Small Island States Demand More In Durban
With the COP17 climate talks continuing in Durban, I thought I’d give a really quick roundup of what happened in the first week and a bit.
It was an eventful week and although the 2nd half of the conference, which ends on December 9th, is where the real heavyweight talks will happen, there has been plenty of news forthcoming so far:
Island Nations Seek ‘Crazy’ Commitments
Developing countries led by the Alliance of Small Island States put forward a rather bold, if unrealistic, paper documenting reductions in greenhouse gas emissions for developed countries of 50% (on 1990 levels) by 2017 and 100% by 2040. This is far more ambitious than our own government’s plan to reduce emissions by 80% by 2050.
I think the writing of this document was simply an act designed to get attention and to shock. I don’t think it was a serious demand but it certainly allows for quite a bit of wiggle room on both sides.
I can understand such a powerful statement though because it is these island nations and the less developed countries that will suffer most from climate change and so they have every right to demand change.
Green Climate Fund Could Go Either Way
Financing a sustainable path to growth in developing countries is going to be a very important aspect of combating climate change because no matter what developed nations do, if emissions grow rapidly in regions across Asia, Africa and South America the risk of a climate catastrophe will persist.
In my post before COP17 started I stated that laying down a plan for financing the Green Climate Fund should be one of the main aims of the Durban conference but so far it seems that the US and Saudi Arabia are standing in the way of progress by refusing to sign off on a report detailing how to run the fund.
The main issue is who takes charge of fund, with other countries also unsure as to whether the World Bank should be the organisation to run things.
Aside from this, Ben Caldecott wrote a very interesting piece in the Guardian showing how two innovative investment mechanisms could be used to effectively incentivise and fund clean developments in countries that cannot afford to do it themselves.
I think it is ideas like these that could make it easier for the cash to flow to projects that can make the biggest difference both for the world and also for the countries in which they are implemented.
India Also Accused Of Holding Up Talks
India has apparently dismissed a plan devised by a group of European countries and supported by many other big and small players saying that new pledges would take too long to negotiate and may lead to wealthy countries giving weaker assurances on change.
What has come to be known as the “Durban roadmap” was first put forward on Sunday to try and recommit countries to emission reductions beyond the Kyoto Protocol which expires next year.
While Kyoto would continue, this new roadmap would run in parallel with different countries being given different targets in line with their expected economic and population growth.
India are not the only country with concerns though with others also arguing that such a new deal is just a way of lowering ambitions in the future.
Andy Atkins, head of Friends of the Earth agrees saying:
“Negotiating a new climate deal will take too long and be a recipe for inaction”
Forest Protection Gets The Green Light
Over the weekend, lengthy talks ended with a preliminary agreement on a document that gives concrete guidance on reducing the greenhouse gas emissions caused by deforestation.
Governments in countries where deforestation is rife will have to calculate baseline figures for the amount of carbon dioxide being released and submit these for peer review. This level of transparency will allow better monitoring of the situation by independent authorities.
Mixed news coming from Brazil this week; while deforestation in the Amazon Rainforest fell for a third straight year to a new record low, environmental groups expressed concerns over a Brazilian senate decision to dismantle protections that are in place to prevent further widespread clearing of land.
Meanwhile the British government is doing its bit to halt deforestation by pledging £10 million to stop illegal logging in parts of the Amazon. This is part of a wider climate change fund of £2.9 billion set aside for use between now and 2015.
“Two Jags” Prescott Puts The Boot In
Not always known for his environmentally friendly ways, Lord Prescott has come out and accused certain developed nations of trying to sink any new climate deal.
He primarily pointed the finger at the US and Canada saying:
“That is what Canada and America want, and one or two other countries. It is a conspiracy against the poor. It is appalling.
“I am ashamed of such countries not recognising their responsibilities.”
I am glad that someone had the balls to come out and say this because it’s true. While Canada may have signed up to the Kyoto Protocol, they completely missed their emissions reduction targets and the US didn’t even sign.
It’s about time that these countries took some action but it seems that political will is weak and a change of attitude is required to make anything happen.
The next few days in Durban will be very interesting and frantic as delegates try to cobble together a deal and iron out all the details. I will update you all with the eventual outcomes of COP17 next week.
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