It’s unwise to predict the future, particularly the future of the climate negotiations. But if you believe that their outcome is critical, and that it will bear heavily upon our common future, then you’ll hope that Equitable access to sustainable development, a long-in-the-making report by climate and climate-equity experts from India, China, Brazil and South Africa, will be taken seriously.
The EASD report was released on December 3rd in Durban, just about the time that the talks started hotting up, so it’s unlikely that most negotiators had time to read it with any care. But if Durban goes at all well, if that is it manages to save the Kyoto Protocol and to otherwise open the door to serious consideration of a next-generation climate accord, one that’s actually fair enough to support real ambition, then this report will, eventually, be recognized as a turning point.
The South’s Ministers, at least, will take it seriously. They know the problem of “equitable access to sustainable development,” and that it must be solved if there’s to be a successful global climate regime. And, at this point, it may also be reasonable to hope that, after Durban, the environmental NGOs will finally begin to face the challenge of fair-shares global burden sharing.
The governments of the North are another matter. The Europeans, certainly, do not imagine that the demands of sustainable development can be put aside, and even the United States, despite its political crisis, is in some kind of motion. Not that the Obama team will welcome this reassertion of the equity agenda. That would be too much to hope for from the “realists” that brought us the Copenhagen-era push for Pledge and Review. But at the same time, it seems clear that the orthodoxies of traditional realism no longer charm as they once did. They have become cover stories, and this no realism can survive.