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Redefining vulnerability and dodging responsibility: the more things change, the more they stay the same: Page 2 of 3

Posted on 8 December 2015

but is premised on developed countries committing to even deeper and more drastic emissions cuts, in line with the ‘fair shares’ principle, i.e. developed countries have already used up more than their fair share of the world’s carbon budget, and so would have to undertake more drastic measures to redesign their production.

Each country has submitted its Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC) in the run-up to the negotiations. The INDCs reflect each country’s intended pledges to achieve the objective of addressing climate change. Civil society has critiqued developed countries’ INDCs as severely inadequate, not reflective of the different levels of responsibility to the climate crisis and capacity to act on this. The INDCs from the rich countries would not add up to what is needed to give the world a chance at survival.

On the table too, are proposals for ‘zero net carbon’, ‘decarbonization’ and the like, in order to achieve significant emissions reductions. The Group of 77 (G77, from around 155 developing countries) contends that this needs to be considered in light of its implications especially for underdeveloped and poor countries. Countries that have not even achieved the level of growth as developed countries will be compelled to adjust their entire production systems, including further opening up their economies to foreign and private sector investment, as well as to more debts, in order to raise the huge financing requirements this will entail.

Third, the INDCs are more focused on lowering emissions, where there should be a balance between actions for mitigation and adaptation. While Parties agreed during COP 20 in Lima that INDCs would cover both areas, the draft Paris agreement is said to be leaning less towards adaptation.

Crucial to this is financing, which is a contested issue in the negotiations. A recent study from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) that showed financing pledges made from COP 15 in Copenhagen as having nearly been met has been described by different quarters as inaccurate and misleading, and at best wanting with only around USD5-8 billion marked for adaptation.

Fourth, countries already agreed during COP 20 to provide support for ‘loss and damage’ for developing countries facing phenomenal weather events, long-term environmental impacts such as increasing salinity etc.

The Warsaw Mechanism on Loss and Damage was established in 2013, but is yet to take-off the ground. The draft Paris outcome mentions loss and damage, but it is yet to be agreed on whether this will merit a stand-alone provision, or to put this under adaptation. However rich country negotiators are putting pressure on developing countries to agree to the condition that in exchange for this agreement they (developing countries) will not hold rich countries liable for losses and damages to be incurred.

Fifth, transparency of and inclusiveness in the negotiations is highly questioned. Negotiations are being done in closed-door sessions, and even those sessions where civil society have been previously allowed entry have been closed. This lack of transparency in the negotiations has raised a lot of concern and critique.

The world has indeed changed, or has

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