Russia blocks the climate talks using procedural issues

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The whole first week of the UN Climate Talks taking place here in Bonn, Germany, have been undermined by blocking tactics from Russia.

The actions of Russia have also highlighted the structural weaknesses of the UN climate negotiations, which often grind to halt due to the actions of just one country (or in this case, Russia, Ukraine and Belarus). This is because a ‘consensus’ is needed to make agreements.

Meetings under the ‘SBI’, which stands for the ‘Subsidiary Body of Implementation’, have been unable to take place all week, leaving negotiators and NGOs extremely frustrated.

On Friday, an EU negotiator pointed out that the whole week has been wasted – and that it was difficult to justify the great expense of coming here to “sit on our hands”, while outside, whole villages are being flooded.

Russian Revenge for Doha?

The stand-off at the UN Climate Talks began in December, when the Chair of the Doha conference hammered through a proposal to get rid of loopholes which benefited Russia.

Previously, this ‘hot air’ had allowed Russia a loop-hole through which they earned millions of dollars worth of ‘carbon credits’ for doing nothing. The ‘hot air’ credits, known as AAU’s, had allowed Russia to do nothing because their emissions had already fallen since 1990 due to the collapse of the USSR.

It was therefore heralded as a success by environmentalists when these loopholes were dealt with at Doha.

However, Russia now opposes the way the agreement was forced through at Doha, without their full consent. At these climate talks, Russia is now trying to include a special agenda item on “procedural and legal issues” to discuss this issue.

Understandably, all the other countries do not want to include Russia’s proposal, because they doubt Russia’s motives and believe this is not the right forum to discuss this.

Many countries, like India, have tried to propose a compromise to overcome the impasse, but Russia is being extremely heavy-handed.

Real Politik – Melting Ice Gaps and Russia Oil Interests

What are Russia’s real motives?

Russia may be trying to undermine the whole climate negotiation process at the UN.Most of the discussions have now turned into ‘informals’ and back-corridor dialogues which are opaque to the observers and environmentalists.
At the heart of it, Russia has a national strategic interest in trying to block a global agreement on climate change.
Back in 2008, Putin was overheard saying that climate change was “good for Russia”. The melting of the ice caps is also leading to exploration of Arctic oil and gas resources which Russia is trying to claim.
Another problem is that the current Chair of the SBI is from Poland – and some observers have been wondering if he is sympathetic to Russia. Poland has huge interests in the coal industry.
Let us only hope the negotiations are “un-blocked” soon.
– written by one of the UN fair play team in Bonn for the intercessional –
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