Only dead fish go with the flow
29 May 2017 01:58 (South Africa)
Politics

A rough guide to Who’s Who at Copenhagen – and what do they really want?

  • Branko Brkic
    branko3048 a ray
    Branko Brkic

    Brkic is the founder and editor of The Daily Maverick.

    He has edited magazines on business and politics, technology, and wildlife. He has also published fiction and non-fiction books, most of them in Serbian. Though he has never pretended to be a reporter, his wide knowledge of politics (especially in America), combined with his experiences in a disintegrating Yugoslavia, gives him an unusual outlook on events in South Africa.

    Despite the vowel-poor surname, he tells anyone who asks that he hails from Hyde Park, Johannesburg, having spent most of his adult life in South Africa.

    Recent columns:

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copenhagen interest groups

Many of the nations attending the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen are part of larger international collectives. Here is a sample of the key groups, or major nations and their prime issues.

The data below each group or country notes that group’s percentage of emissions, gross domestic product and population, as a share of the global totals.


Group of 77

This organisation of 130 developing countries, founded in 1964, is pushing for deep cuts by industrialised nations. They argue cuts in carbon dioxide emissions should not come at the expense of their development. They will push for money and technology transfers from wealthier nations to support alternatives to fossil-fuel-based industrialisation.

  • 42% of global emissions    
  • 19% of global GDP    
  • 76% of world population


China

China, with the world’s largest population and largest emissions of greenhouse gases, is one of two so-called 800-pound gorillas in the room – the other being the USA. China has refused to accept firm limits on its emissions and has proposed a “carbon intensity” target, reducing emissions per dollar of economic output by 40% to 45% by 2020.

  • 21% of global emissions    
  • 6% of global GDP    
  • 20% of world population


Other large developing nations

Other such nations include Brazil and India, who also insist they cannot be held to hard emissions targets. India originally resisted even nonbinding targets, but has now said it will reduce its carbon intensity by 20% to 25% by 2020, compared with 2005 levels.

  • 6% of global emissions    
  • 4% of global GDP    
  • 20% of world population


African Union

This 50-member bloc has been demanding cuts of 40% from 1990 emission levels by 2020 for industrialised countries. The group has threatened to boycott or otherwise derail the Copenhagen talks if its demands are not met.

  • 3% of global emissions    
  • 2% of global GDP    
  • 13% of world population


Small island states

The Association of Small Island States, a 39-member group, is the poster child for climate change – some of them could literally become uninhabitable with even moderate increases in sea levels. It has called for a reduction of emissions by 85% by 2050. Despite their urgency, the group’s bargaining power is modest.

  • 1% of global emissions    
  • 1% of global GDP    
  • 1% of world population


OPEC

These oil-producing nations have demanded financial compensation for decreases in oil prices resulting from climate treaties. Because these countries can affect the global economy through oil price gyrations, their position may gain some traction at Copenhagen.

  • 6% of global emissions    
  • 2% of global GDP    
  • 5% of world population


Rainforest Coalition

This group of heavily forested nations is promoting the concept of emission credits for financing the preservation or expansion of their forests (which absorb major amounts of carbon dioxide) in less-developed countries. Some observers suggest that Redd (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) is one of the best prospects for agreement between industrialised and developing nations.

  • 4% of global emissions    
  • 3% of global GDP    
  • 19% of world population


Annex 1 countries

These are the wealthy, developed countries required under the Kyoto Protocol to reduce emissions, typically by about 8% under 1990 levels. The US, technically an Annex 1 nation, did not subscribe to Kyoto.

  • 51% of global emissions    
  • 75% of global GDP    
  • 19% of world population


United States

The other 800-pound gorilla, the US is one of the biggest emitters of carbon dioxide per capita of any large country. (Certain small countries like Qatar emit more per person.) With the Senate unable to pass climate legislation before Copenhagen, Obama will be limited in what he can offer, yet he has signalled a greater willingness to cooperate with international efforts to reduce emissions than his predecessor, as in the Environmental Protection Agency ruling the other day.

  • 20% of global emissions    
  • 30% of global GDP    
  • 5% of world population


European Union

European nations have led the push for emission limits and some are actually on track to meet Kyoto goals. They will push for more stringent emission limits for industrialised countries so that the market in emission credits does not collapse. An enforcement mechanism providing penalties for failure to comply is favoured, and there is now a commitment to move away from fossil fuels.

  • 15% of global emissions    
  • 25% of global GDP    
  • 8% of world population


Former Soviet republics

Many former Soviet republics are pushing for continuing and expanding Kyoto’s  "joint implementation" mechanism. This allows certain industrialised nations with heavy emissions to earn emission credits by financing climate-friendly projects in other developed countries. Former Soviet states have been prominent among the host parties for these projects.

  • 9% of global emissions    
  • 2% of global GDP    
  • 4% of world population


By J. Brooks Spector

For more on this, read the New York Times

Photo: A large globe featuring an interactive display sits in a central square in Copenhagen December 8, 2009. REUTERS/Bob Strong

  • Branko Brkic
    branko3048 a ray
    Branko Brkic

    Brkic is the founder and editor of The Daily Maverick.

    He has edited magazines on business and politics, technology, and wildlife. He has also published fiction and non-fiction books, most of them in Serbian. Though he has never pretended to be a reporter, his wide knowledge of politics (especially in America), combined with his experiences in a disintegrating Yugoslavia, gives him an unusual outlook on events in South Africa.

    Despite the vowel-poor surname, he tells anyone who asks that he hails from Hyde Park, Johannesburg, having spent most of his adult life in South Africa.

    Recent columns:

  • Politics

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