Doha climate conference set to sock it to the USA

Ever since global warming conferences have been around, there has been an effort by corrupt, and very poor states to extort money from the industrial west as "compensation" for "damages" due to global warming.

The US has continously rejected such a preposterous notion, seeing the concept as an open ended invitation by the poor countries to enrich themselves at our expense.

Now it appears that the US delegation at the Doha climate conference is going to allow language in the final draft that will acknowledge the principle of damages as legitimate.


There has been a historic shift in the UN climate talks in Qatar, with the prospect of rich nations having to compensate poor nations for losses due to climate change.

The US has fiercely opposed the measure - it says the cost could be unlimited.

But after angry tussles throughout the night the principle of Loss and Damage is now in the final negotiating text.

Small island states at risk from inundation say they will walk out if the US vetoes the proposed deal.

The political stakes are high. The EU's position is not yet well defined, but soundings suggest that it can live with the text.

The US will be seeking support from other big polluters - like Canada - likely to face liability for climate damages.

If the US is left alone fighting against the chair's text, its negotiators face a dilemma - either to bow to the majority and accept that the nations which caused climate change bear a moral responsibility to other nations damaged by it, or to refuse to sign.

If the US vetoes the text, President Barack Obama will be accused of hypocrisy and failure after re-committing himself to tackling climate change since his re-election.


Saleem ul-Huq, from the think-tank IIED, told the BBC: "This is a watershed in the talks. There is no turning back from this. It will be better for the US to realise that the principle of compensation is inevitable - and negotiate a limit on Loss and Damage rather than leave the liability unlimited.

"[President Obama] has just asked Congress for $60bn (£37bn) for the effects of Sandy - developed nations are already having to foot the bill for loss and damage of their own."

I don't think there is a chance in a million years that any US Congress would support such a scheme. And no country is getting any US money without it first being appropriated by the Congress.

But the concept itself is flawed. Why should the US or any other country pay for warming that is the result of natural causes? Even the most rabid global warming nut can't claim that all warming is the result of man made carbon emissions. Since it is impossible to say how much, if any, warming is our responsibility, how can there be damages?

But the third world smells dollars and it will be difficult to deny them. If Obama gives in on this issue, even Democrats will probably not go along with any global warming legislation he might have in mind for his second term.

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