Una farsa alla Conferenza. Cacciato il ministro polacco

Stampa-Tuttogreen

unita min polaccoVARSAVIA – L’energia fossile continua a essere, direttamente o indirettamente, la protagonista della COP19. È stata proprio la scarsa determinazione del ministro dell’ambiente polacco a favore dello shale gas, gas di scisti al centro delle polemiche per gli impatti legati alla loro estrazione dal sottosuolo, a costargli il posto nel governo. La decisione è parte di un rimpasto più ampio, ma la scelta di rimuovere un Ministro dell’ambiente perché poco aggressivo verso i temi di cui è chiamato a prendersi cura, è già di per se curiosa. Che si trasforma in stupore quando lo stesso ministro sta guidando, come Presidente della COP19, il processo negoziale delle Nazioni Unite sul clima e accoglie a Varsavia i corrispettivi colleghi di tutto il mondo.

L’UNFCCC cerca di minimizzare l’evento, scollegandolo dal processo negoziale, ma l’imbarazzo è tutto nella conferenza stampa in cui Marcin Korolec legge un comunicato telegrafico in inglese e polacco, abbandonando la sala senza lasciare spazio alle domande. La carica resta confermata fino a mercoledì prossimo, garantendo la copertura completa della COP19. Viene però a crearsi uno scollamento importante con l’azione di rappresentanza che il Presidente della COP è chiamato a fare nei prossimi dodici mesi, per facilitare i lavori del prossimo incontro di Lima.

Un altro colpo di scena si è avuto tra la notte di martedì e mercoledì quando i paesi in via di sviluppo, rappresentati dal G77+China hanno abbandonato alle 4 il tavolo negoziale sul Loss and Damage, in risposta al comportamento degli australiani. Secondo le ONG, l’incontro si stava sviluppando in un clima di collaborazione tra le parti, quando gli australiani hanno iniziato a chiedere di riaprire la discussione su alcuni punti già condivisi, senza una logica apparente. “Strano, sono gli stessi negoziatori degli anni scorsi, ma sembrano delle persone diverse” ha ricordato Saleemul Huq di IIED, quasi a voler sottolineare il legame con il nuovo corso del neoeletto Primo ministro Tony Abbott. Non esattamente un paladino della lotta al cambiamento climatico. Lapidario Huq, “l’Australia non sembra venuta a Varsavia per negoziare, ma per bloccare il negoziato”.

Non è che il Canada stia dimostrando maggiore impegno perché, sempre secondo le ONG, sul fronte finanziario ha presentato un testo che “non impegna nessuno e su niente”. Argomento su cui la Commissaria europea Connie Hedegaard sottolinea invece i sostanziali passi avanti fatti dall’anno scorso a Doha. Si dice però preoccupata perché qualche paese sta cercando di fare retromarcia rispetto alle decisioni politiche già prese due anni fa a Durban, teoricamente alla base dell’attuale negoziato.

Resta ancora in alto mare la discussione sui criteri per individuare gli impegni di riduzione delle emissioni, con i paesi in via di sviluppo fermi sulle responsabilità storiche e la Ue che conferma la richiesta di guardare anche alle situazioni presenti e future.

Tutti classici segnali di tensione e contrapposizione in preparazione della fase negoziale finale dei due ultimi giorni, in cui tutto è ancora possibile.

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Un’occasione per la diplomazia mondiale

Stampa-Tuttogreen

stampa-alberiVARSAVIA – “La Conferenza di Copenaghen deve realizzare il nuovo patto mondiale sul clima. Non esiste un piano B alternativo”, tuonava nel 2009 Yvo de Boer, ex Segretario esecutivo dell’UNFCCC. Quattro anni dopo Christiana Figueres, che gli è succeduta alla guida dell’organizzazione ONU dedicata al cambiamento climatico, fa gli scongiuri perché il piano B possa diventare realtà, tremando al solo pensiero di dover ripiegare verso una possibile soluzione C.

