Negotiations among more than 190 countries meeting in Barcelonato address climate change continued today, but only on certain matters,as delegates from 50 African nations collectively shut down the talksabout how to extend the Kyoto Protocol when the first phase of theagreement expires in 2012. Africa refuses to continue the negotiationsuntil developed nations commit to reduce global warming emissions by atleast 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2020, a target that scientistssay is necessary to avoid catastrophic impacts from climate change.
“Africa believes that the other groups are not taking talks seriously enough, not urgently enough,” said Kabeya Tshikuku of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
“People are dying now while those who are responsible historically are not willing to take action,” added Algerian delegate Kamel Djemouai.
Bydrawing a line in the sand, African delegates hope to elicit specificplans from the European Union, Australia, and other countries bound bythe Kyoto Protocol to slash carbon output. Developing nations demandthat the West put forth detailed numbers on emissions-reduction goalsas well as financial assistance for developing nations to spur cleantechnology deployment and adapt to unavoidable impacts of climatechange.
Members of the G-77 plus China group expressed supportfor the African position today, and have asked the chair of the Kyotonegotiations to press developed countries for specific slash-and-cashtargets. Until those targets are announced publicly, “we should refrainfrom engaging in such a wasteful exercise,” said Sudanese delegateLumumba Stanislaus-Kaw Di-Aping, who heads the G-77 plus China block.
TheAfrican and G-77 plus China delegates assert that an ambitious,science-based deal must be forged in order to avoid the worst impactsof climate change.
“A weaker deal will lead to our death,”Di-Aping said plainly, alluding to the predicted fate of low-lyingisland nations and developing countries that are most sensitive toclimate disruption.
Insufficient funding for developingcountries would greatly reduce the ability of poor nations to recoverfrom climate shocks in the near term, and weaken their resilience toward off future disasters as climate change accelerates.
Meanwhile,negotiators from many developed countries continued Tuesday to try tosteer expectations away from the prospect of reaching a legally bindingagreement in Denmark this December. Danish Prime Minister Lars LokkeRasmussen told Reuters yesterday that a “politically binding agreement” could emerge from Copenhagen, but the final legally binding decisions are outside the realm of possibility for this year.
U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon stated todaythat, “realistically speaking, we may not be able to have all the wordson detailed matters,” confirming that much work will be left unfinishedat the conclusion of the Copenhagen summit.
In other words,while representatives from the developing world are calling for astrong, science-based treaty to combat climate change and save thepoorest and most vulnerable nations from climate catastrophe, wealthyindustrialized nations want to substitute lofty politic rhetoric for acommitment to action in Copenhagen.
“Copenhagen isn’t aboutcreating photo opportunities for politicians,” Tove Ryding ofGreenpeace International told reporters Tuesday. “It is about gettingan agreement that prevents climate chaos.”
Africa and the rest of the developing world could not agree more.
TheU.S. was largely below the radar screen in Barcelona today, but allthat is likely to change tomorrow when delegates hear the news ofGerman Chancellor Angela Merkel’s speech pressing Congress to act on climate, and learn the result of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee’s attempt to mark up the Kerry-Boxer bill despite a GOP boycott.
Stay tuned for more on the fireworks (er, mostly duds) from Barcelona.