Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Tuvalu and Goliath

One of the most amazing things to see last year in Copenhagen was the leadership and statesmanship shown by representatives of some of the smallest nations. That phenomenon has continued into Cancun. This afternoon the major players were not the United States (who was invisible), the EU, China or India. Rather those who spoke eloquently and moved the discussion were the representatives from Tuvalu, Grenada, the Maldives, Costa Rica, the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, and the Marshall Islands.

The issue at hand is the survival and extension of the Kyoto Protocol and continued pressure to work out the legal details for what a legally binding agreement would look like. Last year in the run up to Copenhagen there were a number of proposals for a legally binding agreement that simply never were considered. Most notably perhaps was the proposal made by the small island state of Tuvalu, which will be one of the most significantly impacted countries by the effects of sea level rise.

These small countries worked together today to establish another working group that would take time to discuss and deliberate these proposals. They were opposed by the likes of China, India and Saudi Arabia who all thought that it would simply be a distraction and essentially a waste of time. As Saudi Arabia put it, "frankly, we all know that the U.S. is in no position to contribute to a legally binding agreement."

As for China and India, a cynic would say that it is in their best interests to do what they have been doing all along which is simply stall for time to allow their economies to grow as robust as possible before any brakes are applied in the form of limits on greenhouse gas.

Right before the session began, a Swedish student passed around surveys asking which countries participants thought were displaying leadership in the talks. Who would have thought that the smallest countries with the most to lose would continue to drive the process forward towards a legally binding agreement? Perhaps there is something to this democracy business? BlogBooster-The most productive way for mobile blogging. BlogBooster is a multi-service blog editor for iPhone, Android, WebOs and your desktop

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