Global Trends by Martin Khor
Monday 7 April 2008
Old unresolved issues have re-emerged while new complicated issues have just come up to cloud the international talks on how to deal with climate change.
The controversial issues
dogged last week’s
It was the first round since
In reality the Bangkok meeting fought over substance, like how fast the world should act to curb and cope with climate change and more importantly who should bear the costs and how.
At Bangkok, the developing countries under the Group of 77 and China argued that the first and foremost issue is to get the rich countries to meet their commitment, made 16 years ago, to get finance and technology to the poorer countries, enabling them to act against climate change.
The promised help has not materialized. Developing countries say they cannot take climate action and at the same time maintain economic development without the assistance. So they wanted finance and technology to be first on the work agenda.
“It is vital to know how much funding is available for technology transfer and how to ensure the funds reach developing countries, as we have yet to see any progress on finance or technology transfer.”
A full day was spent in
Under the Kyoto Protocol, only developed countries are legally obliged to reduce their emissions, and most developing countries are fighting to keep it that way.
The Bali conference agreed that only “developed countries” (including those like the US that are not in the Kyoto Protocol) have to make a “commitment” to reduce their emissions, while developing countries have to only “take actions” on mitigation in the context of sustainable development.
The implicit threat is that
some of these developed countries will refuse to make a new commitment
(for the period after 2012) unless some developing countries join in.
The criteria of choosing which developing countries has not been clarified,
But these countries argue that’s because of their population size. Their per capita emissions are still much lower than those of the rich countries, so they should not be picked on.
But according to some delegations,
it seems that
The developing countries were very concerned that this kind of “sectoral approach” opens the door to protectionism. Firms in developing countries lack up-to-date technology or the same level of finance to upgrade, and so their products tend to be more “polluting” or to have higher carbon intensity.
If sectoral standards and targets are set, then those products that do not meet these could ultimately be blocked out or have extra duties imposed. Since many developing countries’ products are less environmentally competitive, although they may be more cost competitive, the developing countries would be at a serious disadvantage with this kind of sectoral scheme.
This, anyway, was the fear
of some delegates of what the
This was initially opposed
by developing countries, which wanted the developed countries’ commitments
to be settled first. In the end the
Three more rounds will take place this year, in June, August and December. And at least four meetings will be held in 2009.