Le due prossime settimane dovrebbero consentire a lei, e al resto degli abitanti del pianeta, di capire se ciò potrà avverarsi. Vedremo se i grandi della politica internazionale sapranno davvero trovare una soluzione comune alla più grande sfida che l’umanità abbia mai dovuto affrontare collegialmente, o se prevarranno ancora gli interessi e gli egoismi di pochi.

La COP19, dall’11 al 22 di novembre a Varsavia, è l’occasione per capire se l’ambito negoziale dell’UNFCCC sarà in grado di costruire il nuovo patto mondiale per il clima o se è destinato a essere ricordato come la sede delle occasioni perdute.

Il Piano B, lanciato due anni fa a Durban, prevede un accordo da chiudere entro il 2015 a Parigi. Per la sua realizzazione è necessario che a Varsavia vengano prodotti dei risultati tangibili, in termini di architettura generale dell’accordo futuro.

Lotta alla deforestazione, trasferimento di tecnologie e meccanismi finanziari sono tra i principali temi in discussione, ma il cuore del negoziato resta sempre legato a doppio filo agli impegni di riduzione globali delle emissioni di gas ad effetto serra (GHG), in risposta alle richieste degli scienziati. Bisogna superare il Protocollo di Kyoto, inadeguato per l’entità delle riduzioni di GHG previste e per la sempre minore partecipazione delle nazioni, ma bisogna soprattutto arrivare a dettagliare gli impegni per i singoli paesi.

Il principale problema da risolvere è come “portare a bordo” USA e Cina che, pur essendo i due principali emettitori mondiali, non hanno ancora sottoscritto alcun impegno formale di riduzione delle emissioni.

Le responsabilità storiche sono ovviamente diverse e non forniscono alcuna scusante agli americani, principale responsabile delle emissioni di GHG dalla rivoluzione industriale ad oggi. Ma anche la Cina fa sempre più fatica a nascondersi dietro l’etichetta di paese emergente. La richiesta di aiuti economici che rivolge ai paesi occidentali, in quanto ancora formalmente classificato come paese in via di sviluppo, stride pesantemente con le capacità economiche che ha a disposizione e con l’approccio “neo-coloniale”, finalizzato al controllo delle risorse naturali, sempre più evidente in Africa. Anche i valori di emissioni pro-capite di GHG della Cina, sono ormai assimilabili a quelli di un paese della Ue e giustificano la richiesta di molti paesi di vedere il gigante asiatico all’interno di un accordo legalmente vincolante.

Finora in ambito UNFCCC sono sembrati prevalere i tatticismi e i tecnicismi. Difficile anche per gli addetti ai lavori orientarsi tra Bali Raod Map, KP, Cancun Agreement, LCA, Durban Plattform, REDD+ e una moltitudine di altre sigle. Una selva terminologica per iniziati che è riuscita solo a tenere lontani i cittadini dalle attività dell’organismo chiamato a decidere le sorti del loro futuro e che dovrebbe invece lavorare alla costruzione di un patto intra e inter-generazionale.

In un certo senso è proprio ciò che ha affermato il Ministro dell’Ambiente Orlando mercoledì scorso, agli Stati generali della Green Economy a Rimini. Per affrontare i grandi temi ambientali, quale il cambiamento climatico, ritiene indispensabile la costruzione di un nuovo patto sociale, in grado di coinvolgere tutti gli interessi in gioco, per costruire una progettualità capace di andare oltre il singolo mandato di un politico.

Basta vedere quanto accaduto in Australia, dove il neo eletto Tony Abbott ha aperto il proprio mandato con la promessa di distruggere i principali strumenti di lotta al cambiamento climatico realizzati dai precedenti primi ministri australiani, come Emission trading e Carbon tax.

Lo stesso Orlando si è speso a favore della tassazione verde, da accompagnare rigorosamente con un’equivalente riduzione delle tasse sul costo del lavoro. Iniziativa tanto importante quanto complessa, che può però sperare di vedere la luce solo con il supporto di governi stabili e granitici.

