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Are Rich Countries Gambling away Developing Countries’s Future?

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“This process is too important to be a high-risk poker game. They need to put down their cards and play as a team”, Martin Kaiser from Greenpeace demanded in Bonn, Germany, last week.

Diplomats have met last week in Bonn, Germany, to prepare a global climate treaty in Paris this December (COP21). At the same time typhoon Koppu devastated the Philippines, killed 16 people and made 16.000 people homeless. During the negotiation session in September tropical storm Erika killed more than 20 people in the Caribbean. With only a month left before the potentially most important climate conference of all times negotiations have to catch up with the pace of climate change and the real world.

Climate talks in Bonn have been proceeding at a too slow pace because most diplomats did not want to play their cards yet. Too many negotiators understand climate talks as poker a game in which those, who show their cards first, will lose in the end.

While in a poker game, the pot stays the same, sea levels are already rising, farmlands are becoming deserts and storms are becoming stronger an destroy more and more homes. There is simply too much at stake and too little time left before Paris to continue with gambling.

“You cannot expect countries to play all their cards yet”, one negotiator of the EU who wants to stay anonymous, said in Bonn. No one expects countries to play all their cards before the Paris conference, but at least cards should have been put on the table to achieve more progress in Bonn.

So where does the current draft text for a Paris treaty stand? The good news is that diplomats managed to keep the ambitious options in the draft agreement. The bad news is the weak options also made it into the text. But, above all there are still too many different options in the draft text: The current text has more than 3.000 possible formulations just on cutting greenhouse gas emissions. To enable ministers and heads of state to make decisions in Paris, the number of parallel options has to be boiled down. And that means countries have to compromise.

One key question that came up in Bonn was how developed and developing countries should be treated differently. Many emerging and developing countries are ready for more ambitious greenhouse gas reductions, but need the money for that.

It comes down to one question: Who has to pay how much? In Bonn developing countries in the group of G77 and China and the US-led Umbrella group made contradicting proposals on climate finance – namely on which countries actually should pay. Many expected the European Union to come up with a bridging proposal, but the EU did not. Such a bridging proposal was one of the cards that should have been played in Bonn to make progress.

Many observers and countries also would have welcomed such a bridging proposal on loss and damage. In this section of text countries decide on measures dealing with irretrievable loss through climate change, for instance farmlands becoming desert.

The current options on the table for loss and damage are just “all or nothing”-options and a compromise is urgently needed. It’s the developed countries move to come up with such a compromise. But coming up with a compromise means that you need play your cards and show what issues you are willing to compromise on.

With only one month left before the climate summit in Paris the pace of climate talks has to speed up and countries have to stop gambling.World leaders and ministers have two major events left to sort out the key differences before the climate summit in Paris, the pre-COP in Paris and the G 20 summit in Turkey.

The best poker game won’t come to an end if no one plays his cards. And this is by far the most important event in international climate politics we were witnessing in the last years. This isn’t a regular poker game. The developing countries will lose first, but in the end the rules are: we’ll win and lose together. We can win the future or lose the planet.

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