Distinction in travel journalism
Is independent travel journalism important to you?
Click here to keep it independent

9 Oct, 2007

Climate Change: Battle Lines Are Drawn

The second of a five-part series summarising the high-level presentations at the special UN session on 24 Sept 2007 under the theme: “The Future in Our Hands: Addressing The Leadership Challenge Of Climate Change”.


This is the second of a five-part series summarising the high-level presentations at the special UN session on 24 Sept 2007 under the theme: “The Future in Our Hands: Addressing The Leadership Challenge Of Climate Change”. The statements by Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (the so-called BRICS) clearly indicate a strong consensus that as the industrialised countries are, and have long been, the heaviest polluters, they must bear a proportionate share of the burden for fixing the problem. In diplomatic-speak, this is referred to as the “principle of common but differentiated responsibilities.” How these responsibilities are to be divided in future will be subject of the upcoming negotiating conference in Bali.

In this series of dispatches, the statements delivered at the UN session have been edited down to keypoints and quotes, saving my readers time in downloading and wading through reams of often repetitive and boring verbiage. The first set of statements covering the opening session was included in TIN Edition 56. The next dispatch will cover the views of the ASEAN bloc and small island countries. Groundbreaking journalism and service to the travel & tourism industry, only from Travel Impact Newswire.

1. MARINA SILVA, MINISTER FOR THE ENVIRONMENT, BRAZIL: Current Deadlocks In Negotiations Must Be Addressed



4. YANG JIECHI, MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS, CHINA: Do Not Place Undue Emphasis On The Role Of Market Mechanism

5. MARTHINUS VAN SCHALKWYK, MINISTER OF ENVIRONMENTAL AFFAIRS, SOUTH AFRICA: Achieving A Balance Between Climate Stabilization And Sustainable Development Is In The Hands Of Developed Countries


1. MARINA SILVA, MINISTER FOR THE ENVIRONMENT, BRAZIL: Current Deadlocks In Negotiations Must Be Addressed

Brazil is very concerned that the responses to the alarming perspectives of the impacts of climate change on the planet have been slow-moving, especially in those countries that, historically, are most responsible for the problem.

The actions of all nations must be intensified, through a global effort, based on the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities. It is very disquieting to analyze the results of the actions of developed countries with stable economies since 1990 and see that their greenhouse gas emissions have increased by 11% with respect to 1990 levels, and that the reduction of fossil emissions in the energy sector was, in this same period, the smallest of all the sectors, only 0.4%.

In the process of economic development, poverty eradication and improvement in the quality of life of their societies, the developing countries face several difficulties that need to be surpassed. The experience from the past in developed nations can be internalized today by the developing countries, so as to ensure that mistakes from the past do not perpetuate in the present and in the future.

Our greatest challenge (in Brazil) is in controlling deforestation. From 2004 to 2006, a marked drop in the rate of gross deforestation in the Brazilian Amazonia was achieved, more than 50%, corresponding to a reduction of almost half a million tonnes of carbon dioxide, without jeopardizing the gross domestic product of the region.

Brazil has been implementing its National Plan to Combat Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazonia, created in 2003, and that acts in some focal pillars, including territorial zoning, the creation of conservation units, and the intensification of monitoring and control actions, based on a monitoring system in real time

Today, conservation units and indigenous reserves sum up to more than 30% of the total area of the Brazilian Amazonia. The Action Plan foresees the expansion of protected areas and their continuous monitoring. This requires an expressive amount of investment from the governments and today, more than ever, it is recognized that financial positive incentives are necessary for the full implementation of actions to reduce emissions from deforestation. Several developing countries do not have, today, the means to direct massive amounts of investments necessary to change the historical route in the use of their natural resources, not always sustainable.

We are aware of the responsibility that all nations, developed and developing alike, must bear at this moment of history. The current deadlocks in the post-2012 negotiations must be addressed with political and ethical vision, committed to the desires and needs not only of part, but of all the population of the planet.

There is no other path but one of working together. For the developed countries, this means their commitments with targets far more ambitious than those set by the Kyoto Protocol, through increasing domestic actions and strengthening of the flexibility mechanisms, particularly the Clean Development Mechanism, in addition to other complementary approaches that address sectors and activities not covered by flexibility mechanisms.

For developing countries, this also means the commitment to affording greater transparency and visibility to the actions they already undertake, as well as to the planned actions, policies and measures to mitigate climate change, and to the contribution these are expected to make, under the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities.



