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Obstacles to climate action

12-05-2011 13:48 BJT Special Report:Durban Climate Change Conference |

BEIJING, Dec. 5 (Xinhuanet) -- It seems clear that the more one expects of Durban, the more disappointed one is going to be.

The first week of bargaining at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in the South African port city turned out to be nearly fruitless, and the decision by civil society groups to dub last Saturday the "global day of action" appears merely wishful thinking.

As negotiators from developed countries haggle and filibuster their way through appeals for their governments to match rhetoric with action, it is obvious that the only thing that developed countries are willing to commit to is inaction.

Canada has already threatened to withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol, the United States is continuing to refuse to make any legally binding commitment on emissions reductions, and all the developed nations are trying to avoid fulfilling their previous promises of aid to developing countries.

U.S. foot-dragging on development aid and refusal to commit to emissions reduction is the central cause of the impasse, not just in Durban.

President Barack Obama should review his campaign pledge to move the U.S. to the forefront of global cooperation to combat global warming and reflect on latest warning from nonprofit organizations that the U.S. has become "a major obstacle to progress" in the global fight against climate change.

By putting the onus for meaningful action on developing countries in this way developed countries are in effect curtailing developing countries right to development.

Twenty-five years ago on Dec 4, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Declaration on the Right to Development declaring it "an inalienable human right". "As a complement to the efforts of developing countries, effective international cooperation is essential in providing these countries with appropriate means and facilities to foster their comprehensive development," says Clause 2, Article 4 of the declaration.

Yet on her way to Myanmar after the Fourth High-Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Busan, South Korea, US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, cautioned developing nations to be "smart shoppers" when accepting development aid.

She urged recipient countries "to be wary of donors who are more interested in extracting your resources than in building your capacity" and to avoid the temptation of "quick fixes".

This "friendly warning" artfully creates the illusion that recipient countries are strolling the aisles of a well-stocked aid supermarket succumbing to false bargains and ignoring the real value-for-money long-term aid offered by developed countries at a realistic price.

In fact the U.S. and its rich allies are very reluctant to offer aid and when they do it always with great a many strings attached.

That is why in the six years since governments agreed to the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness only two of the 21 development goals have been fulfilled.

"A lot of African leaders will tell you that with Western donor countries, they just end up having negotiations after negotiations after negotiations," said former British prime minister Tony Blair. "Whereas with China, things happen."

That is because to this country aid is aid, not an instrument for interfering in recipient countries' home affairs. And it does not exploit the recipients' thirst for aid.

Editor:Zhang Hao |Source: Xinhua

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