Student Opinion: How Else Can Wealthier Nations Compensate Developing Nations for Climate Change?


By Rodrigo Villegas

Held in Egypt, the 27th Conference of the Parties (COP27) took place between November 6 and November 18, 2022. One major topic was the funding of developing countries to pay for loss and damage from climate change. 


Industrialized countries, like the United States, are responsible for most of the pollution contributing to global warming, yet developing countries suffer most of the ramifications of rising temperatures. Consequently, developing countries claim that industrialized countries should pay for the loss and damage they receive. 


After the final week of COP27, a draft document was posted conveying that funding for loss and damage should be included in climate financing. 


But should more funds be devoted to compensating developing nations? Personally, funds should be utilized for mitigation efforts. Money should primarily be allocated to mitigation efforts while compensating developing nations should come through other means. 


As for how compensation can look, an article by NPR mentions that it can take the form of loan forgiveness if it pertains to climate change. Reaching a compromise where compensation takes a form other than paying for loss and damage, allows industrialized nations to focus on mitigation efforts while simultaneously helping developing countries that face the repercussions of global warming.


While I do feel sympathy for developing countries, I doubt they will see an increase in funding for loss and damage because countries around the world are currently preoccupied with handling the risk of a recession. 


According to NPR, wealthier countries have not committed to allocating funds for loss and damage. Furthermore, the Biden administration in particular is in favor of responding to loss and damage, but has yet to specify an amount or address how developing countries will receive payments. 


Although wealthier countries may want to help developing countries, most are not eager to go to their aid at this time due to the risk of a recession, limiting how much help they can provide to other countries. 


In addition to this limiting factor, countries are generally more concerned with investing money into preventing further warming over loss and damage. In 2020, developed countries provided developing countries with 83.3 billion USD of the 100 billion USD promised. Of that money, the majority of it was used to support mitigation efforts in developing countries. 


Even though they are aware of the losses and damages developing countries incur, nations are less concerned with paying for loss and damage because it does not strike at the root of the problem. United States Senator John Barrasso, Republican for Wyoming, reported to the New York Times that sending “U.S. taxpayer dollars to a U.N. sponsored green slush fund is completely misguided… Innovation, not reparations, is key to fighting climate change.” 


Allocating funds towards other efforts creates the possibility for countries—and not just developing ones—to face permanent losses and damage due to climate change. Therefore, countries continue to push for spending money on alleviating the consequences of climate change.


Since industrialized countries are primarily concerned with mitigation efforts, compensation for developing countries should take another form. As mentioned earlier, loan forgiveness for developing countries (if it is connected to climate change) is a viable option to a certain extent. 


Developing countries already carry some debt from recovering from disasters produced by climate change. Instead of incurring more debt because of inevitable recovery efforts, why not forgive some loans, as mentioned in an NPR article?

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