Durban may be a damp squib

Developed countries resort to wordy diplomacy while poorer countries grow weary

By Aditya Ghosh

Bonn, June 12: Political procrastination by developed countries may lead to an unproductive Conference of Parties (CoP) in Durban later this year. In a meeting organized by South Africa to outline expectations from various countries in this year’s CoP, the difference between ambitions and aspirations of different countries clearly underlined that while developing countries were fatigued over deadlocks created by the developed countries, the wealthy nations preferred to remain engaged in procedural matters, avoiding the political commitment required to make meaningful progress at Durban. 

In the meeting, Japan, Australia and USA insisted that the ambitions must be realistic and more time must be spent on technical meetings. On the other hand, Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) and developing countries stressed that operationalising the provisions of technology transfers, finance and adaptation was crucial to restore faith in the negotiation process.

Bolivia pointed out to the gigatonne gap and the fact that developing country pledges outnumber developed country pledges. In moments of inspiration, it said that while the next CoP in Africa offers an opportunity to rise against the apartheid that the poor of Africa have historically suffered through a just climate deal, alluding to such discrimination within the climate negotiation processes as well. The wealthy nations also refused to contribute further to the budget of UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), making it impossible to have another round of meetings before Durban CoP. The UNFCCC Executive Secretary said that the coffers of the secretariat were empty and therefore, the secretariat could not bear the cost of organizing an extra session between now and Durban. This can seriously hurt the negotiations though it could mean a strategy to push for making progress in the current round of talks.

Another round of talks would be important if Durban has to yield, claimed the Indian delegation, which said that a balanced outcome was the key element in the success of the negotiations.

With clear absence of political will, it seems difficult to expect anything out of Durban meeting. The success will depend heavily on the outcomes of the meetings in the next week when the negotiators meet over key issues of mitigation targets, adaptation framework, technology transfer and financial provisions. Optimism is waning among the negotiators, one of them from a island nation hinted that they were even ready for serious compromises if that helps to strike a decent deal at Durban.


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