Monday, 14 December 2009

Bunker fuels divide developing countries

Emissions from aviation and shipping, or bunker fuels, is one of seven key issues identified by Danish climate and energy minister Connie Hedegaard this morning that need to be resolved for a deal in Copenhagen.

She has proposed appointing a developed country and developing country minister for each of these issues to "knock heads together" to finally get somewhere.

Progress is urgently needed. A working group on bunker fuels that was supposed to meet on Saturday and again today failed to meet both times. Why? Because everything is in paralysis until parties decide on a procedural way forward, or how to reconcile negotiations under the Kyoto protocol track and UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) track, Bill Hemmings from green transport group T&E said on Monday evening.

With this deadlock apparently – at least for now – resolved (see Susanne's last post at 16:16), the working group on bunkers may yet gather later tonight.

When it does, there will be issues of substances to deal with. China, India, Saudi Arabia and the Bahamas are blocking a deal on including bunker fuels in a Copenhagen climate agreement, according to T&E. This puts at risk both long-term global emission reduction goals and a major source of funding – through a levy on bunker emissions – for developing countries to combat climate change, the group says.

The blocking countries want only developed countries to participate in any bunker emission reduction scheme. But this runs counter to the universality principle of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) who would be responsible for such schemes.

Never mind that most ships are registered in developing countries under "flags of convenience", for example for tax reasons.

"It's hard to understand why more developing countries are not speaking up against the blocking tactics as they – and especially the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and Least Developed Countries (LDCs) – have everything to gain from a measure whose financials flow to them," Mr Hemmings says.

The magic key that could guarantee the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities could be differentiation of revenues from a levy to benefit developing states, he suggests.

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