Push for loss and damage at COP21

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Daily Graphic, Paris

Least developed countries burdened with the negative impacts of climate change may find relief at COP21 as the Climate Justice Programme pushes for a carbon levy to compensate them.

The loss and damage mechanism made inroads in the version of the COP21 agreement released in Paris on Wednesday, though the final outcome will only be known once the details of the COP21 agreement are known later in the week.

The Carbon Levy Project is aiming for at least $50 billion to be channelled into the loss and damage mechanism to support vulnerable countries in the 48 least developed countries.

Climate Justice Programme, a non-governmental organisation that uses the law to expose environmental and human rights issues relating to climate change, said big oil, coal and gas companies should pay for loss and damage. The 13 largest oil fossil fuel companies made a profit of $132 billion in 2013, while the estimated annual loss and damage for the 48 least developed countries is $50 billion, the organisation said.

"A conservative estimate of current loss and damage for the 48 least developed countries is at least $50 billion per year, rising to more than $100 billion a year for all vulnerable developing countries," Climate Justice estimated.

"The fossil fuel industry is most responsible for climate change and should pay the costs of the devastation their products wreak", said Yeb Sano, a former Philippines climate change commissioner.

Sano was pivotal in lobbying for the loss and damage mechanism adopted at COP19 in Warsaw, Poland, after parts of his country were devastated by Typhoon Haiyan in 2013.

He observed that the issue was being treated in a "token way" in Paris. "Governments refuse to accept that loss and damage must include compensation for those who are already suffering and for those already incurring losses and damage from the impacts of climate change. There is a weak appreciation of the concept," he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

If the proposal by Climate Justice goes through with the establishment of the Carbon Credit Levy, the bills for some of the biggest oil, coal and gas companies such as Chevron, ExxonMobile, Saudi Aramco, BP, Gazprom and Shell, could soar in years to come.