HomeOpinion & AnalysisColumnistsClimate change conference: a case of politicians, negotiators

Climate change conference: a case of politicians, negotiators


In the month of December 2010, the skies of Mexico will experience high levels of pollution from air buses as politicians and negotiators around the world invade Cancun, the venue for this year’s 16th Conference of the Parties (COP 16) on Climate Change.

As these delegates convene in Cancun, they will not be quite sure which climate change protocol they would agree upon, whether it is the Bali roadmap (1990), the Kyoto protocol (1997) or the Cancun one.

I have deliberately left out the Copenhagen protocol (2009) since there was nothing agreed upon as the issue of human self- interest took centre stage.

There were under-dealings, backbiting and greasing of palms by the Annex 1 countries which include the United States, Russia, Japan, China and Australia.

This was done in order to influence the outcome of negotiations in Copenhagen.

To have a general knowledge of these protocols and roadmaps, it is important to understand what they mean in simple terms.

The Bali roadmap (1990) seeks to encourage developed countries to cut carbon emissions below the 1990 levels by 5%, while the Kyoto protocol compels the industrialised countries to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases to 5, 2% below their 1990 levels by the end of 2012.

The African group has its common position, that the Annex 1 countries should at least reduce their carbon emissions by at least 45% below 1990 levels by 2020 and also that these Annex 1 countries should reduce their emissions by at least 95% below 1990 levels by 2050.

The question one would ask is the position of China and India in this entire jigsaw puzzle.

These two countries are now considered to be the largest emitters of carbon but they are not categorized as developed.

The situation of China is complex. Is it a developed country, underdeveloped, both or none of the above?

During the negotiations China would be among the G77 countries which comprise the African countries.

Should we then say the Chinese are not developed yet there are the major emitters of carbon?

For how long are the Chinese going to behave as if they are a developing nation yet they are technologically, advanced?

That their emission levels are one of the highest in the world is testimony that a lot of industrial activity is taking place.

If African countries are serious about Cancun then they should kick out China from the G77 but this may not happen as China is a darling of the African continent.

Since African countries are heavily divided, there are a lot of Judas Iscariots, the good boys and those without any agenda who always follow others.

They are highly a suspicious lot who are always made to see things through the eyes of the developed countries. Most of them use borrowed voices.

China and the US, the usual suspects, did not even rectify the Kyoto protocol yet they want to continue to be part of the negotiating process.

Then there is the dramatised vulnerability of certain countries as they attempt to qualify for adaptation funding.

The main question is: Which country is vulnerable or not vulnerable? How is vulnerability measured?

Countries like Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Libya and other oil-producing nations would want to be treated as vulnerable in the event that they cut their emissions by a certain percentage.

With all these scenarios at play, where are we heading in the event of a stalemate in Cancun?

Surely even the Lord would wonder about what kind of man is mankind.

Peter Makwanya can be contacted on makwanyapeter@yahoo.com

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