US to oppose separate UN climate change ‘reparations’

US negotiators have been told to oppose calls for a separate mechanism to pay for climate change ‘reparations’ at the UN climate change talks in Warsaw, according to an internal […]

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US negotiators have been told to oppose calls for a separate mechanism to pay for climate change ‘reparations’ at the UN climate change talks in Warsaw, according to an internal State Department memo seen by The Hindu.

The issue has been pushed up the agenda by the destruction caused in the Philippines by Typhoon Haiyan. The Filipino negotiator Yeb Sano has been fasting since Monday when he made a heartfelt speech to the summit calling for action. He said he won’t eat again until there is real progress.

During the speech he said: “Loss and damage from climate change is a reality today across the world. Developed country emissions reductions targets are dangerously low and must be raised immediately but even if they were in line with the demand of reducing 40-50% below 1990 levels, we would still have locked-in climate change and would still need to address the issue of loss and damage.”

The leaked State Department cable suggests the US is largely keen to steer clear of the topic: “It’s our sense that the longer countries look at issues like compensation and liability, the more they will realise this isn’t [a] productive avenue.”

The memo said although the US was “strongly in favour” of setting up an “institutional arrangement” for climate change compensation, it should be brought under the adaptation ‘pillar’ of the convention.

It said the country was opposed to creating a new third pillar on top of adaptation and mitigation as it would: “lead the [convention] to focus increasingly on blame and liability, which in turn would be counterproductive from the standpoint of public support for the convention.”