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Is insurance the ultimate award for loss and damage?

  • Published at 03:31 am November 1st, 2017
  • Last updated at 05:32 pm November 3rd, 2017
Is insurance the ultimate award for loss and damage?
March, April, and May are considered as pre-monsoon season in Bangladesh and India, while the monsoon prevails from June to September. According to Bangladesh Meteorological Department, this year, the haor region has experienced an unusual and excess rainfall in pre-monsoon period than the normal. Data says, the normal rainfall in the haor basin in Bangladesh during March is 275 millimeter while this year’s recorded rainfall during the period was 905 millimeter. Same type of heavy rainfall was seen in April too, when the recorded rainfall was 1748 millimeter – while the normal rainfall is 720 millimeter. As a result of this unusual rainfall, which the farmers were not expecting, 400,000 hectares of Boro paddy field had been submerged, accounting for about 2 million tons of rice – and it happened during rice harvesting weeks. According to the fifth assessment report of Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Bangladesh is identified as being at a specific risk from climate change due to its exposure to sea-level rise and extreme events like salinity intrusion, drought, erratic rainfall, and tidal surge which will hamper the country’s food as well as livelihood security.
When the WIM does talk about finance, rich countries ensure it focuses on ‘financial instruments’ – in particular ‘insurance’ – but not on ways which can truly generate additional money to allow countries address the climate-change induced loss and damage
Prof Ainun Nishat, who has been dealing with climate change issues for long, said: “The weather pattern has been changing in the region which is increasing the risk of people’s livelihood.” “The country has been experiencing such type of erratic rainfall for the last couple of years,” he added. Citing example of such type of erratic rainfall in the late monsoon of 2015, he also said that: “A vast area of Aman paddy field was destroyed at that time.”

What global climate talk says

To recover this sudden loss, UN climate talk has adopted a provision of Loss and Damage in Paris Agreement in 2015. Article 8 of the Paris Agreement recognised “loss and damage” as an issue separate from adaptation and it has now become the “third pillar” of the climate action. Therefore, it is going to launch a Clearing House for Risk Transfer to facilitate ways to reduce loss and damage. The UN climate body that deals with loss and damage, the Warsaw International Mechanism (WIM), established in 2013, has disappointed vulnerable people on the front-line of climate impacts. It concluded its sixth meeting two weeks back, as part of finalising its new five-year rolling work plan. But unfortunately, the draft of Clearing House for Risk Transfer does not clearly say anything about money, rather it pushes to introduce insurance as a way.

What the work plan says

The work plan has a glaring omission: Money. The WIM executive committee agreed to two more years of activities that would mobilise precisely zero funds for poor people facing the worst impacts of climate change, says Harjeet Singh, the global lead on climate change of ActionAid International – this is of utmost concern that he expressed to the media. Instead, the WIM continues to focus on meetings, reports, submissions, surveys – anything other than a concrete plan to provide financial support to the world’s most vulnerable, he added. When the WIM does talk about finance, rich countries ensure it focuses on “financial instruments” – in particular “insurance” – but not on ways which can truly generate additional money to allow countries address the climate-change induced loss and damage. Indeed, the main initiative it plans to launch at COP23 is a website to crowd-source information about climate insurance, known as the Clearinghouse for Risk Transfer and Insurance. M Hafijul Islam Khan, a negotiator of LDCs said that, the Executive Committee met in Bonn a few days ago and produced their report which was “very weak” on the issue of providing finance for Loss and Damage. So we need to push for a stronger decision on finance for Loss and Damage at COP23 despite the Ex-Com report being weak in decisions, he added. While Dr Saleemul Huq, director of International Center for Climate Change and Development said that the upcoming COP23 although being held in Germany will be presided over by the Prime Minister of Fiji who has already declared that a decision on Loss and Damage is a high priority for the island countries. “In particular the issue of innovative finance to compensate those suffering loss and Damage from climate Change must now be addressed. The Least Developed Countries Group , in which Bangladesh is a prominent member, will be strongly supporting this stand.”

What is Ex-Com of WIM

Under the Warsaw International Mechanism (WIM), there is an Executive Committee (Ex Com) set up with 10 developing country representatives and 10 from developed countries. As it happens, five out of the 10 developing country representatives are from Least Developed Countries  (LDCs). Joint Secretary of the Ministry of Environment and Forest of Bangladesh Dr Nurul Quadir is one of the members of Ex-Com under WIM. Dhaka Tribune tried to get his comments on the future of loss and damage in the upcoming International climate conference but unfortunately he was unreachable to comment.