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By Alexandra Branscombe
November 26, 2013
Credit : AP/Czarek Sokolowski.

In the final days of negotiation, representatives from the world’s poorest nations expressed their growing frustration in the climate change debate within the United Nations (U.N.) by walking out of the organization’s climate talks in Warsaw, Poland.

This happened after developed countries from European Union, Australia, and the U.S. refused to debate the issue of aid and compensation for extreme climate events until after 2015.

132 countries, coordinated by the G77 and China group, left during talks about “loss and damage,” when the representatives were set to negotiate how countries should mitigate climate impacts from extreme weather events, like super typhoon Haiyan.

Rich nations, particularly Australia, have been accused of not taking the talks seriously and disrespecting nations who have much more to lose in the face of climate change.

Developing countries are adamant about a new U.N. institution to supervise compensation for these massive losses, but rich countries are reluctant to fully debate this issue, maintaining that automatic compensation for severe events is not economically feasible.

The cost for natural disasters has cost nearly $200 billion per year, according to the World Bank. “As the global climate continues to change, the costs and damages from more extreme weather related to a warming planet are growing,” World Bank reported last week. “Weather-related economic impacts are especially high in fast-growing, middle-income countries due to increasingly exposed, valuable assets.” 

Despite this urgency, developed countries cannot seem to find common-ground with poorer nations. Another solution on the table is to quantify each country’s historical greenhouse emissions, then establish a new level of emission cuts. Again, rich nations have rejected this—afraid it will have high costs and force legal liability for droughts or floods.

This is just another addition to the slew of problems pervading the U.N. negotiations. During these talks, Japan announced it is no longer going to meet its emission goals, Australia refused to send either their environmental or foreign minister, and host-country Poland fired their own environmental minister.

The mixed ambition for global policy has muted the effectiveness of any action that was hoped to result from these talks as major economies continue to win over climate scientists’ warnings and pleas for action and aid from developing nations.

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