Africa's protest pushes focus back on emissions reductions

Posted Nov. 4, 2009 / Posted by: RConnors

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Following the African negotiators' bold move yesterday to boycott further negotiations until rich countries agree to live up to their responsibilities on emissions reductions, a compromise was struck on continued discussions under the Kyoto Protocol negotiating track. It was announced that of ten continued negotiating sessions, six would focus on emissions reductions and four on other matters, such as land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF) and flexible mechanisms.

Developing countries expressed appreciation for this change, which allows negotiators to focus more on emissions reductions. However, developing countries continued to express their frustration at the lack of progress on targets –- after all, their future is at stake! 

Raising the issue of rich country targets was a very bold move that was severely criticized by rich countries. We are even hearing that European Union capitals are contacting capitals of their respective former colonial states to demand that they rein in their negotiators!

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When asked by a journalist whether or not European Union members are in fact calling former colonial capitals, Lumumba Di-Aping of Sudan, the lead climate negotiator for the Group of 77 developing countries, said, "It’s not new for developed countries to use all their means to prevail: divide and rule, call capitals, exert pressure.  You know what happened in Africa. The West supported dictators. We would not be surprised if developed countries resort to these means. I have no information that that is what is currently happening. If it is, it’s not the best use of leadership. We need to create win-win scenarios."

Unfortunately, these political pressure tactics likely foreshadow what will happen in Copenhagen if developing countries choose to exercise their political muscle in the hopes of getting stronger action from rich countries. More positively for now, though, this protest was clearly a very strategic move that has focused the negotiations on the core issue at hand: emissions reductions. 

-- Kate Horner

Check out previous updates from Kate in Barcelona:

Africa stands up for binding targets

Barcelona climate talks start off on best possible footing, finally!

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