Russia: New UN climate deal could be ‘outdated’ from start

By Olga Dobrovidova

The key principle in UN climate talks that says every country has to combat climate change but in ways they can afford could automatically make the new agreement, planned for 2015, outdated by 50 to 80 years, according to Russian negotiator Oleg Shamanov.

Developing countries strongly insist that one of the principles of the UN convention on climate change, the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities, or CBDR, has to be one of the pillars for the new global agreement, due to replace Kyoto Protocol after 2020.

Richer countries have carefully questioned that idea, mainly because CBDR effectively exempts developing countries, which are now responsible for more than half of global CO2 emissions, from any legally binding mitigation targets.

Negotiations on the new 2015 deal must move beyond the old rich-poor divide warned Shamanov (Source: Flickr/UNFCCC)

Speaking at an expert meeting in Moscow on Tuesday, Shamanov did some climate maths.

According to him, given that CBDR was invented in late 1980 and the new agreement “has to look ahead at least into the second half of this century”, overplaying the principle would mean a way of thinking that is “outdated by at least 50 to 80 years”.

“It goes without saying that this is unacceptable. It is absolutely unacceptable for us to repeat the Kyoto arrangement in the new agreement,” said Shamanov, referring to the ‘Chinese wall’ between developed and developing countries and their ways of responding to the climate threat.

He also noted that right now these “outdated dogmas” are prevailing in the work of the negotiating group tasked with drafting the new agreement, and “developing countries are still trying to build old fences on the new site”.

Now, according to several previous statements made by other officials, Russia may not essentially want everyone and their mother to come up with binding targets – rather, it is extremely wary of locking down the existing 20-year-old division of the world for another century.

Indeed, Shamanov referenced the so-called “Ukrainian list” – a common way of highlighting the discrepancy between 1992 convention annexes and the current state of events. The list consists of some fifty developing countries with GDP per capita now higher than that of Ukraine, which is, of course, considered a developed country.

Shamanov said that other Annex I countries, notably the US and European Union, are joining the conversation around this sensitive matter, albeit “not with the energy required to break this critical barrier”.

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