What's critical at Durban: removing the firewall between developing and developed countries

Durban, December 6: Remove the firewall at all costs: this sums up what the rich countries are doing in the climate negotiations at Durban to remove the differentiation between past polluters – responsible for climate change impacts currently occurring – and the future polluters, who need ecological space to grow. 

This is the core of the politics at the Durban conference on climate change. The rich countries are doing all they can, in different ways, to remove this distinction, for until the distinction remains, they will have to take action first to reduce and create carbon space for the poorer countries to increase their emissions.

The CSE team at Durban is tracking a whole host of developments, happening right now in closed rooms, that point to this sinister attempt.

Consider, for instance, an issue on which informal consultations are on-going: 

Proposal 1: Russian Federation to amend article 4, para 2 (f) of the framework convention on climate change

The Climate Change convention provides that “any party may propose amendments to the Convention”. The Russian Federation on May 24 2011 submitted a proposal for discussion at the Durban conference. 

The proposal is to amend Annexures I and II to the convention, which categorise countries based on their contribution to the problem of climate change. 

Annex I lists developed countries, which need to take action to reduce emissions.

Russia now wants this list changed.

It believes that “there have been changes in economic and technological development that have taken place since the adoption of the Convention in 1992”. In other words, countries have grown and so, now, the Convention list is out of date. 

It wants a review of the list so that more countries are added in the list of the first polluters. 

The proposal is being hotly debated – supported as it is by US and Turkey. The US position is that no agreement is written in stone – but clearly what it means is that its emissions should be wiped out in the atmospheric sands of history. 

To be watched.