Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarjan supported the G77 walk out of talks on loss and damage. “We totally agree with the G77 position. This is a very weak draft (on loss and damage) and we totally support the walk out. It is an extremely diluted and shows absolutely no commitment to the loss and damage. This is not something that we can accept. We are part of the G77," she said.

As a practice in the UN climate negotiations contact groups of key parties and groups are formed on contentious issues to find common ground and then bring it back to the full set of 190 countries to take a formal decision. This contact group on loss and damage had been working on language, which could reflect this common ground.

Piqued by the attempt of developed countries to suddenly take a hardline even as the contact group was making progress, the coordinator from the G77+China group on the issue decided not to engage at all – a rare display of displeasure in international diplomacy. Such a walk out has not been witnessed in the climate negotiations for nearly a decade.

Sources in the G77 group who had analysed the draft text over which the talks broke down told The Hindu, “We had moved to address some of the apprehensions of the developed countries, such as not make any direct reference to the word ‘compensation’ but the draft before us is shifting the loss and damage issue out of UNFCCC to the Rio+20 process, which is not binding.”

Another source in the G77 group meeting said, “Inclusion of this at the middle only suggested to us that the developed countries were trying to throw talks into disarray completely while claiming outside that they are engaging with us. This idea that loss and damage will form part of the Rio+20 development agenda came out of nowhere suddenly after a week of talks.”

Ms. Natarajan also explained the Indian position stating that as a short-term measure India supported creating a window under the existing Green Climate Fund to provide quick resources for loss and damage but in the long run India too was with the rest of the G77+ China countries to ask for a separate mechanism apart from the ‘adaptation’ mechanisms under the UN climate convention.

The ministerial-level talks are also supposed to discuss the issue of loss and damage and it remained unclear how the crash of negotiations would get reflected at this high-level engagement but it would put the developed countries on a back-foot.