Monday, March 30, 2009

China and the Group of 77 Nations Play Hard Ball on Emission Reduction Targets at UN

It was unexpected, but it made sense. Speaking on behalf of China and the Group of 77 Nations today at the UN Climate Change Talks in Bonn, the representative from South Africa asked that Land use, land-use change and forestry in industrialized nations be removed from the official agenda of the talks, along with another agenda item.

It was unexpected because this issue is in the approved work plan. It made sense because at its core, this seemed to be an expression of the frustration that developing countries have with the lack of progress Industrialized Nations have made on adopting a new target for emission reductions in the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, beginning in 2012.

In a sense, this target is the lynch pin of these negotiations: how strong a commitment will industrialized nations take on? This should have been accomplished in Poznan last December but wasn't; instead, the final decision just regurgitated the weak language produced in Bali a year before. The move by China and the G77 seemed focused on trying to clear the formal agenda of any distractions from this central question - a play to force a focus and an outcome on this fundamental issue. The move also seemed to reflect the cynicism that the current LULUCF system is mostly about meeting emission reduction targets through 'magic paperwork.'

Eventually, a compromise by the Chair was adopted that allowed the greatest focus on targets while still making space on the official agenda for land use, land-use change and forestry. And in the end, I think this is a good thing. Because if there isn't formal progress made on this issue, it can't be resolved in time for the wrap-up conference in Copenhagen. And if you ask me, there's no deal without a deal on LULUCF.

Check out the article on LULUCF in today's Eco ("Show's Over"), the daily newsletter put out by Climate Action Network International.

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