As communities in countries rich and poor face soaring costs from extreme weather and rising seas, governments are grappling with how to set up a new fund to tackle “loss and damage” driven by global warming.

The topic was for years controversial at U.N. climate talks, as wealthy nations rejected demands for “compensation” for the impacts of their high share of the planet-heating emissions that are turbo-charging floods, droughts and storms around the world.

However, at the COP27 climate summit in Egypt last November, a group of 134 African, Asian and Latin American states and small island nations finally won agreement on a new fund that will pay to repair devastated property, or preserve cultural heritage before it disappears forever.

But the details of where the money will come from and how it will be disbursed were left to be worked out by this December’s COP28 conference in Dubai.

As mid-year U.N. climate talks got underway in Bonn in June, Saleemul Huq, director of the Dhaka-based International Centre for Climate Change and Development, called on the United Arab Emirates to declare its intention for COP28 — which it will host — to create the “Dubai Loss and Damage Fund.”

Here’s why the issue of “loss and damage” has grown in importance this past decade — and where the sticking points in finding finance to address it could lie.

What is climate change “loss and damage”?

“Loss and damage” refers to the physical and mental harm that happens to people and places when they are not prepared for climate-driven impacts, and are unable to adjust the way they live to protect themselves from longer-term shifts.

It can occur both from fast-moving weather disasters made stronger or more frequent by warming temperatures — such as floods or hurricanes — as well as from slower-developing stresses like persistent drought and sea levels creeping higher.

A large share of “loss and damage” can be measured in financial terms, like the cost of wrecked homes and infrastructure.

But there are other non-economic losses that are harder to quantify, such as graveyards and family photos being washed away, or Indigenous cultures that could disappear if a whole community must move because their land is no longer habitable.

A June 2022 report released by a forum of 55 climate-vulnerable countries — from Bangladesh to South Sudan — found they would have been 20% wealthier had it not been for climate change and the $525 billion in losses inflicted on them by shifts in temperature and rainfall over the past two decades.

Often the poorest people lack the means to recover what they have lost, particularly as aid fails to keep up with growing needs, as seen with last year’s huge floods in Pakistan or the drought that has left tens of millions hungry in the Horn of Africa.

What funding is on offer when loss and damage happens — and how can more be raised?

So far there has been very little money available apart from aid provided through the international humanitarian system to respond to disasters — which every year faces shortfalls.

A 2022 study by anti-poverty charity Oxfam found that aid needs in response to weather disasters had skyrocketed more than eightfold in the last 20 years.

But U.N.-coordinated humanitarian emergency appeals are, on average, only 60% funded.

“There is not enough money for humanitarian action — even to do the first-phase response [to disasters], never mind the preparedness, resilience [and] longer-term early recovery piece,” said Debbie Hillier, who manages flood resilience programs for Mercy Corps.

According to a 2018 study by researchers at the Basque Centre for Climate Change, the costs of loss and damage in low- and middle-income countries could reach between $290 billion and $580 billion a year by 2030.

But rich countries are already struggling to meet a goal to channel $100 billion annually to vulnerable countries for reducing emissions and adapting to climate change.

Some donor countries, including a few European nations, Canada and New Zealand, have already agreed to provide loss and damage funding to poorer nations – although so far, those pledges total only about $275 million.

Given this, climate justice activists have long argued for the need to find innovative sources for loss and damage funding, based on levies and taxation.

Those include a controversial proposal — backed by the U.N. chief — for rich governments to tax the windfall profits of fossil fuel companies.

Other ideas that have gained ground include levying a small fee on international flights – which contribute to climate-heating emissions – and a global tax on financial market transactions, which could be distributed by the new fund.

The most concrete loss and damage funding scheme so far, the “Global Shield Against Climate Risks”, aims to boost insurance coverage for vulnerable countries and communities, attracting about $200 million at its COP27 launch, largely from Germany.

It will expand initiatives — from subsidized insurance coverage to stronger social protection schemes and pre-approved disaster financing — that can swiftly channel support to disaster-hit poorer countries’ own contingency plans.

But many climate campaigners say insurance cannot be a lasting answer, with losses expected to soar and even become uninsurable as climate disasters intensify.

What are the obstacles to setting up a loss and damage fund?

A “Transitional Committee” is meeting regularly this year to work out the form and scope of the new loss and damage fund, and how to fill its coffers.

Observers say the discussions have progressed constructively — and are hoping this month’s Bonn climate talks will add political momentum. But there is disagreement on which parts of loss and damage finance should fall under the new fund’s remit.

Some countries, notably the United States, want the fund to focus tightly on two key areas less well-covered by humanitarian agencies — “slow onset” disasters, from desertification to islands sinking as seas rise, and “non-economic losses”.