In our world, not only the climate is changing but also the global socio-economic situation. In spite of the commitments to stabilize and reduce greenhouse gas emissions made by several countries, emissions continue to grow in the majority of developed countries as well as in the countries with dynamically developing economies. The real situation in a number of developed countries is not corresponding to the dynamic of achievement of parameters of their commitments to stabilize and reduce greenhouse gas emissions adopted in the framework of the UNFCC and the Kyoto Protocol.

Moreover, taking into account the dynamic of emissions, it is clear that in a new period the efforts of only those countries who adopted quantitative commitments until 2012 will not bring anything substantial to the protection of climate.

The implementation of the flexibility mechanisms in the agreed format is characterized by the insignificance of the amount of transfer of technologies, including under the CDM. Incentives and mechanisms to recognize voluntary commitments are not being created for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. All these examples indicate that the Kyoto Protocol is imperfect, and its prolongation in its present form for the next periods of cooperation will be inefficient.

In its present form, the UNFCC and the Kyoto Protocol do not give a possibility for the further global integration of efforts of countries to stabilize and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

In this context, the UN needs more broad and comprehensive view on the problem of integration of international efforts to address climate change. We have to use as much as possible this experience in designing new agreements.

Russia is an active participant of the international climate process. We believe that it is necessary to make a number of steps to ensure the success of the negotiations and achieve balanced and effective commitments aimed at reducing the burden on climate system and preventing dangerous impact of climate change beyond 2012.

Regarding the commitments of developed countries, it is necessary to obtain realistic estimations, concerning their potential by sectors of economy to stabilize and reduce emissions for various periods (until 20-s, 50-s). These estimations have to be quantitative expressions of the national commitments beyond 2012.

It would be very useful to design additional commitments of developed countries with concrete measures of assistance of developing countries in the form of quantitative obligations on technologies transfer, for example, in the framework of the CDM.

At the same time, it is necessary to shape international agreements on new actions to protect climate system (carbon sequestration, addressing warming). A transparent and non-bureaucratic procedure should be created, taking into account the intentions, interests and efforts of countries at the different stages of their development and participation in the international cooperation.

Along with the commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, it is necessary to design an effective system of commitments in the field of adaptation. Only in this case, the future order of joint actions beyond 2012 will be actually efficient and comprehensive.



Like many developing countries, India is an energy deficient country. In 2006-7, we produced 662 billion units of electricity from all sources for a population of over a billion people. Energy is the sine qua non of development. We are obliged to explore every option available to us to produce or procure energy. However, we are profoundly concerned about environmental degradation and climate change.

Our per capita consumption of energy is 530 kgoe of primary energy compared to a world average of 1770 kgoe. Our per capita emission of CO2 is among the lowest in the world: it is approximately 1 tonne per annum as against a world average of 4 tonnes per annum. Currently, developing countries bear an inordinate share of the burden of Climate Change, though this is due to the high-level of emissions of developed countries. Developing countries are, therefore, obliged to significantly augment their capacity to cope with and adapt to climate change.

We acknowledge the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities. We uphold the view that adaptation is the key for developing countries and that it needs to be adequately resourced without diverting funds meant for development. In any case, development is the best form of adaptation.

Adaptation has been integral to India’s development process. We are challenged constantly by climate variability. We spend every year over 2 percent of our GDP in development measures with strong adaptation content like cyclone warning and protection, coastal protection, flood control, drought relief, and food security.

In 2001, we passed the Energy Conservation Act. We have notified an Energy Efficiency Code for new commercial buildings. A new Electricity Act was passed in 2003. The Act mandates the procurement of electricity from renewables and has given a major fillip to the wind energy sector.

In 2006, the Government of India adopted a National Environment Policy. This year, we set up a special committee to look into the impact of climate change. The committee will study the impact of anthropogenic climate change on India and identify the measures that we may have to take in the future. In addition, we have constituted a Council on Climate Change chaired by the Prime Minister to coordinate national action plans.

We have taken a number of measures that are inherently supportive of sustainability and clean development. We have insisted on the use of CNG for public transport; we have introduced the metro rail in many cities; and we have commenced a major bio-diesel program including mandatory blending of ethanol in petrol.

We have also launched the Green India project that will be the world’s largest afforestation project covering six million hectares of degraded forest land.

