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UN Climate Talks: Wealthy Countries Urged To Foot Bill For Weather-Related Disasters

John Vidal, The Guardian

Developing countries threaten to walk out of UN talks in Warsaw over failure to reach agreement on financial recompense

The proposal by developing countries that their wealthier counterparts be held financially responsible for the damage incurred by extreme climate events such as typhoon Haiyan and droughts in Africa has become the most explosive issue at the UN’s climate change conference in Warsaw. With neither side prepared to give way on the principle of “loss and damage”, confrontation looms at the close of the talks on Friday.

COP19 in Warsaw : Delegates talk during a break in a plenary session

Money talks … delegates at the UN climate meeting in Warsaw are divided over compensation for major weather events. Photograph: Kacper Pempel/Reuters

Earlier this year, governments agreed to resolve the issue of possible recompense. But with only two days of high-level negotiations remaining, positions have hardened. Some of the least developed countries have threatened to quit the talks over the situation.

“This is a red line for us,” said Munjural Khan, a spokesman for the Least Developed Countries (LDC), a coalition of 49 nations that, though the most vulnerable to climate change, claim to have contributed the least to the problem. “We have been thinking of ways to harden our position, to the point of walking out of the negotiations.”

“I expect this to go to the wire, to the last minute of the last hour. It’s all or nothing,” added Saleemul Huq, the Bangladeshi scientist whose work on loss and damage with the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) in London helped put the issue of compensation on the conference agenda.

Huq said the G77 coalition of developing countries was united behind the LDC and Alliance of Small Island States, a group of low-lying coastal countries that have similar development challenges and concerns about the environment. “I see unprecedented unity among the developing countries. It is a win-or-lose issue. If they get a mechanism, the developing countries will win.”

Developed countries have been reluctant to address the issue, blocking calls for a full debate and delaying negotiations. They dismiss the idea of setting up a new global body as “pointless”.

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