Representatives from developed countries are now reviewing the conference’s declaration draft that requires the United Nations to include marine issues in its climate talks in Copenhagen in December. During the opening day of the World Ocean Conference (WOC) Senior Official Meeting on Monday, developed countries, including the United States, Australia, the EU and Japan, have made preliminary remarks on the draft, raising speculation they may seek an alteration of the original draft tabled by some ocean countries, including host Indonesia.
“They have made comments and given input. However, since this is just the beginning, we haven’t heard any objections. We will get more input on the substance tomorrow,” said Eddy Pratomo, the conference SOM chairman and also Indonesian ambassador to Germany.
“There have been no major changes in the substances discussed on the MOD *Manado Ocean Declaration*. We hope at the end of the day we will all be ready to reveal the final draft version of the declaration.” He added Indonesia had lobbied all developing countries to unite in a bid to push for the adoption of the draft declaration. The effort is seen as an attempt to push the ocean as a central agenda at the UN climate talks.
“As ocean countries, we have similar interests. We also face the same threats from climate change. It is natural that we stick together. Most developing nations here have expressed their support of the conference’s draft,” Eddy said.
Ocean countries, most of which are developing nations, have reiterated a call for help from rich countries in the form of transfer of technology and financial support to mitigate and adapt to the damaging impacts of climate change. However, the currently available multilateral financial scheme for developing countries under the climate change framework is through carbon trading and adaptation funds managed by the Global Environment Facility (GEF).
To be able to get the funding, the ocean issues must be accepted by parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) meeting in Copenhagen in December. Some scientists and activists said on the sidelines of the conference that bringing the ocean up as part of the UN talks would not be part of developed countries’ priority.
This potential setback has given rise to the issue of a growing “climate divide”, where developing countries have to bear the brunt of environmental problems caused by the release of carbon dioxide (CO2) from developed countries, including the US and Western Europe. However, developing countries have been left almost entirely on their own to deal with the consequences.
It is believed most developed countries were worried that expanding the funding scheme to include ocean issues would only add to their financial burden. Japan, for instance, has not touched on the need for pushing ocean issues in its ocean policy act, which was released Monday during the conference. Instead, it focuses on conservation and the improvement of scientific knowledge on oceans.
The UN talks in Copenhagen are expected to come out with a new agreement on reducing carbon emissions by a set target for all developed nations by 2012 – the year the 1998 Kyoto Protocol expires. Emissions cuts are currently being met through the management of the energy and forestry sectors. Through the MOD, the ocean will play a greater role in a new agreement after the Kyoto Protocol.
Source: The Jakarta Post , May 12, 2009. Article by Abdul Khalik