133 Countries Walk Out Of Warsaw Climate Crisis Meet Over Compensation Row
21 November, 2013
The G77+ China group of 133 countries walked out of the climate crisis conference in Warsaw on the Loss and Damage mechanism after the rich, developed countries refused to agree to terms.
Media reports said:
The walk out was made after the EU, Australia, the US and other developed countries insisted that the question of who should pay compensation for extreme climate events be discussed only after 2015 when a new climate change agreement is expected to be signed in Paris.
The orchestrated move came during talks about "loss and damage" – how countries should respond to climate impacts that are difficult or impossible to adapt.
Loss and Damage is set to become a mechanism where the developed economies provide financial assistance to the developing world as compensation for GHGs caused by the industrialization of developed nations. It was created in Doha in 2012 at the annual UN climate change summit known as COP18. The Doha climate summit also adopted an extension of the Kyoto Protocol up to 2020.
“We want the draft to be strong. We are with G77. We support very strong steps for loss and damage, and anything that does not fulfill that should be highlighted,” Indian Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan said after the walk out.
As part of the demands, the developing countries want developed nations to honor a 2009 Copenhagen pledge to provide up to $100 billion by 2020 for environmental damage.
"The 100 billion is a goal we need to establish a very clear roadmap," said Natarajan. "Unless that is provided for, it will be impossible for us to take forward any meaningful discussion and we feel the negotiations will be rendered completely meaningless," she told journalists.
Representatives of the poorer nations argued that the financial burden associated with global warming is out of reach for them.
Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete said while his country is trying to allocate funds for climate change, the costs are "just too high".
Poland 's envoy Marcin Korolec, chairing negotiations, commented saying that the discussion was "challenging".
"We could not have predicted the economic darkness that we have all lived through for the past five years."
Another stumbling block in the negotiations is sharing the future emissions curbs, as developing nations want to create a UN body charged with compensating for environmental damage.
"Developed countries need to do more... now, and not transfer all the burden of climate change to the poor of the world after 2020," said Natarajan.
Washington has opposed the position saying that a deal under which "the developed countries would be treated in one way, in one section of the agreement, and developing countries in a different part of the agreement" was a "non-starter", US negotiator Todd Stern said.
Stern explained that Washington had contributed about $2.7 billion in 2013, "the highest number that we have had in the last four years".
Russia 's climate envoy and presidential advisor Alexander Bedritsky argued that a separate loss and damage mechanism is not needed and that the new deal should be based on the principles of the Framework Convention on Climate Change.
Bedritsky reiterated Russia 's earlier position on climate change.
The US and Australia argued that there is no necessity in a "loss and damage" mechanism to be separate from existing systems of mitigation and adaptation.
T-shirts and snacks only
Australia was accused of not taking the negotiations seriously. "They wore T-shirts and gorged on snacks throughout the negotiation. That gives some indication of the manner they are behaving in," said a spokeswoman for Climate Action Network.
After a three hour delay in the negotiations, while countries debated what to do in private, talks resumed. "[The walkout] helped to clear the air. They know we are serious," said one lead negotiator, who denied developing countries were "grandstanding."
Harjeet Singh, ActionAid Internatonal's spokesman on disaster risk, said: "The US, EU, Australia and Norway remain blind to the climate reality that's hitting us all, and poor people and countries much harder. They continue to derail negotiations in Warsaw that can create a new system to deal with new types of loss and damage such as sea-level rise, loss of territory, biodiversity and other non-economic losses more systematically."
Australian ambassador Justin Lee, who is heading Australia 's delegation following its decision not to send a minister to the talks, rejected criticism the country had been obstructive during negotiations, in particular related to possible financial commitments.
“They must know how much they are actually responsible … for the essential problem of climate change,” said Brazilian negotiator Raphael Azeredo, according to the AP.
According to a report by the World Resource Institute, developed nations have spent $35 billion in international climate finance through the “fast-start finance” period between 2010 and 2012, exceeding the initial target of US$30 billion.
The report also found that “a continued commitment to scaling up climate finance is needed for both political and practical reasons.”
Five countries - Germany , Japan , Norway , Britain , and the US gave a combined amount of $27 billion, adaptation funding received $5 billion while mitigation received $22.1 billion.
In Warsaw , Japan pledged $16 billion over three years and on Wednesday while Norway , Britain and the US pledged $280 million to maintain the world's forests.
The EU representative Connie Hedegaard said that 1.7 billion euros will be allocated for the year 2014-2015.
Conservation groups asserted these funds are not new sources of revenue and there is ambiguity on how and when new money will reach its destination.
“We see no roadmap for finance, only repackaged old money or money redirected from other budgets,” Dipti Bhatnagar at Friends of the Earth International told Reuters.
Energy sector needs $1 trillion a year
The International Energy Agency has said that $1 trillion a year of further investment is necessary until 2020 for the energy sector to transition to and deliver cleaner sources of energy.
“Much of the action is going to happen at the domestic level,” said Jane Wilkinson, director of the Climate Policy Initiative, which has reported that global climate spending fell one percent last year as an economic slowdown took its toll.
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