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US and EU must show leadership and responsibility in climate talks

Posted on 6 December 2012

IBON International Outlook

By ANTONIO TUJAN JR., IBON International
 
DOHA, December 4, 2012—When the ministers of the developed world arrive in Doha for the beginning of high-level negotiations on climate change today – Tuesday – they must remember one of the founding principles of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Article 3.1 reads: “The developed country Parties should take the lead in combating climate change and the adverse effects thereof.
 
Negotiations at the 18th Conference of Parties (COP18) to the UNFCCC have stalled in the past week and are in danger of falling into complete paralysis. Developed and developing countries are facing off over issues central to the UNFCCC, new targets for emissions reductions in an extended Kyoto Protocol, and climate finance for developing countries to transition to sustainable development. 
 
On one side of the divide, the developing countries are pushing for the developed to adhere to the measures they know to be necessary to keep the world beneath an agreed 2°C temperature rise. With agreements left as they were before negotiations, the World Bank has warned of a 3°C rise , and with an increasingly likely regression on agreements a catastrophic 4°C rise. As the ones who will bear the burden of a catastrophe made in the developed world, developing countries are urging for concrete commitments to back up the promised billions of dollars in climate finance, both over the next seven years as well as the targeted 2020 start-up date of the Green Climate Fund. On the other side, the developed nations do what they can do to stall negotiations and obstruct progress through focusing on the minutiae of a deal that threatens to be derailed with devastating consequences for the world’s poorest.
 
At the heart of the UNFCCC’s mantra of equity and call for developed country leadership is historical responsibility. The climate change we see now, which has caused droughts, floods, displacement, and loss of lives and livelihoods to those in the Global South, arises from CO2 that has spewed into the atmosphere over the past 160 years. Together, the US and EU account for more than half of the world’s CO2 emissions in this period . In line with this, it is they who must take on the bulk of the burden of historical responsibility for climate change and show leadership to other developed nations.
 
COP18 is in desperate need of a developed world power to lead the way, to turn rhetoric into reality.
 
At present the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, the treaty that is the cornerstone of emissions reductions, lies in tatters. Of the industrialized countries, only the EU and Australia remain. The EU has shrunk away from greater carbon emissions targets on the basis that if it went alone the cost would be too high. Australia is one of the world’s highest per capita emitters, and part of the “Umbrella Group” of countries (also including New Zealand, Russia, the Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Norway, and Japan) that does much to block progress on commitments. Its signing
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