Irresistible forces and immovable objects: a debate on contemporary climate politics

Climate Policy, 5 December 2010

The pervasive mistrust with which the Copenhagen Conference ended does not augur well for post-Copenhagen negotiations. This commentary explores existing fault lines and proposes creative ways of moving forward. The Copenhagen impasse, which is likely to continue, involved attempts by developed countries to overturn the template of historical responsibility and replace it with a reciprocity-based regime that was met with resistance from developing countries. Thus, realistically, Cancún can only serve as an opportunity to rebuild trust and seek areas of convergence, rather than being the occasion for a possible deal. Focusing attention on some limited areas of consensus may create a more congenial environment for future negotiations. Possible ways forward include promoting technological collaboration through a network of innovation centres, supporting the Least Developed Countries (LDCs), Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and Africa, encouraging extensive bilateral cooperation and cooperation under the auspices of the UN on climate change action and renewable energy, forging a commitment not to resort to trade protection, and making a firm commitment to the UN process.