We see every day that the impacts of climate change are taking hold across the world. Cyclones are devastating communities, destroying homes, roads, schools, health centres and vital infrastructure. Heatwaves & droughts are scorching the land rendering it infertile and uninhabitable for flora and fauna, devastating the livelihoods of people who rely on the land to feed themselves and their families. Wildfires are tearing through our natural environments, destroying so many different parts of God’s creation. Warming seas are devastating marine life with serious human consequences for fisherfolk and the communities they serve, and rising sea-levels are threatening the very existence of some nations.
Not all impacts of climate change have an economic calculation. Whilst we can calculate the cost of climate change on destroying infrastructure, houses or agricultural land, so much more is being lost and damaged that is invaluable, precious and to which it is difficult to attach monetary value. When whole species are threatened, rich cultures and nations are at risk, it should ring an alarm bell to all people of good will across the world that now is the time to act.
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 Loss and Damage Fund established at COP27 was a signal that the world is ready to take these threats seriously, and to acknowledge the cries for justice across the world.
As faith leaders, we are inherently concerned with the well-being of people, with the pursuit of justice, and the application of moral principles to everyday decision making.
The route to justice is not always obvious. But on this issue, it is crystal clear. There is a deep disharmony at the heart of the climate crisis which is hurting our poorest brothers and sisters the most. Many poor nations who contribute the least to this crisis and already struggle to secure basic needs for their people are now paying the price of other nations' actions. The Loss and Damage Fund must correct this injustice: A fit for purpose Loss and Damage Fund which gets money to the people who need it the most; is adequately resourced based on the polluter-pays principle; and fully addresses non-economic losses and damages.
Such a fund could correct the deep injustice at the heart of the climate crisis, building peace, harmony and solidarity to respond to this challenge to our common home. Vitally, this must be accompanied by urgent action to reduce emissions as quickly as possible to ensure the 1.5C temperature goal is not exceeded, and to invest in essential adaptation efforts to prevent future harms.
We the undersigned, faith leaders from across the world, 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 fund must be accessible, ensuring that communities in need across the Global South get the money they require to recover, and be masters of their own future
- The fund must be comprehensive, supporting both responses to economic as well as non-economic losses and damages, for extreme weather events and slow-onset events such as sea-level rise and desertification
- The fund must be restorative, providing grants not loans on the basis of the polluter pays principle
- The fund must be representative, underpinned by human rights and the principle of subsidiarity, and governed by an equitable board acting in the common good
- The fund must be efficient and effective, providing rapid response when disasters strike, long-term support to protect from future damages, and acting as the flagship global fund to address losses and damages alongside other funding arrangements.