On Wednesday the Climate Action Network voted to award the Fossil of the Day to the US and Canada for refusing to support compensation for loss or damage to poor countries vulnerable to natural events caused by climate change.
Catherine McKenna, our Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, recognizes the importance of the issue to e.g. Small island States, but at this stage it should be dealt with outside of the COP Agreement.
The negative aspects of the award, coming as it does at the end of days of discussion and negotiation, are cosmetic only. Dale Marshall, a spokesperson for Environmental Defence (a CAN member), pointed out that the compensation clause – as presently drafted – does not commit anybody to anything but discussion.
This observation is perhaps an explanation for Mckenna’s statement. The issue is so contentious that an attempt to reach agreement could literally displace the many hours of discussion and negotiation required to reach agreement on issues vital to stopping climate change in its tracks!
Or it could be that Canada recognizes support at this stage would contribute to a possible isolation of the US, which over some years has declined to support the principle of compensation for loss or damage.
The US Government has to develop political support on the part of US voters. An abandonment of a long-held position coming into a vital election year would seriously erode that support for any final COP 21 Agreement.
So that is why we refer to the winning of the reward as a “Slap on the Wrist!
PS – the attached picture is proof that we are in Paris!