Developed countries, including the US, the European Union, Canada, and Japan among others, have refused to discuss climate change action that has to be taken by them before 2020.
Developed countries have to cut down on their greenhouse gas emissions and provide financial assistance to developing countries to adapt to climate change, according to the 2012 amendment to Kyoto Protocol. The 2012 amendment, known as the Doha Amendment, covers the climate change action that has to be taken in the period of seven years between 2013 to 2020. Five years after the amendment was passed, only 84 nations have ratified it. It needs a total of 144 nations to come into effect.
The group Like-minded Developing Countries (LMDC) had proposed in the opening session of the conference to amend the agenda and include discussions on accelerating pre-2020 climate change commitments. The president of the conference, Fiji’s Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama, created a controversy by refusing to add this to the agenda, on the specious plea that there was no consensus among other countries to discuss this issue; even though it is mandated under the Paris Agreement and again reiterated in the COP22 at Marrakech. This led to strong protests by India, China, Iran, and other developing countries. After such protests, Bainimarama conceded that there will be consultations on the agenda items to decide if pre-2020 action should be included.
These consultations happened yesterday, where US, the European Union, and other developed nations refused to have detailed discussions on this matter. This was not surprising as they are the ones that have refused to adhere to the commitments and action that they had accepted in Doha till 2020 – what is known as the pre-2020 commitments. Representatives from US claimed that since there is a “very, very busy schedule at this meeting”, there is no time for additional agenda items. United States is a part of the Umbrella Group at the climate change conferences, which is a group composed of non-EU developed nations. Other countries in this group include Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, and the Russian Federation. European Union said, “We don’t think that this agenda item will reduce one single ton of emissions and it will not add to climate finance.”
Even though the US has pulled out of the Paris Agreement, they are participants in COP23, as their leaving Paris Agreement will be actualised by 2020. Till then, they can participate and sabotage the Paris agreement till formally leaving it in 2020.
India, speaking for China, the G77 group, and Like-Minded Developing Countries (LMDC) raised strong objections to this again, saying it has already been seven years since the 2012 amendment, and it should not take so long to be put into action. China agreed saying that this does not inspire any confidence that the pledges made in this year’s conference will also be adhered to. Saudi Arabia representing the Arab Group, South Africa representing the Africa Group, Brazil, Malaysia, and Nicaragua made statements calling for urgent actions before 2020,, and not postponing all actions to after 2020.
Dominica, St. Lucia, and other island countries reminded the attendants of the devastating hurricanes and other weather disasters that had struck the island nations. Dominica said the island states are the worst impacted due to inaction by richer countries, and that they are the guinea pigs of what climate change will do to vulnerable countries.
The co-facilitators of the session asked the countries to meet informally to resolve the conflict, and report back in 24 hours. So the deadlock on pre-2020 commitments of the developed countries continue.
(with inputs from Third World Network)