Author: Sabrina Chesterman
As the high level plenary rolls on, countries are disaggregated in their commitments, divided in their sovereign requirements and the bottom line remains, the COP still is no closer to a firm climate agreement.
An agreement needs to be founded in confidence and credibility, a momentous task considering over 100 different states need to be aligned. Developing countries are fiercely protecting their national sovereignty, developed nations cannot agree on exact funding packages, tensions heighten and frustrations build as each world leader steps to the stage to present their national case and advocate for a solution to climate change, which all agree must be done at Copenhagen.
Gordon Brown called it the task of statesmanship for politics to overcome the obstacles. As the hours tick away, and statesman, presidents and prime minister advocate for an equitable outcome, do we start losing hope that endless talks and speeches prepared and written, perhaps weeks before Copenhagen and tweaked before delivery is not the most constructive use of time? One hopes as statesmen advocate their key messages on the plenary stage, senior negotiators are putting the texts into a workable and politically acceptable agreement behind closes doors.
In the continual roll call of world leaders at the high level plenary, a few developing countries have established their arguments with eloquence and established a useful commentary. It is clear there is a mutual understanding of the common but differentiated responsibility with regards to existing emissions. Some leaders have not distinguished along the Annex I (developed) and Annex II (developing) country basis, as is done under the Kyoto Protocol. Instead, as Hilary Clinton referred to, ‘major economies’ need to commit to funding and emissions cuts to their greatest extent.
As contract groups convene behind closed doors, developing countries remain firm in the support for Kyoto. As Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC, rightly pointed out in his press conference, why wouldn’t developing countries advocate for a continuation of Kyoto, it’s the only framework that currently exists which compels developed countries who have ratified the protocol, to make emissions cuts?
Hilary Clinton affirmed the United States was prepared to join others to help raise 100 billion dollars a year by 2020. However, the reluctance of China to make firm statements this afternoon has made the chances of a unanimous pact appear unlikely. President of Guyana, Bharrat Jagdeo, highlighted the fundamental need for China to engage in final decisions. He used their example of innovation, in allowing millions of Chinese people to shift from a poverty status. Jagdeo challenged China as an indispensible actor to make sure Copenhagen doesn’t become the gravest failure of democratic statesmanship.
The week has been hampered by discussions focusing on procedure rather than substance and leaders know decisions made in the next 24 hours will mean they will be blessed or blamed for generations to come.