Slowly but steadily, the UN climate talks are finding a resolution to poor countries' concerns.
Reports of potential compromise over controversial issues have come out of Bonn as the UN climate talks enter their final day of negotiation. A workable draft for a climate rescue pact must be produced or else all the work of the past two years will fall to pieces.
The heart of the controversy lies in the belief that the increasingly common and increasingly powerful natural disasters that reek havoc on third world countries are the result of global warming that is ultimately the fault of first world countries.
The third world countries seek compensation for extreme weather events. The first world, notably the US and the UK, baulk at such an arrangement- fearing liability that could cost billions of dollars for decades to come.
Delegates in Bonn lament the ‘snail’s pace’ of discussions that mainly center on general positions, rather than the line-by-line negotiations that need to take place for the draft to be viable.
The issue of culpability of loss and damage has been a thorn in the side of climate talks for years. In 2013, the diplomats meeting in Poland agreed on the Warsaw Mechanism. This agreement gave the committees two years to come up with a plan.
Meanwhile, with each passing year, the cost of the destruction rises. According to the World Bank, disasters that would cost $50bn a year in the 1980s cost around $200bn now.
“Right now if you are a low lying country you’d be looking at the Mediterranean and not having a lot of confidence that your future was guaranteed unless you could get something locked into the Paris agreement that acknowledged that vulnerable countries are going to face the worst impacts,” said Julie-Anne Richards from the campaign group, Climate Justice.
The US, normally aloof during climate talks, has been engaged and constructive. Friday, the US introduced a potential solution to the intractable issue of loss and damage.
“At this meeting we’ve seen positive moves that I think give us hope that loss and damage can be successfully concluded and we can agree a successful climate agreement in Paris,” said Richards.
Details of the US proposal have not been shared with the public. It is understood to be an extension and ultimately a permanent installation of the Warsaw Mechanism.
“It is a big step forward,” said Harjeet Singh from Action Aid. “At least people are feeling and recognizing the elephant in the room, they’re not hiding it under the carpet anymore.”
Today marks the last day of negotiations until October when delegates will have five more days to iron out the details. An accord must be fully formed before the highly anticipated UN conference on climate change, where heads of state will meet in Paris from November 30 to December 11.
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