We have managed the demand side through targeted interventions. As a result, we have raised energy efficiency in all the major energy intensive sectors – steel, aluminium, fertilizer, paper and cement. We propose to make available Compact Fluorescent Lamps at the price of normal incandescent bulbs.

The earth’s atmosphere is a common resource for all of humankind. The problem lies not in accessing this resource but in its excessive usage. India is committed to sustainable development, and that means sustainable patterns of production and consumption.

India is also fully sensitive to the concerns of small island developing states that arise out of climate change and will join efforts to assist the small states. The Prime Minister of India has made the offer that India’s per-capita GHG emissions would at no stage exceed the per capita GHG emissions of developed countries. This is the starting point to reach a just and fair agreement.

Adaptation can become a reality if we are able to put new and intelligent technologies to use. We urge the countries of the world – especially the developed countries – to seize the opportunity.


4. YANG JIECHI, MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS, CHINA: Do Not Place Undue Emphasis On The Role Of Market Mechanism

Today’s meeting should help build consensus through full and democratic discussions and exchange of views among all parties. China hopes it will make progress in the following aspects:

First, adhere to the principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities”. Developed countries should meet their emission reduction targets set in the Kyoto Protocol, help developing countries build capacity in tackling climate change and continue to take the lead in reducing emissions after 2012. Developing countries should also take proactive measures and control the growth of greenhouse gas emissions to the best of their ability and in keeping with their particular conditions.

Second, uphold the basic framework established under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The Convention has played a leading role in global cooperation in climate change and future cooperation should continue to be conducted within the framework of the Convention. China also welcomes practical cooperation under other initiatives and mechanisms, which should serve as supplements to the framework of the convention.

Third, advance international cooperation on climate change in a balanced way. Mitigation, adaptation, financing and technology, being all important means in addressing climate change, should receive equal attention. It is necessary to increase financial assistance and technology transfer to developing countries. But in doing so, one should not lay undue emphasis on the role of the market mechanism. Still less should one attempt to shift all the responsibilities of tackling climate change onto the market.

Adaptation to climate change is an issue of greatest concern to developing countries. China supports practical cooperation on adaptation in order to strengthen capacity building of all countries. I wish to emphasize the following points:

<> Take a long term view and promote sustainable development. All countries should take adaptation to climate change as an important part of their efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals and incorporate it into their economic and social development strategy. The international community, developed countries in particular, should act as partners for common development and help developing countries strengthen adaptation capacities and the ability to respond to climate-related disasters in accordance with the principles of the UNFCCC.

<> Increase input and provide adequate adaptation fund. The Adaptation Fund under the Protocol should be launched at an early date and should be accessible to all developing countries. The operation of the Global Environment Fund and the Clean Development Mechanism should be improved so that developing countries can benefit more from them. The sources of financing should be expanded so as to offer new and additional financial support to developing countries in adapting to climate change.

<> Apply advances in science and technology and enhance cooperation in technology and technology transfer. The international community should consider setting up an effective mechanism to disseminate technology, cut costs, increase information sharing and technology transfer, and ensure that developing countries have access to affordable and applicable environment-friendly technologies. Efforts should be made to reduce trade and technical barriers and reinforce international cooperation in technological research, development and innovation.

The Chinese Government takes environmental protection as a basic national policy and the scientific thinking on development as a guiding principle in governance. It has set up the National Leading Group on Addressing Climate Change, passed a series of laws and regulations and formulated the National Program on Addressing Climate Change.

<> Between 1991 and 2005, the total energy saved in China amounted to 800 million tons of standard coal, equivalent to reducing 1.8 billion tons of CO2 emission.

<> The proportion of coal in China’s primary energy consumption fell to 69.1% in 2005 from 76.2% in 1990.

<> Between 1980 and 2005, a total of 3.06 billion tons of CO2 was absorbed thanks to afforestation, 1.62 billion tons of CO2 was absorbed as a result of forest management and emission of 430 million tons of CO2 was prevented by reducing deforestation.

<> Thanks to its family planning policy pursued since the 1970s, China has been able to avoid the increase of its population by more than 300 million, equivalent to reducing 1.2 billion tons of CO2 emission annually.

<> In China’s 11th Five-year Plan for National Economic and Social Development for 2006 to 2010, a target is set to reduce energy intensity by 20% and discharge of main pollutants by 10% and raising forest cover from 18.2% to 20% for the period between the end of 2005 and 2010.

