Skip to content


December 9, 2010

I have to confess, I’m starting to feel less and less optimistic about what is ultimately going to come out of Cancun. Much could still happen, but I’m increasingly conscious – reinforced by comments coming out by major parties – that there’s a lot that can’t happen now. So what can’t happen?

1. There cannot be progress on a binding international agreement. Why? Because the rift between developing country parties Kyoto who want Kyoto 2.0 and developed countries who see it as a sideshow to the real negotiations is simply too wide. Even for those developed countries like many EU states and Australia, who would be prepared to buy into a new Kyoto commitment period after 2012 (when the first one ends), they are simply not prepared to wear new legally binding international commitments, when so many key countries would not (i.e. US, China, Canada, Japan, Russia) (really the key here is the US-China combo, the others could be made to fall into line, I reckon).

2. We can’t apparently have a deal when much progress is made on the details of smaller elements of an  overarching deal – e.g. Monitoring of emissions commitments under the Copenhagen Accord, technology transfer, reducing deforestation, financing architecture for mitigation and adaptation in developing countries – because that involves the US or China and India having to cede ground without obtaining enough in return for the result to appear like a credible win for them. Progress can thus only advance all at once on many fronts or not much at all. This is a shame, because apparently there are deals virtually waiting to be signed off on, on basically all of the above issues (maybe less true of financing).

3. It doesn’t  appear that we can get a wide-ranging deal on all elements at once. Why? Because developing countries – particularly India and China – won’t agree to key monitoring details (which is what the US wants along with a reinforcement it will bring to the Copenhagen Accord framework for future action) unless the US and other big countries accept the Kyoto 2.0 framework (see point 1!). In truth, this seems to be a bit disingenuous of India and China. As they well know, they signed off on the Copenhagen Accord and made commitments under it (even if they said they were simply reporting voluntary commitments that were unconditional) and now they say to honour the agreement of the Accord they want Kyoto 2.0 instead of, or as well as, the Copenhagen Accord!

My theory is that China is being recalcitrant and obstructionist and trying to pin the blame on the USA as usual. But India, India doesn’t really have a problem with moving forward on the Copenhagen deal – provided that it feels its domestic interests (and extremely low per capita emissions) are taken into account in setting future commitments, financing deals, etc. There is, in theory, room for the US and EU to work to isolate China by getting India on board – and it is actually in India’s interest to do so. Even if the US seems like its not taking action at home – and it’s certainly not to any satisfactory extent – , that’s jsut domestic politics and that is best helped by time and, as unfair as it sounds, the Indians and others do not help the US domestic situation by not working with the US to move ahead globally.

The US, recall, is really the most recalcitrant child in the world in terms of reducing its domestic emissions in terms of large developing countries (at least, not including the oil states) and so it has be teased and accepted for the troubled domestic political soul that it is on climate change. It  is in China’s and India’s long term interest to realise that. But China, don’t worry, will play the stubborn fool until the end. India should isolate China and allow its negotiators the support to get a deal with the US and EU that is comprehensive.


From → Uncategorized

One Comment

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. CDM at Cancun « The Carbon Economist

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: