The Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), a grouping of 43 countries particularly vulnerable to climate change, along with 48 other least developed countries backed a new target proposed by Tuvalu yesterday saying a rise of more than 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels was not negotiable.
Yesterday the Danish president of the conference, Connie Hedegaard rejected the proposal by Tuvalu after countries including the biggest polluters like the United States, Australia, China and India objected. This led to protests from other parties and resulted in suspension of one of the main tracks of negotiations. But the latest show of support by nearly 100 of the poorest and most vulnerable countries brought the Tuvalu proposal back into center stage.
The new target certainly makes the richest of developing countries uncomfortable because current negotiations are geared towards achieving a limit of 2 degrees Celsius and the current pledges by developed countries fall way short of even the current target. To achieve the more ambitious target, the developing countries will have to ‘pitch in’ by accepting legally binding targets.
Todd Stern, the top US negotiator, yesterday made it clear that China will not get any money from the climate change funds pool and today he said China needs to put their domestic announcements into an international agreement to achieve a deal in Copenhagen.
To incorporate legally blinding pledges into the new deal, a separate category for the richest of developing countries might be created. Most developing countries have so far refused any move to create further categories among the 150 developing countries (referred to as “non-Annex I parties” in UN jargon). But it might not be long before creating new categories could be the only way to break a deadlock due to disagreements.
Stern’s singling out of China could be an attempt to break the unified views of India and China so far on the deal. The Indian Prime Minister recently reassured an unhappy parliament, which believes India is buckling under Western pressure, that India would not accept legally binding limits. Siding with the large group of poor countries might be India’s only way out, although it would certainly result in no Copenhagen deal. Much to the chagrin of Indian negotiators, Brazil has already endorsed Tuvalu’s proposal.
The Tuvalu target also has the sanction of Lumumba Di Aping the Sudanese chairman of G77, who in a strongly worded speech called the current proposals a ‘suicide deal’ and said 2 degrees Celsius for the rest of the world meant 3.5 degrees rise in Africa.
With seven days still left to go, the pressure on large developing countries can only be expected to rise and they will have to commit more than they ever planned to achieve any deal in Copenhagen.