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AILAC group breaks developing country unity at Katowice climate talks

Nitin Sethi/Katowice 08 Dec 18 | 08:33 PM

The procedural opening of the UN Climate Change Conference COP24 in Katowice, Poland. Photo: @GlobalGoalsUN

The 136 developing country group, G77+China, was forced to dilute its stance several times through the first week of the Katowice Climate Change talks, as the eight members of the Independent Association of Latin America and the Caribbean group (AILAC) broke ranks and blocked a stronger stance by the bloc on several critical issues.  

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Country groups work on consensus, and therefore the collective negotiating stance is drawn only after each sub-group agrees to the positions. 

The AILAC group comprises Chile, Columbia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama, Paraguay and Peru. 

At Katowice, the AILAC group came across as distant from other members of the G77+China, from the very start. Business Standard spoke to seven senior negotiators from three different sub-groups of G77+China. 

Each of them, to different degrees, reflected either frustration or disappointment at how the AILAC had acted. 

On Saturday, when most developing countries expressed anger at how badly the draft rulebook to the Paris Agreement was tilted in favour of developed nations, AILAC once again blocked reference to equity, the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities, and the need for new and additional finance flows from developed countries. 

ALSO READ: Katowice climate talks: US, EU refuse disclosure on climate finance

A developing country negotiator said, “They forced dilution to the statement. It is one thing for a country or group to sit back and not be interested in issues that may be a priority to others in a group, as long as it is not against their national interest. However, it is another thing to work actively to block others’ interests. This is malicious." 

AILAC also blocked the African group’s proposal of the continent’s special circumstances to be recognised, when developed countries provide support to poor countries for fighting climate change, two other diplomats confirmed independently.  

“Try not to cause harm to any partner’s position unless their position harms yours. That is the principle we work with. Why would AILAC want to block the African group’s proposal is beyond our comprehension," one of them said. 

ALSO READ: Katowice climate talks: Progress only on areas US, developed nations favour

“They do not want developing countries to ask the rich nations to provide new and additional funds under the Paris Agreement, and not resort to double accounting of their existing obligations beyond climate change. On face value, one would say that blocking this is not even in favour of the AILAC countries, but here we are," said the second one.

The dilution that the AILAC had forced upon the G77+China group becomes evident when one reads the positions the rest of the developing countries have taken, under smaller sub-groups over the same issue.  

The African Group of Nations, the Like-Minded Developing Countries (with China and India in it), and the Gulf countries, continued to present on issues such as finance, adaptation, and the Nationally Determined Contributions, even as the G77+China was forced to use a softer language or omit some critical positions during the negotiations. 

“Larger economic and geopolitical interests outside the climate change arena affect all of us. That is legitimate and the reality. Yet, we expect partners in our group to not proactively destroy or weaken positions. This shall cause real damage," said a third negotiator. 

At the time of going to press, the formal plenary meetings for the first week had begun.

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