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Where are the international climate negotiations heading to? (Report - November 2012)

Where are the international climate negotiations heading to? (Report - November 2012)


In the context of the symposium "Where are the international climate negotiations heading to?," the Center for Strategic Analysis publishes three notes in a mini-report.  These notes are based on the main findings of two studies conducted for the CAS on the international perception of the scientific discourse on the matter  and the evolution of international climate negotiations.

Since the adoption of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 1992, the gap has been widening between the progress of negotiations to reach an agreement to organize the international fight against climate changes, and the phenomenon of climate change itself . Successive reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which highlighted the human responsibility in the matter, also highlighted the risk of irreversible disasters and the need to act quickly to limit the rise of the global average temperature . States Parties to the Convention agreed in 2010 on the development of an agreement based on countries' voluntary commitments to reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases. But now, the countries promises are not enough to delay the prospect of global warming and its consequences . It is now crucial to set more ambitious goals. 

In June, the conference "Rio +20", organized twenty years after the Earth Summit, however, has shown that developing countries (DCs) and emerging countries regarded the fight against poverty as a priority and an essential prerequisite for sustainable development : section two of the declaration adopted at the summit clearly states so.

This is why a global agreement that will effectively fight against climate change should include ambitious targets in reducing gas emissions, but it cannot stop there: it must also take into account the fight against poverty and implement financial and technological transfers as referred to Cancun in 2010, as well as measures to support adaptation to climate change to meet the demands of developing countries. The results of the Rio Summit and its lessons for future global agreements on sustainable development are the subject of a first analytical note, corresponding to the first chapter of this report.

The other challenge is probably to convince 'key' countries' public opinion so that their respective governments invest more effectively in the fight against climate change . The surveys, however, show a decrease in people's feeling of emergency regarding climate risks and a development of "climate skepticism". This results from the failure of UN negotiations, which clearly showed during the Copenhagen summit in 2009, as well as from the media coverage of scientific controversies. The case of the United States, where the question of the human origins of climate change has become a marker of political affiliation, is revealing in this respect. The second analytical note, subject of the second chapter of this report, analyses the indications of the perception of scientific discourse on climate change in emerging countries, France and the United States, and offers solutions to fight more efficiently against "climate skepticism."

The European Union, quite advanced in the fight against climate change, has so far failed to bring the negotiations to an ambitious agreement bringing together the largest emitters of greenhouse gases. Last year at the Durban conference, it has nevertheless managed to come closer together with developing countries and has managed to include in the agenda the prospect of a new global agreement by 2015, which would be implemented in 2020 at the latest . Developing countries, the first victims of the consequences of climate change can clearly tip the scales in the negotiations. The third analytical note, reproduced in the last chapter of the report, comes back to the geopolitical transformations that marked the negotiations, to the EU's role in global climate governance, and the new strategy it might take to make progress.

The French president has offered to host the 2015 Paris conference that could achieve the signature of the new agreement. It is now important that Europe converts the try scored in Durban by finding, through an ambitious diplomacy, ways to a satisfactory compromise with the main emitters of greenhouse gases, but also with the countries most vulnerable to climate risks.

The three chapters of this report were written by Dominique Auverlot, Blandine Barreau from the Sustainable Development Department, in collaboration with Franck Olivia for the first. The last two are based on the main findings of two studies conducted at the conclusion of bidding for the Centre for Strategic Analysis

- The first by the company Nomadéis in partnership with K-Minos and Semiocast " Perception of the international scientific discourse on climate threat by the general public in six countries: South Africa, Brazil, China, United States, France, India" whose authors are Cédric Baecher, Nicolas Dutreix Romain Ioualalen for Nomadéis, Paul Guyot and Jean Charles Campagne for Semiocast, Etienne Collomb for the K-Minos agency;

- The second entitled " From Rio 1992 to Rio 2012, twenty years of climate negotiations: what results? What role for Europe? What future? "by Amy Dahan, Director Emeritus of Research at the CNRS, Centre Alexandre Koyré, EHESS, and Stefan C. Aykut, currently Post-doc in the laboratory techniques, Territories and Societies (LATTS), Institute Francilien Research Innovation Company (IFRIS).

  • Keywords : climate, environment, Europe, negotiations, Durban, Doha, IPCC, RIO +20


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