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TWN Info Service on Climate Change (July09/02)
22 July 2009
Third World Network

Dear friends and colleagues,

Heads of State of the G8 countries (Canada, the Russian Federation, France, Germany, Japan, Italy, the United Kingdom, and the United States) together with the European Union met from 8-10 July in L'Aquila, Italy. The G8 Leaders' Declaration 'Responsible Leadership for a Sustainable Future' (http://www.g8italia2009.it/static/G8_Allegato/G8_Declaration_08_07_09_final,0.pdf) contains sections on climate change issues. 

Below, please find some preliminary comments on these sections (mainly on paragraphs 63-76).

We hope you find this commentary useful.

Best wishes,
Third World Network

Preliminary comments on G8 declaration

The declaration mischaracterizes the mandate of the Bali Action Plan. It states that Parties agreed “in Poznan to enter full negotiating mode, in order to shape a global and comprehensive post-2012 agreement by the end of 2009 in Copenhagen, as mandated by the Bali Conference in 2007” (para 63). The Bali Action Plan did not mandate a “global and comprehensive post-2012 agreement”. The Bali Action Plan mandated an “agreed outcome” and called on Parties to adopt “a decision” in Copenhagen for “long-term cooperative action, now, up to and beyond 2012”, with many developing countries preferring a set of decisions than an agreement, in order to address existing implementation gaps and implement the Convention without delay.

The declaration seems intended to join the separate negotiating mandates under the Kyoto Protocol and the Convention. It says, “we call upon all Parties to the UNFCCC and to its Kyoto Protocol to ensure that the negotiations under both the Convention and the Protocol result in a coherent and environmentally effective global agreement” (para 64). Some developed countries are seeking to kill the Kyoto Protocol, and others to reopen the Convention (arguably in order to shift the burden of adapting and mitigating climate change further to the South). Developing countries have emphasized the importance of agreeing a second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol, and an agreed outcome to address existing implementation gaps under the Convention. They have said that the two negotiating tracks under the Kyoto Protocol and Convention, like train tracks, arrive together in Copenhagen but do not meet. This is consistent with the mandates of the Ad hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action (AWG-LCA) and the Ad hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol (AWG-KP).

The declaration seeks to reinforce a 2°C target as a “consensus” position. It says “we recognise the broad scientific view that the increase in global average temperature above pre-industrial levels ought not to exceed 2°C” (para 65) Many scientists, and many developing countries (notably the Small Island States and Least Developed Countries), argue that 2°C will have devastating effects. They have called for temperature increases to be limited to well below 1.5°C.

The declaration supports varying baselines for Annex I countries. It says “consistent with this ambitious long-term objective, we will undertake robust aggregate and individual mid-term reductions, taking into account that baselines may vary and that efforts need to be comparable” (para 65). Developing countries, by contrast, have consistently maintained that the agreed Kyoto Protocol baseline of 1990 should serve as the baseline for all future commitments, in order to ensure comparability of efforts and prevent countries from using different baselines to characterize meager reductions (from 1990 levels) as significant reductions (e.g. from 2005 levels). Allowing baselines to vary rewards those who have done the least to curb global warming since 1990, and allows them to continue to obscure the scale of their actual reductions.

The proposed global and Annex I Party goals support a massive taking by developed countries of the remaining global atmospheric commons. The declaration supports a global cut of 50% and an Annex I cut of 80% by 2050, and fails to provide clear mid-term targets for Annex I countries (para 65). Given the size of the Earth’s remaining carbon budget, these targets are only ambitious in the respect that they take from the South an atmospheric resource worth trillions of dollars each year without compensation, and deny them the atmospheric space they require to develop (without corresponding guarantees to technology, finance and compensation).

The declaration proposes “quantified” actions for developing countries, blurring the Bali Action Plan mandate. It says that “similarly [to developed countries] major emerging economies need to undertake quantifiable actions to collectively reduce emissions significantly below business-as-usual by a specified year” (para 65). It blurs the otherwise clear distinction in the Bali Action Plan between “quantifiable” emission reduction objectives for developed countries and nationally appropriate mitigation actions for developing countries.

