Wednesday, 9 June 2010

New Zealand and U.S spearhead opposition to loss and damage provisions in negotiating text

By Makereta Komai of Climate Pasifika in Bonn, Germany

07 June 2010, Bonn, Germany --- New Zealand has joined the United States in opposing a proposal from many countries including the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) for the establishment of an international mechanism to address loss and damage under the United Nations climate change convention.

Also supported by Norway and Canada, our Pacific neighbour reiterates its position that it’s difficult to prove the link between climate change and any specific extreme event.

But recognising the importance of the issue to AOSIS, Norway said it’s open to discussing them, according to the Earth Negotiations Bulletin (ENB).

ENB follows the negotiations daily and publishes a four page summary for delegates, NGO’s and the media.

The United States, while acknowledging that all countries face adaptation challenges said an insurance mechanism is not appropriate to address loss and damage.

The U.S however, gave a proviso, saying ‘it would be willing to discuss a suite of risk management procedures and mechanisms to address loss and damage.’

This position runs contrary to the AOSIS position, said a Pacific Island delegate attending the negotiations here in Bonn.

Australia, on the other hand, reiterated its position saying that any institutional arrangement on adaptation must focus on co-operation, shared information, trend and gap analyses, technical advice and capacity building.

Bangladesh speaking on behalf of least developed countries (LDC) and supported by Cook Islands urged Parties to consider the establishment of an institutional structure to facilitate the implementation of adaptation actions.

AOSIS, which groups all islands in the Pacific, Caribbean and Indian Ocean, is lobbying for an adaptation body under the Convention with a new funding window, similar to the Adaptation Fund under the Kyoto Protocol.

While Pacific countries are fighting for recognition of their special vulnerabilities as a result of climate change, countries that belong to the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) are also lamenting their economic loss from the erosion of fossil fuel.

“Fossil fuel will be one of the victims of climate change and we should be included in any response measure in the Convention or any new agreement, said Saudi Arabia.

“Our countries should also be compensated for our loss.”

But Barbados supported by Grenada argued that ‘patients suffering from a common cold should receive a different kind of attention than those with a serious illness” implying that the needs of AOSIS are more urgent than those of other regions.

Outgoing UN climate change chief, Yvo de Boer agreed that the demands of OPEC countries are also legitimate.

“Their interests are just as legitimate. They are afraid that aggressive action on climate change is going to decrease the amount of oil they are producing and hurt them economically, said de Boer.

At the same time, the small island countries are saying if there is too little action on the part of industrialised nations and emerging developed countries, it will result in near extinction of some island countries.

“That will mean low level of ambition, which translates into the extinction of some island countries, de Boer added.

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