A Rimini ha poi chiesto alla Ue di forzare la mano degli impegni di riduzioni delle emissioni GHG dal 20% al 30% entro il 2020. Potrebbe questa essere una piccola anticipazione della posizione con cui la Ue si presenterà al tavolo negoziale della COP19, forse con l’intenzione di assumere una maggior leadership nel negoziato.

Nel frattempo, mentre i delegati di tutto il mondo si apprestano a fare le valigie per le due settimane di lavoro a Varsavia, uno dei più forti tifoni mai registrato nel Pacifico occidentale sta colpendo le Filippine. Haiyan ha già causato più di 100 morti e, secondo fonti della BBC, interesserà circa 12 milioni di persone nel paese. Il tifone si sposta ora verso il Vietnam dove è già iniziata l’evacuazione di massa di 100.000 persone.

Solo un paio di giorni fa è arrivata, invece, la conferma ufficiale da parte del WMO, l’Organizzazione metereologica mondiale, della continua crescita della concentrazione di GHG in atmosfera. Nel 2012 la concentrazione della CO2, il gas che contribuisce maggiormente al cambiamento climatico, si è attestato a 393,1 ppm, pari a 1,4 volte il valore pre-industriale di 278 ppm. La soglia simbolica dei 400 ppm è stata superata in casi puntuali già nel 2012 e in modo più esteso nel 2013. Con gli attuali trend di emissione, tale valore è destinato a essere superato come media annuale già nel 2015 o 2016.

C’è da sperare che a Varsavia i delegati dei vari paesi tengano a mente anche queste informazioni, mentre si aggroviglieranno nelle loro sigle incomprensibili ai più.

Intanto, ci pensano i giovani a dare una scossa alla politica. L’associazione YOUNGO, organizza ad ogni COP una sorta di pre-evento, presenziato anche dalla Figueres. Questa volta i giovani hanno subordinato l’invito alla Figueres al fatto che lei rinunci a partecipare al Summit internazionale dell’Associazione del carbone (WCA). “Questo perché è inaccettabile che chi guida l’UNFCCC,” afferma Marta Sycut della sezione polacca di YOUNGO, “partecipi ad un incontro che punta a promuovere il ruolo del carbone per combattere il cambiamento climatico, un concetto bizzarro presentato dalla lobby dell’industria sporca”.

Durban: some progress, vastly outpaced by global warming

COP 17 concluded its work in Durban one week ago and observers of the UNFCCC negotiation meeting are divided between those who see the glass half empty and those focused on the part half full.

