A political tug of war is starting to emerge at the UN Climate Change Conference, and it is between the have and the have nots.
Tuesday saw a significant rift begin to form after the publication of a draft proposal from Denmark suggesting authority for policing the agreement move from the United Nations to the World Bank, which would give developed countries power over developing countries.
Those “trust issues” continued on Wednesday, and appear to have caused an unusual split between some of the developing countries.
The split appeared after several small island states and poor African states had demanded a legally binding treaty to aim at a maximum global warming of 1.5 degrees Celsius. They also wanted greenhouse gas concentrations stabilized at 350 parts per million rather than the 450 parts per million favoured by developed countries and some major developing nations.
The small island states and their supporters claimed the existing agreement, the Kyoto Protocol, was not tough enough for the countries most vulnerable to the consequences of climate change. They want a new legally-binding protocol to run alongside the existing Kyoto Protocol.
The demand was opposed by fast growing developing economies such as China, India and South Africa who thought it would retard their economic development.
In other events, the United States and China, two of the biggest players, and polluters are also engaged in a war of words.
First was China stating that the US and European Union should have brought more notable emission reduction targets with them to the conference.
Su Wei, deputy head of the Chinese delegation said in a press conference that neither the US, EU, or Japan had offered sufficient cuts in their greenhouse emissions by 2020.
According to Wei, the US target on emissions reductions and the US financial support to developing nations are key to the success of the ongoing climate change conference.
How Wei rejected an EU proposal that the economically advanced developing nations, that would include China, commit to emissions reductions and pay part of the public financing adaption and mitigation to climate change in the developing countries.
Just days after the US’s Environmental Protection Agency bombshell of an admission that carbon dioxide and five other greenhouse gases are dangerous pollutants and a threat to human health and the environment. Lisa Jackson, the EPA’s administrator appears to be looking for an out.
During her address to attendees at the conference Jackson suggested that the US could take a “common sense” approach to reductions. Specifically she said: “It will ensure we take meaningful, common-sense steps, and allow us to do what our Clean Air Act does best – reduce emissions for better health, drive technology innovation for a better economy, and protect the environment for a better future – all without placing an undue burden on the businesses that make up the better part of our economy”.
Remember this quote and the context of it, as I believe this debate is at the core of every commitment and concession countries are willing to make – how much will it cost?