Copenhagen Divisions Widening?

  • Date: 07/12/09

BBC Earth WatchIn the hours before the Copenhagen talks officially open, it appears that if anything, the paths of the industrialised and developing country blocs are moving away from each other.

Last week, the BASIC group of countries – Brazil, South Africa, India and China – put forward proposals (originating from China) detailing some principles they would like to see in any agreement here.

As I wrote in my last post, these included a rejection of binding constraints on emissions for developing countries, opposition to international verification of those constraints, and the continuation of emission reductions from developed nations under the Kyoto Protocol rather than any new framework.

As I also wrote, some of this was very much at odds with principles proposed by the Danish host government – presumably with the approval of all other EU states, and reportedly with the approval of the US.

As I write this post on Sunday evening here, the G77/China bloc – the disparate collection of 130 countries ranging in wealth from prosperous Kuwait to impecunious Togo, which acts as the developing countries’ main forum – is holding a day-long meeting to agree its opening position.

The indications are that this will take the bloc even further away from the sort of thing favoured by the EU and US.

Steers I’ve picked up so far suggest that over half the countries in the bloc are now supporting the demand of small island developing states that the end goal of all of this should be to keep the rise in global average temperature since pre-industrial times to 1.5C, rather than 2C.

Translate this to greenhouse gas concentrations, and the demand is stabilisation at 350 parts per million (ppm) of CO2 or equivalent, rather than the 450ppm that’s implicit in the proposals of Western countries and the declaration made in July by G8 members and a group of major developing nations.

Other delegates tell me the G77/China group is toughening other demands as the day progresses; we’ll see.

Whatever emerges, the general move of toughening puts a different slant on things from the optimism expressed by Yvo de Boer, the UN climate convention’s executive secretary.

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