South presses for funds and technology
Developing countries are now pushing the rich nations to come up
with funds and technology under a democratic structure in order to break
the impasse in global talks to tackle the crisis of climate change.
Wide differences were evident between developed and developing
countries at a two-week session of the UN Framework Convention on
Climate Change (UNFCCC) that ended in Bonn recently.
This shows how hard it will be for governments to reach an agreement
on how to go forward on fighting climate change on two fronts -
Mitigation (preventing the situation worsening by reducing Greenhouse
Gas emissions) and Adaptation (taking measures to reduce the impact of
unavoidable climate change).
Scientists and an increasing number of politicians believe it is the
greatest battle in the world today, as climate change threatens the very
survival of humanity.
If drastic action is not taken to get emissions of carbon dioxide and
other gases to “peak” by 2015 or 2020, and then halve by 2050, there
will be devastating consequences on sea level rise, melting of glaciers,
water supply, flooding, agricultural production and human health.
A working group on “long-term cooperative action” (LCA) is tasked
with following up on a Bali Action Plan to conclude talks by the end of
2009 on new “commitments” for developed countries to cut their emissions
and to provide finance and technology to developing countries, and on
mitigation and adaptation “actions” by developing countries.
How the developed and developing countries should share their
responsibilities and burdens in taking their respective measures
continued to be the main source of differences in Bonn.
This came out in the many intense discussions on finance, technology,
adaptation, mitigation and a “shared vision” for cooperation. As an
eloquent Brazilian official put it: “We don’t have a shared vision
today. It has to be built.”
Among the rich nations, there is a belief that all countries - or at
least the developed countries and the “advanced developing countries” -
have to act to cut their emissions.
If only the rich countries were to act, the “advanced” developing
countries will have an economic advantage, and moreover the total
emissions won’t be reduced, or reduced enough.
The developing countries stress instead that they were not
responsible for most of the Greenhouse Gases that are now concentrated
in the atmosphere, and they must be given enough space to develop
They cannot be expected to cut their emissions as they need to use
current forms of energy for economic survival and growth - unless and to
the extent they are assisted with finance and technology transfer that
will enable them to carry out the technology and energy revolution
required for both growth and emission reduction to take place
At the Bonn meeting, these different paradigms were at play. The
developing countries, led by the Group of 77 and China, put forward more
concrete proposals than they had previously done, on the financing
resources and structure and on the technology transfer mechanisms they
They called for a financial mechanism to be operationalised under the
Convention itself, answerable to the member states in a democratic
governance system, so that many billions of dollars of funds can be
provided for developing countries to take mitigation and adaptation
They also wanted mechanisms set up to help developing countries
obtain climate-friendly technologies at low and affordable prices, and
for them to make, adapt and design technologies themselves.
In their concept, “technology transfer” does not mean just the
purchase or importing of equipment or machinery at market prices.
The G77 and China, which is coordinated at the LCA working group by
Bernaditas Muller of the Philippines, said a “shared vision” must
include not only the stabilisation of Greenhouse Gas concentrations in
the atmosphere, but ensure this is done in a way that enables economic
development to proceed in a sustainable manner, as provided for in the
Convention. She also stressed the principles of equity and “common but
Developed countries have failed to pursue effective mitigation
actions, even with the very low targets agreed to in the Kyoto Protocol,
resulting in increasing adverse effects of climate change.
Malaysia, whose delegation was headed by Ambassador Selwyn Das, was
an active participant. It told the meeting that a shared vision is not
only about emission reduction targets.
“It also refers to targets for finance and technology,” said
Ambassador Das. “Simulations of scenarios of global emission reductions
of certain percentages and what this means for developing countries are
“If developed countries undertake certain percentage cuts, an
important issue is what the residual cuts for the developing countries
will be. The data and simulations would help advance discussions.”
Several developed countries, including the United States, Japan and
Canada, in many sessions, were explicit or implicit in their demand that
developing countries should also act to cut their emissions, as part of
the bargain for developed countries to do more.
They did not deny the need to provide finance and technology, but the
US in particular put the onus on developing countries to create the
conditions for the private sector to be attracted to invest in them.
This gave the impression that the Annex I countries (so called
because the developed countries are listed in Annex I of the Convention)
are not yet serious about committing to assist the developing countries.
The developing countries are likely to continue to argue that the
extent to which they act depends on the extent to which they get the
funds and technology to do so, which is also a major principle in the
The developing countries are also upset that while little funds have
been made available under the Convention, Britain, Japan and the US are
leading an initiative to put billions of dollars of climate funds into
the World Bank, an institution they control.
The G77 and China strongly criticised this move, and stressed that if
the climate talks are to progress, then the funds required by developing
countries should come under the governance of the UNFCCC itself, where
the action measures and the funding for these actions can be negotiated
The next round of climate talks is in Accra in August, at which more
concrete proposals for finance and technology are expected to be
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