Loss and Damage Fund opens doors to assessing climate risk to infrastructure

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Smoke from a fire rises into the air as trees burn amongst vegetation in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest. Image for representational purposes only.
| Photo Credit: Reuters

The establishment of funds such as the Loss and Damage (L&D) Fund, which at COP28 saw initial commitments worth nearly $750 million, opens up avenues for countries to assess risk and incorporate disaster-resilient practices when developing infrastructure projects, Amit Prothi, Director-General, Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI), said.

The CDRI, which is headquartered here, is among the two international organisations – the second being the International Solar Alliance (ISA) – promoted by India as part of its global commitments to addressing climate change.

The ISA promotes solar power infrastructure among its 160-odd member countries and the CDRI, conceived later in 2019, is geared towards helping its member countries incorporate better practices that safeguard their infrastructure against disaster and climate risk.

“In any given year, the world could collectively lose about $300 billion worth of infrastructure from climate and disaster risk. About one-third of risk is related to natural hazards – earthquakes and landslides not linked to climate-change events – the rest is the risk from the threat of climate change and varies widely across regions,” said Mr. Prothi, who was at Dubai to attend COP28. “Sea-level rise and risk from cyclones [which are climate-linked] are 80-90% of the risk weathered by smaller economies. We’ve recently prepared an analytical tool that maps out the varying amount of risk – relative and absolute – that countries are exposed to.”

For example, a country could compute the amount of risk posed by wind to its telecommunication infrastructure, and think of ways to protect itself against it. The CDRI also funds technical-assistance projects, such as developing an early-warning system for cyclones, in a bunch of island nations. “We’ve given the Dominican Republic a grant to develop an early warning system for multiple hazards,” he added. “We are looking at how institutions like the India Meteorological Department, the Indian Space Research Organisation, Europe’s Copernicus programme [for earth observation] – we can’t be entirely India-focused – can be used to provide technical assistance to places where they aren’t available.”

Going ahead, the CDRI can analyse and recommend projects that can avail of grants from the L&D fund. “For instance, we can give technical assistance to member countries on planning for heat and floods as part of such projects,” said Mr. Prothi. In India, projects are under way with the power sector in Odisha and telecommunications sector in five States. A study was on to determine the extent to which national budgets of Nepal and Fiji were exposed to climate risk. The CDRI has a ₹480-crore fund from the Indian government and commitments worth ₹300 crore had been received from other governments,” said Mr. Prothi.

Adaptation and L&D are major components of the ongoing discussions in Dubai, where countries must set targets and dedicate vast sums of money to adapt to the challenges already under way, from the impact of greenhouse gas emissions on climate.

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