Inside COP 17
In the first two days of the negotiators, countries gave statements at opening plenaries. Contact groups were formed where the knitty-gritty will be discussed. Many counties spoke about impacts that their countries are feeling from increased frequency of extreme weather events. Venezuela, representing ALBA (a progressive group of South American countries), accused the ‘predatory economies’ that are advocating for a voluntary approach to emissions reductions of being selfish and of destroying climate regime.
There was a lot of talk around the conference that despite the promises made in Cancun, governments have not taken any reasonable steps to increase the ambition of their emissions reductions commitments. There is also great frustration that Canada is not negotiating in good faith. Canada has backed out of its Kyoto commitment and has been derailing progress. Canada is ignoring its Common But Differentiated Responsibility, a fundamental principle of the Climate Regime.
In line with the United States position, Environment Minister announced that they are against key aspects of the Green Climate Fund and would not agree to proceeding with it unless there was a legally binding agreement, including China (which is by no means guaranteed to happen). That means that there is a chance Canada will not provide funding to the people that are most vulnerable to climate change.
Within the climate regime, countries that emit the most also have the most money and therefore hold the power in the negotiations. There was talk that some industrialized countries have been threatening Least Developed Countries to keep quiet and not bring up 1.5 degrees or legally-binding commitments, like they did in Copenhagen, by threatening their development aid. As the host nation feeling pressure to make progress, South Africa is likely to bend to European Union demands surrounding a second commitment period to the Kyoto Protocol. This may come at the expense of the interests of other African nations.
In the early days of the conference there are many developed countries that are saying there might not be a full-fledged agreement until 2020, which is un-acceptable to vulnerable countries and anyone who wants to prevent run-away climate change. These negotiations are building up to be heated, with many tensions between different country groups. Many of the non-governmental delegates are focusing their campaigns on the fact that corporations have bought-out countries and undermined the process. Corporations are trying to get Party status meaning that they could have a direct voice in the negotiating rooms. This is absurd, however they already have immense influence through their cozy ties with many countries’ negotiating teams, including Canada.
Stay tuned to see how it all unfolds.