Climate Change – It’s all about balance…

Like a classic circus troupe, climate change negotiators perform a high-wire act in search of the perfect balance. Or so it seemed on Monday. One after another, the major negotiating ‘blocs’, in the opening plenary session, spoke of the need for balance:

The EU stressed that negotiators should concentrate on those parts of the draft text that will lead to a ‘meaningful, balanced agreement’. Time is too short to continue with intimate amendments. Their Belgian spokesman listed the topics that should concentrate the minds at Tianjin, including REDD+.

In contrast, the group of left-leaning Latin American states (known as ALBA),  spoke out for balanced progress on ‘all constituent elements of the Bali Action Plan’. In other words; talks must continue on all fronts at the same pace.

Anticipating the inevitable, the Australian representative for the ‘Umbrella group’ (also including Mexico, Norway and the US) insisted that a balanced package ‘is not a cliché’ – all parties need to return with something to satisfy their respective governments.

The Association of Small Island States (AOSIS) is for balancing fast-start finance with long-term funding. They are concerned that in addressing one recognized problem (the sluggish process of releasing small sums for immediate adaptation needs) developed countries may neglect the matter of securing the substantial, continuous flows of finance needed to address the long-term needs of their member states. Ministers from 46 countries met in Geneva last month to discuss climate finance, with some parties suggesting that the long-term flow of funds should amount to 1.5% of developed countries’ GDP.

A hard copy of Evo Morales’ open letter (see blog below) was circulated to the opening plenary. Incidentally, I hear from a seasoned Latin American negotiator that, despite the letter, President Morales does indeed understand that REDD+ is not about the disenfranchisement of indigenous peoples. A recent visit by a Norwegian delegation to Bolivia returned satisfied that he sees the potential of the mechanism. However, indigenous peoples’ groups, on whom the President depends for his re-election, are far from convinced. Echoing the sentiments of the Umbrella group, all governments need something to show their electorate.

Ben Vickers, RECOFTC

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