Eight of the 11 OPEC Member Countries have now embraced the Kyoto Protocol. The UNFCCC is a historical landmark. It represents the international communities recognition that cooperation must be sought in tackling large-scale problems that concern us all. Pollution is part of the price of industrialization as we know it. It is clear that our current patterns of production and consumption are unsustainable but developing countries have no real alternatives to attain economic development other than those by which industrialized countries today used. Plentiful and cheap energy has provided industrialized countries with the necessary platform to achieve economic development and thereby raise living standards. Hence, if we look around us, it is clear that not all nations have contributed to rising atmospheric GHG concentrations in the same proportion. Historically and quantitatively it has been those that have made greater use of the planets energy resources that have contributed more to rising atmospheric GHG concentrations. Paradoxically they are also in a better position to contribute the most in resolving this dilemma.
In a world of great contrasts in living conditions, we can not expect to have the same priorities or concerns. Developing countries regard poverty eradication as their most pressing and immediate concern and it is ludicrous to think any other arguments could have similar weight. Three billion people - about half the world's population - still have to survive on less than two US dollars a day. Poverty and environmental degradation, which are intrinsically related, have grown. This rapid population growth and a lack of appropriate agricultural technologies and know-how have led to a depletion of scarce natural resources. An estimated US$100 billion will be required annually to fight poverty and move toward accomplishing the MDGs. However, only 50% of this amount is currently available in the form of official development assistance (ODA).
We know for a fact that fossil fuels will continue to provide the lions' share of our energy needs for decades to come. This is a fact recognised by many international organisations. Therefore, if we really wish to find realistic, near-term solutions we must come to grips with that fact and the fact that developing countries will demand more energy, most of which will also be supplied by fossil fuels for the foreseeable future.
Technology will continue to provide many of the solutions that are consistent with the needs of developing and industrialised countries but it is not the complete answer, for example it is not at all clear whether these technologies will be widely available (and affordable) to developing countries. In a carbon constrained world, not having access or not being able to afford such technology could represent yet another barrier to economic development. That is why we believe that the only way to make rapid progress in meeting the conventions' objective of stabilizing GHG concentrations is through cooperation through a multilateral process.
What we can foresee of this new carbon constrained world is the creation of new markets: one for renewable energy technology and the other for carbon emission permits. However, none of these address the concerns of developing nations because they have nothing to gain from such a market at least in the way they are conceived today.
Policies and measures currently adopted by many industrialised countries rely on a suit of measures in which oil taxation is prominent as it is singled out from other fuels with higher carbon content (such as coal). The argument being that there are other policy concerns such as energy security which weigh heavily and therefore justify the adoption of this discriminatory policy toward oil as well as subsidies for other energy sources. Inci dentally, the same argument could be used by China today as a reason for not curbing its CO2 emissions from its coal burning power generation plants. But these arguments do not contribute to find solutions.
The Kyoto Protocol envisaged the use of the flexibility mechanism as a means to reduce the cost of implementing commitments of industrialised countries while providing a vehicle for investment, technology transfer and "clean development" for developing countries. Nevertheless, due to the small scale of projects and its emphasis on obtaining cheap emission reduction permits with minimum risks for investments, the scope for effective technology transfer is indeed limited to the transfer of equipment and not technological know-how. Also due to their small scale their impact on developing countries emissions is very small and does not help them to make any headway in exploring alternative production and consumption patterns.
So far, the needs of industrialized country Parties have been met by 1-providing them a means to reduce the costs of implementing commitments 2- based on very preliminary outcomes from the use of the flexibility mechanisms to ask developing countries to take on carbon dioxide emissions limits and use this argument to try to divide G77 and China as a negotiating block. However, the effective de-linking of economic growth from rising CO2 emissions has not been possible. The countries that have experimented the highest economic growth in Europe over the last 15 years are also those that have experimented sharpest increases in CO2 emissions.
A balanced approach in executing decisions that address the negative effects that certain policies and measures have on fossil fuel exporting developing countries versus actions to mitigate and adapt to climate change is only fair. So far this has not been the case.
Article 4 of the UNFCCC convention deals with implementation of commitments by industrialized countries. In states in paragraph 8 that "Parties shall give full consideration to what actions are necessary under the Convention, including actions related to funding, insurance and transfer of technology, to meet the specific needs and concerns of developing country Parties arising from the adverse effects of climate change and/or the impact of the implementation of response measures", and furthermore in letter 'h' it specifically refers to countries whose economies are highly dependent on income generated from the export of fossil fuels and associated energy intensive products.
Furthermore, Article 2, paragraph 3 of the Kyoto Protocol reasserts the negative effects that implementation of policies and measures may have on fossil fuel exporting countries.
In conclusion, the future of the process lies in the hands of industrialized countries. Credibility of the process is pending on the effective implementation of industrialized countries commitments.
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