The declaration proposes reducing tariffs on environmental goods, without addressing developing country concerns. It calls for “the elimination or reduction of tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade in environmental goods and services is essential to promote the dissemination of cleaner low-carbon energy technologies and associated services worldwide” (para 68). If fails to address the concerns of developing countries, raised in the WTO, that developed country proposals: 1) favor products of export interest to the developed countries; 2) impose disproportionate tariff cuts on developing countries; 3) affect the development of endogenous capacities and technologies; and 4) promote merely sale, rather than transfer, of technologies.

The declaration proposes expanding carbon markets, further exporting the burden of mitigation to developing countries. It commits to “further develop market mechanisms under the Copenhagen agreement to possibly include sectoral trading and sectoral crediting mechanisms, to enhance the participation of emerging economies and developing countries in the market ensuring environmental integrity” (para 69).   In addition to securing an unjust and unsustainable share of the Earth’s limited remaining carbon budget, developed countries will seek to appropriate at low cost the small per-capita shares left for developing countries via the carbon market, allowing the rich to continue emitting while locking the poor into low and progressively lower per-capita shares of the Earth’s remaining carbon budget.

The declaration stresses “the critical role of an efficient system of intellectual property rights (IPR) to foster innovation” (para 73) despite studies showing that IPRs may be a barrier to technology transfer. Developing countries have noted the barriers that IPRs may pose to effective access to and transfer of technologies. Addressing the climate crisis, and deploying technologies worldwide in order to curb emissions by 2015 or 2020, requires we move from “business as usual” on IPRs towards more flexible approaches.

The declaration fails to offer any substantive provisions on technology transfer for the agreed outcome in Copenhagen. The term “technology transfer” does not arise in the declaration. At best it states, innocuously, “we believe that provisions on financing technology research, development, deployment and diffusion should form an integral part of the post-2012 agreement” (para 74). The Bali Action Plan requires enhanced action on technology development and transfer “now, up to and beyond 2012”.

The declaration calls for differentiation of developing countries in relation to both mitigation and financing. On financing it states we “affirm that all countries, except Least Developed Countries (LDCs), should participate in the financial effort to tackle climate change, according to criteria to be agreed, and we support consideration of the proposal by Mexico” (para 75). Under the Convention, developed countries are obliged to provide financial resources to developing countries. As noted above, it calls on “major emerging economies” to undertake “quantifiable actions” on mitigation. It seeks to link financing with “emission reductions” in developing countries, when developing countries have agreed to undertake “actions” not “reductions”.  It supports a proposal by Mexico, while continuing the failure by developed countries to engage with the financing or technology proposals submitted by the G77 and China on behalf of 130 developing countries.

It reinforces the World Bank’s role in climate finance. It says that “we stress the importance of building on existing instruments and institutions, such as … the Climate Investment Funds” (para 75). Developing countries, by contrast, fought for a “sunset clause” for the World Bank’s funds so that they would not compete with the enhancement of the Convention’s financial mechanism. They have also emphasized that future climate funding should be via the UNFCCC financial mechanism under the guidance of, and accountable to, the Conference of Parties. The UNFCCC is clear that financing should be undertaken principally through the UNFCCC financial mechanism (with financing from bilateral, regional and multilateral sources playing a supplementary role).

The declaration emphasizes the inevitability of adaptation harm to developing countries. It states “that even implementing ambitious mitigation steps will not avoid further climate impacts” (para 76). It fails to acknowledge, however, that these impacts are principally caused by the rich countries excessive historical and current emissions.  It states “We will address these issues in a spirit of partnership between developed and developing countries and confirm our commitment to effectively address adaptation in the Copenhagen agreement” (para 76). But it fails to make any mention of the scale of funding required for adaptation and to compensate developing countries for climate damages, or to support the calls by developing countries for new institutional arrangement to address adaptation under the Convention.

The declaration implies support for nuclear and carbon capture and storage. It says “we witness that a growing number of countries have expressed interest in nuclear power programmes as a means to address climate change and energy security concerns” (para 89). And it states that “The development and deployment of innovative technologies such as Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) is … expected to contribute substantially to reducing emissions (para 91). It offers proposals on how these developments can be governed. 

 


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