As the first week of UNFCCC COP18 in Doha, Qatar draws to a close, fault lines between developed and developing countries are becoming clearer.
Climate, Number 6
DOHA, December 1, 2012—As the first week of the 18th meeting of the Conference of Parties (COP18) draws to a close, fault lines between developed and developing countries are becoming clearer. Developing countries are continuing to adhere to demands that developed countries demonstrate commitment to tackling climate change through increased levels of ambition in emission reduction targets, equity in both reduction targets and through providing finance, and binding commitments on both issues. Developed countries are largely opposing these demands – there remain huge gaps in commitments to emissions reductions in line with scientific evidence, and a clear lack of will to make firm commitments to climate finance and technology transfer.
In terms of a second commitment period (2CP) for the Kyoto Protocol, developing countries are demanding legal commitments for emissions reductions. This would need to be under a legal provision as 2CP cannot begin until January 1, 2013. This position is not supported by developed countries, many of which have pulled out of 2CP altogether leaving the mooted new commitment period accounting for only some 15% of current global emissions. Developing countries argue that developed nations should follow the principle of the UNFCCC that it is they who “should take the lead in combating climate change and the adverse effects thereof”. With regard to long-term cooperative action (LCA), developing countries are united in pushing for commitments to long-term finance for beyond 2020. Many are also voicing concern about the lack of clarity on financing during the transition period from 2013 to 2020, after which Fast-Start Finance (FSF) ends and Long Term Finance begins, as well as unresolved issues around technology transfer and capacity building.
It is also clear that civil society space in the negotiations is continuing to contract. Many meetings, especially on controversial topics such as the Kyoto Protocol, are now only accessible to Parties, leaving civil society groups unable to voice an opinion through interventions from the floor and relying on Party delegations for information of what happens in negotiations.
Australia, Kazakhstan and Monaco submitted their reduction targets (Quantified Emission or Limitation Reduction Objectives – QUELROs). Australia, one of the Annex I (industrialized or economies in transition) countries that has stated an intention to remain in 2CP (alongside the EU), submitted figures that amounted to a 5% reduction from 2000 levels by 2020. Australia, the highest per capita carbon emitter in the developed world, has previously stated this level of reduction is its unconditional target, with 15% and 25% targets “conditional on international action”.
Australia, speaking on behalf of the Umbrella Group (also including New Zealand, Russia, the Ukraine, Kazahkstan, Norway, and Japan), called for an expansion of the Kyoto Protocol’s participation in market mechanisms – an issue opposed by many developing countries – and argued that 2CP should be eight, rather than five, years long. Developing countries opposed an eight-year period due to the fear that a weak commitment may be locked-in over an increased time period.
The EU cited recent reports by the World Bank (warning of a 4° C temperature rise by 2100 and a 3° C rise even if current pledges are maintained) and UNEP (warning the world is on track to exceed by some 32 percent the level of carbon emissions needed to ensure reductions in emissions can take place at a “manageable cost” in 2020) to outline its shared concern over low reduction targets (QUELROs). It said pledges should be seen as floor-level targets, while also supporting an eight-year 2CP and calling for discussions on market mechanism participation to be resolved.
Algeria, speaking on behalf of the G77/China, said that in order to stabilize greenhouse gas concentration in the atmosphere and keep global temperature rise below 2° C, Annex I countries must commit to ambitious reduction targets, with 2CP beginning on January 1, 2013 – without any gap between commitment periods.
Nauru, speaking on behalf of AOSIS (Association of Small Island States), said 2CP should last for five years – a position also taken by Swaziland, for the Africa Group, and Gambia, for the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) - and that the Kyoto Protocol must not be a “public relations exercise” or “creative accounting”. It said it was disappointed Parties were claiming to help advance the process while retreating from established commitments or refusing to agree to new, legally binding commitments under 2CP.
Gambia, speaking for the LDCs; China, speaking for BASIC (Brazil, India, South Africa and China); and the Philippines, also speaking for 23 developing countries from Asia, Africa and Latin America, including China, India, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Venezuela, all spoke of the centrality of the Kyoto Protocol to the UNFCCC and efforts to address climate change, highlighting it as a legally based regime.
Gambia said Annex I Parties must go to the top of their pledged emission reduction ranges. The Philippines said ambition and legally binding commitments are of equal importance, while highlighting the need for developed countries not committing to 2CP to make emission reduction commitments. China (for BASIC) said developed countries must raise ambition for reductions in line with what science mandates and their historical responsibility.
Long-Term Cooperative Action
An informal overview text prepared by the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Finance (AWG-LCA) Chair, Aysar Tayeb of Saudi Arabia, caused division among Parties. Pakistan, India, Iran - speaking on behalf of 17 other developing countries from Asia, Africa and Latin America, including China, India, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Argentina – Egypt, on behalf of the Arab Group, and Bolivia, speaking for ALBA (the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas group - Antigua and Barbuda, Bolivia, Cuba, Dominica, Ecuador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Venezuela), all supported the text. The Umbrella Group (Australia, New Zealand, Russia, the Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Norway, and Japan), the EU, the US, Switzerland, and Mexico all opposed the text, arguing it provided no basis for agreement.
Australia observed that the Umbrella Group countries had contributed USD24.4 billion to FSF to date. Added to the EU’s contribution of USD9.2 billion, this meant more than USD33 billion has been provided by developed countries to FSF. The EU stressed that it had delivered FSF in the face of budget cuts and will continue to provide finance support after 2012 while looking for ways to increase this.
Developing countries united in calling for greater, specific commitment to long-term finance, with some slight differences on issues such as whether this should be in the form of a new Fast-start Finance period (USD30 billion from 2010 to 2012). Many also stressed the importance of technology transfer, itself dependent on intellectual property rights (IPR).
The G77/China argued for raised ambition on finance, technology transfer and capacity building. It said that long-term finance should be in the form of public finance from developed countries – a position also taken by Iran speaking on behalf of 17 other developing countries – due to the need to create certainty in terms of both funding amount and predictability.
The bloc said capitalization of the Green Climate Fund should begin now with pledging from developed countries amounting to at least the equivalent of FSF for the three years from now to 2015. It said there is a need to address the gap left from the end of FSF and the period when long-term financing begins – a point also emphasized by China, on behalf of BASIC, and Nauru, on behalf of AOSIS, which called for a second FSF period from 2013 to 2015.
Pakistan noted the USD100 billion slated for the Green Climate Fund remains only a goal with no firm figures that represent a commitment, or a clear agenda of how this level of financing will be actualized.
Egypt, on behalf of the Arab Group, highlighted that it wanted to see progress on IPR to enable technology transfers and unilateral trade measures, alongside the availability of finance, adaptation, and the Kyoto Protocol.
China, on behalf of BASIC, said “means of implementation” was important for developing countries, emphasizing that developed countries should honor commitments to provide financing, technology transfer and capacity building, and not disregard issues such as IPR and unilateral measures.
Bolivia, for the ALBA countries, noted that there should be clear guarantees for financing and technology transfer. It outlined its position that FSF should not be repeated as it was a recycling of aid and loans. Bolivia said it wanted to see the rights of Mother Earth recognized and a vision for sustainable development that tackled both poverty and climate change. It said it did not want carbon markets, as this made it easier for developing countries to escape domestic action to tackle emissions. (Mark Dearn) ###