It refers to demands of poorest countries that they must be compensated for inevitable losses caused by the existing level of greenhouse gas emissions, which any amount of reduction of future emissions will not stop.

A day before the formal opening of the U.N. climate negotiations, delegates from more than 190 countries began informal parleys in order to set up common positions and strategies.

Many rounds of meetings between different blocs of countries and the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) officials too went on in parallel with the Polish presidency keen to figure out a common ground.

The phrase “loss and damage” became a buzz word even as diplomats and negotiators from more than 190 countries continued to land in the Polish capital. “Loss and damage” refers to demands of the poorest countries that they must be compensated for inevitable losses caused by the existing level of greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere, which any amount of adaptation or reduction of future emissions will not stop.

The two key blocs of countries, Association of Small Island States (AOSIS) and the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) have been at the forefront demanding an arrangement under the U.N. climate convention from the developed countries to support and compensate for such “loss and damage”.

An Indian negotiator at Warsaw told The Hindu, “Warsaw talks will have to provide some kind of mechanism to address loss and damage by the end of the two weeks of talks for the negotiations to be successful here.”

The developing countries have also asked for clarity on how the rich world will provide the $100 billion annually it had promised to deliver, starting 2020. So far there has been little evidence that the developed countries are keen to do so and have instead suggested that the world depend upon investments from private players to secure the money to fight climate change. India, along with other countries in the BASIC (Brazil, South Africa, India and China) group, has also demanded that the talks bring out a clear timeline of how the funds would be ratcheted up to reach the target amount by 2020. But hope on this end is low.

The Indian negotiator explained, “It’s become clear that the developed countries are unlikely to deliver on the financial front at Warsaw. If that remains the case then the hosts Poland would have to make sure at least these talks set up the mechanism for addressing loss and damage. India is fully supportive of the demand for it.”

But, he also warned, “Developed countries want that the funding for loss and damage too should be provided through the market route. They are suggesting that we look at insurance and other such market avenues. In contrast the poor countries require a clear public funded system where the funds are adequate and predictable.”

The Indian government has empowered its negotiating team in Warsaw to work with the like-minded developing countries and the BASIC to ensure a formal mechanism on addressing “loss and damage” is secured at the Warsaw talks.