Will Cooler Heads Prevail?
Cool temperatures in Warsaw, Poland, were not enough to keep tempers from flaring at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
Stalled talks on a new “loss and damages” funding scheme led to a walkout by China, plus 132 poor countries with less than two days left to negotiate. “Loss and damages” was added at last year’s meeting in Doha, Qatar, that would require rich nations to pay poor nations reparations for storms like the recent typhoon in the Philippines, based upon the false belief that climate change is due to greenhouse gas emissions.
Kumi Naidoo, Executive Director of Greenpeace International, said about the walkout, “The Polish government has done its best to turn these talks into a showcase for the coal industry. Along with backsliding by Japan, Australia and Canada, and the lack of meaningful leadership from other countries, governments here have delivered a slap in the face to those suffering as a result of dangerous climate change. The EU is being shackled by the Polish government and its friends in the coal industry, and must resume leading on the climate agenda if Paris is going to deliver a treaty that matters.”
A new legally binding treaty is to be completed in Paris in 2015 and in force by 2020, even though no one seems to know, including the World Bank, what it will cost to “green” poor nations’ economies.
American delegation head Todd D. Stern is holding out hope that negotiations will continue, stating, “I don’t see this negotiation blowing up. I think we will find a resolution.” A U.S. State Department memo added, “A central issue will be whether loss and damage continues to fall within adaptation or whether it becomes a separate, third pillar (alongside adaption and mitigation), which we believe would lead the UNFCCC to focus increasingly on blame and liability, which in turn would be counterproductive from the standpoint of public support for the convention.”
Whether the meeting in Warsaw ends with a walkout, or not, the UNFCCC is already set to meet next year in Lima, Peru, and in 2015 in Paris. Eternal vigilance is required.