SHARM EL-SHEIKH (Reuters) – High-polluting emerging economies, including China and India, should contribute to a climate compensation fund to help countries rebuild from disasters caused by climate change, the government said on Tuesday. Prime Minister of the island nation of Antigua and Barbuda.
The comments marked the first time the two nations have been grouped together in the list of major emitters that island states say should be held accountable for the damage already caused by global warming.
Prime Minister Gaston Browne, speaking on behalf of the Association of Small Island States (AOSIS) negotiating bloc, told reporters that the world’s first and third largest emitters of greenhouse gases – although still emerging economies – have a responsibility to contribute to a fund.
Conference delegates agreed to put the topic of loss and damage on the formal agenda for the first time in the history of international climate negotiations.
“We all know that the People’s Republic of China, India, are big polluters and the polluter has to pay,” Browne said. “I don’t think there is a free pass for any country and I don’t say that with acrimony.”
In the UN climate talks, the phrase “loss and damage” refers to costs already incurred due to climate-fueled weather extremes or impacts, such as sea level rise.
To date, climate-vulnerable countries have called on historical emitters like the US, UK and EU to pay climate reparations.
China itself has previously supported the creation of a fund for loss and damage, but has not said it should contribute. The EU and US said China, the world’s biggest greenhouse gas emitter, should pay.
India, although one of the main emitters, has per capita emissions significantly lower than the global average.
AOSIS wants full commitment to launch a multi-billion dollar fund by 2024.
Egypt’s top climate negotiator, Mohamed Nasr, told Reuters that the aim of the COP27 negotiations was to get clarity on the way forward on loss and damage, but there were still a wide range of viewpoints.
“We now have a starting point, so it’s more streamlined and more focused and hopefully by the end of the two weeks we’ll have something that identifies the roadmap, the steps to take.” he declared.
Over the coming year, the objective would be to identify a mechanism for financing loss and damage.
“We’re going to look at the different options. Is it a setup? Is it a new fund? Is it the existing funds? I mean there are a lot of options,” he said. “What we’ve heard from many countries is that they want to keep their options open.”
Another AOSIS negotiator, Deputy Environment Minister for International Cooperation, Milagros De Camps, said that from the perspective of island nations like his that face more frequent and more like hurricanes and cyclones, the need for a new dedicated compensation fund is clear.
“We need a specific fund tailored to our purpose…a separate operating entity,” she told reporters. “It’s a matter of survival for small island developing states.”