Developing countries push for climate change "reparations"

Should the industrialized nations most responsible for global warming compensate those now suffering its effects?

By Lindsay Abrams

Published November 18, 2013 10:06PM (EST)

Should the industrialized nations that spent the better part of 200 years releasing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere be held responsible for climate change -- and for its effects, which are disproportionately experienced by poor and low-lying countries? Bloomberg reports that a group of 130 particularly vulnerable nations are pushing for reparations from rich countries:

“Many countries around the world are already incurring losses and damages from the impacts of climate change,” Yeb Sano, the Philippine lead negotiator whose hometown was flattened by the storm, said in an interview in Warsaw. “We’d like to make clear the difference between humanitarian aid and climate change compensation in the context of historical responsibility.”

...For developing countries, the push for compensation is a result of the failure of their wealthy counterparts to cut emissions quickly enough. Loss and damage is an essential piece in the talks involving about 190 nations, which are working on a treaty limiting emission in all nations that could be adopted in 2015 and brought into force in 2020.

Both the U.S. and the E.U. are refusing to entertain the idea, arguing that it turns a shared global issue into a blame game.

Someone, though, is going to have to pay: global losses from extreme weather events have quadrupled from the 1980s to $200 billion per year in the past decade, according to a report released Monday by the World Bank. That price tag seems all but guaranteed to increase further as climate change worsens.

Lindsay Abrams

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