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译:The year of collapse

来源: 时间:2010-11-29 11:30:00 点击:

Next week, international climate-change negotiations begin in Cancún following 12 months of setbacks. Tan Copsey explains why chances of serious progress towards a global climate treaty are looking slim.


Almost one year ago exactly, negotiations opened in Copenhagen. At that point, it seemed possible that a political agreement could be reached that might then lead to a legally binding treaty on climate change in Cancún.

No one will need reminding that the Copenhagen talks did not go well. They were marked by tussles between US and Chinese leaders, who had little political mandate to negotiate. The European Union was effectively sidelined. A small faction within the Group of 77 developing nations disrupted negotiations and ignored many of their own members, including vulnerable small-island states. And all of this happened against a backdrop of increasing economic uncertainty in the developed world and “climategate”, a clever though scientifically inconsequential public relations stunt by climate “sceptics”. In this context, the agreement of the Copenhagen Accord, a limited document that was “taken note of” by the conference, was a reasonable achievement.

As 2010 began, it seemed possible that progress could be made on “operationalising” constituent elements of the Copenhagen Accord -- Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (a tool for protecting forests, known as REDD-plus); a new mechanism facilitating technology development and transfer; and finance for adaptation and mitigation through the Copenhagen Green Climate Fund. A binding deal might be achieved at some point in the future but in the near term, concrete steps would be taken in those areas where there was agreement. The United Nations process and institutions were obviously in need of reform, but seemed likely to be supplemented and reinforced by political decisions taken in other fora including the G20 and the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate (MEF), a platform for climate-change dialogue between 17 nations, launched in 2009.

Unfortunately the accord itself remains a contentious document. Most developing countries see it as mere “political guidance” and, as such, essentially irrelevant. It doesn’t help that some of the language it uses, including on adaptation, creates new uncertainty about which nations should receive funding first.

Meanwhile, progress in the G20 and the MEF meetings has been limited at best. As in United Nations negotiations, there is simply no political will to move forward. These meetings have featured re-runs of familiar conflicts over the form of any future agreement on climate change, the depth of cuts in greenhouse-gas emissions made by developed nations and how actions by major developing countries should be monitored.

Developments outside of international negotiations have made things worse. In the United States, climate-change legislation failed to pass through the Senate, the upper chamber of Congress. Recent electoral gains by climate “sceptic” Republicans have further dented prospects of the United States taking significant action on climate change at the federal level in the near future. As a result, the US will have a limited mandate to negotiate and is likely to continue to play a spoiler role in international negotiations, reducing the level of global ambition and alienating developing countries.

But it isn’t just the United States scaling back its levels of ambition. This has been a bad year for action on climate change in most developed countries. Japan is set to delay passing key climate-change legislation, Australia has hesitated on implementing emissions trading and Canada, which is likely to miss its Kyoto Protocol targets by a huge margin, is concentrating its efforts on lobbying for weaker international rules on emissions. Carbon markets have reflected this uncertainty – the price of carbon has remained low in the European Emissions Trading Scheme.

Developing nations have expressed their frustration and disappointment in differing ways. Small island states, which are already facing negative impacts from climate change, continue to advocate for immediate action wherever possible, while maintaining that they – as some of the most vulnerable nations – should have first access to adaptation funds. A group of Latin American nations, including major oil-producers Venezuela and Ecuador, met at a civil-society conference in Bolivia in April and agreed a series of radical proposals, which were subsequently presented at United Nations climate negotiations in Tianjin. Thus far, these proposals, which take the most extreme demands of developing nations, have only served to disrupt and delay negotiations as there is simply no prospect of any developed country agreeing to them.

UNFCCC negotiations have become heated. Disagreements over verification of developing-world efforts to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions culminated in heated exchanges between the United States and China at recent negotiations in Tianjin. At the June summit in Bonn, frustrations with Saudi Arabian attempts to delay negotiations by seeking compensation for potential loss of future oil revenues boiled over: representatives for NGOs Oxfam and WWF were suspended after they stole Saudi nameplates from negotiations and dropped them in a toilet.

It is now likely that no new global agreement will be agreed before the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol ends in 2012, and that there will therefore be a gap before the second begins. In June, the United Nations presented a series of options to either extend the protocol or make provisional changes to its structure to prevent legal limbo. These measures are prudent given the desolate landscape of global climate negotiations and are another indicator of complete collapse in confidence that a new agreement can be formed in the near future.

