Copenhagen climate talks deadlocked

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The high level segment (COP15) of the climate change talks has begun in Copenhagen but developed and developing countries refuse to see eye to eye, says Koos Neefjes, Policy Advisor Climate Change of UNDP Vietnam.

How were delegates reacting to the boycott of developing countries at COP15? What is message of this move to rich countries? Would it benefit poor countries in general and Vietnam in particular?

At the end of Tuesday in Copenhagen there was some progress in the negotiations, with emerging agreements on a technology transfer mechanism and support to the forestry sector, which is important as forests can capture CO2, the main greenhouse gas.

Vietnam and Vietnamese businesses and forest managers, including ethnic minorities in the uplands and vulnerable coastal populations could benefit from successful agreements on these two subjects.

However, much remains to be discussed and agreed on medium and long term financing of climate actions â€" the needs of which have been estimated at about US$100 billion annually by 2020. There is also much to be decided on how the finance will be managed.

Developing countries and developed countries disagree especially on the level of commitments to greenhouse gas emissions reduction that developed and developing countries should make. And equally problematic is agreement on the legal form that the world should aspire to â€" a political agreement or a legally binding agreement, a new all encompassing Protocol, or a new Protocol in addition to the existing Kyoto Protocol that obliges developed countries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

Some developing countries were so frustrated by the lack of progress that on Monday they refused to talk in the formal meeting unless more commitments were made by developed countries. But on Tuesday formal meetings were held with all major participants included.

A good agreement is very important for developing countries and their citizens, especially women and men who are most vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change, as there will be financial and technical benefits. Vietnam’s short and long term climate change responses at central and local level would be supported internationally in many ways.

Should climate change force Vietnam to move its development goalposts while bracing for the dire consequences of climate change?

Definitely not. Vietnam needs to support protect itself, and also to make progress with improved energy efficiency and generation of renewable energy such as wind and solar power.

But poor people have energy rights and the country needs, at least for some time, access to more energy, including from fossil fuels, to maintain social and economic development until the energy alternatives are available and affordable.

Vietnam should keep the same ambitions that it had before the realization of climate change as a major threat. In fact as it is industrializing and people are getting out of poverty, as it is urbanizing and becoming wealthier, Vietnam must increase its standards of safety and protection from natural disasters. It must aspire to human development despite climate change effects.

Climate change responses that are supported by finance, technology and knowledge from developed countries should be understood as a set of opportunities for scaling up and expediting good development practices. The urgency of climate change and responding to the effects and causes should have many benefits.

Vietnam also needs to do many things with its domestic resources, and it can turn the threat into social and economic opportunities.

Vietnam’s PM stresses UN role in climate change response

Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung on Wednesday met Ines Alberdi, executive director of the United Nations Development Fund for Women and Olav Kjørven, assistant secretary-general and director of the Bureau for Development Policy, the United Nations Development Program.

They met on the sidelines of the Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change that is underway in Copenhagen, Denmark.

The Prime Minister explained that Vietnam is on a path to achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and that it has made particular progress with poverty reduction, gender equality and improvements in the lives of children, especially by steadily improving health and education systems.

He expressed high appreciation for the role of the UN in this and also regarding work on sustainable development as well as climate change.

The UN officials expressed appreciation for Vietnam’s socioeconomic achievements and its domestic actions on climate change.

They hoped that the Copenhagen agreements would include clear text that enables developing countries to making full use of the UN and its services, especially its “Delivering as One.” They also stressed that there are models in other countries where the UN enables countries to tap into international carbon trade and use proceedings for social investments in order to help achieve several MDGs.

Dung agreed it is important that the role of the UN in implementing climate-change responses must be fully recognized.

By Koos Neefjes

Reported by An Dien

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