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dated: 2022-11-20 00:58:02 .
OTTAWA – All major polluters – including China – must contribute to a new global fund to compensate developing countries for the losses and damages they suffer from climate change, Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault said Friday.
The call, stemming from a European Union proposal, would widen the traditional division of global climate responsibility between the richest countries, which have historically emitted the largest amounts of greenhouse gases, and developing and emerging economies.
The developed world usually needs to do more to reduce emissions and finance these efforts in developing countries. Getting support for climate action in countries like Canada and the United States, where some leaders say it’s unfair that China doesn’t have to do as much hard work, has been a huge problem.
China, whose economy has only exploded in the last 25 years, is usually considered a developing country, as are some of the most oil-rich nations, including Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
But Guilbeault said the state of the world is not what it was when the UN climate framework was signed in Brazil 30 years ago.
China was not among the top 10 world economies in 1992. Now it’s number two. Three decades ago, its emissions accounted for about 12 percent of total annual world emissions. In 2020, its share reached 31 percent.
“So we can’t continue to pretend we’re living in the world of 1992,” Guilbeault told reporters in Egypt at a virtual news conference on Friday. “We have to understand that we live in the world of 2022.”
The question revolves around who will fund the new Loss and Damage Fund, which would essentially ensure that rich countries compensate developing countries for damage caused by climate change.
The COP27 climate talks in Egypt are the first UN climate talks to include efforts to establish such a fund. Europe suggests that the list of countries to contribute should go beyond the traditional list and include countries like China. Canada approved.
“We believe the funds should include all major issuers,” Guilbeault said.
He said he doesn’t necessarily believe China’s contribution should be equal to that of other developed countries, but there still has to be something.
The Association of Small Island States also pushed for the admission of China and India.
In a statement, the group of 24 countries calling themselves the “Group of Like-minded Developing Countries” accused Europe and Canada of trying to shift the burden of loss and damage from themselves.
The Chinese government has stated that any contribution must be voluntary.
Scott Moore, director of China Programs and Strategic Initiatives at the University of Pennsylvania, said China’s emissions have risen so much that the argument that it is less to blame for climate change than countries that have been industrialized for longer is less credible.
The data suggest that the US is responsible for about a fifth of cumulative greenhouse gas emissions since the start of the industrial age, with China second with about half that amount.
Canada ranks 10th with 2.6 percent of cumulative emissions.
But Moore, who worked extensively on the 2015 Paris climate accord while at the U.S. State Department, said the effort to include China and others in contributing to the loss and damage was a minor distraction.
“There is an inherent reluctance on the part of rich countries like Canada or other advanced industrial countries to take too much direct responsibility or liability for loss and damage,” he said.
“It’s a way of deterring and diluting claims for damages.”
Canada’s call for China to do more comes as relations between the two countries have frayed after years of diplomatic spats. It also comes as the two countries prepare to co-host talks on restoring natural habitats and slowing biodiversity loss at the UN biodiversity summit in Montreal next month.
The loss and damage debate is one of several outstanding issues still being negotiated as COP27 in Sharm el-Sheikh draws to a close.
Talks have reached a frenetic pace as the parties try to reach a final climate deal by 2022 to keep hopes of limiting global warming alive. Consensus was hard to come by on Friday, which was supposed to be the last day of talks, and talks are now being dragged into the weekend.
Part of the delay is attributed to a chaotic organization from Egypt, which as COP27 president was allowed to oversee the talks. Egypt only presented the draft text of the final agreement on Friday morning, almost a week later than usual.
The toughest decisions and final negotiations were left until the last minute, prompting one Canadian observer to describe the process as “a 3D game of chess played by tired, grumpy people who just don’t want to be here.”
Julia Levin, head of Canada’s National Climate Program for Environment, said the two-week COP27 event has been very frustrating.
“This is the worst organized police force ever,” she said.
This Canadian Press report was first published on November 18, 2022.
Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press
China and Saudi Arabia must be part of the new climate loss and damage fund: Guilbeault
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