The road out of Durban

Posted in: Comment, News and Updates

I posted recently on Saudi attempts to get hold of some of the green cash that's to be given to countries that are adversely affected by the world's carbon-reduction efforts.  This, in the House of Saud's case, is to compensate them when no one's buying their oil any more.  The clever money was always that this was merely a negotiating position.  Not so, it seems, as a thoughtful piece on the Economist blog makes clear:

“I’M SORRY,” said the UN bureaucrat, a flush of emotion flickering across his perspiring face.  “I’m sorry, but this is something that bothers me a lot.”  He paused to compose himself.

The problem was the Saudi Arabians, who the previous night had threatened to block the passage of a parcel of agreements at the ongoing UN climate change summit in Durban.  They were demanding an addition to it—a commitment to look into ways to compensate oil producers for the losses they would suffer if the world stopped burning fossil fuels. If this did not happen, the oil sheikhs would withhold their support from the entire package, of finance, forestry, technology and other climate-friendly measures.

Most of the scores of diplomats present were appalled. Not least those from small island nations, like Kiribati and Tuvalu, which are likely to disappear beneath the rising seas long before the Saudis have drained their last well. But it mattered naught.  Agreements can only be reached at the UN climate summit — properly known as the 17th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (or COP 17) — through a consensus of the 200-odd countries represented at it. After a fraught few hours of bickering, the Saudis got their wretched commitment.

The rest of the Economist's posting is worth a read for the insight it provides into the COP process.  As is the piece in the Telegraph today from Geoffrey Lean who sees hope in a new alliance between the EU and a range of developing countries, pitting themselves against India and China, and successfully painting them into the big polluters corner along with the USA.

As for me, well, too much of the noise from Durban sounds like cans being kicked down the road.  No doubt this is buying time in the hope that another and very much better deal can be done, but as the Guardian's report suggests, it all depends on what the agreed form of words: "an agreed outcome with legal force", is taken to mean.  Some will likely be hoping that very long grass will soon be coming into view.

Posted in: Comment, News and Updates


  • (we won't publish this)

Write a response