Global Trends by Martin Khor
Monday 29 November 2010
little from the
year after the chaotic
year after the
Expectations are low this time around. That's probably both good and bad. The conference last year had been so hyped up before hand, with so much hopes linked to it, that the lack of a binding agreement at the end of it became a near-disaster.
expect this year's meeting in the seaside resort of
On the other hand, this lowering of expectations indicates how low climate change has sunk in just a year in the world's political agenda.
that is bad indeed, because the climate problem has got even worse.
This year is already rivalling 1998 as the hottest year since records
were kept. And there have been so many natural disasters in 2010; some
of them like the catastrophic flooding in
events, especially the spread of the financial crisis to Western Europe,
and the persistent high unemployment in the
Also, the chances of getting a global climate change agreement appear much more dim. And when a problem seems intractable, political leaders tend to lose interest because like other people they don't like to be associated with failure.
the problems facing the
main problem is the inability of the
This makes the other developed countries reluctant to firm up their own commitments. Many of them are still dragging their feet in saying how much they should cut their emissions, individually and as a group, in the Kyoto Protocol's second period that is to start in 2013.
leaves the European Union, which prefers to shift to a new system too
but is open to remaining in
death of the Kyoto Protocol, under which the developed countries except
They want the developed countries to cut their emissions as a group by more than 40% by 2020 (compared to 1990), and for each country to do an adequate cut, under the Kyoto Protocol.
are in despair because most of the developed countries want to join
Each country would not have to do what the science says is needed, it would just pledge what it feels it can or should. Top climate scientists in a new UN Environment Programme report shows how disastrously off-mark such a voluntary system can be.
Instead of cutting their emissions by at least 25-40% below 1990 levels in 2020 as required, the developed countries will actually increase their emission by 6% in a bad scenario and will only cut by 16% in the good scenario. This is based on the pledges that they have made.
major turn-around in the attitude of most developed counties towards
their own emission reduction will be the hardest problem to resolve
The other contentious issue will be the proposed new obligations to be placed on developing countries on the insistence of the developed countries. These are obligations to cut the growth of their emissions from “business as usual”, and to produce reports once in two years on their emissions and on their emission-reduction plans and actions. The reports will be subjected to international verification or analysis and consultation.
Developing countries are saying they are willing to do more and to give more reports, but they need funds and new technology to do this. Moreover, why should they take on more stringent obligations when the developed countries are wanting to downgrade their own commitments?
possible bright spot in
After all, it would be easy to set up a fund if there is no clear commitment to put substantial money in it.
Cancun, there will be an appeal to the
take the funds that can get actions going in the developing world as
“hostage” or conditional on your getting your way in other areas of
the negotiations. This call will most likely be made many times in
the next two weeks in