A group of Catholic organizations is leading a campaign to ensure that the forthcoming climate conference takes concrete steps toward addressing climate change-induced losses and damages.
“This crisis is a common crisis for all of humanity, and justice demands that those with the greatest means and responsibility must take up the mantle of driving forward urgent solutions,” the groups said in a joint statement.
The initiative came on the heels of Pope Francis’s recent Apostolic Exhortation ‘Laudate Deum,’ which emphasizes the moral imperative of combating climate change and protecting the most vulnerable.
Among the signatories in the statement are Caritas Internationalis, the Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund (SCIAF), the International Cooperation for Development Solidarity (CIDSE), and the Laudato Si’ Movement.
The effort sought to establish a robust Loss and Damage Fund aimed at mitigating the unjust consequences of climate change, which disproportionately affect the marginalized and the poor.
The Loss and Damage Fund originated from the landmark agreement reached at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Sharm el-Sheik during COP27.
This accord promised financial assistance to underprivileged nations grappling with the devastating consequences of climate change, ranging from rising sea levels, prolonged droughts, and severe flooding to desertification, forest fires, and crop failures.
While this agreement was celebrated as a significant stride toward climate justice, its ultimate effectiveness hinges on prompt and concrete actions, particularly an agreement on funding and scope, a decision that rests with the upcoming COP28, scheduled for November 30 to December 12 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
The groups emphasized the potential of the Loss and Damage Fund in addressing the deep-seated injustices at the core of the current climate crisis.
They said it is a way to foster peace, harmony, and solidarity in the face of the shared global challenge.
In the joint statement, the groups call for a Loss and Damage Fund that is fit-for-purpose. This entails ensuring that funds reach those who need them the most, adhering to the polluter-pays principle for sufficient resourcing, and addressing both economic and non-economic losses and damages.
The groups said nations that contribute the least to the climate crisis often find it difficult to secure basic necessities for their citizens and are now bearing the brunt of others’ actions.
They asserted that the global fund must be complemented by urgent emissions reductions to prevent exceeding the 1.5°C temperature goal and substantial investments in adaptation efforts to mitigate future harm.
“We call on COP28 in Dubai to agree to establish a fit-for-purpose Loss and Damage Fund that truly meets the needs of people at the frontlines of the climate emergency,” the statement read.
The groups also stressed the importance of an accessible, inclusive, and restorative fund. The fund should provide aid to communities in the Global South to help them recover and regain control over their futures.
It should encompass both economic and non-economic losses and damages, addressing extreme weather events and gradual-onset events such as sea-level rise and desertification.
The fund should be restorative, offering grants, not loans, based on the polluter-pays principle, and should be governed by an equitable board, guided by human rights and subsidiarity principles, acting for the common good.
The groups said efficiency and effectiveness are key. The Loss and Damage Fund must provide rapid response when disasters strike, offer long-term support to guard against future damages and serve as the flagship global fund to address losses and damages alongside other funding arrangements.