Who remembers the ‘Danish text’ from Copenhagen? A (deliberately?) clumsy release of an unfinished document that poisoned the COP15 atmosphere from the off. Well, that was peanuts. For some truly juicy damage, take a look at the torrent of US administration documents and emails that have just been Wikileaked. Just how much harm could they do to the fragile relations between delegations at Cancun?
Plenty. The leaked documents manage to cause offense to just about every major player in the talks. Criticism of the British military, suspicion of Russian/Italian ties, details of how the Chinese government engineered Google’s departure from the country, even evidence that US officials are encouraged to spy on UN staff. And it gets even more personal – one email from Hillary Clinton requests details of the anti-depressant medication being taken by the President of Argentina after the recent death of her husband. This is all hugely embarrassing for the US delegation and will certainly overshadow much of the diplomacy here at the COP.
In actual developments in the negotiations, Japan has reiterated its position that the Kyoto Protocol should not be renewed after the first commitment period ends in 2012. Its opposition is well-known and the rationale is logical – the Protocol hasn’t worked. It only covers a fraction of global emissions. The division between industrialized and developing nations is artificial, and all major emitters should take on commitments.
But it is the only tangible diplomatic success to emerge from 15 years of climate talks, a crucial building block for future agreement, and a touchstone for developing nations. The G77 group of developing nations insists on a second Kyoto commitment period as the starting point for any discussions about a wider agreement. There is room for a middle way here, and it is highly regrettable that Japan is showing intransigence on this point.
With regards to REDD, there are two roadblocks in the way of agreement: one ready to crumble, the other possibly immovable. Saudi Arabia’s objections are not strongly held – they have no vested interest in REDD and will let others move forward to consensus if they get what they want on Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS), which can probably be conceded. Bolivia’s objections, however, are fundamentally different. They are ideologically driven and backed by the ALBA group of Latin American countries (Cuba, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Venezuela) with left-wing leanings. Firm opposition to the idea of ‘trading nature’, and a belief that the very viability of indigenous peoples and their cultures could be threatened by REDD+ makes it very hard to see room for maneuver.
Posted by Ben Vickers