It is coming out in the open now. Most developed countries have made it evident that they are very uncomfortable with the Kyoto and Bali Action Plan architecture and would prefer a new legal instrument.
About the meeting with Pershing, it was an informal interaction and they did not allow me to record it. They said that US is developing its position on most of the issues and thus they cannot comment officially as of now. But to give you the details I asked Pershing about the new Waxman-Markey draft on clean energy and whether by the amount of offsets it allows it will send a right signal? He said that first of all the Bill was at a draft stage and that there are still a few hurdles to cross. Secondly he said that it to meet the needs of US states and companies while the US develops the sectoral mechanism. He said who could not comment on the offsets and that I should put that question directly to Waxman who had drafted the bill.
Then I had asked him about his views on Kyoto and whether they will consider joining it. He said that US will not join the Kyoto Protocol because it does not work for them politically. We are looking at another deal which we can sign.
On issues like developed countries targets, adaptation and technology transfer he replied that the administration was still working on the US policy. He also said that US was having bilaterals with lot of developing countries to understand their positions and needs. He also emphasised that all developing countries cannot be clubbed together. On bilateral with India he said that Indian national plan seemed encouraging and US wanted to know more about it.
Earlier US had a briefing session with the NGOs which I also attended. There also Pershing talked and made quite a few comments. Here they are:
On US’s role:
We are back and we will be engaging. There is a great deal of diversity in discussions and very little convergence. Globally people are not ready to move yet. US can only do a piece of it (reductions). Even if you take into account our cumulative emissions over the last 50 years we are less than half of the global total. There is currently a rift in the conversation happening in AWG-KP and AWG-LCA.
We will not sign it. We need other parties at the table to work out another agreement. We are interested in various mechanisms under Kyoto like those dealing with forestry and reporting ideas. But Kyoto architecture is very complex. The conversation taking place in AWG-LCA seems useful. If we add up what is on the table it is not enough. We are seeking to re-convene the major economies. We could end up with a new agreement carrying forward mechanisms from Kyoto.
On distinction in developing countries:
There are three different kinds of developing countries. There are LDCs who have suggested that there needs are pretty immediate. Some of these demands can be met through aid. Then there are very large countries who may not be close to developed countries in terms of income but are capable of doing a lot. China is spending the largest sum on economic recovery in the world and Korea the largest percentage. It is hard for me to argue that China and Korea need aid. There are a very large number of developing countries somewhere in the middle. The idea that there is a single common thread in developing countries does not work. There are three different kinds of countries. You cannot say I cannot now. It does not work for you. Certainly larger developing countries need to do more.
On the philosophy and principles of Kyoto (equity and common but differentiated responsibilities)
We don’t find the need to develop over arching framework of principles. I do not mean to suggest whether they are good or bad.
I found it disconcerting in these negotiations the suggestions that we need to pay enormous sums for something seemingly evil we have done in the last 150 years. That’s not a good message for US. There is something in notion of equity that seems very political to me. I do not know what agreement we will sign in Copenhagen.
On Saturday, March 4 two major discussion took place in the working groups. On financial mechanism and institution arrangement and REDDs.
On financial mechanism
In the contact group meeting everyone was commending and supporting everyone else’s proposal but finally there was no concrete decision. I am highlighting the G-77 and China proposal below.
The proposal said that the financial mechanism must be based on principle of equity and ‘common but differentiated responsibilities’, and that should operate under and must be fully accountable to the COP. It reiterated the demand for direct access that was supported by many other developed countries as well. It also said that the funding should be “new and additional” over and above the official development assistance (ODA) and that level of funding can be set at 0.5 to 1 percent of the GNP of Annex I countries.
Then several countries made their statements on the framework of financial proposal as well as the institutions to handle it. India said that deploying existing institutions (like World Bank) was not supported under the convention and that the existing institutions have a very different mandate. GEF and World Bank came in for a severe criticism from the developing countries. Philippines said that we are operating under a failed system of delivery. It said that GEF had high administrative costs and is an inoperational entity. Philippines also gave an example. They said that they send proposals to GEF. We got back the proposal with a budget head of foreign consultant for awareness generation that we did not even ask for. We do not need anyone for awareness generation.
Switzerland commented that we should try to use existing institutions to which India replied later that they hoped Switzerland does not have to deal with these institutions in a way LDCs have to. Many LDCs and Small Island nations said that they faced lot of problems when dealing with these institutions. Barbados said that the past multilateral financial system had failed to deliver. “We dot not have a voice in the World Bank. We shall not have a say in any reforms in these institutions”. Most developing countries preferred a mechanism and institutional system under the convention and which follows directions of the Parties.