A proposal aimed at resolving an impasse over financing for countries hit by climate-fueled disasters is closer to a final deal. The EU proposal agreed to set up a special fund for covering loss and damage in the most vulnerable countries – but funded from a “broad donor base”.
That suggests high-emitting emerging economies like China would have to contribute, rather than having the fund financed only by rich nations that have historically contributed the most to global warming.
If finalized, this could represent a breakthrough in negotiations on a contentious subject – and it’s seen as a reversal, as the US has in the past opposed efforts to create such a fund.
Prime Minister Gaston Browne has been turning the heat up for many years on developed countries, stressing that countries that are the most vulnerable to climate disasters have contributed little to the climate crisis.
Developed nations that have historically produced the most planet-warming emissions have been hesitant to sign off on a fund they felt could open them up to legal liability for climate disasters.
“Coming out of Glasgow going into Egypt, we were successful in getting it partially on the agenda in the sense that, whereas they agreed that it could be on the agenda, they did not want to have any substantive discussions about loss and damage. So, the understanding was, okay, fine, we will make an attempt to have some cursory discussions about it, but do not ask for any commitments, because we’re not ready to deal with the issue of loss and damage,” Browne said on his radio program tonight
Browne and other Caribbean leaders however continued to push during negotiations for the fund to be established.
“I even addressed one of the negotiating meetings, and I’ve asked them to look at the issue of loss and damage objectively, to look at it from the standpoint of justice, that they are committing an offense, these large polluters are committing fraud. And, you know, small island states require climate justice”
“I also said to them, too, that the idea that there is no money available to cover loss and damage that is so, and that has been one of the issues that John Kerry has promoted for the last couple of years. He went this far stating that the United States has no more money, and there is no other pot to take money from. But what they did not take into consideration is that at the organization level you have companies that are making trillions of dollars.”
So, Browne said the argument was made on behalf of a small island state that these oil companies should be brought to the table and should be discussing with the various stakeholders how they can contribute to this lesson-damaged fine.
“Because ultimately, they’re the ones who are polluting the atmosphere and at the same time, wreaking a significant amount of profits are raking in as you see a significant amount of profits. So it’s only fair that they provide some form of voluntary compensation. And in the event, they are not prepared to contribute voluntarily, then we believe that nation-states have an obligation to tax them to make sure that they do so,” Browne explained
Browne said the Secretary General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, was also asked to use his convening power to get oil companies together, to make a voluntary contribution.
“This doesn’t need to be a hostile act. The reality is you’re committing a tort against all of human civilization, you’re profiteering from it, contributing towards mitigation and adaptation. That’s the least they can do,” Browne explained.
Browne is elated at least, that the discussions have come this far.
“So I think we took a very practical position. When you’re standing on the truth, you don’t have to worry about people who become offended, because when you fight for equity and justice, you can’t go wrong. And that is always been my position. I know there are people here who do not like my style, they feel that maybe I deal with these hard issues, and I should not touch them… well, if we continue to take that position, that certain issues are too controversial for the leader to deal with, and nobody is dealing with them, then how they’re gonna get addressed”
“And again, as I said, the truth is not always beautiful, sometimes ugly, but at the end of the day, it’s the truth”.
The loss and damage issue has dominated this year’s summit, with more than 130 developing countries demanding that the meeting deliver a deal on a new fund to help them cope with the irreparable damage of floods, drought, and other climate impacts.
The United States and European Union had previously resisted the idea, fearing it could open the door to spiraling liabilities for countries whose historical emissions fuelled climate change.
The EU attached conditions to its offer – including that countries agree to step up their ambition to cut planet-warming emissions.
The 27-country EU has among the most ambitious climate targets of major greenhouse gas emitters and has urged China to upgrade its own.