Of stances, tactics and country positions

November 28, 2011, Durban: Key players at the climate negotiations in Durban presented a preview of their tactics which they might adopt over the next 14 days. On the opening day of CoP17, China made it clear that without finance and technology transfer on the table, the talks were doomed. The US on its part wanted the Cancun Agreement, signed last year, to be operationalised. The European Union stuck to its recent demand that a solution to global warming is only possible if emerging economies like China and India take emission reduction targets.

China, which addressed the opening plenary on behalf of the BASIC countries, reiterated that poverty eradication was the overriding goal of the developing countries. Hence, reduction in emissions was solely the responsibility of the developed world. “...We call upon the developed country parties to rise up to their historical responsibilities and take the lead by undertaking ambitious and robust mitigation commitments consistent with science,” the Chinese delegate told members sitting in the hall. Finance and adaptation were two of the biggest priorities -- China said, putting its weight behind South Africa to produce a fair, comprehensive and balanced outcome to the current negotiations.

The United States, in its first press conference in Durban, said that while it was not a party to the Kyoto Protocol, for a legally binding treaty in the long term all major emitters -- including emerging economies – must take emission reduction targets. The deputy envoy of the US negotiating team, Jonathan Pershing, said that when the Kyoto Protocol was being ratified the emerging economies were not major emitters, but in the last 10 years things had changed. He said future negotiations should only be based on the latest emission figures of the major emitters which also included China and India. The US also refused to commit on a long-term framework on climate change without first deciding on its contents.

The European Union said that its goal is to reduce GHG emissions by 50 per cent below 1990 level by 2020. For this to be achieved, the EU will implement new carbon taxes on air transport, shipping, agriculture and HFC gases. The EU also said that current commitments for the second period would only cover about 15-16 per cent of global GHG emissions and that the EU would only commit to a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol if the remaining world -- which includes emerging economies like China and India -- came on board to take emission reduction cuts.