Rich Countries' Weak Commitment Threatening Copenhagen Protocol

Rich Countries’ Weak Commitment Threatening Copenhagen Protocol

Jakarta Globe
Fidelis E. Satriastanti

Climate change negotiations are skating on thin ice because of the lack of commitment from developed countries on deeper emissions cuts, a senior Indonesian official said on Wednesday.

Delegates from 182 countries met in Bonn, Germany, from June 1 to 12 to discuss key negotiating texts that would serve as the basis for the climate change conference in Copenhagen in December, which is expected to result in the Copenhagen Protocol.

This will replace the Kyoto Protocol, due to expire in 2012, which was designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in developed countries to 5 percent below 1990 levels.

"It’s very common for these types of negotiations to proceed slowly," said Agus Purnomo, head of the Indonesian delegation to Bonn, "but what really troubles us is that the developed countries have shown very little commitment to their emission targets."

He said commitment from developed countries on deeper emissions cuts was still vague, giving as an example Japan’s sudden request to decrease its target to only 8 percent.

"That’s really getting on our nerves because we’re aiming at 25 percent. Even the European community has already set its target at 20 percent," he said.

"The Japanese proposal is putting the negotiations in danger."

Meanwhile, Fitrian Ardiansyah, program director for climate and energy for WWF-Indonesia, said progress was slow at the conference because the delegates were moving from the broad ideas discussed in previous meetings into the specific details of negotiations.

"Each country was given the opportunity to submit specific proposals, which is slowing down negotiations because they’re all pushing their own interests," said Fitrian, who was also a member of the Indonesian delegation.

However, he said many developing countries still considered the key negotiating texts favorable to developed nations.

"Developed countries want the results to be legally binding, while developing countries don’t see the importance of making such an obligation," he said.

Fitrian also criticized the Indonesian government for not setting more specific targets backed by detailed data, as this would be an advantage when negotiating with developed countries.

"India, China and even Brazil were able to get what they wanted because they presented precise data on how they intended to reduce emissions in their own countries," he said.

"While it isn’t an obligation for developing countries to set targets and detailed numbers, it would be better if we did because it would show our preparedness to work rather than just waiting for donations."

Giorgio Budi Indrato, coordinator of the Indonesian Civil Society Forum for Climate Justice (CSF), said Indonesia lacked aggression and tended to take the middle path.

"We’re often not vocal enough on the international stage even if certain negotiations directly affect our interests. For instance, we are not part of the AOSIS [Alliance of Small Island States] yet we are a nation of many islands," Giorgio said.

He also strongly criticized the government for not being focused on solving one issue at a time.

"The negotiation on forests is still far from done but now we have included oceans as well," he said.

"The initial idea of the conference was how to reduce emissions but we haven’t reached that stage yet, so we still have some homework to do."