Home Publications policy brief Loss and Damage Finance: Four Periods of Obstruction in the UN Climate Negotiations

Loss and Damage Finance: Four Periods of Obstruction in the UN Climate Negotiations

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Countries in the Global South have been advocating for funds to cover the losses and damages
they will face due to climate change for more than three decades. In that same time, countries
in the Global North – the U.S. in particular – have repeatedly prevented those funds from
becoming a reality. In this briefing paper, we detail the history of obstruction to loss and damage
finance under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). When
this history is traced across three decades of climate negotiations, the consistency and
deliberateness of this obstruction becomes clear.

Summarizing Four Periods of Obstruction
We have divided the three decades of climate negotiations into four periods, based on major events
in the Global South’s efforts to seek funds for loss and damage. In each period we identify the key
actors advocating for and obstructing loss and damage finance, the demands being made by
advocates, and the strategies of obstruction being used by opponents. To our knowledge, such a
detailed assessment of obstruction to loss and damage finance has not yet been outlined. Our
hope is that this timeline will prove valuable to advocates and negotiating teams pushing for loss
and damage finance at COP27 and in future climate negotiations.
Though the UNFCCC was established in 1992, our first period begins the year prior. In 1991,
Vanuatu advanced a landmark proposal for the developing UN climate convention to establish an
insurance program funded by the states most responsible for climate change. States ultimately
excluded this proposal from the 1992 adoption of the UNFCCC. The second period traces the
developments from the 2007 Bali Action Plan to the 2013 Warsaw International Mechanism (WIM)
for loss and damage, including a multi-window facility proposed by the Alliance of Small Island
States (AOSIS), the 2010 Cancun Work Programme on loss and damage, and the 2012 Doha
Agreement and its institutional arrangements. The third period assesses the road from the 2013
WIM to the 2015 Paris Agreement, which included a standalone Article on loss and damage. Finally,
the fourth period examines the aftermath of the Paris Agreement, including how the WIM has
evolved and how states are addressing renewed calls for a loss-and-damage financial mechanism
in contemporary negotiations.


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