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US pressure tactics work, clause excluding compensation option retained

Shifted out of sight from core agreement to another decision that 196 countries will sign at Paris summit

Nitin Sethi  |  Paris 

Paris, Climate change, Global warming, France
Oxfam activists wear masks of from left, Xi Jinping, Barack Obama, Francois Hollande, Narendra Modi, Angela Merkel and Malcolm Turnbull as they stage a protest during the COP21, United Nations Climate Change Conference. Photo: AP/PTI

With the US refusing to budge, the French presidency has been forced to retain the clause in the Paris package that would block any prospects of the vulnerable to file a claim for compensation or liability in the future for loss and damage arising out of climate change.

To make it seem as if it's disappeared, the clause has been removed from the core Paris agreement and added to what is called the decision text that 196 countries would also be required to accept in Paris.

Business Standard reviewed the revised text doing away with compensation and liability as it appears in the draft decision that the French are expected to put in public in a few hours. It reads, countries "agree that Article 5 of the agreement does not provide a basis for any compensation or liability."

Article 5 of the Paris agreement carries the decision on having a loss and damage mechanism for future.

"For all practical purposes all that's been done is transport the clause a bit out of sight for some to claim it's not in the Paris agreement. But a decision by the Conference of Parties of the UN climate convention carries the same legal implications in this case - all future rights have been forfeited. Period," said a delegate from the G77 group who was unhappy with the decision to bend backwards for the US red-line.

Several country delegates that Business Standard spoke with said they had not been consulted during the process of negotiations for this clause but they were aware that the US had been engaged on it with the French presidency. They said there were a country or two that had participated in the talks with the host French and the US but they wished to not name these. Business Standard could not independently confirm this.

"This is shameful to force vulnerable communities, which will suffer permanent loss and damage because developed countries did not take the lead in reducing their emissions, to forego their future rights at this juncture while calling themselves ambitious, " said Meena Raman of Third World Network, an observer group at the climate talks.

"In the least the developed countries should have committed to substantially increasing thir financial support to the Loss and Damage mechanism being approved on Paris. It could have been some kind of bargain even if it's not fair. Now we just have developing countries being asked to kneel over," she added.

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First Published: Sat, December 12 2015. 15:27 IST