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Obama Bluff: US Threatens To Walk Out Of Climate Talks If Financial Obligations Made Legally Binding

Nitin Sethi, Business Standard

Talks go beyond deadline as developed countries block differentiation in revised draft of Paris agreement and oppose financial road-map.

Paris climate talks got pushed well beyond their scheduled deadline of Friday 6 pm. The French foreign minister Laruent Fabius formally announced that the next, and hopefully the final draft, of the Paris package would be brought out on Saturday morning followed by negotiations in afternoon. Bruised by the fractious arguments that had split countries along the developed-developing lines through the night between Thursday and Friday, many negotiators across the divide assessed that the talks would stretch in to Sunday.

The night saw an ugly brawl as US secretary of state John Kerry threatened that developed countries, including the US, would walk out of the agreement if it help up the wall of differentiation or if it was asked to commit to a road-map or a goal to deliver on its financial obligations in the Paris agreement. “You can take the US out of this. Take the developed world out of this. Remember, the Earth has a problem. What will you do with the problem on your own?” he said behind closed doors in negotiations to other ministers on the second revised draft of the Paris agreement.

He added, “We can’t afford in the hours we are left with to nit-pick every single word and to believe there is an effort here that separates developed countries from developing countries. That’s not where we are in 2015. Don’t think this agreement reflects that kind of differentiation.”

Making a veiled threat again that the agreement could fail if the US was pushed for financial obligations, Kerry said, “At this late hour, hope we don’t load this with differentiation…I would love to have a legally binding agreement. But the situation in the US is such that legally binding with respect to finance is a killer for the agreement.”

His remarks were made during the Indaba negotiations at the night between Thursday and Friday. Right after his short intervention Kerry left the negotiating room while other US delegates stayed back, making delegates from other countries point out that the sessions were to exchange views and not just threaten and leave.

Business Standard was able to confirm his remarks and other statements made during the night by speaking to multiple negotiators in the room during the night.

Kerry’s intervention was later followed by developed countries collectively refusing to give a road-map for delivery of their financial obligations behind 2020. EU said it was not acceptable and umbrella group of countries which includes the US too demanded scuttling such a plan.

IN the past the developed countries have been unable to deliver financial flows against their commitments of providing US $ 100 billion annually by 2020. The OECD produced a report recently claiming the rich world had delivered US $ 62 billion by 2014 which the rich countries showed off at the Paris talks. But developing countries, including India, noted gross levels of double accounting and counting of high interest loans as climate finance – which is seen as a reparation cost. The developing countries asked that a road-map for delivery of the US $ 100 billion be fixed at Paris and that the accounting rules too be set by the UN climate convention blocking attempts of creative accounting by developed countries. This was partially reflected in the second revised draft of the Paris agreement.

The proposal got the developed countries in a knot. One after the other each took the floor demanding that developing countries be asked to pay as well. The US went to the point of saying that at best the countries could ask for a one time goal being promised by developed countries in 2025. In other words developing countries would not be able to hold the developed world accountable for their financial commitments post-2025.

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