Article by Guest Contributor: Joelle Westlund
Emerging from the four preparatory rounds in Bonn, Germany and Tianjin, China, developing countries have reason to doubt the progress to be made at the COP16 conference in Cancun. In the meetings leading up to the conference, China and the United States have already disclosed their predisposition towards agreements on the reduction of greenhouse gas admissions, resulting in an unfortunate deadlock.
The goals for developing countries in the upcoming climate conference in Cancun will be to solidify reduction targets made last year at Copenhagen through legally binding agreements that will confirm financial aid and technological assistance. The majority of developing countries have expressed a willingness to formalize their actions in accordance with the developed parties of the Kyoto protocol.
Developing countries set off from the climate change conference in Copenhagen with varying expectations and proposal including funding of $30 billion between 2010-2012 and $100 billion by 2020. As the world’s largest emerging economic with rapidly increasing carbon emissions, China, Brazil, India and South Africa have yet to see any of the funds to aid the deployment of clean energy, reducing deforestation emissions and other promises. As China’s representative Xie Zhenhua stated, developed countries like the U.S. “has not provided financing or technology to other countries, yet it asks them to accept stringent monitoring and voluntary domestic action. It’s totally outrageous. It’s quite unacceptable.” China does not stand alone. Many developing countries believe developed nations are making inequitable demands of developing nations in their attempt to evade taking the responsibilities of its own emissions and providing funding and necessary assistance for the technological advances for poor countries.
Though absent of a legally binding document, COP15 established emissions reduction proposals that promised funding to Least Developed Countries (LDC) that accounted for 1.5% of their GDP for the long-term financing with the consensus that the global average temperatures should not increase by more than 1.5 degrees Celsius. So far, China and other developing countries have denounced the list of objectives laid out for Cancun, characterizing them as premature and unbalanced. Furthermore, despite the progress made in Tianjin over issues of forestry, technology transfer and financing, discussions on the crucial topics of emissions reductions were obstructed.
Poorer nations are reluctant to have their pledges mixed with those of richer nations, particularly given the political uncertainty about the ability of the U.S. to achieve its goals. UN climate chief Christiana Figueres, however, has said that the recent talks have laid an important foundation for agreements in Cancun despite the challenges already faced between the U.S. and China. Other developing countries such as Saudi Arabia and Papua New Guinea are also showing an unwillingness to push forward with progress on important issues such as deforestation.
Evidently, developing countries are showing great hesitation and inflexibility. The conflict over matters of finance, emissions reductions, and the viability of future climate change proposals will depend heavily on the willingness of the developing countries to find a common ground for which to anchor their objectives. The discourse between the United States and China, thus far, signify the possibility for dialogue to take the form of a tit-for-tat means of negotiating. The ramifications of such postures in the preliminary rounds of agreement may denote the clouding of prospects for substantial progress in Mexico.