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Negotiator for G77, China bucks backroom deal on climate change

December 14, 2009 4:47pm
Negotiators at the climate change summit in Copenhagen must reject a backroom deal, with the clock ticking and a host of issues yet to be solved, the top negotiator for developing countries said on Monday.

"A backroom deal is unwarranted," Bernarditas de Castro Muller, the coordinator of the G77 group of developing nations and China, told journalists from Asia and Africa via chat.

Muller also called on Denmark, the host country, to ensure a democratic and transparent process, following Danish police action to stop an unauthorized picket by activists as environment delegates met for informal talks to advance negotiations on a new climate pact.

"The Danish presidency must respect a democratic, open and transparent process inclusive of all countries, big and small, in particular developing countries that have most to lose if there is no equitable outcome in these negotiations," she added.

Muller, a Filipina whom the Philippine government had booted out of the official delegation to the summit, also called on rich countries to fulfill their commitments on emission cuts, which would have to lead to changes in production and consumption lifestyles. "Repay your climate debt to developing countries," she added.

Muller was excluded from the list of the Philippine delegation, which environment activists said could weaken not only the country's position but also the negotiating clout of developing nations that are wrestling with rich countries over carbon reduction targets.

It is unclear why she was stricken off the list, but lobby groups perceive this as a divide and rule strategy of rich nations. Muller has been described as the “dragon woman" for her uncompromising stand in global climate change negotiations.

A retired Philippine diplomat based in Switzerland and an environmental adviser to the Philippine Foreign Affairs department, Muller has represented the Philippines in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) since its inception in 1994. She also played a key role in the negotiations for the Kyoto Protocol, which sets binding targets for carbon emission reductions in industrialized countries, in 1997.

October 6, 2009 interview of Bernaditas de Castro Muller by PIA FAUSTINO.

Sudan, which heads the G77 and China, has reportedly adopted the veteran Philippine negotiator. G77 with China is the main negotiating bloc defending the interests of more than 130 developing countries in the crucial climate change negotiations, which will run from Dec. 7 to 18 in the Danish capital. [See: Sudan adopts key negotiator excluded by RP in climate talks]

Headed for a deadlock?

But the Copenhagen climate change summit appears headed to a deadlock as two opposing texts came out because the main countries could not settle the major question of how to share the burden of cutting emissions to a safe level.

On Saturday (Friday in Copenhagen), the extent of the gridlock was exposed by the publication of two draft agreements, neither of which contained clear numbers or policy on any of the most contentious issues, even after two years of negotiations.

Stakeholders that include global companies are aware that there is much more at play at the Danish capital than a concern for the planet’s health. Whatever decisions are reached in Copenhagen, climate change will likely drive the global energy revolution, and businesses would want to get into technologies that could shift the world economy.

Muller said developing countries at the summit are united in their position for the full implementation of a legally binding treaty on climate change "that have defined principles and responsibilities for developed and developing countries."

"We are strongly united in our negotiations despite continued attempts of developed countries to divide us, either through influence or pressure individually," she added.

Muller hopes for an equitable outcome that would finally enforce the legal obligations "that developed countries have not fulfilled for the past 15 years, that is, to undertake very deep emission cuts, to provide financial resources and transfer of technology to developing countries as compensation for climate debt and their overuse of the environmental space for the past two centuries."

Kyoto Protocol

The US refusal to ratify the Kyoto Protocol has forced negotiators to work on two separate texts.

The Philippines and other developing nations are pushing for emission reduction targets among rich countries at 25-40 per cent from 1990 levels by 2020.

The draft text from the working group that includes the US, however, does not mention a date, merely stating that emissions should peak as soon as possible. The text contained a very broad range of possible targets on global emission cuts. At one extreme they would fall by 50 percent by 2050 and at the other by 95 percent.

The text is also silent on the issue of long-term funding for poor countries to cope with climate change, simply stating that the amount provided would be "adequate, predictable and sustainable." - RSJ/KBK, GMANews.TV
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