered as a possible revolution for the first time to be included on the official agenda at the UN COP.
So far, vague terms like “mechanism” or “object” have struggled to get onto the agenda.
Climate change ‘so strong, so real, for so many countries’
Africa, small island states and vulnerable countries have been raising this issue for years.
The idea of compensation attracted significant interest at COP26 in an agreement to establish a “dialogue” – hailed as a success, but to the dismay of developing countries who want to deal with cash rather than talk.
The leaders “say they need more time to discuss and see what they can do. But a child suffering from hunger in Turkana…doesn’t have time for more dialogue,” said Vanessa Nakeit.
Now climate damage “has become so strong and real for many countries that they understand it’s a big issue and there’s more openness to discussing compensation,” Ms. Shakya said.
Europe has been hit by its worst wildfires yet this year, with up to half of crops expected to fail in England after record-breaking heat.
Floods in Nigeria have killed nearly 600 people and devastated citrus and melon crops, vegetables and livestock in Florida.
In September, Denmark became the first country to pledge adequate compensation for climate damage, paying 100 million Danish kroner (£11.7 million).
This figure is not a drop in the ocean, but it breaks the taboo of acknowledging the need for financial compensation for rich countries.
Still reeling from climate disruption at home, Pakistan is chairing the powerful Group of 77 (G77) talks this year, meaning the bloc takes a strong stance.
And developing countries hope that Egypt’s hosting of the COP will also help improve the debate. Egypt certainly thinks it can.
“I think we can deliver the financing options … it has to be resolved within a very limited time frame,” Ambassador Nasr said.
“The whole regime is in question”
But the problem is not only how to define financial loss and damage, but how. Should it be delivered through the COP process, through multilateral development banks or through a new initiative, and will it be financed from taxes, windfalls or insurance or loans?
The cold hard truth is that the slower rich countries cut polluting emissions — which they already lag behind — the worse the climate damage will be, and the stronger the calls for compensation, including from their own citizens.
COP negotiations rely on international cooperation and trust, and countries must bring something to the table if they expect others to do the same.
Rich countries have reneged on their pledge to provide $100 billion a year by 2020 to help developing countries cut emissions and adapt to climate change.
But this money is crucial to oiling the wheels of negotiations and motivating developing countries to act on climate. They are being asked to jump at the chance of their industrial revolution because the global north is polluted by theirs. It costs money.
“Finance has always played a role in building trust,” added Mr. Nasr.
“If we lose financially, then this whole regime becomes a question.”