The newest and perhaps best hope to push for strong international action to fight climate changes took place recently in Costa Rica. The countries in the so-called Cartagena Dialogue met again to discuss how this group of countries could help push for aggressive action at the international climate treaty negotiations that will take place in December in Cancún, México. I just happened to be in Costa Rica before this meeting, working with our partners to help Costa Rica become more carbon neutral so I had a chance to discuss this new effort with leading officials. I came away convinced that this group could play a constructive role in the international climate efforts. We need as many leadership countries as possible so the Cartagena Dialogue is a positive move as it demonstrates that there are a group of countries who are going to do whatever they can to push the international negotiations to be as aggressive as possible.
International negotiations often see the development of groupings of countries with similar goals – most often by region or economic development status. What is remarkable about the Cartagena Dialogue is that the participating countries came together through a shared desire to move the climate negotiations forward in a constructive but strong manner. This means that the Dialogue includes countries from all regions of the world and from differing levels of economic development. It is not meant to challenge existing negotiating groupings of countries, but to help everyone move forward by helping find workable solutions to the issues that have blocked progress in the past. This is an emerging dialogue of the willing that will try to overcome the procedural barriers that in the past have made it hard to work together to solve climate change.
Where are the big emitters in this dialogue? The United States, China and India are currently not part of it. But a constructive dialogue on how to fight climate change should be moving forward whether or not the giant emitters are ready to join in. The climate negotiations have been extremely focused on what the major emitters will commit, often leaving the medium emitters and the countries that are ready to take action on the sidelines. There is much that every country can do to fight climate change and as the world moves forward, the laggards will have all the more reason to follow. Read NRDC’s recommendations for the Cancún meeting from my colleague Jake Schmidt.
The Dialogue has included Antigua & Barbuda, Australia, Bangladesh, Belgium, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Danmark, Dominican Republic, Ethiopia, European Union, European Commission, France, Germany, Ghana, Guatemala, Indonesia, Malawi, Maldives, Marshall Islands, Mexico (as incoming Climate Negotiations President), Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Panama, Peru, Rwanda, Samoa, Spain, Tanzania, Thailand, Timor-Leste, United Kingdom, and Uruguay.
This group met just months before the international community faces a key decision point – do they want to take practical steps that begin to implement international action or do they want to find excuses to block progress. In the sessions, I’m sure they had some frank discussions on how to move these issues forward. We can see some inklings of this in the Chairman Statement that was distributed after the meeting concluded. The statement made it clear that participants have lost patience with countries that use excuses of procedure to block progress in the international negotiations.
Substantively, participants identified a number of priorities for consensus including:
- Anchoring national proposals to limit greenhouse gas emissions in a framework of international commitments (the commitments that countries made in Copenhagen);
- Making sure that we have strong procedures in place to measure, report and verify greenhouse gas emissions reductions;
- Putting the funding mechanisms in place to help pay for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and adaptation to climate change, and providing tools or institutions to deal with the impacts of climate change.
So a diverse, progressive group of countries are standing up and saying: “we want action on climate change now: stop bickering and find solutions.” That is a breath of fresh air. I hope that sentiment will carry the day in Cancun. We need countries to implement solutions and set aside their differences for the good of humanity and the planet.