Who has the most to gain from climate change negotiations?
Global warming as well as climate change is a transboundary, or international, problem.
The major issue of climate change discussions is about reducing carbon emissions, which we are calling “mitigation”. We know the top emitters are China, the US and the European Union (EU).
According to statistics from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), these industrialised countries are responsible for the changing climate because of their high GHG emission rate, which is why they were able to be industrialised in the first place and become fully-developed countries.
This not only affects the poor developing countries, but also the developed ones. For example look at the frequency of hurricanes on the coastal best of the United States just this year. The only difference is the coping ability of these countries. The USA has the financial ability and infrastructure to cope with these situations, unlike countries like Bangladesh with limited resources. So we need global leaders to take a stand and make a decision on this matter.
So how can we reduce carbon emissions?
This has been the question since 1992 and we are now meeting for the 23rd time at the Climate Change Conference of Parties (COP) while the earth heats up and global warming is clearly visible – all of this is climate politics.
More carbon emissions leads to more economical development. Suppose that the domestic flights in the EU were run by a Canadian company. If they wanted to cut emissions, they would have to radically re-engineer their planes and use clean energy to produce aircrafts, which would eventually make their tickets more expensive and would probably end up losing them market share.
Another country like Brazil or China would take over by providing cheap tickets.
This is climate politics in a nutshell. That is why the US does not want to cut emissions because they do not want to lose their competitive edge.
What are the politics of climate change discussion?
The developing blocks are not creating any pressure at all. Look at the politics of this, China has been leading the Least Developed Countries (LDC) group since 1992, when the US led the industrialised nations.
The LDCs demanded that the industrialised nations cut their emissions but refused to cut their own because they needed to be industrialised themselves. During that time, China became one of the biggest emitters in the world. This agreement actually benefits the emitters.
Neither the USA or China is compelled to reduce emissions. The agreement asks countries to reduce emissions but does not give you a cut rate. If China pledges to cut 5% emissions and Bangladesh pledges to cut 50% of emissions, it does not really make a difference because China’s growth rate means that 5% of emissions cut will not affect the onset of global warming.
The Paris Agreement is not legally binding, which is why the US can pull out of it. What if China or another big emitter said they would pull out of it next? No country is actually bound to this agreement and this is why it probably will not be implemented. (So) I do not think this agreement will be implemented.
Why is the focus on monetary compensation?
When the industrialised countries saw that cutting emissions was going to be tough, they said that they would provide money to the vulnerable nations to cope in order to adapt.
Gradually, different terms came up, such as technology transfer and loss and damage. This is a trap to divert the conversation to different directions.
We have already moved away from the core agenda of reducing emissions and the mitigation of climate discussion. Industrialised countries have done this deliberately, so that the money becomes the central issue and developing countries move away from the main agenda.
How will this money help in the fight to mitigate the effects of climate change?
Rest assured, they will not give you (LDCs) the money. Their aim is to prolong the discussion by diverting the conversation in different directions.
For last few years, a new buzzword ‘loss and damage’ has been included, and this has been discussed in this year’s COP extensively. Though the discussion should be on the mechanism of Paris Agreement.
There are some NGOs who mediated the introducing of this new thing in order to change the direction of the discussion. If the vulnerable countries do get loss and damage compensation, the money will most likely go to the hands of the mediators.
This is a lot like the loss and damage in insurances. In a nutshell, the talk about finance and other things is bogus. The new things added here every year is to buy the developed countries more time.
This is one of the longest on-going discussions in the world that has not been able to produce a real resolution.