South Amer­i­can group breaks de­vel­op­ing coun­try unity

Business Standard - - FRONT PAGE - NITIN SETHI

The 136 de­vel­op­ing coun­try group, G77+China, was forced to di­lute its stance sev­eral times through the first week of the Ka­tow­ice Cli­mate Change talks, as the eight members of the In­de­pen­dent As­so­ci­a­tion of Latin Amer­ica and the Caribbean group (AILAC) broke ranks and blocked a stronger stance by the bloc on sev­eral crit­i­cal is­sues.

Coun­try groups work on con­sen­sus, and there­fore the col­lec­tive ne­go­ti­at­ing stance is drawn only af­ter each sub-group agrees to the po­si­tions.

The AILAC group com­prises Chile, Columbia, Costa Rica, Gu­atemala, Hon­duras, Panama, Paraguay and Peru.

At Ka­tow­ice, the AILAC group came across as dis­tant from other members of the G77+China, from the very start. Busi­ness Stan­dard spoke to seven se­nior ne­go­tia­tors from three dif­fer­ent sub­groups of G77+China.

Each of them, to dif­fer­ent de­grees, re­flected ei­ther frus­tra­tion or dis­ap­point­ment at how the AILAC had acted.

On Satur­day, when most de­vel­op­ing coun­tries ex­pressed anger at how badly the draft rule­book to the Paris Agree­ment was tilted in favour of de­vel­oped na­tions, AILAC once again blocked ref­er­ence to eq­uity, the prin­ci­ple of com­mon but dif­fer­en­ti­ated re­spon­si­bil­i­ties, and the need for new and ad­di­tional fi­nance flows from de­vel­oped coun­tries.

A de­vel­op­ing coun­try ne­go­tia­tor said, “They forced di­lu­tion to the state­ment. It is one thing for a coun­try or group to sit back and not be in­ter­ested in is­sues that may be a pri­or­ity to oth­ers in a group, as long as it is not against their na­tional in­ter­est. How­ever, it is an­other thing to work ac­tively to block oth­ers’ in­ter­ests. This is ma­li­cious.”

AILAC also blocked the African group’s pro­posal of the con­ti­nent’s spe­cial cir­cum­stances to be recog­nised, when de­vel­oped coun­tries pro­vide sup­port to poor coun­tries for fight­ing cli­mate change, two other diplo­mats con­firmed in­de­pen­dently.

“Try not to cause harm to any part­ner’s po­si­tion un­less their po­si­tion harms yours. That is the prin­ci­ple we work with. Why would AILAC want to block the African group’s pro­posal is be­yond our com­pre­hen­sion,” one of them said.

“They do not want de­vel­op­ing coun­tries to ask the rich na­tions to pro­vide new and ad­di­tional funds un­der the Paris Agree­ment, and not re­sort to dou­ble ac­count­ing of their ex­ist­ing obli­ga­tions be­yond cli­mate change. On face value, one would say that block­ing this is not even in favour of the AILAC coun­tries, but here we are,” said the sec­ond one.

The di­lu­tion that the AILAC had forced upon the G77+China group be­comes ev­i­dent when one reads the po­si­tions the rest of the de­vel­op­ing coun­tries have taken, un­der smaller sub-groups over the same is­sue.

The African Group of Na­tions, the LikeMinded De­vel­op­ing Coun­tries (with China and In­dia in it), and the Gulf coun­tries, con­tin­ued to present on is­sues such as fi­nance, adap­ta­tion, and the Na­tion­ally De­ter­mined Con­tri­bu­tions, even as the G77+China was forced to use a softer lan­guage or omit some crit­i­cal po­si­tions dur­ing the ne­go­ti­a­tions.

“Larger eco­nomic and geopo­lit­i­cal in­ter­ests out­side the cli­mate change arena af­fect all of us. That is le­git­i­mate and the re­al­ity. Yet, we ex­pect part­ners in our group to not proac­tively de­stroy or weaken po­si­tions. This shall cause real dam­age,” said a third ne­go­tia­tor.

At the time of go­ing to press, the for­mal ple­nary meetings for the first week had be­gun.

PHOTO: REUTERS

Pro­test­ers in Paris stage a demon­stra­tion urg­ing politi­cians to act against cli­mate change

KA­TOW­ICE CLI­MATE CHANGE TALKS

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