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AILAC group breaks developing country unity at Katowice climate talks

The procedural opening of the UN Climate Change Conference COP24 in Katowice, Poland. Photo: @GlobalGoalsUNThe 136 developing country G77+China country group was forced to dilute its stances on several times through the first week of the Katowice Climate Change talks as the eight countries members of the Independent Association of Latin America and the Caribbean group (AILAC) broke ranks and blocked stronger stance by the bloc on several critical issues.Country groups work by consensus, therefore, the collective negotiating stances are drawn only after each sub-group agrees to the positions.The AILAC group comprises Chile, Columbia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama, Paraguay and Peru.At Katowice, the AILAC group came across as distant from all other members of the G77+China group from the very start. Business Standard spoke to seven senior negotiators from three different sub-groups in the G77+Group for the story. Each of them to different degrees reflected either frustration or disappointment at how AILAC had acted at the talks.On Saturday, when most developing countries expressed anger at how badly the draft rulebook to the Paris Agreement was titled in favour of developed countries, AILAC again blocked reference to equity, the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and the need for new and additional finance flows from developed countries in the G77+China group.A developing country negotiator said, “They forced dilution to the statement. It is one thing for a country or a group to sit back and not be interested in some issues that may be a priority to others in a group as long as it is not against their national interest. But, it is another thing to work actively to block other’s interests. This is malicious.”The AILAC group also blocked the Africa Group’s proposal that the continent’s special circumstances be recognised when developed countries provide support to poor countries for fighting climate change, two other diplomats confirmed independently.“Ty not to cause no harm to any partners’ positions unless their positions harm yours. That is the principle that we all work with. Why would the AILAC group want to block the African Group is beyond our comprehension,” one of them said.“They do not want developing countries to ask that the rich nations provide new and additional funds under the Paris Agreement and not resort to double accounting of their existing obligations beyond climate change. On face value one would say blocking this is not even in the favour of the AILAC countries but here we are,” said the second one.The dilution the AILAC group had forced upon the G77+China group became evident when one read the positions the rest of the developing countries took under smaller sub-groups on the same issue.The Africa Group of Nations, the Like-Minded Developing Countries with China and India in it, and the Gulf countries continued to present on most issues such as finance, adaptation and the nationally determined contributions even as the G77+China was forced to use a softer language or omit some critical positions during the informal and formal negotiations.“Larger economic and geopolitical interests outside the climate change arena effect all of us, That is legitimate and the reality. Yet, we expect partners in our group to not proactively destroy positions and weaken positions. This shall cause real damage. Unity is not just for the sake of it. It is to collectively negotiate for the best possible agreement,” said a third negotiator.At the time of writing this report, the formal plenary meetings for the first week had begun. Except for G77+China group others had prepared to express their disapproval of most of the draft rulebook to the Paris Agreement.
Source: Business Standard