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US And EU Demand Poor Countries Give Up On Any Right To Climate Compensation

Nitin Sethi, Business Standard

The US, the EU and some other developed countries have demanded that poor and vulnerable countries commit at Paris that they shall never ask for compensation or hold rich nations liable for the inevitable loss and damage in coming years.

Business Standard accessed the proposal that the US put forth informally before other countries demanding that poor and vulnerable countries give up any future rights to demand compensation or create any form of legal liability upon developed countries.

The proposal reads, “The Parties recognize the importance of averting and minimizing loss and damage from climate change… The Parties commit to continued implementation of the Warsaw International Mechanism under the Convention, in accordance with decisions of the Conference of the Parties and on a cooperative basis that does not involve liability and compensation.”

The last phrase of the last sentence in this proposal sets the redline that US, EU and other developed countries in the Umbrella group, such as Norway have drawn for the developing countries, saying the issue of Loss and Damage would find way its way in to the core Paris agreement only if they agree to explicitly saying that compensation and liability issues would never be raised in future.

Loss and Damage refers to the fact that even after countries adapt and adjust to some bits of inevitable climate change, they would not be able to cope with the alterations to long-term environment and the increasing extreme weather events. These events and the changes in the environment would only get worse if developed countries do not take ambitious emission cuts and encourage developing countries to also do more by providing them finance and clean technologies.

After a huge and ugly fight between the US and developing countries, in 2013, at the climate summit held in Poland, all countries agreed to the principle of Loss and Damage and set up a preliminary formal structure under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change to address it. This was called the Warsaw International Mechanism. The US along with the Umbrella group had fought tooth and nail against this and finally agreed to this relatively toothless institution. The compromise left the window open at that stage for discussions on compensation and liability issues at later years. A leaked US document at that time showed how it had briefed all its embassies across the world to oppose such an idea from the outset even before the meeting of countries at Warsaw began. This institution’s existence is likely to end 2020 when the new Paris agreement gets implemented. Unless, the 196 countries here can either give a mandate here to extend its life or create a new more robust mechanism.

But the US, the EU and members of the Umbrella group of developed countries have warned that they would permit the principle of Loss and Damage to exist in the Paris agreement only if the permanent exclusion of compensation and liability is explicitly put on record.

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