Nicaragua to defy UN in climate pledge refusal

Latin American state won’t legitimise ‘failed mechanism’ with national plan as world still on track for dangerous climate change, lead envoy says

By Alex Pashley in Paris

Nicaragua has become the first country to explicitly withhold a climate plan from a UN-backed global warming pact as it says pledges let big polluters off the hook.

Lead envoy Paul Oquist said it refuses to join 183 out of 195 countries in delivering an “intended nationally determined contribution” (INDC) as they collectively fail to stop catastrophic levels of global warming.

“We’re not going to submit because voluntary responsibility is a path to failure,” Oquist told Climate Home on the sidelines of UN climate talks in Paris.

“We don’t want to be an accomplice to taking the world to 3 to 4 degrees and the death and destruction that represents.”

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The Central American state is a tiny emitter, with a 0.03% share of global emissions, but its refusal is a rebuke to the UN process. Venezuela, a fellow member of the ALBA negotiating bloc, is likely to follow suit and refuse outright a pledge, Oquist claimed.

The Bonn-based UN climate body has requested all countries in a position to do so to submit “intended nationally determined contributions” (INDCs) to international efforts to hold warming to 2C.

Conflict-riven states like DR Congo and Iraq presented plans for how to cut carbon and adapt to a warming planet up to 2030. More than 95% of emissions are now covered, with 12 continuing to hold out.

But the sum total of pledges overshoot the “safe” threshold according to the UN, curbing warming to only 2.7C if enacted.

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“It’s a not a matter of being trouble makers, it’s a matter of the developing countries surviving,” Oquist said.

“4C is not a survival track in the Sahel with the Sahara advancing. It’s not a survival track for India or Pakistan with the glaciers melting in the Himalayas.”

Nicaragua president Daniel Ortega wasn’t among 150 world leaders to appear on Monday, making Oquist the country’s most senior representative in Paris. He said wealthy countries should bear their historical responsibility for causing climate change and provide adequate climate finance.

The ten largest carbon polluters account for 72% of historical emissions and the 100 smallest just 3%, he said.

“There’s no willingness to make any sacrifices on policy sphere and that’s why we have this very poor level of ambition.”

Read more on: NDCs | South America | UN climate talks |