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Dickinson to Durban » Climate Change » U.S. Step Aside, Developing Countries Step Up

U.S. Step Aside, Developing Countries Step Up

By Maggie Rees

As the negotiations continue, it seems that one of the only ways for progress to happen is if the United States steps aside.  The US has been blocking other developed countries and developing countries from the progress they wish to see in Durban.  China has shown optimistic signals and a willingness to contribute to a legally binding agreement, sharper emissions cuts, or some sort of commitment.  The United States, on the other hand, has successfully blocked other countries from making commitments.  If the United States, one of the world’s top emitters, is not making a contribution, then why should other nations – particularly developing nations?  Perhaps if the United States were to step aside, agreements could be made.  If the US is not going to contribute, move away and let the other nations do what needs to be done.

The European Union has now agreed to a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, but only if the top emitters and major economies are willing to contribute.  China has also expressed interest.  The United States is wasting time with indecisive and inconclusive agreements.  The United States seems unable to make a commitment to emission reductions until after 2020.  The fact is, 2020 is too late, and by then a 2° C global temperature rise is unrealistic.  Continuing with a business-as-usual trend of emissions will inevitably exceed a 3° increase.  A five year second commitment period to the Kyoto Protocol is crucial; a longer timeline is only putting off responsibilities and delaying the inexorable.

If the United States were to get out of the way, developing countries will need to step up and perform acts to show commitment – even at a local or national level.  Sustainable development strategies, adaptation techniques, and appropriate mitigation on a local scale will set the standard for national and ultimately international legislation to follow suit.  This bottom-up approach seems to be the only way to get the ball rolling.

Playing the game “No, you go first…” is preventing the negotiations from getting anywhere.  It is time for developing nations to take the initiative.  Beginning to adopt domestic strategies and funding will be more productive than waiting for the resources from abroad.

We are in need of a legally binding agreement before 2020.  We need to set new emission reduction targets and eliminate loopholes.  2020 will be too late.

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One Response to "U.S. Step Aside, Developing Countries Step Up"

  1. J Ball says:

    I listened to a useful video summary of the first week on the Mail & Guardian,

    Seems to me that if China makes a bold commitment it might jumpstart momentum towards an agreement.

    J Ball

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