Climate compensation won’t work | WIRED

in concrete Ruins on Kanokupolu beach, Tonga, leaves have begun to form a coating, green and glossy amid the dull gray of debris in the sand. One year after Hunga Tonga–Hunga Ha’apai . eruption—a volcanic eruption larger than Krakatoa that has caused global warming, reshaped the ocean floor and wiped out two smaller islands of the archipelago—the devastation it caused is still evident, Along with the ruins of the resorts once located here, a repair work has not yet begun.

Last year’s disaster, which affected about 84% of Tonga’s population, was the Pacific nation’s third natural disaster in five years (it was affected by Category 5 tornadoes Gita and Harold in 2018). and 2020)—a byproduct of global emissions that warms the planet, increases hurricanes and droughts, increases wind speeds, and causes sea levels to rise, increasing risks to communities. reside nearby. Despite coming in at 190 on the global carbon emissions rankings (the US comes in second), Tonga is now one of many countries being battered by those on far wealthier, more remote coasts. and left to pick up the pieces. Aware of this grim fate afflicting poor countries across the globe, discussions on how to remedy injustice have begun, largely coming to a solution: climate compensation.

A “historic agreement” was signed at the Cop27 climate summit in Egypt earlier this year, with the promise of establishing a compensation fund for affected countries. Recommendations will be made at Cop28 (held in Dubai, ranked 28th for global CO .)2 emissions) by the end of the year. However, the details are still vague on how or when they will come into effect. Without them, it’s hard to see the UN-proposed fund as anything more than a hastily applied bailout, designed to assuage the guilty consciences of rich countries without understanding. Learn how to actually help those in need or address the causes of these disasters. first place. As Tonga has found, being constantly hit by the elements requires more planning and investment in prevention than just a hasty clean-up.

The country needs help, for sure. But getting rich countries to write checks is not enough. What Tonga (and similar countries) requires is crisis managers who have faced similar disruptions and are skilled at rebuilding communities, and kickstarting to ensure money is transferred to where it is really needed. Immediately after last year’s eruption, several countries quickly sent resources, but they rarely met the country’s needs, locals told me when I visited last month. For example, piles of food, when stores are already full, are lined up on ships at the jetty in the capital Nuku’alofa, delaying other emergency supplies that then take days to return. unloaded. Other gifts – trucks, clothes – were never even given.

Managing these well-intentioned arrivals is nearly impossible with so many more pressing issues to deal with—such as building homes for the former residents of Mango and Atata islands, all of which have to be sorted out. dispersed after their own home was destroyed. The first residents can only move in just before Christmas. This is a best-case scenario for what climate compensation will look like, in which new buildings address a direct need, for which background knowledge and understanding is critical in both planning and plan and implement. But while these homes are upgrades of the community homes they lived in for 11 months after the blast, it’s inevitable that many people now live as 10 family members in two rooms. , that they have lost their jobs in resorts that have been wiped out, and that if full action on climate change had been done sooner, now, as one mother told me, they would do not feel that they have nothing left. Their only way now is to just hope another disaster doesn’t happen.

The concern, of course, is that people will – and soon will. The Pacific is particularly at risk: Kiribati, an idyllic atoll located between Hawaii and Australia, has been swallowed up by the sea at such a rapid rate that it will likely cease to exist in a few decades. Half of the households have been affected by sea level rise, with six villages having to be completely displaced. The Maldives, Micronesia and Tuvalu are also predicted to disappear in our lifetime, with soaring emissions causing coastal erosion, destruction of plantations (and livelihoods), severe droughts and floods without they and other vulnerable countries frequently face. Fiji is bigger and wealthier, but it’s also not immune to threats, as 65% of the population lives within 5 kilometers of the coast.


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