Aid for climate change damage a ‘red line issue’ for developing countries

China joins 135 nations in denouncing EU/US attempts to attach conditions to funding

A revised negotiating text, five pages shorter than the previous one, was issued on Thursday morning to delegates at the COP21 UN climate change conference. Photograph: Christophe Morin/Bloomberg

A revised negotiating text, five pages shorter than the previous one, was issued on Thursday morning to delegates at the COP21 UN climate change conference. Photograph: Christophe Morin/Bloomberg

 

No agreement will be reached at COP21 in Paris without addressing the whole issue of loss and damage due to climate change, the poorest countries in the world have warned, saying this is a “red line issue” for them.

Gambia’s Pa Ousman Jarju, chair of the 48-strong Least Developed Countries group, said it was also of “paramount importance” that a “clear pathway” would be laid out in Paris to meeting the commitment by developed countries to provide up to $100 billion in aid annually.

Earlier, the G77 group of 135 developing countries and China issued a strong statement denouncing attempts by the EU and US to attach conditions to this funding and draw some of the more advanced developing countries “in a position to do so” into the requirement to help poorer nations.

The “simplistic narrative” was that, due to the dramatic economic growth of some developing nations, notably China and India, it was “time to expand the pool of so-called ‘donors’ of climate ‘aid’ and to narrow the list of those eligible to receive this ‘support’ to only the ‘poorest of the poor’.

“Any attempt to replace the core obligation of developed countries to provide financial support to developing countries with a number of arbitrarily identified economic conditions is a violation of the rules-based multilateral process and threatens an outcome here in Paris,” G77 and China warned.

South African climate envoy Nozipho Mxakato-Diseko, current chair of G77, said her group was being “cast as the villains of this process, and we’re not. From where we sit, we have conducted ourselves responsibly in order to ensure that, together with France, we make history in Paris”.

Although declining to name and shame those “attempting to rewrite” the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, she did say G77 was “tippy-toeing” around those countries that didn’t ratify or jumped out of the Kyoto Protocol - a veiled reference to the US, Canada and Australia.

Cheerful as ever, Ms Mxakato-Diseko reported that G77 had met with the EU on Thursday morning and she was “happy to report that constructively we can achieve a step-change in our work here, without departing from the principles of the convention [on common but differentiated responsibilities].”

The fear among developing countries is that their richer counterparts are seeking to evade their responsibility for the build-up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere since the Industrial Revolution more than two centuries ago, with carbon dioxide already past the threshold of 400 parts per million.

The G77 chair said one of the reasons why so many developing countries had made pledges in advance of COP21 to cut their own emissions was in the hope, even expectation, that they would receive financial aid to do so - as well as for measures to assist them in adapting to the impacts of climate change.

In that context, the “strive to change the convention creates an unhealthy atmosphere in the negotiations”, she said. “CBDR [common but differentiated responsibilities] is embedded in the convention, and we shouldn’t be renegotiating it here”. Finance was also a “make or break” issue.

“I’m mindful that, at the end of the day, we’re going to have to meet our partners half-way. It will be a process of give-and-take in the end and we’ll do the trade-offs that need to be done. But we never understood that we would be asked to trade off the convention for enhanced implementation.”

A revised negotiating text, five pages shorter than the previous one, was issued on Thursday morning, although more “streamlining” remains to be done before ministers arrive at the weekend. “We are seeing progress on the long-term goal,” said Kaisa Kosonen, of Greenpeace.

“There’s more understanding that even 1.5 degrees Celsius warming is dangerous. And there are a clear set of options about how to translate the temperature goal into actual global emissions reductions. We also still hope to see a 100 per cent renewable energy goal.”

Speaking for the Least Developed Countries, Pa Ousman Jarju said he had yet to see the powerful rhetoric of world leaders on Monday “filter into the negotiating rooms”. But he remained optimistic, saying: “There is not going to be a second Paris. This is the time. This is our moment.”