US slowing down COP15 negotiations shows US the red card

, by Peter Matjašič

US slowing down COP15 negotiations

In the last round of international talks on climate change in Barcelona (2-6 November) before the Conference of Parties (COP) are to gather in Copenhagen to strike a global new climate change deal it became evident that a legally binding document is out of reach.

The Barcelona Climate Change Talks stand for the resumed ninth session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol (AWG-KP) and resumed seventh session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action under the Convention (AWG-LCA).

There is little optimism that the persistent divisions between the developed and developing countries would be bridged on time for the Copenhagen summit; these include:

  • a deepening divide between Annex I countries (led by US) and non-Annex I, which became evident at the Bangkok Climate Change Talks (28 September – 9 November 2009);
  • trust issues (e.g. commitment of 0,7% development aid but lacking behind in implementation; some industrialised countries wanting to combine their current development aid with possible climate change assistance);
  • non-Annex I worried about not making it legally binding.

Despite the final words of the UNFCCC Executive Secretary Yvo de Boer in Barcelona being encouraging, saying that progress had been made during the week and that he was confident that Copenhagen would deliver a strong deal, which must include the immediate implementation of key actions in developing countries, this sounds more like lip-service in light of the US position on lobbying against a legally binding commitment.

The danger is that the EU could start peddling back to accommodate the US

But the real defeat did not come in Barcelona but a week before during a EU-US summit in Washington, where President Obama told his European counterparts that a binding agreement was not going to happen in Copenhagen as the US climate legislation is slowly winding its way through Congress and will not be ready in time for the summit.

The danger is that the EU, which is has a strong negotiation position of fighting for binding and comparable emission reductions by all industrialized countries, keeping Kyoto and/or staying close to it, could start peddling back in order to accommodate the US.

It’s time our global leaders get their act together and make responsible, tough and visionary decisions to preserve our planet for future generations!

Image: US Climate Change Law, source: Google Images

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