Name? Nicola Sturgeon
Westphalian identity? Scottish
Why is she in the news? First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, announced today at the COP27 that Scotland would pledge $5,7 million to compensate developing countries for natural disasters linked to climate change. This comes after Scotland became the only country at last year’s COP to pledge such money for “loss and damages”. Except this time, Ireland and Austria followed with respective pledges of $10 and $50 million.
Why do we care? Well, “loss and damages” is a useful term to describe retrospective reparations for the costs that developing countries incur related to global warming. It is also an avenue for richer countries to make smaller, more specific financial contributions in partnerships with NGOs or with developing countries as a form of diplomacy. However, the fact that we are talking about millions and not billions makes these merely symbolic contributions appear meaningless.
Why should you care? For the decades that international climate forums have existed, rich nations refused to acknowledge a personal responsibility for excessive carbon emissions at worst, and did not touch the subject of reparations at best. Liability is a grey area, and attributing blame for natural disasters is a precarious political bargaining chip. Gaining on the momentum that Sturgeon began last year, richer countries are opening up to the matter, holding an event about it at the COP27. You should care 5/10.
Who else cares? Senegalese president Macky Sall is particularly pressuring richer countries to pledge “loss and damages” payments in lieu of developing countries having to resort to debt in order to rebuild damages to their country and finance the decarbonisation of their development. Sturgeon met with representatives from the Global South to discuss their needs and advocate for more pledges.
Any further comments? If environmental measures feel trivial to you, you should know that conservation efforts in Mexico have started to show results in restoring the jaguar population!