IBON International Update #4 from Doha COP18
Posted on 30 November 2012
Reportage from UNFCCC COP18 in Doha
Climate, Number 4
US chides NGOs, outlines its positions not based on need
DOHA, November 30, 2012 — The US chief negotiator at COP-18 issued a strong rebuke to NGOs in an off-the-record meeting, which has now been published in Indian media.
Jonathan Pershing told NGOs they should recognize that the US makes it possible for them to be present at COP-18. And while many parties and NGOs at COP-18 are calling for agreements based on science, Pershing said that US positions are not based on the reality of “what is needed”. He went on to rubbish the concept of sharing atmospheric space, underlining that US positions are based on what can be sold to the US Congress.
"We are one of the funders to make it possible for you to be at the table,” Pershing told NGOs present in the meeting. “I hope you recognize that many of you who come to the meetings you do, the US fights for you at every chance to give you a chance to be in this room."
In what could be considered an arrogant aside, Pershing noted that not all Parties agree with the US: "What we also think is the participation of a lot of countries out there includes the ones that disagree with us."
Pershing, who made news in the run-up to COP-18 with the claim that the US should be recognized for its “enormous” efforts on climate change, proceeded to dismantle a concept drawn from the UNFCCC foundational principle of equity – the sharing of atmospheric space.
"It's a vision [in which] you can say that the atmosphere can take an X quantity of coal emissions and therefore what you do is you divide that number into percentages,” he said.
“The obligation it states is that you [the US] would have to reduce emissions down to negative 37% [below 1990 levels]. And the obligation of China will be a tiny bit, but India can still grow quite a lot. The politics of that quite frankly really don't work. I can't really sell that to the US Congress."
Pershing underscored that for the US the defining principle of agreements it reaches must be whether they can be “sold at home”.
He said: "One way to think about it is what you could deliver. You say what you are going to do and you will be held to that. So how do you marry the reality of what you are doing with the reality of what is needed. To me, it's going to be a hybrid. It's going to be something between those two."
He added: "Because if we can't take it home and sell it at home, in whatever political economy we are living in, we won't do it."
Pershing’s comments will further the perception of US intransigence to developing country positions in negotiations based on compromise. Developing country groupings including the G77/Africa, the Least Developed Countries (LDCs), the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS),