COP-15

Day 6 Update:

We're about midway through the Conference of Parties in Copenhagen and the first week of action has seen a number of fireworks exchanges between the US/EU-led coalition of developed countries and the China/India-led coalition of developing nations. Although no one expects an enforceable treaty to ensue from the COP-15, it is surprising to see such a display of chest-thumping and grandstanding between parties. The misalignment of interests is shocking and states' unwillingness to put forth material compromises (or better said, their insistance that certain issues are uncompromisable) is headache-inducing. Here's a quick wrap up:

- Africa: A consortium of 50 African countries on Friday proposed that rich countries both cut their emissions 50% by 2017 (compared to 1990 levels) and finance environmental abatement and clean tech development in developing nations by donating 5% of their annual GDP. Earlier estimates from the EU projected the cost of reaching reasonable emissions goals would require $10 billion contribution per annum to developing countries., rather than the $400 billion African governments have requested for just the period between 2009-2012. The total bill assigned to the US by the African consortium would total around $722 billion.

- India: The representative from India made headlines with two incendiary remarks this week: First, India rejects the goal of a "peaking year" for global emissions. Second, India rejects any form of international scrutiny of domestic measures to cut Greenhouse Gas emissions. Indian economic growth relies on overcoming a backlog of infrastructure projects to bring electricity to rural areas. The country asserts it will monitor, report and verify its own emissions, free of international oversight, and "will not compromise these goals even as it engages in constructive negotiations" with other parties.

- Russia: Russian representatives have been quick to assert that the country both met and went beyond its obligations to cut emissions as detailed in the Kyoto Protocol. Therefore, Russia alleges it deserves "rewards" in the new COP agreement. Of course, this position ignore that Russian emissions have fallen proportionally as its economy weakened due to the global recession.

- Japan: threatened to back out of its commitment to the Kyoto Protocol if the US and China don't ratify the Copenhagen agreement.

- US & China: Aside from the Indian statements detailed above, the story that grabbed the most headlines this week was an exchange between US top negotiator Todd Stern and Chinese representative He Yafe. The main point of contention between these parties is to what degree the US must shoulder the financial cost of abatement and whether China ought to be eligible for "developing country" aid. Mr. Stern was quoted as saying that there's no way the US taxpayer will be held accountable for funding a country with a two-trillion dollar surplus such as China. In response, Mr. Yafe commented that Mr. Stern was ignorant and lacks common sense. This is not new news, both the US and China have been questioning each others' sincerity on the climate issue for quite some time.

- Finally in constructive news, a draft proposition circulated Saturday including stipulations requiring all countries to decrease global emissions by 50-95% by 2050, with rich countries leading the way, reducing their emissions by 25-40% by 2020.

For additional coverage of COP 15, as well as other international environmental fora, visit [http://www.iisd.ca/] and look for the Earth Negotiations Bulletin. It's fantastic.

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