Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Climate change: A fair deal or nothing

The Guardian reported this morning that the Copenhagen climate talks were already in disarray after the text of the rich world's draft agreement was leaked. The "Danish text", agreed by a secret group of rich countries including the US, UK and Denmark, proposed abandoning the Kyoto Protocol and its principle of "common but differentiated responsibilities" and commitments to fund adaptation and technology transfer in developing countries. Instead, it proposes using the World Bank's financial leverage to force developing countries to cut emissions by making funding contingent upon emissions reductions. Worse, it enshrines a perpetual right of the rich to emit more than the poor, giving them a per capita allowance almost twice as great as citizens of poor countries.

You can see why this would not be popular with the developing world (and rightly so - common but differentiated responsibilities, the principle that those who caused the problem should shoulder most of the burden of fixing it, is simply just; abandoning it is simply trying to dump the problem on the poor). And this draft is a real threat to any deal. In recent WTO negotiations, we've seen a rising feeling of third world solidarity, which has seen developing countries walk away en mass from shit, one-sided deals. If the rich countries try and serve the same self-interested shit at Copenhagen, we could very well see the same. And then we all lose.

Poorer countries know climate change is happening. They know they have to come on board and commit to binding emissions reductions eventually. But this sort of one-sided deal which locks in existing inequalities and is negotiated without their involvement and presented as a fait accompli is not the way to make that happen.