Privilege At Play: Developed Nations Seek Climate Change Damages From India, China

Privilege At Play: Developed Nations Seek Climate Change Damages From India, China
Representational image source: Stockholm International Water Institute

With the worsening state of global climate, India may also be facing a possible financial issue. The UN Climate Conference (COP27) has asked for India and China, relatively underdeveloped countries when compared to their global counterparts, to contribute to the ‘Loss and Damage’ fund.

This move can be considered as one of the ‘most critical’ issues before poor and vulnerable countries, as this demand goes against India’s firm belief that only ‘historical emitters’, i.e., developed countries should have to contribute to the fund.

The office of Egypt’s president said that it has ‘very divergent’ views on the matter, which will be a topic of discussion at COP27. First world countries are pushing for the less developed but “high income countries except the small island developing states”, including countries like India and China, to contribute to the fund when it gets set up.

The ‘Loss and Damage’ proposal which has been presented by the G77 group (a group of 134 developing countries including India) and China is guided by the principles of the Paris Agreement, “including the principle of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities (countries will contribute in a proportionate manner to their respective circumstances) in the light of different national circumstances, and taking into account historical responsibilities”. The funds will help the member countries in meeting their ‘non-economic’ and ‘economic’ damages associated with the adverse effects of climate change.

Following the fund set-up, the proposal also suggested that a ‘Transitional Committee’ should develop the ‘objectives’, ‘principles’ and ‘operational modalities’ of the fund, and asked that the group convene its first meeting latest by March 2023. 194 members at the UN climate convention decided to introduce the ‘Loss and Damage funding’ as an agenda in a COP27 summit. This fund will serve as an important measure for struggling African nations and island countries.

A developing-country observer reported, “US, Germany, EU have objected to the G77+China proposal. They have initiated talks of asking India and China to contribute to ‘Loss and Damage’ funding. It appears that this is an attempt to break the G77+China unity on this matter. The developed countries are not inspiring confidence because they are only talking about processes, meetings and workshops but are resistant to a funding facility.”

An unnamed Indian delegate explained that ‘report 6’ of the ‘Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s’ (IPCC) is proof that global warming is ‘directly proportional’ to the contribution to cumulative CO2 emissions. “All CO2 emissions, whenever they take place, contribute equally to warming. So, when the conversations on loss and damage began is not relevant to the contribution to emissions. For historical cumulative emissions from the pre-industrial period till 2019, India’s share is less than 4%, as noted by the Working Group III Report of the IPCC AR6.”

Another assessment by India shows that the cumulative carbon emissions debt (1850 – 2019) by the ‘Annex-I countries’ (rich nations) amount to carbon ‘790 GtCO2’ – roughly rounding up their debt to $79 trillion. Harjeet Singh, the head of global political strategy at Climate Action Network International, expressed that this demand by ‘rich nations’ is simply an attempt to ‘break’ G77 and China unity, and “completely evade historical responsibility”.

Frans Timmermans, the executive vice president at the European Commission for the European Green Deal, said that China is one of the ‘biggest economies’ with a lot of financial strength, and hence, he admittedly fails to see “why should they not be made co responsible for funding loss numbers?”


Read more: COP27 Agenda To Focus On ‘Loss And Damage’ Funding

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