Climate Negotiations: new pitfalls, but on track

The climate negotiations have finally begun to focus on the criteria for reductions in emissions of greenhouse gases to be agreed by 2015, and new pitfalls have emerged.

The continuing negotiations over the past twenty years had a limited agenda. Developing countries were interested in finance and technology for capacity building, to better understand the problem and share that information with other countries. Developed countries were interested in ending the differentiation between countries with respect to commitments, and were very much left to themselves to decide on the quantum and means of reductions in their emissions. The result has been that the overall reductions are considerably less than the Convention envisaged and science requires, and there is no common understanding on the best way of dealing with the global crisis.

The recently concluded negotiation at Bonn continues to reflect the different perspectives of countries. The old ‘de jure’ divide between Annex I (developed) and non-Annex I (developing) countries have now fractured into four ‘de facto’ groups, or broad perspectives. The European Union argues that all Parties must contribute according to their evolving responsibilities and capacities. For the US, the new arrangement must reflect the political, economic and current social realities while respecting vastly differing national circumstances, and be fair. The Small Island States want major developing countries to take on commitments. Most of the other developing countries, in a new group of some 40 countries, continues to hold onto the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities, and argues that eradication of poverty remains its overriding priority. Irrespective of how countries lay out their positions, the outcome will not apply uniformly to developing countries, reflecting the Kyoto Parties and non Kyoto Parties divide in the developed countries, and the ‘Group of 40’ could consider listing itself as ‘Articles 3.1 & 4.7 Parties’ to reflect their position, just as the ‘economies in transition’ were recognized as a subset of developed countries. 

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