A defensive European Union on Friday played down an ongoing confrontation with developing countries over ‘pre-2020 actions’ on climate change that has been weighing down on the negotiations here, but a compromise solution was nowhere in sight yet, with India and China comprehensively rejecting initial proposals to address their demands.
“It does not address any of our concerns. It cannot be acceptable to us,” said an Indian negotiator about a three-point proposal suggested by Fiji, which is presiding over the conference, to end the stalemate.
In a parallel development, the developing countries, at the instance of India and China, have also decided to request the UN climate change secretariat to organise an event at the conference next week to commemorate the 20th anniversary of adoption of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. The developing countries hope this would help bring more attention to ‘pre-2020 actions’ and put further pressure on developed countries to deliver on their promises. The G-77 group of developing countries, with more than 130 members, sent a formal proposal in this regard to the secretariat Friday.
“We propose to have a ceremony on the adoption of Kyoto Protocol on its 20th anniversary. We hope that kind of event will help us get the political momentum around pre-2020 actions,” Chinese negotiator Chen Zhihua told reporters.
The developing countries have been accusing the developed world of trying to run away from their obligations under Kyoto Protocol that has three more years to run. The Paris Agreement, finalised in 2015, is essentially the successor agreement to Kyoto Protocol.
Kyoto Protocol had placed mandatory emission cut targets on rich and developed countries. These countries had to achieve these cuts in the 2005-2012 period. Later, through amendments made in Doha in 2012, the mandate of Kyoto Protocol was extended till 2020 with fresh targets for these countries. The Doha Amendments have still not become operational as adequate number of countries have not yet ratified it.
Amidst effort at this conference to finalise the rule-book for implementation of Paris Agreement, with hopes of ramping up actions to deal with ever-worsening impacts of climate change, developing countries have been trying to emphasise that actions promised for pre-2020 period under Kyoto Protocol are not neglected. The Paris Agreement does not assign any emission targets on countries, letting them decide for themselves what actions to take.
Since the start of the conference, developing countries have been protesting against non-inclusion of the ‘pre-2020 actions’ in the official agenda of discussions. After a few rounds of informal discussions, Fiji put forward a three-point compromise formula, proposing that discussions on ‘pre-2020 actions’ be held at a scheduled review meeting next year, and every subsequent year after that, and a new website be set up providing information on ‘pre-2020 actions’ being taken.
“We had two specific demands — include pre-2020 discussions in the official agenda, and finalise a timeline for ratification of Doha amendments. These proposals address none of these demands. It cannot therefore be acceptable,” the Indian negotiator said.
Chinese negotiator Chen Zhihua agreed. “The presidency (Fiji) has provided some proposals for our consideration. It is a good signal, but from our side, it is still not enough. So we are trying to provide some comments on it and working with our partners to see what additional work we can do to improve the proposals,” he said.
Meanwhile, Elina Bardram, head of EU delegation, said though EU was yet to ratify the Doha amendments, it was already on course to meet commitments for the pre-2020 period. She said there was no attempt to run away from discussing ‘pre-2020 actions’. It was more about finding the right forums, in several parallel meetings, to discuss this so that the main work of finalising the rule-book for Paris Agreement is not affected.
“There is somehow a misperception that the EU and other countries don’t consider pre-2020 action very important. We do… I will insist on that,” she said.