photo by adopt a negotiator (source: Flickr Creative Commons)

The first UN climate talks since Copenhagen ended in Bonn, Germany, much as expected – with little concrete progress.

The cleavage between industrialized and developing countries that characterized the Copenhagen conference is likely to continue through the next major climate talks in Cancun, Mexico at the end of the year. This rich poor divide provided the fireworks for the meetings in Bonn, which ultimately ended in an agreement to intensify negotiations before Mexico.

From an article in the Guardian:

In what was interpreted as a major rebuff to the US, Russia and Japan, the G77 (plus China) group of 130 developing countries held off strong attempts to adopt the Copenhagen accord as the base of future negotiations.

A new agreement is meant to replace the Kyoto Protocol, but many officials, including Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC, are doubtful a binding agreement can be reached this year. The US would like the Copenhagen Accord to be the basis of a new climate treaty, while developing countries – largely left out in the drafting of the accord – prefer a binding deal based on the Kyoto Protocol under the authority of the UN. Kyoto requires commitments from developed nations, but gives developing countries more leeway.

The US used classic ‘carrot and stick’ tactics to persuade developing nations to get on board with the Copenhagen deal by denying climate aid to those who would not sign on to the accord. Bolivia – along with other socialist ALBA nations – chose to oppose the deal despite losing $3 million in aid, which even to a poor nation like Bolivia, isn’t exactly a princely sum.

From an article in Canadian Business:

Bolivian delegate Pablo Solon said Monday he was pleased Sunday’s agreement made no mention of the Copenhagen Agreement — a political deal hastily cobbled together by President Barack Obama and a handful of other national leaders at the end of the U.N. talks in December.

Rich nations led by the US are seen as one block, while BASIC countries (Brazil, South Africa, India and China) comprise another block of large developing countries. However, there are other significant players that don’t fit neatly into either camp. Take the ALBA countries, rich in both fossil fuels and/or natural resources – such as rainforests – or poor African, Asian and island nations, vulnerable to both the effects of climate change and restrictions on their development. Then there are many EU countries, wealthy and industrialized, but more sympathetic towards the developing countries position than the US, Japan and Canada.

A leaked document outlining the US’s hard line ‘take it or leave it’ strategy regarding the Copenhagen Accord can be found here in the Guardian.

Additional resources:

Financial Times – The deepest climate rift back on show at post-Copenhagen talks

About The Author: Graham Land

Greenfudge editor and London-based writer Graham Land grew up in the suburbs of Washington, DC, where he was part of the local hardcore punk scene, playing in several bands. Through this musical movement he became involved in grass roots interests such as anti-racist activism, animal rights and Ecology. In 2000 he relocated to Europe, eventually earning an MA from Malmö University in Sweden. He has also lived in Japan, Ireland, Portugal and Greece.


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