AOSIS Chair Urges Increased Focus On Loss And Damage At COP 24


Following the release of the IPPC Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C (SR15), policymakers have considered the report’s implications for the forthcoming round of climate negotiations. In an article, the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) Chairman, Thoriq Ibrahim, who also serves as the energy minister of Maldives, stresses the urgency of an increased focus on loss and damage, including at the Katowice Climate Change Conference.

In the article, the AOSIS Chairman expresses concern over the report’s finding that global warming may exceed 1.5°C above preindustrial levels in as few as 11 years. Ibrahim reflects that the report’s findings “came as a shock, even for those of us who have been sounding the climate change alarm for decades.”

In light of the report’s findings, Ibrahim calls for a “new phase” in climate negotiations, one in which countries “devote as much energy to securing our priorities on adaptation and loss and damage as we do on mitigation ambition.” Ibrahim describes the adaptation actions that small island States have begun taking to ensure adequate drinking water, increase coastal protection and improve their water security. He says Maldives has spent US$85 million over the past years to build coastal protection structures to manage erosion and rising sea levels. He further describes an adaptation project on water security, with US$24 million from the Green Climate Fund (GCF) and US$4 million from Maldives. Although he stresses that these actions represent a significant return on investments, Ibrahim expresses concern over the “dramatically higher adaptation costs” likely necessary to build resilience against the types of impacts projected by the IPCC report. A 2016 UN Environment Programme (UNEP, or UN Environment) report, he notes, estimated the global cost of climate adaptation in developing countries at between US$280 billion and 500 billion annually by 2030.

Within this context, the AOSIS Chairman urges addressing loss and damage to help vulnerable communities adapt. He says there is “faint hope” that the Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage (WIM) will see “real money” materialize.

In conclusion, Ibrahim emphasizes how AOSIS has “always advocated for positions that would give all our members the best chance for survival.” He describes how the group changed its position from advocating for a global temperature goal of 1°C to 1.5°C in response to scientific evidence. In light of the IPCC findings, he calls for adjusting political demands accordingly, stressing that for small island nations it would “be suicide not to use every lever of power we have to demand what is fair and just: the support we need to manage a crisis that has been thrust upon us.”