Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Technicality is king as the climate negotiations get going

Ruth Golding, CI's Senior Policy Officer, blogs from inside the Copenhagen climate talks.

It’s fair to say that the gauntlet has been well and truly thrown down.

Across Monday’s sessions at the opening day of the COP15 climate change talks, developing countries wasted no time in making their position clear. As countries and groups took it in turns to give their statements, we heard some passionate deliveries and pleas for action often greeted by enthusiastic applause from observing NGOs at the back of the room.

The G77 plus China worried that developed countries’ level of ambition represented a rejection of ‘the use of science as a basis to determine…emissions reduction targets’.

Meanwhile the Alliance of Small Island States asked whether the conference was ‘willing to ignore the survival of its members’.

The developed countries are known in these circles for their tendency to invent ever more elaborate ways to push the responsibility for emissions reductions onto the developing world while they keep a business as usual approach (like with emissions trading schemes, which CI has real concerns about from the consumer perspective).

It also seems that Annex I countries, which are those designated by the UN as rich enough to have enhanced responsibility for taking action on climate change, are looking at every possible way to avoid meeting their obligations. Including not being rich enough!

A weary sounding non-Annex I speaker sounded resigned, noting that ‘the fear that developing countries will be asked to become Annex I countries has been superseded by the fear that developed countries will make themselves developing countries.’ In other words, they will look for a way to reduce the level of their own commitments.

Sounds complex? Such myopic tactics are just the first shots in a two-week tussle of nuance, semantics and legal jargon. Let the battle commence!

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