While the negotiators will try to scaffold for the coming two weeks their past agreements with a common sense of understanding on many remaining issues, our team will be on the ground to track the latest developments in the climate negotiations…
A beautiful and clear sky, flowers in the lawns, all terraces around the city set up, no doubt: it is spring time in the former German capital of Bonn.
That’s a rather good news for the three of us and hundreds of delegates from the UN climate community who will be spending the next two weeks in the conference center ironically named “Maritim” (no sight of a sea anywhere for hundreds of kilometers around).
With spring also comes an atmosphere of regeneration and growth after a long winter, so let’s see if the governmental delegations seize the opportunity offered by the coming two weeks to scaffold the work done towards new climate agreements with constructive elements on some of the key issues on the table.
Before we start working on a more in-depth reporting during the coming weeks, let’s have a quick look back at what happened over the past 6 months in climate diplomacy…
The UN Durban conference last December concluded after a very dramatic 48-hours long final marathon. On the good side, Durban finally delivered a common vision on how governments could build towards a new global agreement to address the causes and consequences of climate change. However, that agreement consisted in delaying most actions and decisions further into the future.
Then came Canada (oh, Canada…). Just a couple of days after the Durban conference, Canada singled itself out by becoming the first country to withdraw unilaterally from the Kyoto Protocol. Not only has Canada absolutely no vision of how it will reduce its emissions, but it wont even have to report back to the UN periodically and risk to collect a bit of the much deserved shame and blame.
On the other side, the EU has stepped up a little its climate policy over the past months, now expecting that aviation flying to and from European airports to buy carbon credits (“allowances”) to cover a marginal part of their emissions. This move has however immediately created an international outcry as many other countries felt that this was a way for the EU to regulate activities outside of its own border (or skies for the matter). While the objections raised by those other developed countries with no real climate plans seem pretty outrageous (more on this in this past blog), this aviation dispute raised important questions among the developing world related to equity.
Equity has always the leitmotif for the BASIC countries as far as political negotiations have been concerned. The emerging economies (particularly India and China) wanted a reference to equity which centers around historical responsibility for greenhouse gases emissions and domestic development issues like poverty be the basis of the fair and ambitious deal. On the other hand, they are working to avoid a “binding” element which could apply to them.
Also, the last couple of weeks saw two high level ministerial meetings taking place to allow key decision makers to brainstorm on the key elements to be decided next and how to move the negotiations forward from this “Durban Platform”. To explore common issues together, the EU invited just a few days ago friendly countries with which they worked in December to broker the Durban Package. Hopefully these meetings will create a shared vision for a broader set of countries to work across regional coalitions.
And then of course, the Rio+20 conference, but that’s a whole different discussion so on that issues, as well as on many others, stay tuned and we will keep you updated on what is taking place in the world of climate politics…
During the next two weeks, Mostafa, an environmental activist and campaigner from Egypt who recently joined our crew, will be following every steps of the Arabic delegations, as those will play a particularly prominent role this year. Priti, our Indian expert, will report back on the issues related to role of equity in these discussions and on the position of the emerging economies, together with Nala our Chinese expert. And finally, Seb will keep you updated particularly on what the EU is up to (or what the EU fails to do…).
About the authorSébastien Duyck
Passionate environmental advocate, PhD student (Human Rights and Environmental Governance). Following particularly UNFCCC, UNEP and Rio+20 processes