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UN chief warns world on path to 'climate hell'

By ANGUS McNEICE in London | China Daily Global | Updated: 2022-11-08 09:53

Participating world leaders take a commemorative picture ahead of their summit at the COP27 climate conference, in Egypt's Red Sea resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh, on Monday. AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP

Early signals imply that tensions between the developed and the developing world will once again dominate the UN's flagship climate meeting. Many nations in Africa and Asia are enduring the devastating effects of a climate crisis they did not create. Developing countries are also being pressured to reduce fossil fuel usage by rich nations that have long since undergone their own periods of intense industrialization.

Some nations are demanding that rich countries pay reparations. The newly formed Commission of Small Island States on Climate Change and International Law, which was established by Antigua and Barbuda and Tuvalu, is in the process of taking legal action against nations in the global north for damage caused by historical emissions.

On Monday, Britain's Prime Minister Rishi Sunak told reporters at the summit that he is committed to the 11.6-billion-pound ($13.28-billion) international climate fund that was pledged by the British government last year, but says it is possible the plan could take longer than the five years originally planned, the BBC reported.

British politician Boris Johnson, who was prime minister during COP26, said that the United Kingdom could not afford to pay reparations.

"We started it all. Per capita, people in the UK have put a lot of carbon into the air," Johnson said in Sharm el-Sheikh. "But we simply do not have the financial resources for reparations."

Johnson said that negotiations should instead focus on raising money for the climate transition going forward, rather than historical damages.

Delegates negotiated the inclusion of "loss and damage" payments in the COP27 agenda late into the evening on Sunday. Rich nations pushed back at some of the proposed language, in particular the phrase "liability and compensation", for fear it would leave them open to an endless flood of claims.

In the end, Egypt's Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said a compromise had been reached to focus the agenda item on "cooperation and facilitation" and not "liability or compensation".

Hou Liqiang contributed to this story.

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