Haiyan revives compensation row at UN climate talks

Haiyan revives compensation row at UN climate talks

WARSAW - The devastation wreaked by Typhoon Haiyan has become a rallying cry at UN climate talks, where the Philippines and other developing nations are demanding aid guarantees for future damage from global warming.

The demand has created another deep fault line in the divided negotiations, for rich nations see it as a potential trap, locking them into a never-ending liability for compensation.

Many of the world's poorest nations are also the most vulnerable to the ravages of climate change, from severe storms to slower-onset effects like land-encroaching sea level rise and worsening droughts and floods.

More than 130 developing states are now calling for an international "loss and damage" mechanism, bankrolled by wealthy nations, to be embedded in a 2015 global pact on climate change.

Rich economies, say poorer nations, bear historic responsibility for global warming as they started the rush to burn fossil fuels which cause the greenhouse-gas problem.

"The humanitarian support that is happening now in the case of the Philippines is very important... but at the same time it is also kind of subjective: it not that every country which is affected in the same manner can count on the same support," explained Sven Harmeling of the CARE International humanitarian agency.

"As the problem of loss and damage grows, ad-hoc solutions are no longer sufficient," he told AFP.

Among other things, the proposed mechanism should help developing states develop a technology and knowledge base to mitigate the climate risk and offer financial support to help stricken countries get back on their feet.

An insurance scheme is among the options mooted.

The issue nearly scuppered last year's round of talks in Doha, Qatar - but the day was saved with a compromise to put in place "institutional arrangements" in Warsaw.

This will be no easy task.

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