Our directory of things of interest

University Directory

Nicaragua rejects UN climate plan

Nicaraguan President Ortega chose not to speak on the opening day of COP21 Nicaraguan President Ortega chose not to speak on the opening day of COP21 Arnaud Bouissou / MEDDE / SG COP21
03 Dec
2015
UN aspirations to leave COP21 in Paris with a binding agreement on decarbonising the world economy have been disrupted by Nicaragua, which is protesting against the process

Switzerland made history back in February as the very first country to submit to the UN its ‘INDCs’ – planned cuts to national carbon and equivalent emissions – ahead of the COP21 UN climate change conference in Paris, with its goal to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 50 per cent by 2030 (compared to 1990 levels). Over the course of 2015, most of the rest of the world followed suit.

With the conference now underway, Nicaragua wasted no time in throwing a spanner into the heart of the UNFCCC’s machinery, with its lead envoy, Paul Oquist, announcing that the Central American country will refuse to follow the 184 countries that have submitted INDCs, stating that ‘voluntary responsibility is a path to failure’.

‘It’s a not a matter of being troublemakers, it’s a matter of the developing countries surviving,’ argues Oquist. ‘We don’t want to be an accomplice to taking the world to 3 to 4 degrees and the death and destruction that represents. 4°C is not a survival track in the Sahel with the Sahara advancing. It’s not a survival track for India or Pakistan with the glaciers melting in the Himalayas.’

The INDCs are deliberately designed to draw in contributions from the world to better resolve the climate crisis. For those who are poor and vulnerable that is the best outcome

Oquist also claimed that Venezuela would follow in its footsteps and refuse to submit any INDCs either. Neither Nicaraguan President Ortega nor any Nicaraguan representatives spoke at the Leaders Event on the opening day of COP21.

James Cameron, chair of the Overseas Development Institute (ODI), feels that the Nicaraguan argument completely fails to grasp the entire purpose of the INDCs. ‘This totally misunderstands the process and the law,’ he argues. ‘This is no way to achieve a just, fair or effective agreement. The INDCs are deliberately designed to draw in contributions from the world to better resolve the climate crisis. For those who are poor and vulnerable that is the best outcome. Some elements will be binding like reporting, some will not but the contributions will be scrutinised by governments and civil society. They will be binding in national law when implemented in a way that fits their political and legal culture.’

This may cause procedural issues at the conclusion of the negotiations since within the UN these negotiations aim for consensus decision-making

While Nicaragua is certainly not a major emitter of greenhouse gases, its refusal to join the UN’s INDC process could cause a few headaches as negotiators attempt to pull together a final binding agreement for combating climate change.

‘It is very well possible that these countries will not sign up to the final agreement and that this may cause procedural issues at the conclusion of the negotiations since within the UN these negotiations aim for consensus decision-making,’ says Arthur Petersen, Professor of Science, Technology and Public Policy at UCL STEaPP.

‘It may also lead to a continual review of the two degrees target – to be revised downwards – though that seems unlikely now that the two degrees target itself is not within reach. The only way to convince these countries would then be to define a credible mechanism for reviewing and increasing rich country emissions reduction pledges.’

BLACK FRIDAY 2

geo line break v3

Free eBooks - Geographical Newsletter

geo line break v3

EDUCATION PARTNERS

DurhamBath Spa600x200 Greenwich Aberystwythherts

TRAVEL PARTNERS

Ponant

Silversea

Travel the Unknown

NEVER MISS A STORY - Follow Geographical on Social

Want to stay up to date with breaking Geographical stories? Join the thousands following us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and stay informed about the world.

More articles in NATURE...

Wildlife

With growing global awareness of the risks of hunting and…

Climate

Researchers have identified the extent of microplastic contamination throughout the…

Wildlife

The Thames Estuary has long been home to heavy industry,…

Wildlife

Whydahs and indigobirds, collectively known as the vidua finches, show…

Oceans

Whales sequester an enormous amount of carbon, making their protection…

Geophoto

In his ongoing photographic project, Carpathia, Nicholas J R White…

Energy

Artificial intelligence offers high potential solutions to the climate crisis,…

Wildlife

Rewilding projects across Europe are working to expand populations of…

Wildlife

Scientists are racing to prevent a deadly disease that kills…

Wildlife

Birds are a much-loved component of the natural world, serenading…

Tectonics

The unprecedented pause in human activity that took place during…

Wildlife

Since 2006, tiger habitats have shrunk by more than 40…

Climate

Advances in space-based lightning mapping have allowed scientists to measure…

Energy

The amount of energy used by the wealthy minority dwarfs…

Wildlife

Left denuded and depleted of wildlife following a decades-long civil…

Climate

Katie Burton explores the practicalities and ethics of geoengineering, the…

Energy

Though the pandemic has gripped the world's attention, lying just…

Climate

The IPCC embraced the notion of carbon offset schemes in…