That would also include support for communities — or even whole island nations — to relocate should they no longer be able to continue living in their current homes.

Climate justice campaigners and others, meanwhile, are pushing for the new fund to have a broader scope, which would include helping finance the humanitarian response to climate disasters as well as efforts to cover gaps, especially in terms of building resilience.

A report last month by the Zurich Flood Resilience Alliance outlined lessons learned by the aid sector that could help the new loss and damage fund operate effectively.

Its recommendations included a warning to donors not to re-label their humanitarian aid as loss and damage funding, and to find new sources of finance.

It also stressed the need to use existing systems to deliver aid on the ground fast, find ways to get funding to fragile and conflict-hit states, and work with local groups.

The key will be to agree on how loss and damage action can both benefit from — and amplify — the work already being done by humanitarian agencies to protect vulnerable communities, experts say.

“We can’t allow the accountability to be shifted outside the [U.N. climate] system — for a very simple reason: 90% of disasters we are facing today are climate-related,” said Harjeet Singh, head of global political strategy for Climate Action Network International.

“The loss and damage fund has to be the top-level mechanism that should have oversight on whether people are getting sufficient support or not.”

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Moving around metropolitan areas can present challenges for individuals who are obese or have height limitations, as many public spaces are not designed to accommodate their needs. However, a new law adds weight and height to the list of characteristics that are protected from discrimination in New York City. Aron Ranen has the story.

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China, where COVID-19 was first identified in humans more than three years ago, expects its current wave of infection to hit as many as 65 million cases per week by late June, according to official accounts of models presented at a medical conference.

While that may be an exhausting number to a post-pandemic world wearied by a still rising toll of 767 million confirmed cases and more than 6.9 million deaths, the predicted onslaught in China comes with less severe symptoms, Wang Guiqiang, director of the Department of Infectious Diseases at Peking University First Hospital, told the official newspaper Beijing Daily.

And, experts say, the outbreak is likely to be confined to China. Raj Rajnarayanan, assistant dean of research and associate professor at the New York Institute of Technology and a top COVID-variant tracker, told Fortune that when it comes to XBB variants, “the rest of the world has seen them all.” But up until recently, “China hasn’t.”

Respiratory disease specialist Zhong Nanshan, who spoke on May 22 at a conference in the southern city of Guangzhou, said the current wave of infections that started in late April was “anticipated.” His modeling suggested that by the end of June, the weekly number of infections will peak at 65 million, according to the official Global Times.

After Beijing relaxed the draconian lockdowns enforced under its “zero-COVID” policy, an omicron variant different from the current one ripped through China in December 2022 and January 2023.

About 80% of China’s 1.4 billion people were infected during that wave, Wu Zunyou, chief epidemiologist at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said in January, CNN reported. Patients packed hospitals and families waited for days to cremate those who died.

The latest COVID wave is something most people do not take seriously, said Mr. Lin, who requested anonymity due to the sensitivity of the issue. The resident of Quanzhou in Fujian province said, “They go about their activities normally and don’t do any protection. No one wears masks.”

Mr. Lin told VOA Mandarin he was infected in mid-December 2022, soon after Beijing lifted the lockdowns that had sent the world’s second-largest economy into a tailspin.

He realized he was infected — again — in May. Mr. Lin said he knew others who were likely reinfected and didn’t even bother to take a COVID test because their symptoms were so mild.

Mr. Zhang, who was infected for the first time in December, told VOA Mandarin he was infected a second time on a business trip to Shanghai and Beijing in May. The Hunan province resident, who asked to use a pseudonym to avoid attracting official attention, thought he had caught a cold because of the air conditioning he encountered on his trip.

But he took a test while still in Beijing and with a positive result, ended up at a hospital where he said a doctor told him, “People all over the country are like this. No need for medical attention at all. Just go home.”

After suffering four days with insomnia, loss of appetite and recurring fever, Mr. Zhang went to another Beijing hospital. Admitted, he was given Paxlovid, an anti-coronavirus drug developed by Pfizer.

“I took the medicine at noon and felt relieved at night,” he told VOA Mandarin.

During his hospital stay, Mr. Zhang said, “All the infectious disease wards were full, and there was a long queue to get an appointment. The hospital used wards of other departments for patients from the Infectious Diseases Department.”

Jin Dong-yan, a biochemistry professor with the Li Ka-shing Faculty of Medicine at the University of Hong Kong, told VOA Mandarin there is not much difference between the current situation in China and in the U.S., but the Chinese media devote more coverage to the outbreak.

Jin said, “In fact, looking at the data, the U.S. has experienced about four peaks after the outbreak last year, but each peak is getting smaller and smaller.”

