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Drama over Loss and Damage

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Date:Nov 20, 2013

Australian and Norwegian negotiators block text, India wants an outcome.

On the day when G77 and China walked out of a closed door meeting on loss and damage at COP19, the India’s minister for environment and forests, Jayanthi Natarajan, reiterated that the subject was very close to the hearts of the developing countries including India. At a press conference held a few hours after she arrived in Poland’s capital, she said Warsaw will have to “deliver” for vulnerable people around the world.

“Warsaw has to deliver on loss and damage,” she said. The minister asserted that the smaller countries cannot go back with empty hands and this issue had to be addressed in the ongoing meeting.   The second major expectation of the developing countries is finance, and the minister said that a roadmap has to be set up here. The minister said that equity is the route to high ambition and it will not increase only by giving emissions reduction figures to the UNFCCC. “The right pathway to increase ambition has to be decided now. There is a huge gap,” she said, “which has to be filled in by Annex 1, developed countries.” She said that the Annexes cannot be made redundant.  

But the real twist in the tale came from at a closed-door meeting on loss and damage. The negotiating group called G77 and China walked out of this closed-door deliberation after a negotiating text, which was almost ready to be passed the ministers attending this summit, was stopped by Australia and Norway in the early hours of Wednesday.  

This text was prepared after negotiators worked for 12 days, including weekend and late nights. Harjeet Singh, International Coordinator for Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Adaptation, said that Australia and Norway derailed the parleys at the last minute. ”What they (the G77 and China) saw last night was that Australians were behaving like high school boys in a class. They were passing chits and giggling and their behavior was so disrespectful,” he said. In the middle of the night, Norway came up with a proposal where they rejected most of the text that was developed since the talks began. They rejected everything including socio-economic losses, non-economic losses, rehabilitation and compensation.

Bolivia which represent G77 and China then decided to walk away from this meeting on Wednesday at about 4 am in the morning.   Australia had first decided not to contribute any money to loss and damage which had solicited a lot criticism not only from the developing countries but also from civil society groups.   

The European Union had insisted that no new institution should be formed to address this demand. “One of the key challenges that we face here is that how do you structure climate change into different organisations,” Jurgen Lefevere adviser, international and climate strategy at the European Commission, DG Climate Action had earlier said. EU also wants this new mechanism to be delinked from UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The US, it seems, wants the new mechanism to be clubbed under adaptation.

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