Bangladesh’s Urgent Demand for Loss and Damage Fund at COP29

Climate Change

As the world converges for COP29, the climate conference under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the urgency for addressing climate-induced loss and damage has never been more critical. For Bangladesh, a country at the frontline of climate change impacts, the establishment and operationalization of a Loss and Damage fund is an existential demand.
The Climate Vulnerability of Bangladesh:-
Bangladesh is frequently cited as one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change. The nation’s low-lying deltaic geography, combined with high population density and reliance on agriculture, makes it particularly susceptible to sea-level rise, cyclones, and flooding. According to the Global Climate Risk Index, Bangladesh ranks seventh among the countries most affected by extreme weather events from 2000 to 2019.

The frequency and intensity of these events have been increasing. For instance, Cyclone Amphan in 2020 caused approximately $13 billion in damages and affected around 10 million people. Similarly, the 2007 Cyclone Sidr caused around $1.7 billion in damages, while the 2009 Cyclone Aila resulted in $1 billion in losses. These recurrent disasters underscore the urgent need for financial mechanisms to address loss and damage effectively.

The Concept of Loss and Damage
Loss and damage refer to the consequences of climate change that go beyond what people can adapt to, including both economic and non-economic losses. While adaptation measures can mitigate some effects, certain impacts are unavoidable. For Bangladesh, this includes loss of lives, livelihoods, homes, and biodiversity.

At COP19 in Warsaw in 2013, the Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage (WIM) was established to address these impacts. However, the mechanism has largely been criticized for its lack of financing and concrete action. Thus, Bangladesh, along with other vulnerable nations, is pushing for a dedicated fund that can provide timely and adequate support.
The Urgency at COP29
For COP29, Bangladesh’s delegation is expected to highlight several key points:

Historical Injustice: Bangladesh contributes less than 0.35% to global greenhouse gas emissions but faces disproportionate impacts. The principle of climate justice underpins their call for a Loss and Damage fund, emphasizing that those who have contributed least to the problem are suffering the most.

Economic Impact: The economic toll of climate-induced disasters is staggering. According to the World Bank, climate change could cost Bangladesh up to 2% of its GDP by 2050. The need for a financial safety net to rebuild and recover is essential for maintaining economic stability and growth.

Human Cost: Beyond the economic metrics, the human cost is immense. Millions are at risk of displacement due to sea-level rise. The International Organization for Migration estimates that by 2050, one in every seven people in Bangladesh could be displaced by climate change. The Loss and Damage fund is crucial to support these populations in rebuilding their lives.

Cyclone Amphan (2020): Affected 10 million people, caused $13 billion in damages.
Cyclone Fani (2019): Affected 63,000 families, caused $180 million in damages.
Cyclone Bulbul (2019): Affected 2.1 million people, caused $200 million in damages.
Below is a graph depicting the financial damages caused by major cyclones in Bangladesh over the past two decades:

As COP29 unfolds, the demand for a Loss and Damage fund is not just a matter of financial aid but a plea for climate justice. Bangladesh, representing numerous vulnerable nations, stands as a poignant reminder of the harsh realities of climate change. The establishment of a dedicated Loss and Damage fund would not only provide much-needed support but also affirm the global commitment to equity and justice in climate action.

The international community’s response to this call will significantly shape the future resilience of Bangladesh and similar countries. As such, COP29 represents a critical juncture in the global climate dialogue, where words must translate into tangible support and action.

Bangladesh urges developed nations and large emitters to acknowledge their historical responsibility and step up with concrete financial commitments. The establishment of a robust and operational Loss and Damage fund at COP29 could be a significant milestone towards a more equitable and resilient global response to climate change.

Md Mahir Daiyan
Climate Change Researcher & Editor in Chief , Green Time