(Adds comment from China)
* 'Loss and damage' mechanism creates rift at UN climate talks
* Climate finance long-standing contentious issue
* No clear roadmap expected on offering aid pledges
By Nina Chestney
WARSAW, Nov 20 Rich and poor were deadlocked on Wednesday over
how to raise aid to help developing countries cope with the damaging effects of
global warming, in a setback at United Nations climate talks in Warsaw seeking
progress towards a 2015 accord.
Bolivia and other developing countries accused the rich of failing to show
willingness to discuss aid or compensation for losses and harm due to global
warming, such as rising sea levels or creeping desertification.
The two-week Warsaw talks, due to end on Friday, are trying to lay the
foundations for a new global climate accord meant to be agreed in 2015 and enter
into force from 2020.
"I think we will find a resolution, but we are still some distance apart,"
U.S. climate envoy Todd Stern said of calls by emerging nations for a mechanism
to cover loss and damage.
The rich fear it would be costly and make them legally liable for droughts,
heatwaves and storms.
For many poorer countries, the devastation caused by Typhoon Haiyan in the
Philippines earlier this month has raised the urgency of compensation.
Global economic losses caused by extreme weather have risen to nearly $200
billion a year over the last decade and look set to increase further as climate
change worsens, the World Bank said this week.
"The compensation that those countries require is something that is
absolutely fundamental and crucial," said India's environment minister, Jayanthi
But many richer countries are reluctant to foot the bill and are focused on
spurring growth in their stagnant economies.
"We cannot have a system where there will be automatic compensation whenever
severe weather events are happening at one place or other around the planet,"
the European Union's climate commissioner, Connie Hedegaard, said.
MONEY, MONEY, MONEY
One of the most contentious issues at U.N. talks has long been climate
finance, or money put aside to help developing countries cut emissions and adapt
to a changing climate.
Industrialised nations have promised to raise the allocation to $100 billion
a year by 2020 for developing countries, from $10 billion a year in 2010-2012.
The charity Oxfam has estimated that climate aid has totalled between $7.6
billion and $16.3 billion so far this year.
At the talks, Japan promised $16 billion over three years and on Wednesday
Norway, Britain and the United States also pledged $280 million to sustain the
Green groups complain that much of the funds are not new sources of finance
and developing countries say there is no clarity on how and when new money will
"We see no roadmap for finance, only repackaged old money or money
redirected from other budgets," said Dipti Bhatnagar at Friends of the Earth
Negotiators have set up a Green Climate Fund to channel some of the $100
billion but it is still empty and cannot deliver any money until the second half
of next year, which is too late in the eyes of many developing countries.
Xie Zhenua, China's top climate change official, said developed nations had
to decide a timetable and the size of their contributions to provide finance "as
soon as possible."
The International Energy Agency has estimated that $1 trillion a year of
additional investment is needed to 2020 for the energy sector alone to shift to
and deliver cleaner sources.
"Much of the action is going to happen at the domestic level," said Jane
Wilkinson, director of the Climate Policy Initiative, which has estimated that
global climate spending fell 1 percent last year to $359 billion as an economic
slowdown hit state and private-sector budgets.
Polish Environment Minister Marcin Korolec, presiding at the talks, lost his
job on Wednesday in a cabinet reshuffle but will remain as host of the U.N.
($1 = 0.6210 British pounds)
(Additional reporting by Susanna Twidale, Megan Rowling and Alister Doyle;
Editing by Dale Hudson and Anthony Barker)