Thursday, 10 December 2009

Copenhagen climate summit: Cracks appear in consensus of developing nation bloc

The tiny nation of Tuvalu has driven a wedge in the bloc of developing nations at UN climate talks by calling on China, India and other emerging giants to take on legally-binding commitments to slash CO2 pollution.

Published: 7:52PM GMT 09 Dec 2009
Through an arcane diplomatic manoeuvre, the Pacific archipelago cracked a diplomatic axiom that has prevailed since the UN climate convention came into being in 1992: rich countries caused global warming, and it was their responsibility to fix it.
On the third day of the December 7-18 negotiations, Tuvalu proposed opening discussions on a "legally binding amendment" to the Kyoto Protocol that would set targets for the reductions of greenhouse-gas emissions for major emerging economies starting in 2013.

But the move -- which was backed by dozens of the poorest countries most vulnerable to climate change impacts -- was blocked by China, India, Saudi Arabia and other large developing countries.
"The constraints would mostly remain on developed countries but also, partly, on big developing economies as well," Taukiei Kitara, head of Tuvalu's delegation, said.
Mr Kitara acknowledged that the proposal constituted the first serious breach in the up-to-now united front of the "G-77 plus China," a bloc of 130 developing nations.
"We know the implementation of the Kyoto Protocol is not complete and we want to create an impulse for a stronger commitment," Mr Kitara said, referring to the landmark treaty that imposes emissions cuts on rich nations up to 2012.
Tuvalu demanded - and got - a suspension of negotiations until the issue could be resolved.
The split within the developing country bloc is highly unusual, as it tends to speak with a united voice.
Today more than half of global carbon pollution comes from developing countries, led by emerging giants China, India and Brazil, and the proportion is set to rise as their high-population economies grow.
Tuvalu's motion to create a so-called "contact group" was shot down by these countries "because we asked for transparent, equitable talks, and maybe they want to talk behind closed doors, so they can dictate and manipulate," Mr Kitara said.
China minimised the differences between developed nations in explaining why it rejected the proposal.
"China has consistently and firmly supported the concerns of vulnerable countries and least developed countries in tackling climate change," said China's climate ambassador Yu Qingtai, when asked about the incident.
"We are all developing countries, we are all victims of the global warming caused by developed countries."
But he acknowledged that positions were not always aligned. "In our specific understanding of how to achieve such change, we might have some differences," he said.
Brazil spelled out the split more explicitly. "Tuvalu has a very legitimate preoccupation for a most ambitious possible agreement," Brazil's climate ambassador, Sergio Serra, said. "But we would not agree on a mandatory reduction target. This is not something Brazil is ready to discuss."