Shocked after the island nation of Antigua and Barbuda demanded that India and China, as major emitters, also be asked to pay for the losses suffered by smaller countries from climate catastrophes, both countries responded Wednesday to say they were prepared to help, but the main responsibility still lies with the developed world.
“India is fully aware of the threats facing small island nations. And we are aware of the importance of the issue of loss and damage to them. That is why we are already working closely with the small island nations to reduce their vulnerability to climate disasters,” an official Indian source told The Indian Express.
“We have created and nurtured coalitions such as CDRI (Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure), which last year launched a special initiative specifically aimed at building resilience in small island nations. India also supports the UN Secretary General’s initiative to install early warning systems around the world,” the source said.
Prime Minister Gaston Browne of Antigua and Barbuda said Tuesday on behalf of small island states: “We all know that the People’s Republic of China, India, are big polluters and the polluter has to pay. I don’t think there is a free pass for any country, and I’m not saying this with any bitterness,” Browne had said, according to a Reuters report.
Several countries, especially the small island states, have demanded compensation for the losses they incur from climate catastrophes, arguing that while their own contribution to global warming is negligible, they are the hardest hit by these disasters. India and most other developing countries support this demand.
During the ongoing COP27 meeting, the issue of loss and damage was on the main agenda for the first time, but that is only the beginning of discussions. The establishment of a damage fund is in any case a few years away. So far, only five European countries have pledged money for loss and damage. Three of them – Germany, Austria and Belgium – did so on Tuesday and promised a total of just over 220 million euros.
Previously, Denmark and Scotland had pledged $13 million and £5 million respectively.
A recent report from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Efforts had said that annual funding applications related to climate-related disasters averaged $15.5 billion over the three-year period between 2019 and 2021. This year alone, there are nearly 30. disasters that caused damage worth more than a billion dollars each.
The Indian source said it is an obligation of developed countries to pay for loss and damage. “We have to realize that India itself is a victim of emissions from developed countries and that we are paying for our adjustment and loss and damage, as well as helping others,” the source said.
The Chinese response was along the same lines.
“We wholeheartedly support the claims of developing countries, especially the most vulnerable countries, for claiming loss and compensation because China is also a developing country and we have also suffered a lot from extreme weather events. It (paying for loss and damage) is not China’s duty, but we are willing to contribute and make an effort,” China’s climate envoy Xie Zhenhua said, according to a Reuters report.