Statement from David Nicholson, Chief Climate Officer for Mercy Corps
The worst drought in Somalia in 40 years. Deadly and unprecedented flooding in Pakistan and Nigeria. Europe’s hottest summer in 500 years. Climate-driven catastrophes are unfolding in front of our eyes and are less predictable, more intense and deadlier. For many years, we have been warned of the devastating effects of climate change, and people worldwide are already carrying a devastating burden: widespread crop loss, washed-out villages, depleted water sources, and loss of life and livelihoods.
Nowhere is the climate crisis felt more acutely than in East Africa. The region will soon experience its fifth consecutive drought in a decade and the most devastating in a generation, with over 15 million people experiencing extreme hunger across Kenya, Ethiopia, Somalia, and Uganda. This year, Pakistan suffered a heatwave that pushed the limits of human liveability, peaking at 49.5°C in May, followed by catastrophic flooding that damaged or destroyed more than a million homes and countless acres of crops, causing an estimated US$30 billion in losses and damages.
The biggest emitters and wealthiest countries have committed to lowering emissions and providing financing to help those on the frontlines adapt to their new reality. But most have yet to keep their promises. Global leaders now head to Egypt to attend the Conference of the Parties (COP27) – a pivotal moment to recommit to making good on those promises. But we already see signs that many will again fail to do so, distracted and overwhelmed by domestic priorities, inflation, energy access, and the war in Ukraine.
Global leaders attending COP27 must follow through on their past pledges, starting with the promised $100 billion in annual climate finance, which should see a minimum of $40 billion towards adaptation. While investing in adaptation is vital, climate change impacts are already felt by the most vulnerable countries and communities. A total of 389 climate-related disasters were recorded in 2020, resulting in the deaths of 15,080 people, affecting 98.4 million others, and inflicting $171.3 billion in economic damage.
These massive losses will continue to grow. At COP27, leaders of the wealthiest countries, which bear the most responsibility for global emissions, should also commit to a standalone funding commitment for the losses and damages burdened by the most vulnerable.