That sinking feeling

It is an odd sense of déjà vu. At Kyoto, the US held up negotiations on meaningful commitments for almost the entire two weeks, sticking to their unreasonable offer of a lax reduction target, and a demand for commitments from developing countries. The EU came with hard-line target. Developing countries stood in the sidelines, expecting the EU to fight their battle. Eventually, the USand EU came out of closed door meetings patting each other on the back, with a deal full of compromises that came to be known as the Kyoto Protocol. It was as if the G77 did not exist. If they did, it was only to put their name on a document agreed between the US and EU on the last night. Any demand for principles by them at that late hour was seen as ‘obstructionist’ and holding up the adoption of the protocol.

The same thing seems to be happening here. The US wanted both sinks and nuclear to be included in the flexibility mechanisms. The EU came to The Hague with a hard-line position opposing both. Now, the US has offered a ‘concession’ to the EU to exclude nuclear if sinks are included! So are we to have a repeat of Kyoto, where the US and the EU will strike a deal full of compromises that affect the South, that we are supposed to accept?

First of all, what sort of deal is this the US is offering? Choose how you want to die - from nuclear waste or from hunger, because arable land in your country is being used to sequester carbon emitted by the US? Second, it may be clever negotiating strategy taught at Harvard to offer a list of won’t-do’s and then show ‘increased flexibility’ on one to get the other, but the EU and G77 are falling for the trick too often. Third, the inclusion of sinks in CDM has grave implications for the South, and they have to decide - EU acceptance or dismissal should be immaterial. Last, but important for both the EU and G77 - just how much are we going to compromise the climate negotiations to accommodate the whims of that bully, the US? How many Hobsons' choices are we going to have to make?

Will the G77 sit by and watch while lands that their poor need for survival are taken out of their hands and offered up as carbon sinks, in the first place an impermanent and unreliable solution? Is it really only up to the EU to accept or reject such a deal from the US? Show some spine, G77.