The United States often cites fear of responsibility to explain why it has so far been reluctant to support the establishment of a new international fund for climate victims.
But some experts say fear is wrong.
They said that signing a UN agreement to set up a fund for “loss and damage” related to climate change would not open Pandora’s lawsuit box for past greenhouse gas emissions.
Saleemul Huq, director of the Bangladesh based International Center for climate change and development, denounced U.S. concerns as “nonsense”
“No one is talking about liability and compensation,” he said. “They have an old bug.”
The US boycott of the climate damage fund dates back several years, including during the landmark negotiations on the Paris climate agreement. At that time, developing countries hoped to include the wording of responsibility for climate damage caused by rich countries in the text articles dealing with the irreversible consequences of climate change or loss and damage.
Developing countries had found a place for loss and damage in the 2015 Paris Agreement, but his delegation insisted on the use of follow-up language and prohibited its inclusion in the basis of future litigation.
This wording is known as decision 52 and is part of the collateral agreement of the Paris summit. It noted that the section on loss and damage of the Paris Agreement “does not involve or provide a basis for any liability or compensation”
Todd Stern, who led the U.S. negotiating team at the Paris summit, said: “we do not agree with the view that there is actual responsibility and responsibility flow compensation.”. “We just don’t want to go there.”
This hesitation continues to this day.
At the international climate talks in Glasgow, Scotland, which ended last weekend, U.S. officials rejected calls for a new loss and damage fund. As a result, an agreement was reached to plan the future course of loss and damage through what developing countries and their advocates call unnecessary delay dialogue.
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John Kerry, US climate envoy, said at the end of the Glasgow summit that there were still problems about the scope of the loss and damage fund. He believes that there are ways to distribute climate assistance through established channels.
In response to a question from E & amp; e news, Kerry said: “we have also been considering the issue of responsibility and the direction of responsibility.”.
Hooker of the center for climate change and development said the United States’ focus on avoiding responsibility was “paranoid”. He said that since the Paris Agreement, developing countries “have never invoked responsibility and compensation as the basis for requesting funds for losses and damages”, but “call on developed countries to act in a common spirit of humanity and solidarity.”
He added: “in my opinion, the attitude of the United States towards us is that we know you have not said responsibility and compensation, but you are thinking that this is unacceptable.”.
As the largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the history of the world, how the United Nations agreement will bring new legal problems to the United States is not simple. Conceptually, the issue of loss and damage seems to point to emissions from countries that have contributed most to climate change over the past two centuries, including the United States.
Stern of the U.S. negotiating team in Paris said there was nothing in the agreement to prohibit plaintiffs from suing for climate change related damage. It is only trying to prevent the international climate convention from becoming the basis of litigation because it involves loss and damage.
“I assure you that when people decide to sue at a certain time, there is no such language (in the Paris Agreement). They will point to Paris, not that it will necessarily prove their situation, but that it will be a factor or something to weigh,” he said. “We’re just saying it doesn’t matter on the scale.”
Dan Bodansky, a law professor at Arizona State University, said that as the United Nations Climate Agency began to provide funds for loss and damage, the assistance provided by developed countries to poor countries damaged by emissions can be regarded as an obligation rather than a gift.
However, the issue of responsibility will be resolved in national courts. ‘it’s hard to imagine that this will lead to successful litigation, especially in the United States,’ he said.
“I think in the United States, it is hard for me to imagine that the court will rely on the judgment of Glasgow as the basis for making a judgment in any way, form or form, or hold the company or the United States liable,” he said. “I just don’t think it’s possible.”
Michael Gerrard, director of the Sabin Center for climate change law at Columbia University, is equally skeptical.
“I can imagine that language and international agreements will give the United States some responsibility, but I can’t imagine that the United States will agree to any such language,” Gerald said.
In order for the Paris agreement to become the basis for increasing liability for climate related damage, parties need to adopt the language that designates developed countries responsible for climate change and undertakes to compensate developing countries for damage.
Gerald said that just setting up a fund and contributing to it would not have this effect.