G77+China group walks out of Loss and Damage talks

Seeking concrete solutions:The Philippines’ head negotiator Naderev Sano and supporters seek an urgent and bolder action to tackle climate change at the United Nations Climate Change ConferenceCOP 19 on Wednesday in Warsaw.— PHOTO: AFP  

The G77+China group of 134 countries walked out of negotiations on Loss and Damage in the wee hours of Wednesday after the rich countries refused to budge from their position that the subject should be discussed only after 2015. The U.S., Australia and Canada have been the most vocal against setting up a separate mechanism on Loss and Damage while the European Union (EU) has not only been belligerent but also tried to make sure it did not materialise at the Warsaw meeting.

At a closed-door meeting of representatives of various country blocks, called a ‘contact group on loss and damage,’ the developed countries continued to demand that the issue be discussed only after 2015.

The Hindu earlier reported that the G77+China group had warned the others that if the rich countries did not relent, it would be forced to walk out of the talks — a rare event in climate talks, which happens only when there is absolute lack of trust between countries.

While several parallel streams of negotiations are on at the moment, including on finance for poor countries and the basic elements of the 2015 agreement, a walkout from even one stream of talks in the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change threatens to bring all negotiations to a halt. “Everything clears together or nothing moves at all,” is how one G77 delegate put it to The Hindu.

In a secret briefing paper prepared by U.S. secretary of State John Kerry, that The Hindu accessed, it had been advised that loss and damage should remain at worst another stream under the ‘adaptation’ mechanisms and not be allowed to be a separate independent system to pay compensation or reparation to poor countries. While poor countries look upon Loss and Damage reparation for the damage caused by inevitable climate change which any amount of adaptation cannot avoid, the developed countries desire that the issue be defanged from any kind of legal liability it may impose upon the key countries with highest historic emissions. At the time of writing this report, the G77+China group was holding its coordination meeting in which the walkout from Loss and Damage was likely to be the key discussion. “U.S.A, 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,” said Harjeet Singh, International Coordinator — Disaster Risk Reduction & Climate Adaptation,ActionAid International.