Good progress was achieved in the implementation of the Green Climate Fund, the transfer of technology and in the fight against deforestation through the REDD+ (Reduction Emission from Deforestation and Forest Degradation).
World-wide attention is however dedicated to the topic of mitigation. Which country needs to reduce its national greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, by how much and when: these are the crucial questions still unresolved.
But even on this issue Durban produced very important results.
Ahead of the COP 17 very few experts thought that the Kyoto Protocol (KP), the only existing international legally binding agreement on climate change, would survive beyond, when its first commitment period runs out.
The EU decided to commit to a second period no matter what other developed countries, such as Japan and Russia, will decide for the period after 2012.
Canada’s opposition to the KP was the most clear-cut, having announced its intention to abandon even the KP’s first commitment period. This is only the latest step of Prime Minister Steven Harper’s strategy to renounce any commitment on climate change in exchange for the support of the oil lobby, based mainly in the Alberta Province. Harper’s weakness and lack of political will erode in the long term his predecessor’s reduction commitment of -6%, as defined in the previous KP accord, and the actual national GHG emission level of +30% (data UNFCCC, 2009).
The EU’s willingness to extend its participation for the second commitment period created a bridge between Europe and the majority of developing countries, including the African Group, the Alliance of Small Islands States and the Less Developed Countries: they were all crucial in drafting one of the most important achievements of the COP 17, i.e., the Durban Platform (DP). The DP is a three-year track aimed at defining mandatory emission targets for all major GHG emitters, including the US and China. The new commitment will be part of a new mandatory agreement, whose legal form has not yet been defined, but should be in place by 2020.
From this perspective, the COP17′s results point undoubtedly to a “glass half full,” but any elation is mitigated by the bad news arriving from climate science. A recent study published in the magazine Nature shows a continuous decline in the arctic ice extension in the last decades.
IEA (International Energy Agency) data show that 2010, with global emissions in the atmosphere at 30,6 billion tonnes of CO2, topped all previous records.
Further, data on temperature will almost certainly indicate that 2011 was one of the warmest years since the beginning of physical record-keeping.
But what is probably even more worrying to climate scientists is the status of the permafrost in the Arctic area. This is one of the most important tipping points, a situation where change does not move in a linear way, but rather resembles a switch where, within in a short time, the position can pass from “off” to “on.” If the permafrost, a land area constantly frozen throughout the year and which extends also into the coastal seabed, melts, all the gases trapped therein will be quickly released into the atmosphere. A Russian study presented a few days ago at the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco indicated the existence of huge amounts of methane gas bubbling to the surface of the ocean, a phenomenon never registered in the previous 20 years of research in the area.
A study presented in 2010 by the same group estimated an amount of methane emissions from this area of about 8 million tonnes a year, but now it seems clear that the emissions are underestimated. The situation is particularly critical if we take into consideration that methane is 25 times more damaging for climate change than CO2 and this figure is higher than the entire emission of a country like the Netherlands.
Rethinking the outcome of Durban after these latest news, it becomes clear that the glass is always completely empty when we compare the speed of progress in the political process with the rate of change of climate conditions.

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Decision time in Durban, outcome as yet unclear

The 9th of December will be remembered as an historical date for the fight against climate change–either for the better or for the worse. The choice lies fully in the hands of ministers and heads of state involved today, and probably tonight, in the final plenary of the COP 17 in Durban and in the decision whether to save the Kyoto Protocol (KP) and the rest of the UN multilateral process or to simply let the KP expire.

Less than 24 hours before the end of the Durban Conference, it would appear that a large majority of countries is in favour of the II Commitment period of the KP and of a further legally binding commitment meant to involve a larger number of countries and emissions controls than the KP. But it is as yet unclear if this can be turned into a consensus-based decision valid for all.
Annie Petsonk, the representative of the NGO Environmental Defence Fund, identifies three possible options for the legal form a new commitment might take.
– The first one, very similar to the EU proposal, is a new Protocol with negotiations starting next year and to be adopted by COP 20 (2014) or by COP 21 (2015).
– The second one is a legally binding instrument, less stringent than the Protocol, without any timetable to conclude the work: this proposal is close to the US position.
– The last one, and the weakest, would involve simply a decision about the next steps: this option appears as the least likely, as it would signify the failure of the multilateral process.

