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Dec 04, 2008

Escaping commitments?

by HannahElvery — last modified Dec 04, 2008 04:20 PM
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There's lots of talk about a 'shared vision' but some Annex 1 countries seem to have no vision when it comes to emissions targets and taking responsibility.

treeDay four and energy is picking up, despite the cold and dark, and the multitude of viruses that seem to be hitting the participants.  Perhaps it is the lack of natural light...  But inside the negotiating halls delegates and observers are pushing on whether they have tissues clamped to their noses or not.

Over the last few days, there have been working groups on shared vision, as part of a process called the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action.  I was interested in seeing the relationships between parties' positions, particularly as the Group of 77 plus China - a grouping of 132 countries which works as a block at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change - have recently developed a strong position on climate and finance technology.  They seem to have quite a united front within the shared vision discussions. 

The process of re-discussing a shared vision however, seems to have a major flaw, as pointed out by a delegate from the Philippines at an event late Tuesday night. A shared vision already exists within the convention!  

 

Could it be that developed (or Annex 1) countries, are trying to use these discussions to reclassify states as Annex 1 or Non-Annex 1, and therefore push developing countries into accepting mandatory, legally binding emissions reductions targets?  This would be quite convenient, allowing developed countries to escape some of their commitments - most of which have gone entirely unfulfilled - and make countries that don't have a historical responsibility for emissions to accept compulsory emissions targets anyway.

I'm not saying that it's not important to have a shared vision.  Of course this is necessary in order for countries to work together, but isn't the shared vision rather obvious?  I always thought that we wanted to stop dangerous climate change - that is keeping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere below 350 parts per million CO2 equivalent.

 

For rich, developed countries this means drastically reducing their own emissions (accepting binding emissions targets), and supporting less financially and technologically capable countries to do the same, without forcing them to reach certain targets. 

The overarching global goal or vision, if it needs to be talked about again doesn't need nine hours of workshops plus more hours in smaller contact groups (more informal spaces where the real details of the negotiations are nutted out).

 

When it looks like many parties won't even reach their emissions reductions targets or finance and technology transfer promises, isn't it a bit premature to start talking about commitments from developing countries?

It seems that many developing countries are onto this tactic, however, and they won't stand for it.  The shared vision workshops may be over now, but there are still plenty of opportunities for 'developed' countries either to evade or actually live up to their commitments to emissions reductions... we'll keep you posted.

hannah

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