GIFTS FOR THE UL­TRA RICH

An­gry SA ac­cuses de­vel­oped coun­tries of at­tempt­ing to re­draft agree­ments on fund­ing and of shirk­ing re­spon­si­bil­ity

CityPress - - Front Page - YOLANDI GROE­NEWALD in PARIS busi­ness@city­press.co.za

BUSI­NESS

A vo­cal South Africa took a tough stance this week at the cli­mate change con­fer­ence in France, ac­cus­ing de­vel­oped na­tions of block­ing ne­go­ti­a­tions around fi­nance.

Fi­nance, as ex­pected, is emerg­ing as one of the most con­tentious is­sues at this year’s cru­cial meet­ing where ne­go­ti­a­tions will likely give birth to an agree­ment that will curb fu­ture car­bon emis­sions.

Eco­nomics and who pays what are at the heart of the high-stakes talks. And a key fi­nan­cial deal that will de­ter­mine how de­vel­oped coun­tries fund de­vel­op­ing coun­tries is a ma­jor stick­ing point.

The first week at COP21 showed how wide the gap be­tween rich and poor coun­tries re­mains. Both sides have ac­cused each other of not liv­ing up to the prom­ises they made at pre­vi­ous cli­mate talk meet­ings.

Devel­op­ing coun­tries say the prin­ci­ple of rich states tak­ing the lead – the cor­ner­stone of the UN cli­mate con­ven­tion – is be­ing eroded be­cause the US and other de­vel­oped coun­tries are push­ing for a deal where na­tions will act vol­un­tar­ily ac­cord­ing to their abil­ity and with­out le­gal li­a­bil­ity.

South Africa, as chair of the G77 and China bloc of de­vel­op­ing na­tions, has been par­tic­u­larly scathing this week. The G77 bloc, a group of 134 de­vel­op­ing coun­tries, has been strongly rep­re­sented at COP21 and de­spite its dif­fer­ences, has emerged as a united front in Paris this week.

South Africa has not held back. Nozipho Mx­akato-Diseko, South Africa’s am­bas­sador to the UN and G77 chair, told a meet­ing at the talks that cer­tain de­vel­oped coun­tries were un­der­min­ing the agree­ment reached at Dur­ban’s COP17 that paved the way for this year’s talks.

Mx­akato-Diseko said there were at­tempts to re­draft the con­ven­tion, adding that prin­ci­ples could not be re­drafted. The no­tion of de­vel­oped coun­tries shirk­ing their re­spon­si­bil­i­ties to com­mit to fi­nance was at the heart of the dis­agree­ment.

But Mx­akato-Diseko also said the G77 was deeply con­cerned with the at­tempts to in­tro­duce eco­nomic con­di­tions in the fi­nance sec­tion cur­rently un­der ne­go­ti­a­tion in Paris that will leave coun­tries such as Brazil, In­dia and South Africa out in the cold.

“Fi­nance must be ne­go­ti­ated,” said Mx­akato-Diseko. “A spe­cific group is not ne­go­ti­at­ing and is try­ing to change the terms of ref­er­ence. Fi­nance will make or break [the talks]. It is crit­i­cal.”

She also ac­cused cer­tain de­vel­oped coun­tries of in­flat­ing the draft text, the back­bone of an agree­ment.

“New lan­guage is emerg­ing that has noth­ing to do with the con­ven­tion. It puts us in a pre­car­i­ous po­si­tion. We do not un­der­stand what this lan­guage is and where it is com­ing from. It cre­ates con­di­tions which do not en­hance trust,” she said.

“This group of coun­tries feels free to waste time … with no sense of re­spon­si­bil­ity. The world should ask them what their re­spon­si­bil­ity is. They are bal­loon­ing the text, yet we are be­ing cast as the vil­lains,” she said.

At the same time, Mx­akato-Diseko also of­fered an olive branch to the de­vel­oped na­tions.

“We are mind­ful that we will have to meet our part­ners half­way. It will be a process of give and take,” she said, al­low­ing for bridges to be mended.

There is still a week of ne­go­ti­a­tions left in Paris. Ne­go­tia­tors will take a break this week­end be­fore turn­ing up the heat next week as the world's na­tions work to­wards sign­ing a treaty that will likely be known as the Paris Ac­cord.

PHOTO: REUTERS

TIME OUT Par­tic­i­pants take a break dur­ing the World Cli­mate Change Con­fer­ence 2015 (COP21) in France. Devel­op­ing na­tions have lashed out at the de­vel­oped world for un­der­min­ing agree­ments pre­vi­ously reached

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