The US has repeatedly refused to grant specific funding to developing countries in order to recover from the damages caused by climate catastrophes.
The US is pushing back against the use of the term “losses and damages” in a leading scientific report on climate impacts, sources close to the negotiations have told Climate Home News.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s 18-chapter Report, due to be published Monday, focuses on the effects of global warming on natural and human systems, as well as the options and limitations for adapting to them.
It grapples with the “losses and damages” that might result when emissions cuts and adaptation measures are not enough to prevent the destruction of lives, livelihoods, infrastructure and biodiversity.
Over the past 10 days, government representatives have been discussing the findings of a “summary for policymakers” line by line to approve it.
A draft, obtained by Climate Home News, states that human-induced climate change has already “caused widespread losses and damages to nature and people, despite adaptation efforts”.
But, during a virtual meeting of national delegates this week, the US pushed for the term “losses and damages” to be replaced with the word “impacts”.
One source told Climate Home the US had been “playing hard ball” on the issue. “The US is pushing very hard to obscure the underlying science and keep it out of the summary for policymakers,” which it is “trying to shape to its interest”.
Discussions on ‘loss and damage’ have been extremely contentious at the UN climate talks.
Under the Paris Agreement, countries committed to helping victims of climate changes recover from extreme weather events or slower-onset disasters like sea-level rising.
But wealthy countries have stubbornly refused to provide specific finance for these losses, and refused to accept any liability claims or compensation claims for the historic responsibility they have for climate change.
At the Cop26 climate talks, the issue rose to the top political agenda. The EU and the US blocked the proposal of developing countries to fund loss and damage.
Instead, they had to settle for “a dialogue” to discuss funding arrangement. The issue is expected to top the political agenda at this year’s Cop27 talks in Egypt.
To disentangle scientific findings from the political discourse, scientists referred to “losses and damages” in the upcoming report.
“What is important to recognise about the work that we do in the IPCC is we don’t deal with loss and damage in the [UN Climate Change] sense,” Debra Roberts, co-chair of the working group producing the report, told journalists earlier this month. “What we deal with are the losses and damages that emerge from the physical changes in the climate.”
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The draft summary states that projected losses and damages will escalate with every increment of warming and “become increasingly difficult to avoid”. The near-term goal to limit global emissions to 1.5C will significantly reduce, but not eliminate, all losses and damages.
Nushrat, a climate justice adviser for Christian Aid, stated that the report’s language should not be altered by rich governments.
“We made real progress at the Cop26 climate summit, getting loss and damage on the global agenda. However it seems rich nations are trying to undermine this progress by attacking the reality of loss and damage through the IPCC process, led by countries which claim to be climate leaders, like the US,” she said.
She added: “It is shameful to see them boasting about their climate achievements in public yet behind closed doors they are doing everything they can to prevent support reaching the most vulnerable.”
Source: Climate Change News