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‘Developed Countries Plan To Continue Using Carbon Space of Developing Countries’

‘Developed Countries Plan To Continue Using Carbon Space of Developing Countries’

Diego Pacheco. Photo: IISD/ENB Kiara Worth

This year’s Conference of the Parties (COP) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change – a.k.a. the flagship UN climate talks – is all about implementation and achieving bold action. In these negotiations, the world’s economically developing countries are aiming to get serious commitments on finance from the economically developed ones.

Land Conflict Watch researcher Radhika Chatterjee spoke to Diego Pacheco about what he thinks developing countries might get out of COP27. Pacheco is the spokesperson for the Like-Minded Developing Countries (LMDC) and the lead negotiator for Bolivia at COP27, underway in Egypt.

LMDC is a negotiating bloc of more than 25 developing countries negotiating climate-related agreements together. This bloc includes India, Pakistan, China and Egypt. Together, the LMDC countries account for more than 50% of the world’s population and frequently play a leading role in climate action pacts.

Pacheco in particular has been a vocal critic of the ‘global north’ in these negotiations, has called the pact signed in COP26, in Glasgow, a “colonial pact”, and has excoriated developed countries for evading their responsibilities.

The following is an edited excerpt of his interview with Chatterjee. The questions are in bold and editor’s notes are within square brackets.

What are the key issues that the LMDC is going to prioritise in COP27?

The key issues of this COP are mitigation, implementation, finance, loss and damage, and adaptation.

I’ll begin with mitigation and implementation. We’re going to have a tough discussion. There is pressure by some countries to have an approach to enhance mitigation ambition [i.e. reducing emissions] in developing countries. Our position on this is that the [LMDC] cannot agree to rewrite the Paris Agreement and start a new discussion on procedures for pressuring developing countries to enhance mitigation action, outside the Paris Agreement.

The LMDC will focus on keeping  what parties had agreed to in the agreement and not to have a new interpretation for addressing mitigation issues here at COP27. Mitigation should be addressed in the context of the principles of the [UN Framework Convention], the Paris Agreement, and the principle of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities (CBDR).

[CBDR  acknowledges that developed countries have contributed to a major share of emissions in the past. Therefore, their capacities and responsibilities for fighting climate change will vary. Upholding this principle allows for equity between rich and poor countries in climate  change negotiations.] [Developed countries] are trying very hard to impose a goal of net-zero by 2050 for all parties, which is really against the principles of equity.

On adaptation, the idea is to go beyond giving visibility to the progress on the ‘global goal on adaptation’. We should also establish parameters of the global goal of adaptations and to provide clear recommendations for future ‘global goal’ discussions.

We would also like to arrive at some clear conclusions for next year from these discussions. We are supporting the request made by the African group to have a specific discussion on  doubling of finance for adaptation. It is very important to highlight that there is still the need for [providing financial support for climate change adaptation].

Regarding loss and damage, LMDC is supporting the Group of 77 developing countries and China’s proposal to open the matter of discussing funding arrangements for loss and damage. It is clear to us that we need to have a specific facility or window for financing loss and damage.

The idea is to strengthen the delivery of finance and technology from developed countries to developing countries. We see that developed countries have really tried to dilute their responsibilities and obligations on the provision of finance. They have been trying to shift their financial responsibilities to the private sector and to multilateral development banks.

The representative of the Association of Small Island States (AOSIS) said recently that India and China are high polluters and should also contribute to a climate fund. What is LMDC’s position on this?

The LMDC position is that all provisions of finance are under the convention and its Paris Agreement and principles of equity and CBDR, meaning that developed countries shall provide finance to developing countries, and China and India are developing countries.

UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres said that COP27  will be all about “bold actions”. What kind of bold actions do you think are needed from developed countries?

[Developed countries] should take the lead in the reduction of emissions. But they are postponing their commitments and obligations by using this approach of net-zero for all by 2050. This implies that they will continue using the carbon space that already belongs to developing countries.

Real action by developed countries should be to reduce carbon emissions at least by 2030 or earlier by 2025. That’s in order to really address the climate crisis. Otherwise, it is just creating a narrative  to shift responsibilities to developing countries. This will only increase inequalities.

