As climate negotiations resumed in Barcelona on Monday, an unexpected development occurred: African countries demanded that until Annex I countries set firm emissions targets, all other negotiations be suspended.
Speaking on behalf of the African Group, the Gambian delegate told the opening plenary on Monday:
“The African Group would like to let you know that we would not accept any scheduling of any other Contact Group, under this Working Group during this session, unless and until the Contact Group on Annex I Parties’ emission reduction concludes its works on numbers.”
This stand could have significant implications.
UN climate negotiations take place in two so-called Ad-hoc Working Groups (AWGs). One, the AWG on the Kyoto Protocol, has responsibility to set targets for industrialised countries excluding the US (Annex I).
The other, the AWG on Long-Term Cooperative Action, covers the US and developing countries. Detailed negotiations related to both AWGs take place in smaller breakout sessions, known as Contact Groups.
The African Group’s move is basically an effort to shut down all negotiations under the Kyoto Protocol AWG, until industrialised countries commit to firm, quantified targets.
In his intervention, the Gambian delegate noted that:
“According to the work programme of this group agreed in Poznan for 2009, we were to conclude Annex I Parties’ aggregate emissions reduction [targets] in [the] March/April Session and individual contributions to the aggregate numbers in June 2009.”
Since there is no agreement yet on aggregate or individual targets, this means that Parties are seven months behind on their work programme, with just five weeks to go until Copenhagen.
Later on Monday, when the Gambian delegates repeated his demand in the Contact Group specifically tasked with setting Annex I targets, the Co-Chair suspended the meeting.
It’s not clear what will happen next; the move is forceful for the normally circumspect African Group and could have meaningful repercussions.
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