<> China will upgrade 24 million hectares of grassland and bring under control degradation, desertification and alkalinization of 52 million hectares of grassland.

<> China will strive to effectively protect around 90% of its typical forest ecosystems and endangered species, raise the proportion of natural reserves to about 16% of the country’s total land area, and treat 22 million hectares of desertified land.

All these steps taken by China are part of the global efforts to address climate change. Acting in accordance with the UNFCCC, its Protocol and the principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities”, China is living up to its due international responsibilities and obligations. China will also continue to act according to its ability to help Africa and Small Island Developing States enhance their capacity to adapt to climate change. At the recent APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting, China proposed to establish the Asia-Pacific Network on Forest Rehabilitation and Sustainable Management. China wishes to work with all parties to undertake this initiative.


5. MARTHINUS VAN SCHALKWYK, MINISTER OF ENVIRONMENTAL AFFAIRS, SOUTH AFRICA: Achieving A Balance Between Climate Stabilization And Sustainable Development Is In The Hands Of Developed Countries

We have to reach agreement, by the end of 2009, on a fair, effective, flexible and inclusive framework that builds on the existing climate regime and the established principle of ‘common but differentiated responsibilities’. When we meet in Bali at the end of this year, we must agree to a Road Map for negotiations for the next 2 years.

Though countries have different responsibilities, we have a common responsibility to act in accordance with our respective national capabilities. Moving forward will therefore require participation by all developed countries under the Kyoto track, and the conversion of the key issues that emerged in the Convention Dialogue into meaningful negotiations for enhanced and incentivised developing country action.

Ultimately, political consensus by 2009 will depend on a package deal that balances the key interests and concerns of all Parties. The starting point must be equity. A core balance between sustainable development and climate imperatives, and between historical responsibility for the problem and taking responsibility for the future, will have to be the basis of any agreement. It must be flexible enough to accommodate country-specific aspects. And it must be inclusive.

Women and children are particularly vulnerable in the face of the devastating impacts of climate change. For South Africa the mainstreaming of gender and youth in climate policy, decision-making and implementation, is therefore a cross-cutting priority.

In designing a strengthened regime we should focus our efforts on five key building blocks. These are (i) adaptation, (ii) mitigation, (iii) dealing with the unintended consequences of response measures, (iv) technology development, diffusion and commercialization, and (v) financing and investment. If an equitable balance is not achieved, or a building block is left out, it will be very difficult to reach an agreement by 2009. There are three mitigation strands that have to be woven into one multilateral framework:

<> Firstly, more ambitious and quantified emission reduction targets for all developed countries under the Kyoto Protocol.

<> Secondly, re-engagement of the USA and Australia in the full multilateral process and binding emission reductions.

<> And thirdly, recognition of, and incentives for enhanced mitigation action by developing countries.

The global leadership required from developed countries is well defined in the Convention and Protocol. Carbon markets will be a key element. To fuel demand in the carbon market, deeper emission cuts based on ambitious mid-term targets for all developed countries will be required. Linked to the creative development of market-based instruments on the supply side, this will support developing countries to do more.

On the part of developing countries, building on our existing contributions, a range of measurable actions could be undertaken. In addition to participation in up-scaled CDM activities, this could include sustainable development policies and measures (SD PAMS), or reducing emissions from deforestation (REDD). Such measurable, reportable and verifiable policies and measures would have to be supported by technology and should be enabled by financing and investment.

In the adaptation area of work, South Africa favours an approach where implementation goes beyond the mainstreaming of adaptive activities with development planning. In terms of multilateral funding for adaptation, the challenge will be to up-scale the available resources with two to three orders of magnitude, without introducing new conditionalities for, or diverting existing overseas development assistance away from the urgent development and poverty reduction challenges faced by developing countries.

Achieving a balance between climate stabilization and sustainable development is essentially in the hands of developed countries. The trigger to strengthen the regime must come from the North. Full participation by the world’s largest historical emitter, the United States, is a prerequisite. Likewise, a credible and substantive offer from developed countries to address development and distributional issues in the future climate regime will be required. This will create the necessary trust and incentives to conclude, by 2009, negotiations on a fair, effective, flexible and inclusive climate regime after 2012.

In Bali we must lay the foundations for an agreement that will enable future generations to look back and know that we understood the gravity of the problem at hand and that we turned talk into action and discussions into negotiations.

Comments are closed.