Monday June 14, 2010
Poor nations dismayed over draft
Global Trends by MARTIN KHOR
The Bonn climate talks ended last Friday with developing countries strongly criticising a new draft of a global deal which surprisingly eliminated some of their most important proposals.
THE two-week UN Climate Convention in Bonn ended on June 11 with mixed results for the developing countries.
They suffered a setback when many key points were eliminated or ignored in a new paper produced by the Chair of a working group on long-term cooperation.
On the other hand, they succeeded in pressing for more action in another working group in which the developed countries must make new emissions-reduction commitments under the Kyoto Protocol.
The talks had mainly been at a slow pace. But it gathered force on the last day, forcing delegates who had hoped to finish early to watch the opening match of the World Cup to instead continue with their meetings.
The talks also re-established the United Nations as the only legitimate venue to get a global deal to act on climate change, following the disastrous conclusion of the Copenhagen Conference.
On the night of June 10, a revised draft of a basic deal on climate change was issued by Margaret Sangarwe of Zimbabwe, Chair of the group on long-term cooperation (LCA). The new paper drew critical statements from developing countries, with the G77 and China (the developing countries’ umbrella group) saying it was “dismayed” at the imbalances in the draft and urging that its positions and proposals be restored in the next draft.
In a strong statement, China said it deviated from the Bali Road Map (which provides the mandate and terms of reference of the negotiations) by 50% and criticised the Chair for affecting the continued existence of the Kyoto Protocol, and “that is why we cannot accept it”.
Other Asian developing countries who voiced objections included Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, Singapore, India, Pakistan, Bangla-desh and East Timor.
Malaysia said the text moved away from the Convention and the Kyoto Protocol, disregarding the developing countries’ need for development; for them to “peak” their emissions by 2020 when even the developed countries have yet to “peak”; and places very onerous obligations on developing countries to have their actions subject to international analysis.
The text also obliged developing countries to have “low carbon development plans”, which was new and an imposition, and it had deleted many proposals.
The Africa group said the text was inconsistent with the developing countries’ demands for the equity principle, or for comparable emission cuts by developed countries, and threatens to replace the Kyoto Protocol.
Brazil also expressed dismay at the text and called for a thorough revision. Several Latin American countries, including Venezuela, Bolivia and Argentina, also criticised the paper.
In contrast, most of the developed countries gave the impression that they liked the paper, even though they mentioned certain shortcomings.
A reading of the paper confirms that many of the developing countries’ key positions had been deleted whilst new obligations were imposed on them, some of which had not even been in earlier drafts or discussed properly.
Moreover, most of the controversial new points were not even placed within brackets, giving the false impression that they enjoy consensus, and thus putting the developing countries at a serious disadvantage.
The new text implies the ending of the Kyoto Protocol (which the developing countries insist should continue) and its replacement with a new agreement in which the mitigation obligations of developed and developing countries are treated almost at the same level.
In this scheme, the developed countries would climb down from a binding regime of mandatory deep emission cuts to a voluntary system of pledges, while developing countries would have to undertake higher obligations to act and report than they now have to.
The previous text contained an option requiring developed countries that are members of the Kyoto Protocol to continue their commitments.
But the new paper deleted this, thereby implying the Protocol be replaced by the remaining option, the system of voluntary national pledges.
The new draft also deals a major blow to the equity principle so vital for developing countries. In a section on global emission cuts, the key words “preceded by a paradigm for equal access to global atmospheric resources” were removed.
The text also calls for achieving “the peaking of global and national emissions by 2020”. This means that developing countries, too, will have to cut emissions after 2020 in absolute terms, even though their emissions levels are far lower than the developed countries. This has huge economic and development implications.
The developing countries also wanted to add a strong paragraph to prohibit trade protectionism (for example, imposing charges or duties on imports) by developed countries on the grounds of addressing climate change. But this has been omitted in the main section.
Other important elements left out are that developed countries must make a “comparable effort” in their emissions cuts, and that they should contribute 1.5% of the GNP to a climate funds to enable developing countries to take climate actions.
Following strong criticism, Sangarwe said she would take the points into account when she prepares a new draft. However, developing countries are worried whether they can recover the ground lost through the paper.
In another working group on further actions under the Kyoto Protocol, the developing countries proposed that the work be speeded up through new research to be done by the Secretariat and a workshop on the adequacy of national emission-reduction pledges already made by developed countries.