Residents of a village on the banks of river Jamuna in Bangladesh witness significant erosion due to saline water ingress from the Bay of Bengal. Credit: Subhra Priyadarshini

The inclusion of ‘Loss and Damage’ as a formal category in the COP27 agenda in Egypt was welcomed as an important step towards climate justice by developing countries — member states who often assert that the global north is disproportionately responsible for the climate crisis. The global south has long demanded compensation, having borne the brunt of climate change that is not a result of their actions.

South Asia (or the Third Pole region), is expected to endure an increasing number of extreme weather events, according to IPCC’s projection of key risks, and should pitch for a separate climate crisis fund besides Loss and Damage, according to climate experts.

The Hindu Kush Karakoram Himalayas (HKKH), an area of 4.2 million km2 spanning seven south Asian countries and China, has borne the brunt of climate change, sharing common weather and river systems, which make them similarly vulnerable to climate disasters. Several flooding events and dry spells were witnessed in the region since 2014, the most recent being the flooding in Pakistan, and a long dry spell characterized by intense heat waves in the entire Third Pole region for the greater part of a year.

In 2009, developed had pledged US$100 billion annually to developing nations to deal with climate crisis, but a report in October 2021 revealed that the promise was broken as “realistic scenarios” had shown that the target was out of reach. At COP27, the US$100 billion climate fund will remain a core issue as countries demand rapid delivery and transparency.

According to United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), an entity tasked with supporting the global response to the threats of climate change, securing the funds necessary to spur their own transition to a sustainable future for many nations cannot happen without this promised support.

Regional climate fund

Experts said the climate talks should provide a roadmap to channel funds for most vulnerable countries. “Countries of the Third Pole region are not joining hands and lobbying together for this. But they should, so that the region benefits,” said Shakil Ahmad Romshoo, climate scientist and vice chancellor of Kashmir’s Islamic University of Science and Technology (IUST) as he called for an alliance of Third Pole nations.

India, Romshoo said, which popularized the idea of “common but differentiated responsibilities” at recent COPs, must take the lead in uniting south Asian countries for a forceful demand for separate climate finance for the region.

Romshoo said that south Asian countries need to point out their vulnerabilities to climate crisis and seek funds for adaptation and mitigation.

Sharachchandra Lele, Distinguished Fellow in Environmental Policy & Governance Centre for Environment & Development, Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology & the Environment (ATREE), Bengaluru, agreed the Third Pole region is a distinctive socio-ecological region that faces enormous disruption due to climate change.

“The call for people of this region to forget their differences and come together to develop adaptation strategies and demand special support is a legitimate one,” Lele told Nature India. He cautioned that such a fund must support the region’s people and not be “subsumed under the general support at country level.”