Negotiations continued during the night of 8 December and from the delegates there is positive feedback for an agreement and even rumours of new margins for Russia and Japan to be part of the II Commitment period of the KP.
Karl Hodd, Grenada’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and Chair of AOSIS (Alliance of Small Island States), reminded everyone of the reason for this meeting during his Thursday speech in the High Level section. “We must lift our sights and not let national interest overtake global interests. I want to challenge you today to demonstrate to the world over the next few days that we have that political will.” He also warned participants to behave in an honourable way: “Let us not speak one thing outside the negotiating room and another inside the room.” Another AOSIS country, Fiji, asked all parties to support a stronger commitment. Samuela Saumatua, Minister for local government, urban development, housing and environment of the island, remarked that “Durban presents a unique chance to renew faith in the multilateral process.”
Hodd used less diplomatic language during the AOSIS press conference, underlining that “there is not enough seriousness in this negotiation,” adding: “if we believe there is a problem on the planet, why don’t we address it?”
This is a feeling shared by many participants. During the same press conference, Saumatua said that in Fiji “we have to relocate people due to costal erosion. It is not a fairy tale, it is reality.” References to the very real consequences of climate change come from several other countries, including the Maldives, Tuvalu, Iceland, Venezuela, Papua New Guinea and Iraq. Most of the speeches in the High Level section sent a clear message: stop the talking and start acting. Soon.
Hood pointed out that scientists are asking for decisive action before 2017 and that there is no point in postponing pledges until after 2020: “We totally reject the hypothesis of 2020. Waiting is a disaster.”
Venezuela used its time to link global warming to capitalist economies. “The market is the problem, not the solution,” said Claudia Salerno Caldera, the special envoy for Climate Change. She repeated what Hugo Chavez said in Copenhagen two years ago. “If climate change had been a bank it would already have been saved…; it is not possible to have money to save the banks and pay for wars but not for climate change and for life”, she said, receiving a loud round of applause.
The urgent plight of some countries was summarized thus by Amberoti Nikora, the Minister of the Environment of Kiribati, a group of islands in the Pacific Ocean: “I hope you’ll have the opportunity to visit my country and to see our children before it is too late.”

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EU praised for its effort to save Kyoto

Planetnext“I have to congratulate the EU for the leadership shown here.” It is rare to hear such praise during speeches in the High Level segment of a COP. But the words uttered yesterday by Mohamed Aslam, the Maldives’ Minister of Housing and Environment, are something more than a simple recognition of the effort made by the EU for a II commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol (KP). For all developing countries it is fundamental to save the only legally binding climate instrument, the KP, in order to preserve the hope for a further international deal against climate change. But for Small Island States the EU represents the only real life-vest for their future, considering that water levels in the oceans are already increasing by circa 1 cm every 3 years.

For several years the EU has been showing a strong commitment in the fight against climate change, but now in Durban it has the opportunity to strongly lead the process. And it appears unwilling to accept a secondary role, as had happened in Copenhagen where the main decisions were thrashed out mostly by the US and the BASIC countries (Brazil, South Africa, India and China).
As Connie Hedegard, the EU Commissioner for climate change, underlined in last Monday’s press conference, the EU has been working for the past 14 years within the framework of the KP. “All our legislation is based on the KP principle and you cannot find another country in the world where this happens.” There is thus no desire to go backwards, as many measures are in place and fully operational. The EU CO2 market connected with the Emission Trading Scheme (ETS) will probably continue to be implemented in the future regardless of what the Durban Conference will decide for the KP, because it is something already fully integrated in the European market.
Theoretically the EU could adhere to the II commitment of KP without any further political and technical measures, simply by introducing the -20% target by 2020, which has been enshrined in European legislation since 2008. This strengthens significantly the EU position in the negotiations. For this reason a new “Durban Road Map” appears more likely every day and this time the new three-year negotiation process needs to have all major emitters onboard, including the USA and China.
It is possible that China’s new willingness to discuss changes in its approach is the result of internal shifts within the G77 + China group, faced with the need to address new scenarios for the future. Already in 2007, during the Barcelona climate talks, the African countries started to speak with a single voice in order to better defend the interests of a continent strongly affected by climate change and with an economy lightyears behind that of China. Later in Copenhagen and Cancun it was the turn of the Less Developed Countries to ask for more financial assistance than the rest of the emerging economies. Now in Durban the insistent request for change comes from the small oceanic islands.
Tuvalu’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Trade, Tourism, Environment and Labour, Apisai Ielemia, remarked during his High Level speech that his islands are suffering not only for the rising sea levels, but also by the worst drought in memory. “We have to act now. Not in 2015 and definitely not in 2020. We have no time to wait!” But Ielemia spent a good part of his three minutes of time, normally dedicated to sound the alarm for the climate change affecting his islands, to ask for the participation of Taiwan in the UNFCCC.
This has to be interpreted as a clear message to China to begin acting as a major contributor to the reduction of the global CO2 emissions. Minister Mohamed Aslam was more blunt: “Not all developing countries are in the same basket. We are different in terms of emissions and we need to differentiate our commitments.
A possible signal of inside movement in the BASIC group comes from Tuesday’s press conference, where the Head of the Chinese Delegation, Minister Xie Zhenhua, decided to open his remarks by denying rumours of internal division within the BASIC countries.
Once more, Durban confirms that the real problem is, as always, that climate change progresses at a much faster pace than political decisions.
For Mohamed Aslam, “to postpone action until after 2020 is not acceptable for us” and probably for this reason he decided to thank the EU more than the G77 + China.

