'There should be consensus among G-77'

Developing countries have a reputation for lacking political strategy when it comes to international negotiations. They have been slow in recognising a clear ally in the European Union. At COP-4 the delegations of at least two European countries, Germany and France, were led by Green Party members. Patrick Fragman, advisor to French environment minister Dominique Voynet, expresses his frustration with the G-77

Published: Tuesday 15 December 1998

'There should be consensus among G-77'

-- What do you think of the US insistence on voluntary com- mitments from developing countries?
It is not for us (industrialised countries) to question non-annex I (developing countries) commitments. We have to make sure that our commitments are respected, and translated into domestic policies and action. we must not forget the long-term objective under Article 2 of the convention which is to have a convergence of emissions. We have a responsibility - historic and otherwise - to respect our commitments. For us, commitments from non-Annex I countries is not important.

What do you mean when you say convergence?
Convergence on equitable targets. If you translate this into per capita, you find that developed countries have to make space for the developing, We have to make sure that we take the right path, so that the other countries do not follow the wrong one.

Is there consensus within the EU about this position?
There is consensus that convergence is a real issue, to ensure that there is at least a minimum of domestic policy measures that are working. On this you will find consensus among EU countries - not among the other Annex I countries. There could be a real political statement of the EU on this, particularly if there is consensus among the G-77 that they want to talk about convergence, We will put this high on the agenda.

Has not the G-77 already suggested a consensus on this position?
We proposed it two days ago, but my impression is that G-77 is led by what is said by the technical experts, who are focusing on flexible mechanisms. We have a political paper from the G-77 which is actually a technical paper, not a political paper. It is a list of items. But the EU ministers want a political mandate - something strong.

Why do you think issues relevant to G-77 do not come out very much?
The dialogue between G-77 and EU has always been very difficult, We have waited two days for a dialogue with G-77, whereas we wanted it two days ago. I think frankly that the EU is in a position to bridge the gap, and especially to make sure that there is political dialogue, one which contains issues issues of real interest to the G-77.

What do you think of Argentina's decision to take on voluntary commitments?
If some countries want to commit, its positive, but that is an individual decision - it is up to them. But there should be no pressure on them to commit.

But would not there be pressure on other developing countries now that Argentina has accepted?
It is easy to put political and financial pressure on countries like Argentina and Khazakstan. The question is, pressure from whom? And what is the interest of these countries to enter into commitments? Certain commitments were made by countries, which are not likely to be met. We have to analyse why not, before thinking about new things.

What do you think of the US resistance to limits on the amount of reduction they can make using trading mechanisms?
The US has a straight position on caps - they do not want them. Other countries have an equally straight position, that domestic action has to come first - everything else is nonsense. If they don't want a cap, what do they want to do domestically? Let them put their progress on the table. So far their progress is not progress.

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