The global climate crisis has reached a critical juncture, requiring urgent action from the nations responsible for its acceleration. Unfortunately, recent affirmation of the United States’ stance on paying countries for loss and damages based on historic emissions has sent shockwaves through the global community, raising concerns about the future of climate action, especially on loss and damage.
The United States, as the largest historical emitter of greenhouse gases, holds a substantial responsibility for addressing the consequences of climate change. Regrettably, a recent statement by John Kerry, made during a House of Representatives foreign affairs oversight subcommittee hearing, has highlighted the US’s unwillingness to pay countries facing damages from floods, storms, and other climate-induced events under any circumstances. Kerry’s statement which was both shocking and condescending, underscores The United States’ firm stance and longstanding tradition of denial and blocage of financial climate reparation.
This announcement comes as a devastating blow to communities already ravaged by the impacts of climate change, especially those in developing countries who have contributed the least to the crisis. These vulnerable communities, already burdened by economic challenges, now face an additional struggle to adapt and recover from climate-related disasters. The projected economic costs of loss and damage by 2030 are staggering, with estimates ranging from USD 290 to 580 billion annually in developing countries alone. Looking further ahead, by 2050, the economic toll is predicted to reach an alarming USD 1 to 1.8 trillion in developing countries.
These figures underscore the urgent need for substantial action, particularly from the nations historically responsible for most greenhouse gas emissions. However, instead of leading the charge, developed countries, including the United States, are evading their responsibilities and failing to take concrete action. The recent statement made by John Kerry, a figure who symbolized hope for many when he signed the Paris Agreement in 2016 while holding his granddaughter, has disheartened communities worldwide.
The time for half-hearted promises and empty rhetoric is over. The world demands genuine leadership and decisive action to tackle the climate crisis. The United States, as a historical emitter that continues to be one of the largest polluters, has a vital role to play in the operationalization of the Loss and damage fund and the scaling-up of climate finance. Failure to step up and address climate-induced loss and damage will hinder progress and undermine the trust and hope placed in nations that bear the greatest responsibility.
Comments from Members of the Loss and Damage Youth Coalition
Shreya K.C., Nepal
It is undoubtedly disheartening and infuriating to witness the reluctance of those responsible for the global climate mess to act and resist efforts to address the extremely unfair status quo. This raises significant concerns about justice and fairness in tackling the climate crisis, including the framework of the UN Climate Processes.
The US should take the lead in rallying historical and present-day polluters for financial reparations. They have a moral obligation to unite and address the consequences of their actions.
Cephas Awedaga Babachuwe, Ghana
As statesmen, our unwavering responsibility is to ensure that no one is left behind. Let our actions and decisions stand as a testament to our commitment to a more inclusive and equitable world for all.
Promise Johnbull, Nigeria
In as much as climate change is a global issue that requires collective efforts to address, providing financial assistance to vulnerable countries is key and can aid in mitigating the direct and indirect impacts thus providing financial assistance to vulnerable countries in fostering international cooperation. The statement by John Kerry at this time comes in bad taste and it is very unfortunate, to say the least, especially considering the level of damage from historic emissions by the United States.
Claudius Mbuya, Kenya
They should pay for the loss and damage caused and also implement policies that will govern future losses and damages: #LossAndDamageFinanceNow!
Kareem J. R., Belize
At one point, the United States could have been heralded as a global leader in what is right and just, due to pushing the agendas of Freedom, Equality, and Justice for All. But with this news, many of those talking points can now be questioned. How can there be Equality and Justice for All, when the clear climate injustice that is happening to developing countries globally, continues to happen? How can there be Equality and Justice for All, when one of the key participants of said injustice does not want to, at least, assist in helping to alleviate the impacts of that injustice? I hang my head in extreme disappointment, as I continue to help where I can to fight this climate crisis. Keeping in mind that, as societies start to crumble and lives continue to be lost, the perpetrators continue to perpetrate, while the rest of us are left to deal with the losses, traumas, and injustices caused. We are asking for the United States to do better!
Kelvin Chifulumo, Zambia
The U.S as the global champion economically indubitably backed by industrialization mingled with capitalistic greed has an inherent responsibility to as well champion innovations to make good the damage their economy has ensued and everyone will buy in.
Onesmus Mulima, Kenya
We must act in time to save this planet from the climate threat before it’s too late, acting time is the only way to save this planet from the climate threat
KARIVO Gabriel, Cameroon
We must fight climate injustice. The big polluters of the world must pay as compensation and especially for poor countries or in the process of development. It is this ecological justice that we demand.
About the Loss and Damage Youth Coalition
The Loss & Damage Youth Coalition (LDYC) is a global coalition of young activists, researchers, and working professionals from both the Global South and North advocating for increased public awareness and ambitious action on loss and damage (L&D) issues. To date, the LDYC has over 900 members from 70+ countries working together to empower frontline communities and voices. We do advocacy, negotiation, research, grant-making, storytelling, and training, all of which to ensure there are concrete actions to address loss and damage at local, national, and global levels. We lead the #LossAndDamageFinanceNow! Campaign and host the first-ever Youth-led loss and damage grant-making council.
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