The historical responsibility and climate vulnerability conundrum: real or conjured?: Page 2 of 2

Posted on 9 December 2015

countries that are impacted.

The debate over the 1.5C goal gets even more complicated when the issue of financing is taken on board. A US proposal last week that financing climate action should be an equal responsibility of both rich and poor countries has also elicited negative reactions and allegations of undermining the (UNFCCC) process and rewriting the principles with which it was founded. In framing the debates around ‘vulnerability’, developed countries elude historical responsibility for cutting emissions, as well as paying for climate action. Simply put, developing countries could not count on new and additional financing. The US-led Climate Vulnerable Forum, of which the Philippines is chair, has obfuscated the issue by pitting ‘vulnerability’ (where each country is now facing vulnerabilities) against the historical responsibility of developed countries.

This divergence extends to the issue of loss and damage, with rich countries saying they could accept this provided they are off the hook on footing the bill for developing countries hit by extreme weather events and other long-term environmental impacts. Developing countries are locked in heated negotiations on loss and damage, which they contend is over and above the costs of adaptation.

And as in the previous week, a lot of negotiations are being conducted in closed-doors and without the watchful eyes of observers like civil society groups. There are also accounts of arm-twisting tactics by rich countries, with some of them even threatening to withdraw foreign aid (Official Development Assistance) if developing countries will not accept the conditions set by the rich countries.

The French government intends to conclude the negotiations by Friday, December 11 th. At best, this timeline is a huge challenge considering that there remain stark differences in opinions. At worst, it could mean more strong-arm tactics, including heightening the divide (and rule) between responsibility and vulnerability. #

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