The issue of ‘pre-2020 action’ has led to the first major stand-off at the climate change conference in Bonn, with developing countries going on the offensive to get that included in the formal agenda of discussions, and the developed nations opposing the move saying the schedule was already “very busy”.
The issue has been simmering since the start of the two-week conference on Monday when India and ‘like-minded developing countries’ had protested against the fact that ‘pre-2020 action’ were not part of the official agenda of the conference, and demanded that it be included. In response, Fiji, which is presiding over the conference, had asked last year’s conference president Salaheddine Mezouar to hold consultations with countries on this and report back by Saturday.
However, as more and more developing countries raised the issue on the following two days, Fiji was forced to convene a meeting of all countries on Wednesday evening to discuss the issue. The meeting saw the first fireworks at this year’s conference, with the US, European Union and other developed countries explicitly opposing the move to include ‘pre-2020 actions’ as part of the agenda. They argued that the schedule was already very tight and, in any case, many of the ‘pre-2020 action’ were being discussed in the smaller groups.
But in a rare united show of strength, almost every developing country grouping — the G-77, which is the largest negotiating group with over 130 countries, the African group, the Arab group, the ALBA and AILAC group of Latin American and Caribbean countries, and the small island states — supported the demand. The Wednesday evening meeting ended in a stalemate.
The developing countries kept up their offensive on Thursday, holding their first joint press conference at this meeting, where both India and China, the two heavyweights of the developing world, accused the developed countries of shirking their ‘pre-2020’ obligations.
The ‘pre-2020 action’ refer to the obligations of the developed countries under the 1997 Kyoto Protocol that has still three more years to run. The Paris Agreement, finalised in the French capital in 2015, is essentially a successor treaty for the post-2020 world.
The Kyoto Protocol had put the responsibility of reducing emissions only on a small group of rich and developed countries. These countries had to achieve targeted cuts in the period 2005 and 2012. Later, in the Doha climate conference, amendments to the Kyoto Protocol extended its mandate till 2020 with fresh targets for these countries. The Doha Amendments, as they came to be called, have still not become operational as adequate number of countries have not yet ratified it.
On the other hand, the Paris Agreement, under which every country has itself decided on the climate actions it will take, was ratified and made operational in less than a year.
India Thursday repeated its demand for a deadline for ratification of the Doha amendments. “We have suggested two timelines to the developed countries. We have said that the ratification of the Doha amendments should be completed by May or June of next year, and we have also suggested that all parties (countries) should make submissions on what actions they have taken to fulfil their pre-2020 obligations,” Ravishankar Prasad, India’s lead negotiator, said at a press conference.