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Political progress registered, but China and US may be undermining EU goals

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“The USA is blocking, blocking, blocking!” The assessment of Tim Gore, the Oxfam representative, during yesterday’s NGO press conference is quite clear. His request that the EU and the developing countries move forward in any case, even if the US do not, resembles events at the COP 15 in Bali. In 2007 it was Al Gore who put forward a similar demand, echoed during the final plenary session by Kevin Conrad, the Special Envoy and Ambassador for Environment & Climate Change of Papua New Guinea. The roar of approval in the assembly forced the US to accept the Bali Road Map.

It now seems possible that the same script will play out next Friday night in order to launch the 3-year Durban Road Map proposed by the EU.

The first target in Durban is undoubtedly the need to assure a future to the Kyoto Protocol (KP) through the II commitment period, beyond 2012. But the second goal seems to be the need to find a way to involve the US, which in political terms stands on tenuous ground. Everyone knows that it is very difficult to negotiate with a government that seems unable to impose to its own Senate the ratification of any agreement.

Yesterday there was a bilateral meeting between China and the US, probably crucial for the development of the COP 17. No official statement was issued.

But the previous day, Minister Xie Zhenhua, the Head of the Chinese Delegation, had sent an indirect message, almost certainly meant for US negotiators: “It is time to see who is acting in a responsible way to solve a common challenge for the human race.”

Rumours circulated by Greenpeace suggest an agreement between China and the US to postpone the deadline of a new global deal until after 2015, the date on which the EU is instead insisting as a condition for it to subscribe to a second KP commitment period. The situation is further complicated by China’s announcement to be ready for a legally binding agreement, without clearly specifying whether this means Beijing’s acceptance of the year 2020 as a deadline for the introduction of its own absolute mitigation target.

At the same time, the uncertainty and the shifting of political positions might be interpreted as a positive sign, showing that negotiations are having an effect on the original positions of the parties involved.

In the meanwhile, progress is being reported on financing issues as the idea to collect funds for developing countries from taxation of international aviation and shipping is gaining ground and could be one of the Durban conference’s positive results.

Growing attention is also being given to Mexico’s and Papua New Guinea’s proposal for the introduction of a threefourths majority voting for the COP decisions. What could be seen as a simple procedural aspect may became one of the most interesting outcomes of the COP and facilitate the future of the Durban Road Map.

Decisions needed as leaders arrive in Durban for COP’s second week

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The Conference of the Parties (COP) 17 enters its the last week of negotiations with the High Level session starting tomorrow afternoon and might be  useful to identify which are the most important topics under discussion.

 

Some positive results are expected  regarding technology transfer, a crucial issue in facilitating a more sustainable development path for developing countries.

 

Copenhagen and Cancun had outlined a financing mechanism, the Green Climate Fund, capable of supporting adaptation and mitigation to help in particular the less developed countries. It foresaw a three-year period (2010-2012) of fast tracking  $10 billion per year, to be increased up to $100 billion by 2020.

 

Christiana Figueres,  the UNFCCC Executive Secretary, underlined last Friday during a press conference that  there has so far been no decision on how that figure will be reached. She also pointed out that already last year the High Level financing panel set up by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon had highlighted the need for “a combination of traditional and innovative sources of finances.”

