Irish ‘loss and damage’ payments for climate disasters in developing countries ‘must reach €1.5bn a year by 2030’

High-emitting states need to agree funding for new loss and damage fund agreed at Cop27, say lobby groups

Ireland’s fair share of a landmark new “loss and damage” fund to help climate-vulnerable countries should rise to €1.5 billion a year by 2030, according to an analysis published on Tuesday by the Irish development agencies Christian Aid Ireland and Trócaire.

Loss and damage refers to costs of unavoidable and irreversible impacts of the climate crisis. It can result from slow onset events such as sea-level rise as well as extreme weather events such as drought and catastrophic flooding.

Separate research suggests loss and damage costs for developing countries could reach up to €530 billion by 2030. Taxes on fossil fuel producers and levies on shipping and aviation are among several new funding sources to help raise revenue, the charities suggest.

Last year’s UN climate conference Cop27 had a historic agreement to establish a fund to support countries on the front lines of the climate crisis to recover and rebuild in the immediate and long-term aftermath of climate disasters. However, despite technical negotiations since, key questions remain live ahead of Cop28 in UAE later this month, including the scale of funding required as well as funding sources.


Christian Aid Ireland’s head of policy and advocacy Conor O’Neill said: The poorest half of the world, nearly 4 billion people, are responsible for just 12 per cent of all greenhouse gas emissions. The Cop27 decision ... is recognition of this stark inequality, and the need to ensure that those communities are not left picking up the pieces of a climate crisis they did not create. We now need to see detailed, timebound plans from Ireland and other wealthy, high-emitting countries on how they will raise the revenue needed — including taxes on eye-watering corporate profits or fossil fuel producers.”

Decades of fossil fuel burning by the world’s wealthiest countries as well as a failure to take the action necessary to reduce their own emissions has driven increasingly frequent and worsening extreme climate disasters, Mr O’Neill said. The world’s poorest and most vulnerable countries and communities were bearing the brunt of the impacts as well as the costs, despite being least responsible for causing the crisis.

Malawi, a country responsible for less than 1 per cent of global emissions was hit by Cyclone Freddy earlier this year, sparking devastating floods. The cyclone caused more than $347 million in physical damages, economic losses of almost $160 million as well as non-economic losses including the deaths of more than 1,000 people and the displacement of nearly 660,000 others.

Head of policy and advocacy at Trócaire Siobhán Curran said: “The costs that vulnerable countries are facing to address loss and damage are a result of decades of inaction and will continue to escalate without a rapid reduction of global emissions. It is a matter of justice and equity that richer countries move quickly to fill this fund based on their historic responsibility, that they ensure it is accessible to developing countries facing climate catastrophes, and to the most marginalised communities, particularly women, who are being unfairly left to pay the price of climate impacts.”

Ireland should be a leader in committing money and in ensuring delivery of the fund based on climate justice at Cop28, she added.

Climate treaties, including the 2015 Paris Agreement, make clear financial support to help developing countries deal with climate impacts must be “new and additional” to long-standing targets on overseas development assistance. Challenges in tackling poverty or providing education and healthcare have been exacerbated by climate disruption.

A previous global target to provide $100bn per year until 2025 to help developing countries reduce their emissions (mitigation) and build resilience to climate change (adaptation) has been consistently missed by richer countries and has eroded trust with developing countries.

The Cost of Inaction report will be presented to TDs and Senators in Leinster House later today.

Kevin O'Sullivan

Kevin O'Sullivan

Kevin O'Sullivan is Environment and Science Editor and former editor of The Irish Times