Developed countries introduced this narrative of putting pressure on developing countries to achieve net zero by 2050 to limit temperature rise to 1.5°C in Glasgow COP. But in a context where there is no equity, no CBDR… that’s not the spirit of the convention.

A discussion on Article 2.1.(c) of the Paris Agreement was proposed  as an agenda item in the Conference of Parties to Paris Agreement (CMA) provisional agenda. What implications will this proposal have for long-term climate finance?

There is a request of the European Union and the Environmental Integrity Group to have a specific discussion on this.

Our perspective is that we cannot obtain a discussion on 2.1.(c). This is already being discussed in the standing committee of finance so there is no need to have it in another parallel track for this. This discussion should be done in the context of long term finance with a provision of finance by developed countries for implementation of ‘nationally determined contributions‘ (NDCs) by developing countries.

There is a connection between Article 9 of the Paris Agreement and 2.1.(c). Developed countries are trying to disconnect the long term finance with the provision of finance for the implementation of NDCs.

This proposal is also a clear attempt to give a more prominent role to the private sector in provisioning finance. Having the private sector in this is also going against the principles of equity, because the private sector is not aware of the principles of the climate convention. For them it’s just business.

They are also trying to shape the obligation of finance through multilateral development banks. The UN Framework for Climate Change Convention (FCCC) doesn’t have any control over multilateral development banks. The LMDC is completely opposing the 2.1.c. because of these reasons.

[The context of this response has to do with three provisions of the Paris Agreement, Articles 2.1.(c), 9 and 4:

  • Article 2.1.(c) ties climate finance from developed countries to low emission based development.
  • Article 9 obligates developed countries to provide financial support for reducing emissions and dealing with the impact of climate change.
  • Article 4 mandates all countries to share their long term plans, called NDCs, for reducing emissions. It also requires developed countries to provide support to developing countries to implement their NDCs.]

What are some of the problems that are preventing the operationalisation of the funding facility for loss and damage?

This is not new. We have been discussing the last decades on how to provide finance for loss and damage.

In Warsaw, developing countries wanted to establish an entity under the convention to deal with loss and damage, including the compensation of loss and damage. Developed countries opposed the establishment of any such  facility.

That’s why we have a Warsaw International Mechanism. But they are fulfilling a different role than loss and damage. It is central to COP27 to have something for funding for loss and damage.

The Environmental Integrity Group (EIG) recently requested the inclusion of a discussion on limiting global warming to 1.5º C in the CMA agenda. What do you think of this proposal?

This is a new request of the EIG. In Bolivia, we received this request with astonishment. The EIG’s proposal is called limiting global warming to 1.5º C. Bolivia had a proposal in COP26, called “equitable, fair,  ambitions and urgent real emission reductions now consistent with a trajectory to reduce the temperature below 1.5º C”.

So the EIG’s proposal is kind of similar to the Bolivian proposal we submitted last year.

But that proposal was rejected by developed countries, including the EIG. I wonder – if they rejected the [Bolivian] proposal, why have they come up with this similar proposal now?

I also wonder what part of our proposal the EIG did not agree with, whether [their disagreement] was about equitable, fair and ambitious actions… This proposal of the EIG is just talking about limiting temperatures below 1.5º C, but without mentioning fairness, equity, and ambitious actions by developed countries.

For me, it is confusing if developed countries are able to support the EIG proposal now. It is a kind of discrimination to proposals of developing countries which are fully rejected by developed countries, but when developed countries advance similar proposal, they support it. Maybe this is showing a lack of good faith and trust. Maybe the climate crisis is being used by some countries as a pretext to achieve other goals.

[In the final agenda adopted in the opening plenary session of COP27, participants decided that discussions on Article 2.1.(c) the and EIG’s proposal will be conducted separately, under the leadership of the current COP  president, Egypt’s foreign affairs minister Sameh Shoukry.]

Radhika Chatterjee is a researcher with Land Conflict Watch, an independent network  of researchers studying land conflicts, climate change and natural resource governance in India.

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