Putting the Stale in Stalemate

12 March 2014

While perusing some of the recent submissions to the ADP, ECO was overcome by an unshakable sense of déjà vu. It almost seemed as though some parties might have resubmitted some of their pre-Copenhagen submissions by mistake.

China’s submission for example contained no less than 14 references to the Bali Action Plan and process. Yet not a single one to the Durban Action Plan beyond the first 3 paragraphs. And, boy oh boy, did that call for 1% of GDP from developed countries for the Green Climate Fund bring back some memories.

China must be aware that simply recycling old submissions and repeating generic principles is not an effective negotiation tactic, especially when the ADP is moving to deeper water. It will neither strengthen your negotiating position vis-à-vis developed countries, nor help developing country peers who are looking to their “big brother” to help protect their interests and rights here. Why not use the many success stories and progress in China to leverage enhanced contributions at home and by others, and to facilitate a strong 2015 global deal?

Then there’s the US with its ongoing insistence on moving past binary categories, in spite of having failed to do its part during the period when those categories actually made sense. Sitting on top of the global economic food chain, and still unwilling to return emissions to anywhere near 1990 levels, the US continues to lack credibility when it lectures other countries on their responsibilities.

These two countries seem stuck in a perpetual time warp. There’s China imagining itself in a pre-industrial state of climatic grace, and the US imagining an idyllic future without fundamental global inequalities and with past failures and omissions forgotten.

ECO is aware that there is an element of faux reality with these negotiations, especially in this belated phase of extreme opening positions. But reality is desperately needed in the face of the dangers posed by the climate crisis, and the sooner the better.

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