There has been a striking dichotomy in the aftermath of the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP18) in Doha: on one hand, exhausted but rather satisfied negotiators talk about making progress, while on other negotiators, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and think tanks offer very critical, even desperate assessments of a “failed” process.

In this article, SEI Senior Research Fellow Bo Kjellén, former lead climate negotiator for Sweden, examines the reasons for this dichotomy and argues that it reflects a lack of understanding of the conditions and mechanics of negotiations on sustainable development and the Rio Conventions.

He also notes that the failure of the Copenhagen conference in 2009, and the eventual approval of the Durban Platform, has ushered in a “transitional period” during which progress is slow and smaller-scale, but countries also have an opportunity to revisit the concepts of equity, fairness and justice in the North-South relationship and in view of the increasing heterogeneity of the Group of 77, and find solutions that reflect the changing landscape.

Finally, he argues that “political will” is far less important than the enabling conditions at home:

… effective climate action – and global sustainability more broadly – depends on an array of socio-economic factors. If we wish to advance the UNFCCC talks, we need to ask bolder questions and dig deeper into the economic and social realities of this time. SEI will be an active part of this effort, delving into issues such as equity and equality at the national and international levels and the extent to which fossil-fuel interests continue to frame economic and political thinking even amid an accelerating renewable-energy revolution. It is an ambitious, multi-disciplinary undertaking, and a critically important one.

Source: Europe’s World, Belgium