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‘Loss and Damages’ Provisions Added to Paris Climate Agreement

February 15, 2019

Delegates to the recent U.N. climate conference in Katowice, Poland added provisions to the Paris climate treaty asking countries to submit “transparency reports” on their contributions to climate change and report “loss and damage” due to climate change.

Delegates to the December 2018 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP24) in Katowice, Poland agreed to add provisions to the Paris climate treaty asking countries to submit “transparency reports” on their contributions to climate change and report “loss and damage” purportedly caused by climate change.

The transparency reports would include a country’s annual greenhouse gas emissions, plus efforts and successes in reducing them. The loss and damage element allows countries to claim losses and damages purportedly caused by climate change, such as infrastructure being destroyed by a severe storm or crops lost to drought.

The new provisions signed in Katowice give the countries in the Paris climate agreement until 2024 to file their first biennial transparency and national inventory reports, including reports of any damages they claim were caused by anthropogenic climate change.

‘To Ensure Greater Socialism’

Efforts to establish national liability for purported climate damages are motivated by political and monetary gain, not environmental concern, says Jay Lehr, Ph.D., science director at The Heartland Institute, which publishes Environment & Climate News.

“The bureaucratic activists pushing these policies have no desire to accomplish anything for the environment but are instead attempting to extract money from the richer countries and to ensure greater socialism around the world,” Lehr said. “There is no doubt countries will count as much damage from weather events as possible as being caused by climate change, with all the reported damages falsely attributed to carbon dioxide emissions, as if nature had no role.

“Part of the push for this is to put more pressure on the United States to commit to reducing fossil fuel use,” said Lehr. “This pressure will come both from countries that compete with us economically and from within the United States itself, from the leftists who now control our Congress.”

Raising the Pressure

The loss and damage provisions are aimed at putting more pressure on countries to cut carbon dioxide emissions, says David Wojick, Ph.D., a former consultant with the Office of Scientific and Technical Information at the U.S. Department of Energy.

“Assuming what they believe is true, they could perfectly well think if countries had to start to pay compensation for the damages they caused, they would act more quickly and decisively to reduce future damages,” Wojick said. “That would mean they would, for example, sharply cut carbon dioxide emissions.”

Setting Up Lawsuits?

Wojick says the loss and damages provisions are the first step in building legal cases against the supposed perpetrators of climate change, with claims for damages that will be much larger than any lawsuits filed up to this point.

“We’ve already seen domestic climate change lawsuits filed by cities and groups, but this is going to be nation against nation,” Wojick said. “This is going to be staggering. There are going to be hundreds of billions of dollars involved.

“Each time somebody or a country tries to claim, for instance, all the damage from every hurricane is due to human-induced climate change, somebody needs to challenge the claim and not just let it stand, because it’s building a record other countries and industries are going to get sued based on,” Wojick said. “In damage litigation, the first thing you have to do is build a case. You have to say what the damages are, demonstrate they have occurred, and that the liable parties are actually liable.”

Opportunity for Skeptics?

International climate liability lawsuits will create an opportunity for skeptical climate scientists to get a hearing for their point of view, which is currently being silenced, says Wojick.

“The interesting question will be to what extent in the reporting of loss and damages they’re going to call upon the science community to support their cases,” said Wojick. “These lawsuits could present an opportunity for scientists and researchers who are skeptical of catastrophic anthropogenic climate change to make their case in a public forum.

“Finally, governments being sued are going to want to pay those skeptical of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s view humans are causing dangerous climate change to work on the case,” Wojick said. “The experts on the side of the people, industries, and countries being sued for damages will present experts saying we didn’t do it.”

Linnea Lueken (linnea.heartland@gmail.com) writes from South Carolina.