Paris Talks: Compensation for Disasters Seems Unlikely

Athar Parvaiz

Paris, December 8:  If  the flood-hit people in Kashmir, Uttrakhand and Chennai think that they can expect international financial assistance under the Loss and Damage provision of a Paris agreement, their hopes are probably misplaced.

Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar, has been repeatedly speaking about the devastating disasters many states in India had to face over the past few years. Almost all of these disasters are said to have connections with the impacts of climate change.

Activists during a protest demonstration at Le Bourget, Paris urging the global leaders to act. (Credit: Athar Parvaiz)
Activists during a protest demonstration at La Bourget, Paris urging the global leaders to address the concerns of vulnerable countries. (Credit: Athar Parvaiz)

According to him, floods in Chennai and earlier in Uttarakhand and Kashmir serve as examples of a dichotomy in the approach of the West as for as the issue of compensation was concerned. Chennai is the latest Indian state which witnessed heavy floods which damaged property worth billions and killed over 250 people. Earlier Uttrakhand in 2013 and Jammu & Kashmir in 2014 had suffered massive flood disasters.

“It is the biggest irony of the whole dialogue. If we raise the issue of Chennai floods and demand compensation, immediately the developed world will say it is not a case of loss and damage because it is not conclusively proved that this is a climate event. It can be a natural event. That is not a case for loss and damage,” he said during a press conference and demanded that such dichotomies should be addressed if the Paris climate talks were to succeed.

Article 5 of the draft of the Paris agreement is now before the Ministers and negotiators for finalisation deals with the subject of loss and damage. , and has been included with optional text. It is expected to be part of the Article on finance in the final deal.

Recurring floods in the Indian Himalayan region, including Jammu & Kashmir, Assam and Uttarakhand, are largely attributed to the impacts of climate change.

Experts have warned that events like the Kashmir flooding in September last year and the  Uttrakhand floods in 2013 will occur with more frequency in future because of climate change.

Kashmir had suffered massive devastation during the September 2014 floods (Credit: Athar Parvaiz)
Kashmir had suffered massive devastation during the September 2014 floods (Credit: Athar Parvaiz)

research article published in Scientific American on March 5, 2015 says that river flooding will worsen in the coming years with the biggest disruptions expected in Asia – mostly in India followed by Bangladesh and China.

Jammu and Kashmir’s department of Environment, Ecology and Remote Sensing has predicted that the number of rainy days in the Himalayan region may increase by 5–10 days on an average in the 2030s and by more than 15 days in Jammu and Kashmir.

According to a survey carried out by Munich Re, a major international risk management firm, India was the third country most affected by climate-related events in 2013, with over 7,000 deaths, and was number seven in terms of economic losses.

In terms of number of fatalities, it was on top. Regarding insured losses, the survey says that in June 2013, flooding in three Himalayan states of India caused an economic loss of USD 1.5 billion with an insured loss of only USD 600 million).


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