 

Financing is needed as well to support the REDD mechanism (Reduction Emission from Deforestation and Degradation). In this field some problems have been raised by Brazil, which does not appear willing to accept a regime of international reporting of how safeguards in REDD will be addressed and respected.

 

But mitigation remains the main point for which a political solution must be found by the 12 Chiefs of State and 130 Ministers starting to arrive in Durban already this afternoon..

 

It is no longer possible to postpone a decision about the future of the Kyoto Protocol (KP) because its first commitment period expires at the end of 2012. Linked with the destiny of the KP is the decision on how to forge a new broader international pact, to include the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of all major emitters actually under discussion in the Long Cooperative Action (LCA).

 

The most concrete proposal submitted up to  now is the one prepared by the EU. With the public refusal on the part of Japan, Russia and Canada to be part of the II commitment period, the EU becomes the main mover in favour of the KP survival.

 

This allows the EU to lay down its own conditions to save the only existing, legally binding accord, i.e., the KP, still crucial for all developing countries. Figueres is aware that the EU will accept to support the KP’s renewal “only under certain conditions,” spelled out last Friday by Thomasz Chrusczow, representing the Polish EU Presidency: “it is necessary that the new pact include 100% of the global emissions.”

 

He asked for a kind of “Durban Road map,” a three-year negotiating process in order to finalize a full and global agreement by 2015 which should then become operative before 2020. Chrusczow’s request to base this new process on the same principles as the Bali Road map and the Cancun agreement indirectly confirms the failure of the COP 15 in Copenhagen and the entirely unsuccessful Rasmussen COP 15 Presidency. The evidence is that it is now necessary to restart the process for a new legally binding agreement.

 

But the international situation has radically changed from that prevailing at the time of the 2007 Bali conference and even more with respect to 1992, when the UNFCCC was signed. For Artur Runge Metzer, of the EU Commission, it is therefore no longer possible to base a future agreement only on historical responsibility. “We are aware of our historical responsibility, but this is not enough. If we shut down the EU tomorrow or next Saturday as result of the COP 17, we don’t save the climate. Others have to come on board”.

 

The message is clearly directed at the USA, increasingly absent from the negotiation process, as shown by the vague answer of the Deputy Special Envoy for Climate Change,

 

Jonathan Pershing, during last week’s press conference and by the US attempt to postpone the new negotiation process until after 2020. The indirect answer comes from Keya Chatterjee, representative of WWF US. She urged her national delegation to keep  in mind this year’s  climatic events in the U.S., where for the first time 47 States had to declare a state of emergency because of  weather-related disasters.

 

But the EU message is meant also for the emerging economies, considering their increasing contribution to total GHG emissions. Chrusczow did however specify that it is necessary to differentiate between various national conditions because China, the main global emitter, has a value per habitant of 6 tons of CO2, while India’s is well below 2.

 

Srinivas Krishnaswamy, of the NGO CAN South Asia, is asking for a more leading role of the BASIC countries (Brazil, South Africa, India and China). They are already part of the G77+China group, but Krishnaswamy notes that they are increasingly behaving as an official negotiating group. This could be interpreted as a natural evolution of the developing countries’ block characterized by growing differences among them in terms of interest in the oil economy, level of development and direct hardship due to climate change-related consequences. To the group belong countries as different as Saudi Arabia, China, Tuvalu and Bangladesh.

 

There is finally another important point that may be on the discussion table in the days to come. It is the proposal presented by Papua New Guinea (PNG) and Mexico at the beginning of last week and already introduced in a less strong way by PNG at the Copenhagen conference. The proposal is to move the current consensus-based decision-making process towards a qualified majority approach. According to informal rumors, there is growing sympathy for this proposal, despite the opposition of some important parties. If nothing else this would force clarification of the meaning of “consensus,” often left to the interpretation of the COP Presidency, and speed up the decision process, considering that climate change will not wait for the conclusion of the long political debate.