Long term Shared Vision towards Cooperation?
Today marks the day for the culmination of 2 days of workshops discussing the Shared Vision for Long-term Cooperative Action (although definitely not the end of negotiations!). Judging from the way open discussions are going, it seems as though this debate will be divided again between developing countries (G77+China, Alliance of Small Island States, LDCs) and developed countries (EU, Japan, USA), with USA posing the greatest obstacle to probably the greatest collective action problem of humankind.
First day of the workshop probably signalled to what could be expected for the next 9 days of intense negotiations. Japan shot themselves in the leg by being the 2nd presenter of the day (considering that they would definitely be the target of most nations, ie from the developing world) and giving impertinent and sometimes bordering on arrogance answers. No wonder they were declared both the winners and runner-up of Fossil of the Day. France, in responding to a question about EU’s target of 30% emissions reduction by 2020 is not sufficiently ambitious, tried to dodge the question in true diplomatic style. The distinguished delegate from France, representing EU in general, argued that 30% is ambitious enough as compared to other developed countries who have been keeping absolutely silent on the issue, subtly hinting at perhaps the greatest per capita polluter of the world, the United States of America. Indeed, the USA didn’t even speak on the first day, perhaps being a bit ashamed of themselves for not being able to propose huge cuts in emissions just like what the Alliance of Small Island States can. AOSIS proposed cuts of 85% by 2050, with emissions peaking at 2015. This is the strongest stance any alliance have put forward on the negotiating table.
2nd day of the workshop saw USA speaking up finally. They showed why they are so unique from the rest of the world, with broad principles laid out, yet still leaving much room for political manoeuvre in future negotations. The US said a shared vision should be optimistic, pragmatic and reflect scientific and economic realities. What is pragmatic and reflects economic realities? That USA is the world’s richest country, who else could afford huge amount of cash (see the huge banking bailout) anytime, anywhere? Who better to pay for adaptation, mitigation and technological transfer costs than the USA (and other developed countries of course)? What is considered optimistic? A reduction in emissions level to 1990 level as articulated by President-elect Barack Obama? This, although a huge change in stance by the USA as compared to the out-going Bush administration, is a target that developing countries will not accept. China and India specifically argued that Obama’s target is insufficient to deal with the problem of climate change (see http://news.stv.tv/environment/56044-obama-climate-goals-not-enough-china-india/).
What is needed in future negotiations here in Poznan is coming to a consensus as to what ‘common but differentiated responsibilities’ mean. Most countries such as the G77+China, LDCs and AOSIS argues for developed countries to pay their historical debt as greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is emitted mostly by them. Differentiated responsibility to developing countries therefore constitutes greater commitments for developed countries, with huge adaptation financing and technology transfer provided to them by the developed countries. Developed countries, on the other hand, calls for less stringent emissions reduction targets and seems unwilling to provide the huge amount of financing called for by the developing states. USA, in particular, articulated their interpretation of this principle by arguing for more commitments from developing countries for them to be willing to commit to any targets. Whether any comprehensive deal could be negotiated by Copenhagen 2009 depends on whether the different interpretations of this principle could be reconciled, and whether a consensus on the level of financing commitments and emissions targets could be reached.
Disclaimer: Views expressed in this article is not supposed to provide a comprehensive and factual account of the actual proceedings. Readers are advised to refer to official releases and other accounts for a more detailed summary of the proceedings. Defacement, manipulation, missuse, reproduction in any form, of any and/or all information and/or material in this article, without the consent of the author is strictly prohibited.