The United States, by comparison, was reporting more than 5 million cases a week at its most recent peak in January.

The World Health Organization declared COVID-19 over as a global health emergency on May 5.

Like the U.S., China stopped providing weekly case updates in May, making it difficult to know the true extent of the current outbreak.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recorded more than 1.1 million deaths in the U.S. involving COVID-19 from January 4, 2020, to May 27, 2023. 

In China, from January 3, 2020, to May 31, 2023, there have been almost 100 million confirmed cases of COVID-19, with more than 120,000 deaths reported by Beijing to WHO.

Adrianna Zhang contributed to this report.

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Раніше сьогодні міністр культури й інформаційної політики Олександр Ткаченко повідомив, що комісія МКІП завершила свою роботу в Києво-Печерській лаврі, і тепер УПЦ (МП) має звільнити приміщення Лаври протягом трьох днів

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New advances in the fight against a range of cancers have been revealed at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), which wraps up in Chicago on Tuesday.

Here are some of the announcements that have most excited experts.

Lung cancer

One of the trial results that caused a stir in Chicago has raised hopes for a new weapon against lung cancer, the deadliest of all cancers.

The treatment osimertinib was shown to halve the risk of death from a certain type of lung cancer when taken daily after surgery to remove the tumor.

Developed by the pharmaceutical group AstraZeneca, the daily pill targets patients with non-small cell cancer — by far the most common type — as well as a mutation of their epidermal growth factor receptor, or EGFR.

Iris Pauporte, head of research at France’s League Against Cancer, told AFP the advance was a “big ray of hope” for this type of cancer, for which progress has been slow.

Muriel Dahan, head of research at Unicancer, said that if the results are confirmed, it “should change” common practice in treating this kind of lung cancer.

Systematic testing for the EGFR mutation would also become necessary for lung cancer patients, she added.

Brain cancer

Another treatment, called vorasidenib, was found to significantly prolong the progression-free survival of patients with brain tumor glioma, according to clinical trial results.

The daily pill, developed by French pharma firm Servier, aims to block an enzyme responsible for the progression of some brain cancers, which have been particularly difficult to treat.

Patrick Therasse, Servier’s vice-president of oncology research, told AFP that there “have been few therapeutic advances for brain tumors over the last 20 years.”

“Thanks to our targeted treatment, patients avoided cancer progression for 27.7 months, compared to 11.1 months” for those taking a placebo, he added.

Fabrice Andre, head of research at France’s Gustave Roussy cancer center, said “precision medicine opens a door for a disease for which there was nothing until now.”

“It means that science can unblock situations that were catastrophic,” he told AFP.

Unicancer’s Dahan said it was important to “remain cautious” but added that “this could become the new therapeutic standard — depending on further trials.”

Breast cancer

Preliminary trial results also released in Chicago indicated the drug ribociclib reduced the risk of breast cancer recurring by 25 percent for a large group of early-stage survivors.

The drug, developed by Swiss pharmaceutical maker Novartis, is already widely approved around the world. It was tested in combination with hormonal therapy.

ASCO expert Rita Nanda said it was a “very important and practice-changing clinical trial.”

Cervical cancer

There was also good news for patients with early-stage cervical cancer with a low risk of progression.

There was no greater risk of the cancer returning for patients who get a simple hysterectomy, in which the uterus and cervix are removed, than a radical hysterectomy, in which the uppermost part of the vagina is also removed, according to phase three trials.

League Against Cancer’s Pauporte said this was “good news,” adding that “it shows that it’s not just progress involving drugs that was important.”

Ovarian cancer

A trial also presented at ASCO showed that taking the antibody treatment mirvetuximab soravtansine significantly improved the survival rate of patients with ovarian cancer, a particularly deadly form of cancer.

ASCO expert Merry Jennifer Markham said the treatment “demonstrates progress and offers hope for these patients.”

Rectal cancer

Study results released in Chicago indicated that patients with locally advanced rectal cancer could receive chemotherapy without getting radiation therapy before undergoing surgery.

This would spare patients from the brutal side effects of radiation.


Vaccines that treat existing cancer have long been a goal of the medical community.

Preliminary studies announced at the ASCO meeting involved vaccines targeting lung cancer, head and neck cancers, brain tumor glioblastoma and the cancer-causing HPV virus.

Christophe Le Tourneau, an oncologist at France’s Curie Institute which presented a study about a vaccine for a certain form of HPV, said there has been “significant technological progress” in the area recently.

“Therapeutic vaccines, we talk about them more and more, and there are more and more trials in progress,” he said.

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Кличко як голова Асоціації міст вже пообіцяв прийняти до Києва дітей з Херсона на оздоровлення, а також вирішується питання з мотопомпами, плавзасобами і питною водою

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