18Smith School of Enterprise and the EnvironmentSmith
EnvironmentSmith School of Enterprise and the Environment19Chapter 4: Learning from the Negotiation ProcessChapter 4Learning from the Negotiation ProcessNegotiations ForumThe failure of the Copenhagen negotiations to reach agreement threw doubt on the ability of the UNFCCC process to produce viable results; but the ability of COP16 in Cancun to salvage an Agreement has restored hopes. However, suggestions that new forums for climate change debate are necessary need to be seriously considered. The G20, G8 and Major Economies Forum (MEF) are possible forums for climate change progress. These smaller meetings do have potential. The G8+5 grouping played a very important role in raising the profile of climate change with key heads of state and with the public. The G20 countries make up around 75 per cent of global emissions; any deal made in this forum will clearly be of enormous significance to potential reductions. Furthermore, nations have a tendency to follow trends, and the agreement of such a large section of the global community is likely therefore to lead to other nations following suit. There is debate about whether agreements made within smaller groups of countries such as the G20 undermine the multilateral regime . The UNFCCC COP is the only forum in which the very poor developing nations can be heard and as such the poorer developing nations see the UN as the only venue open to them to express their views. Such input from least developed countries has already stimulated progress in some areas in the climate negotiations; these nations have been instrumental in ensuring that adaptation is properly considered. As such for both substantive and legitimacy reasons the process by which agreements are reached is very important. Ghosh  argues that if decisions are made outside the UNFCCC process there are likely to be consequences for the coherence of the regime.The main block to a global legally-binding agreement through the UN is that neither the US nor China are currently willing to accept binding targets that have been internationally defined. Given that the G20 or the MEF cannot produce legally binding agreements, progress could be made with these nations in other aspects of climate change policy. It must be accepted that negotiations in smaller groups could lead to much more substantive outcomes in reaching the most pressing goal - immediate GHG emissions reductions - if the groups don't include obstructionist countries such as OPEC (Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) and the ALBA (Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas) groupings. While the equal voting system and the need for consensus make the COP an excellent forum for many countries, particularly developing countries, where their voices are heard and for promoting equality, the need for consensus also makes it a problematic forum for dealing with difficult, complex problems like burden-sharing. The pursuit of consensus can, in practise, lead to stagnation . Smaller groups are very useful in getting details of an agreement in place. This is not to argue that the UNFCCC has no role to play in the climate negotiations. It is likely, however, that over the coming years it will be used to verify and legitimise actions and decisions taken in these other forums, and to act as a sounding board for all nations.