Russia’s Medvedev to attend COP15 in hopes of settling stubborn tensions

Publish date: December 12, 2009

COPENHAGEN – As differences between developing and developed nations continue to hinder progress at the UN climate talks in this city, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has announced he will come to the summit on December 17 to 18th, the Kremlin press service confirmed to Bellona Web.

The Russian president will attend the meeting with heads of state and government within the framework of the UN Climate Change Conference,” the Kremlin said in a statement.

What precisely Medvedev intends to bring with him to heal the rift is unclear, but the final days of the conference are looking with each passing day to be more important and demanding of high level international attention. The closing days of the summit are expected to draw some 110 heads of state, climate diplomats here have said.

“The more international leaders we have here in the last few days of the negotiations, the better,” said Bellona President Frederic Hauge.

The Copenhagen meeting was initially slated to create a binding international climate gas reduction agreement between nations to replace the Kyoto Protocol. But in the lead up to the talks, world leaders, including US President Barack Obama and Danish Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen, decided to scrap this goal in favour of a framework agreement toward a legally binding document to be signed within the next two years.

At issue in Copenhagen is a deadlock between poorer nations, who are placing stiffer demands for steeper emissions cuts and heavier financing on wealthier nations who, in turn, are unwilling to grant the cuts, and are scrambling to scrape up more cash.

“Disagreements in the positions of developing and developed countries are especially obvious,” said Oleg Shamanov, head of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s department of global environmental problems, and a member of the Russian negotiation team.

He added that “developing countries vigorously refuse to undertake any binding obligations,” adding that they were demanding developed states undertake additional obligations to cut emissions of greenhouse gases after 2012, while refusing to cut their own emissions.

The €7.2 billion put on offer yesterday morning as the result of an EU summit to finance a “fast start” programme, putting $10 billion a year in the hands of poorer nations over the next three years to cope with climate change, has drawn heavy fire for being to little since it was proposed.

“They are essentially saying that the problem does not exist,” Lumumba Stanislaus-Kaw Di-Aping, who represents the G77 bloc of developing nations and China told a news conference at the Bella Center negotiation facility Friday.

Di-Aping, like many other’s questioned where the money would be coming from and whether it would be fresh money, or simply reallocations of already promised funds.

Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, whose nation holds the rotating EU presidency during until the year is out, acknowledged that the pledges were “a combination of new and old resources,” the BBC reported.  

As for more emissions cuts, most of the European Union seems settled on a 25 percent cut below 1990 levels by 2020 – though a draft deal in circulation at the talks goes as high as 40 percent. But the average national bid being posted at the summit is closer to 18 percent, as tallied by the European Climate Foundation.

Yet what Russia can lend loosen this impasse is currently being iterated in general terms.

Shamanov said Moscow seeks to reach a “common, universal, international binding agreement,” which would include all climate-related issues and involve all countries. The world’s main carbon gases emitters, be they developed such as the United States, or developing such as India, China and Brazil, should be involved in the agreement, he said.

But Russia is unlikely take the lead in offering cash or higher emissions cuts, according to a conversation Shamanov had with Bellona’s Russia group on Thursday. He indicated that the 22-25 percent cut that was tabled by Medvedev in Stockholm on November 18th was firm.

Analysts have suggested that some EU nations who are unable to deliver any cash, such as Poland, might offer carbon credits amassed under Kyoto that were a windfall delivered by the industrial failure of the Eastern Bloc in the 1990s.

Russia is estimated to be sitting on some €30 billion to €45 billion in carbon credits for the same reason. But these credits, said Shamanov speaking with Bellona, are a pivotal negotiating tool for Russia, and which Moscow may be considering saving for itself to offset future industrial growth.

Conference host Denmark welcomed the news of Medvedev’s arrival. “This means leaders from the world’s 15 biggest emitters will be attending the conference,” a Danish official told climate talk news site.

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