Global Trends by Martin Khor
8 December 2008
Slow progress at climate talks
The Climate Convention
After one week,
and with another week to go, the global talks at the old Polish town
This has been useful. But it has failed so far to break the impasse on how much action to take to cut emissions of Greenhouse Gases that cause climate change, nor on the extent of actions that different countries should take.
Meanwhile, the clock is ticking away, with more signs of the seriousness of the climate crisis. A few prominent scientists recently concluded that it is no longer enough to limit the concentration of Greenhouse Gases in the atmosphere to 450 parts per million (ppm), but that 350 ppm is a more realistic target if we are to avoid disastrous climatic effects.
One problem is that the present concentration, at around 370 ppm, has already passed that danger level. Not only does the world need to cut emissions, but the sinks (such as forests) that absorb emissions from the atmosphere have to be expanded.
While they have also agreed to take their own actions, the developing countries are not prepared to take binding targets, arguing that it is the richer countries that have to act first as they are historically responsible for most of the emissions, and that they the developing countries need some “environmental space” to grow their economies.
It is no secret
that some developed countries such as the
At Poznan last week, Japan caused ripples by proposing that the definition of developed and developing countries be changed, and that some developing countries should be re-classified as “Annex I parties” to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.
The list of parties
in Annex I (which are obliged to reduce their emissions by specified
percentages) comprises developed countries.
previously have included
However, for the
Last week, the group said it rejected any proposal directed towards differentiating between non-Annex I parties, such as amendments to the Convention or any of its Annexes with a view to establishing new categories of countries to undertake mitigation commitments.
At another session, the Chair of the working group tasked with reaching a global deal by 2009 said that the countries cannot continue with “business as usual” in providing finance and technology to developing countries for their climate action.
Luis Machado of
The G77 and
The group had proposed setting up a multilateral climate fund under the UNFCCC with multiple windows for technology, mitigation, adaptation and so on. It also wants a new Technology Council to make policies on technology and to implement technology transfer.
Many developed countries
spoke, but their response to the G77 and
The finance and technology issues are critical because the Convention (in its Article 4.7) says that the extent to which developing countries can take climate actions depends on the extent to which the developed countries meet their commitments to provide finance and technology to the developing countries.
So far, 15 years after the Convention was set up, little funding has been made available, and hardly any technology has been transferred. At the climate talks, the developing countries are pressing the developed countries to get serious on this, while most of the latter are behaving like they want to wriggle out of the Article 4.7 bargain.
These are some of
the issues at the heart of the impasse in the climate talks. The