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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

This Polluter Won't Pay: US Shirks 'Climate Justice' at UN Talks

(A)s the idea of who should pay and how much has once again taken center stage at the UN climate talks in Warsaw, a leaked copy of an official briefing document on Wednesday confirms that the United States is attempting to shirk their "moral and legal responsibility" of making payments to an international relief fund. "It is not aid or charity," writes Brandon Wu, Senior Policy Analyst with Action Aid, "it is a moral and legal responsibility."

"While the global North holds only about 15 percent of the global population, it has created the vast majority of historical climate emissionsallowing it to accumulate 80 percent of the world’s wealth," writes Aura Bogada at The Nation. "The global South is home to about 85 percent of the world’s peoples, has created only 30 percent of historical climate emissions, and has amassed only 20 percent of the world’s wealth." "Carbon emissions," explains the New York Times Economix blog, "are correlated with income. The Philippines emits 0.9 metric tons of carbon per capita. The United States emits 17.6."

In a cruel twist of fate, those countries who have amassed the least amount of wealth—primarily those in lower latitudes—and have contributed the least to climate change are the most exposed to the adverse effects of changing weather patterns and have the least amount of resources with which to cope and adapt, as acknowledged by the World Bank in a report put forth last year. One solution put forth, which the United States fought aggressively at COP18, is for an international "loss and damage mechanism" to support these communities in the face of adverse climate impacts such as reduced crop production or major infrastructure repair."