Durban Update 29 November: Choice Quotes and How to Break the Deadlock

The negotiations in Durban are slowly gearing up and Parties are using the opening plenaries to stake out their positions. Here are some of the more inspiring statements:

The Democratic Republick of the Congo: “The African Group will not allow African soil to become the graveyard of the Kyoto Protocol.”

Grenada: “The Alliance of Small Island States cannot and will not accept a deal that does not provide for bringing in more ambition well before 2020.”

Gambia: “Those who want to leave the Kyoto Protocol don’t want to do so because they want to do more but because they want to do less.”

And here is a very interesting Guardian article on how to break the negotiation deadlock: Move forward without the USA.

If other countries want to force action from the US, they must be prepared to move forward with or without the US on board. This entails creating markets and incentives that reward those prepared to back the green economy and exclude the (largely US-based) industry laggards that spend so much of their time and money lobbying against climate action instead of innovating sustainable business products and services.

There are important lessons to be learned from other international treaties. The UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, for example, came into force without US ratification. As President Reagan explained at the time of its adoption: “Those extensive parts dealing with navigation and overflight and most other provisions of the convention are consistent with US interests and, in our view, serve well the interest of all nations … however, the deep seabed mining part of the convention does not meet United States objectives.”

This was based in part on objections by industry laggards that – horror of horrors – UN permission would be needed to go digging or drilling in the deep-sea. The US still has not ratified UNCLOS but abides by its most important rules. And the industry laggards? Fast forward 25 years, and all major US ocean industries are pushing for ratification “because its provisions help protect vital US economic interests and provide the certainty and stability crucial for investment in global maritime enterprises.” In other words, what was once perceived as a burden later came to be seen as a benefit. (…)

We need a high-ambition alliance championing fair, ambitious and binding action long before 2020. The European Union must form the nucleus of such an alliance with a renewed commitment to the Kyoto protocol, and an open door to upping its ambition to at least 30% CO2 reductions by 2020.

Unfortunately, the EU will first have to grow a spine to play such a role…

And if Durban ultimately lives up to our most pessimistic expectations, Confucius comes to our aid again: “Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in getting up every time we do.”

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