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Should rich countries pay ‘reparations’ for the climate? What the COP27 debate means

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“We have a hurricane season every year from July until it looks like December — it’s expanding every year,” said Rochelle Newbold, the Bahamian government’s special adviser on climate change.

“Every year, the Bahamas can face a hit of $3.4 billion,” she added. “In no sense of the word is that sustainable.”

Losses faced by the Bahamas during extreme climate events are difficult to quantify in purely economic terms. Abaco, an island known for its shipbuilding and ocean farming, suffered 87% of Dorian’s damage, according to the Inter-American Development Bank.

“We are losing individuals with that historical knowledge and craft skills that would have been passed on to the next generation of Bahamians,” Newbold said. Climate migration is why she thinks nations can finally act at COP27 in providing funding for loss and damage, given the ongoing political divisions over immigration worldwide.

‘A positive movement’

She may be right. Two weeks before COP27, U.S. climate envoy John Kerry told reporters that Washington would not “hold back” new talks on financing loss and damage.

But some activists worry that the money is still not coming soon enough or being distributed fairly.

“This money does not normally stay on the African continent, or where it is most needed to solve problems,” said Jonathan Gokah, coordinator of Kasa Initiative Ghana, a climate campaign group in the capital Accra. referring to Denmark’s $13 million pledge in September. He added that funding pledges from Western countries were often made under conditions that activists and communities on the ground work with international consultancies, creating jobs for international aid workers, not Ghanaians.

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