Successful Durban climate deal 'difficult'

By staff reporter Zhang Fang from Durban, South Africa
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, December 9, 2011
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Negotiators at the Durban climate talks face a gaping chasm between the interests of developed and developing countries, making it hard to reach a deal on the extension of the Kyoto Protocol and the establishment of a fund to mitigate the impact of climate change, a Chinese climate expert said.

Zou Ji, a professor of environmental economics at Renmin University China []

Zou Ji, a professor of environmental economics at Renmin University China [] 

With only two days left, the climate negotiations are still slow and difficult, with little progress on key issues such as a second commitment to the Kyoto Protocol and the Green Climate Fund, Zou Ji, a professor of environmental economics at Renmin University China, said Thursday, a day before the parties' final meeting.

Developed countries are trying to redraw the guidelines for current negotiations, hoping to apply a unified standard to emissions reductions targets of both developed and developing nations, Zou said.

"This has created a deadlock for the conference since developed countries are abandoning the recognized roadmap," he said.

The Bali Roadmap, signed by participant nations in 2007 after the UN climate talks in Indonesia, set up a two-track plan for all the nations: developed countries which had signed on to the Kyoto Protocol should fulfill their obligations, developing nations should make voluntary steps to reduce emissions, and developed countries which had declined to participate in the Kyoto accords should take comparable steps under the UN framework convention.

Zou accused developed countries of avoiding their historical responsibilities by refusing to take further actions, all while asking developing countries, especially China and India, to be part of a legally binding deal.

"The United States hasn't done much, and the Europe Union has brought a conditional emission reduction plan to tie developing countries into the Kyoto Protocol," Zou said. "But this would no longer be the Kyoto Protocol."

Six years after the launch of the Kyoto Protocol, "we need a review of the implementations of developed countries' obligation and developing countries' voluntary action on emission reduction," he said. "Developing countries have done their parts while we haven't seen much work from developed countries."

China achieved its first five-year commitment from 2005 to 2010, and will continue to reach its 2020 targets by reducing greenhouse gas emissions per unit of GDP by 40 to 45 percent from 2005 levels, Xie Zhenhua, head of the Chinese delegation, said during the negotiations.

"So for now, there are two possibilities, either the negotiations come out with nothing, or developing countries make a compromise and this is too hard for them to do this currently." Zou said.

Climate fund

As a key part of the negotiations, the Green Climate Fund is designed in Copenhagen's climate conference, aiming to give developing countries financial and technique aid and help them to increase the ability of mitigation and adaption to tackle climate change.

However, developed countries are distracting the public by focusing the management of the fund rather than taking concrete action to raise money, Zou said.

The developed countries prefer the fund to be managed by the World Bank, while the developing countries are hoping the fund to be supervised by the UNFCCC.

"The delay strategy has decreased their political reputation," he said. "The fund is their obligations and responsibilities under the convention, so any conditions for developing countries are not right."

"Although the fund is mostly needed to many developing countries, the climate conference is still slow and with little hope. The best scenario for the talks is to leave a recognized text for the future negotiations." He said.

At the same time, according to the agenda of the conference, the Green Climate Fund can only be talked about if the conference reaches a deal on other key issues, particularly the extension of Kyoto Protocol, Zou said.

Held in Durban, South Africa, the COP 17 United Nations Climate Change Conference starts on Nov. 28 and will come to the final day today.

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