So how do we move forward after a year in which nearly everything that could go wrong, went wrong? What would have to happen for Cancún to be considered a success? Negotiators at the summit will do well to rebuild trust. Progress is possible on issues like adaptation, establishing a new climate fund, reducing emissions by protection forests and technology transfer and deployment. Developed nations also need to show good faith by fulfilling pledges of fast-start finance. This must be done in a transparent manner – so as to avoid accusations that development aid is being double counted.

In the long-term, it may be that we are moving away from the form of top-down international cooperation on climate change encouraged by the United Nations process towards more voluntary, pledge and review systems. Even if this is the case, the UNFCCC will continue to provide an essential service by facilitating efforts on issues like adaptation.

Ultimately, bottlenecks and disagreements are unavoidable in the absence of political will. Nations like China and the United States will need to provide their negotiators with wider political mandates if we are to ever agree a more comprehensive deal or create a framework that leads to real, global reductions in greenhouse-gas emissions.


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  众所周知,哥本哈根会谈并不顺利。中美两国领导人协商的政治授权十分有限,而他们之间的角力也成了会谈期间最突出的风景。欧盟则实际上保持了观望态度。谈判被发展中国家组织77国集团中的一小部分领导群体打乱,并且他们还无视他们自己的成员国的利益,这其中就包括处于弱势的小岛国。而所有这一切都是发生在发展中国家的经济日趋不稳以及由气候怀疑论者制造出来的一场聪明却不合科学逻辑的公关噱头——“气候门”的背景之下。尽管哥本哈根协议只是大会以“附注”方式通过的一份有限协议, 但是,在这一背景下却也聊胜于无。

  进入2010年后,哥本哈根协议中的构成要素在运作方面似乎取得了一些进展,如减少森林砍伐和退化造成的温室气体排放(一项保护森林的工具,简称"REDD +”);以及通过哥本哈根绿色气候基金为适应和缓解气候变化提供资金援助等。虽然有可能会在未来某个时候达成一份具有约束力的协议。但是,近期只会在达成协议的领域取得切实的进展。尽管联合国的议事程序及机构显然需要加以改革。然而,包括G20及经济大国论坛(成立于2009年的17国气候变化对话平台,简称MEF)在内的其他一些论坛组织,所作出的政治决议似乎可以对联合国的不足起到补充和巩固的作用。



  而国际谈判之外的发展让事态雪上加霜。美国的气候变化立法未能获得议会上院—参议院的通过。持气候怀疑论观点的共和党人最近在竞选中取得了胜利。而这 更使近期在美国全国范围内针对气候变化采取有效行动的前景进一步变得暗淡。因此,美国在协商方面的授权将会非常有限,而且还有可能会在国际协商的过程中继续扮演拆台的角色,使全球的信心水平下降,使发展中国家分崩离析。




  目前看来,在《京都议定书》的第一承诺期结束之前(2012),很有可能不会达成任何新的全球协议,则第二期承诺期开始前存在一个空档。六月,联合国提出了包括延长议定书期限,或通过变更其结构来防止出现法律困境等在内的一系列备选方案。考虑到全球气候会谈步履维艰的情况,这些措施非常谨慎。同时,它们又再一次地显示了 人们完全丧失了在不久的将来达成一份新协议的信心。

  在过去一年里,几乎所有可能出问题的地方都出了问题。那么,之后,我们该如何前进?必须采取哪些措施才能促成坎昆会谈的成功?只有与会的谈判各方重建信任,才有可能在气候适应、建立新的气候基金、减少森林砍伐和退化造成的温室气体排放、以及技术转让和实施等问题上取得进展。发达国家还需要通过兑现他们承诺的快速启动资金来表明他们的诚意。为了避免有人对发展援助被重复计算的问题提出指责,因此 必须采取透明的方式。






The need for action on climate change has never been more urgent. Greenhouse-gas emissions for 2010 are likely to be some of the highest ever recorded. Global temperatures are also likely to approach record highs. But as John Ashton, the United Kingdom’s special representative on climate change, recently noted: “Negotiations are not as important as the political context in which they are taking place.” After a series of setbacks, the political context for negotiations in Cancún is dire.
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