Russia warns talks on 2015 climate deal are “incredibly slow”

By Olga Dobrovidova

The UN working group tasked with creating the new 2015 climate deal has been working far too slowly and has to get its act together by the end of 2013, Russia negotiator Oleg Shamanov has told RTCC.

He says that while group approaches its work in a thorough way and there are no substantive issues that are, in Russia’s view, being left out, the work is moving “incredibly slow”, and some countries are clearly just “going in circles” – reiterating long known positions and stances.

“The work (in Bonn) was constructive, but in no way with the speed required and with the needed realization of political importance of the issue… I am personally under the impression that not all countries are ready to actively move towards the new global agreement”, he said in an interview in Bonn.

“And it’s not about lack of creativity, it’s much deeper – as I’ve said, it’s rather about unwillingness to move towards a new comprehensive and global agreement.”

Shamanov and Russia were at the centre of controversy earlier this week when one of the three negotiating streams at the UN talks in Bonn was suspended because delegates could not agree on the agenda.

Shamanov (L) and Russia were accused by some delegates of blocking climate implementation negotiations earlier this week (Pic: UN)

Countries are working towards a global deal in 2015 to come into effect in 2020, that will replace the Kyoto Protocol as the world’s only legally binding emissions treaty.

One of the key issues that deserves highlighting, in his opinion, is the agreement being applicable to all, ie all parties participating in it with “legally meaningful” commitments. And here lies the problem, which is apparently no secret to anyone in the talks.

“Not all countries are willing to move past the narrow understanding of the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities. We are, after all, in the twenty-first century, and the level of socioeconomic development has changed tremendously since the creation of the Convention”, says Shamanov.

This resonates with the hotly debated ‘Russian’ proposal to amend the climate convention so as to periodically review the lists of developed and developing countries.

According to Shamanov, Russia “is not fixated” on that proposed amendment. It is, on the contrary, willing to look for other constructive options to address this issue.

Unsurprisingly, perhaps, Russia is concerned with the fact that should parties decide to adhere to their own rules of procedure, they will only have a year and a half between Warsaw and Paris to come up with the draft text of the agreement.

And clearly, to avoid “writing it – again – in huddles at the eleventh hour” the drafting, as in putting some actual legal text on paper, has to begin in 2014.

“It should be very clear that 2013 has been a year of brainstorming. It’s completely normal and acceptable… But, definitely, this brainstorming has to end in 2013”, said Shamanov.

The upcoming Warsaw conference at the end of the year, in Shamanov’s words, is going to be “an indicator of whether parties are ready and willing to live up to their own decisions” in terms of making the new agreement happen according to plan.

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