By Pedro Widmar, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO – With the conclusion of the United Nations Framework Convention for Climate Changes’ (UNFCCC) Congress of Parties, or COP15 as its more commonly known, has come strong criticism of the shortage of any real development in negotiations and legally binding commitment to change.
Among the many weaknesses seen at the congress was the lack of consensus inside the unofficial power-sharing block of developing economies, the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China). While Brazil and Russia have launched severe criticism of COP15’s lack of commitment to real change, China has proposed unbinding unilateral commitments, and India has shown contentment with the lack of results, avoiding legal industrial obligations at this time.
The rift comes from opposing views between the negotiating blocks. While developed states support a standardized approach to emission reductions on the “basis of equity”, as the final text reads, developing nations propose that their reductions should not be enforced with the same zeal, as this could hamper subsequent growth. In a speech this Monday (December 21st) criticizing the U.S. efforts to slow emissions, Brazilian President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva affirmed that “developed nations had most of the blame as they started to pollute much earlier.”
Lula was not alone in his criticisms of US efforts. Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev exclaimed to the press his disapproval with “countries that have neither ratified Kyoto nor respected its conditions” and who “now call for a new agreement relegating its provisions to the dustbin.” Medvedev went on to express his disappointment with the COP15, stating that based on the 1990 standard of emissions – the basis for the Kyoto protocol – his country has in fact already cut 36 percent of its emissions by revolutionizing production methods.
BRIC leaders have stated time and again their commitment to carbon emission reductions. And even though the four countries have differed in both effort and results to that end, all four have taken significant steps towards change.
Russia’s reduction has neared some European nations’ efforts, and China, which has 20 percent of the world’s population and uses only 10 percent of its energy, is one of the leading investors towards alternative fuel sources. India, which already has policies in motion to reduce its emissions by 7 percent until 2020, has recently announced its future goal is to reduce them by 25 percent.
Brazil on the other hand has set aggressive targets stating its intent to reduce emissions by up to 39 percent by 2020. However, as these are based on international financing, the source of which has not yet been made clear, Lula’s government’s own efforts fall somewhat short of desirable.
Though a unified stance would strengthen an eventual BRIC position inside the COP15, individual preexisting trade agreements and individual realities have prevented the block from coming together on the issue. While the conference was expected by some to be a unifying moment, the event has only served to expose deep rifts in opinions surrounding how to attack the problem.
As Britain’s energy secretary David Miliband put it in an article for The Guardian, “The procedural wrangling was, in fact, a cover for points of serious, substantive disagreement.”