"A Different Divide Pacific Island Countries and North South"
A Different Divide? Pacific Island Countries and North-South Agendas in the evolution of Global Climate Policy Edward Boydell * Global inequity, and the tension between industrialised countries (‘The North’) and less economically developed countries (‘The South’), have been defining factors in the evolution of international environmental policy, including the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and its Kyoto Protocol. However, the division of interests into North and South alone does not account for the diversity of interests within the groups. In this essay, I will examine how the interests of one group in the ‘South’, the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in the Pacific Region, have shaped international climate change policy. In the context of North‐South interactions, this group has a number of characteristics that differentiate them from other states. Their leadership and co‐operation with other Southern groups in the period leading up to 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro was vital in agenda setting, and also established a framework for further development of international policy. Before the Climate Debate: Context of a World Divided Perspectives on Global Inequity from the South Global inequity in wealth, political power and technology has created a major challenge for global environmental co‐operation. Historic interactions between South and North have had a lasting impact on the society and economy of nations, to greater benefit of the North than the South. Exemplified by colonial history, the North exploited the South to their benefit, with little concern shown for environmental protection or * Edward Boydell is in his third year of a Bachelor of Philosophy (Science) degree at the Australian National University. He is a current resident of Bruce Hall. 2 Cross sections | Volume IV 2008 human development. 1 According to Parks and Roberts, colonialism left the South predisposed to “higher levels of social, economic, environmental and institutional vulnerability”. 2 Even after independence, the ’neo‐colonialism’ of world trade and economic structures means that a net flow of resources from South to North continues. 3 In the South, pressing human development challenges, including the provision of adequate food, water, shelter and education, confront many states. 4 Whether or not they have ameliorated extreme poverty, continued economic growth is of critical concern to Southern nations, who view this growth as a sovereign ’right‘. 5 Equity issues associated with this right to development are the crux of many international environmental negotiations. Most of the world’s global environmental problems are caused by “unsustainable production and consumption in the North, and the adoption of inappropriate, similarly unsustainable development paths in the South”. 6 To many Southern countries, environmental problems are a Northern responsibility, because the industrial activities of the North were the historic cause, and the North initially brought the problems (including, to an extent, climate change) to the international policy arena. 7 From the 1972 UN Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm onward, many developing states have expressed concern that the environment was being used to divert attention away from their development needs. 8 Poverty is a major driver of environmental 1 K. K. Moyo‐Mhlanga, ʹCreating a Sustainable Development Strategy for the Southʹ in Darren Gladman, David Mowbray and John Dugman (eds), From Rio to Rai: Environment and Development in Papua New Guinea up to 2000 and beyond (1996) 228. 2 B. Parks and J. T. Roberts, ʹGlobalization, Vulnerability to Climate Change and Perceived Injusticeʹ (2006) 19(4) Society and Natural Resources 337, 342. 3 T. Athanasiou, Divided Planet: the Ecology of Rich and Poor (1996) 11. 4 M. Taylor, ʹPaying for the Implementation of Agenda 21ʹ in Darren Gladman, David Mowbray and John Dugman (eds), From Rio to Rai: Environment and Development in Papua New Guinea up to 2000 and Beyond (vol 6, 1996) 209, 210. 5 Parks and Roberts, above n 2, 338. 6 C. Thomas, The Environment in International Relations (1992) 6. 7 M. Paterson and M. Grubb, ʹThe International Politics of Climate Changeʹ (1992) 68(2) International Affairs 293, 297. 8 L. Engfeldt, ʹThe Road from Stockholm to Johannesburgʹ (2002) 39(3) United Nations Chronicle 14, 16. A Different Divide? | Edward Boydell 3 degradation in the South, yet processes of environmental degradation have been used to frame the Southern Countries as “environmental villains”. 9 Furthermore, poverty reduces resilience to local environmental degradation as well as global problems, such as human‐ induced climate change. 10 The disparities between North and South, and the interaction of poverty and environmental degradation mean that principles of equity and justice are inseparable from environmental debate. Development also proves inseparable from environment when considering international policy regimes, and this relationship manifests in the concept of sustainable development. In order for Sustainable Development to occur, the South continue to assert that co‐operation of the North is necessary. Part of their expectation includes the need for common but differentiated responsibilities. In the context of climate change, this means that North must lead in climate change mitigation, and bear the bulk of the costs for adaptation, due to their historic contribution to global warming and greater ability to pay. 11 However, some Northern countries, the United States in particular, argue that differentiated responsibilities are an unfair burden on their economies. The conflict has resulted in stalemate in many policy negotiations, particularly pronounced in the way that it has shaped the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. Small Island Developing Countries – furthest down South? While the previous outline of the South’s concern focuses on some of the group’s shared characteristics, it does not account for the heterogeneity of the group, and the way this diversity shapes international policy. Defining the diverse and geographically disconnected South is problematic, and the existence of a common 9 Taylor, above n 4, 210. 10 J. T. Roberts, ʹGlobal Inequality and Climate Changeʹ (2001) 14(6) Society and Natural Resources 501, 601. 11 H. Shue, ʹGlobal Environment and International Inequalityʹ (1999) 75(3) International Affairs 531, 533‐537. 4 Cross sections | Volume IV 2008 southern identity has been questioned. 12 While the southern countries often develop a common position through the Group of 77 caucus organisation, negotiations leading up to and during UNCED in 1992 were marked by deep intra‐South divisions in positions on climate change, which will be discussed subsequently. 13 This suggests that a greater degree of common identity and shared concern is required for South‐South co‐operation, and the formation of a common policy position. In global climate policy, the Pacific Island Countries (PICs) forged a common identity and position, and have benefitted from South‐South co‐operation, and intra‐group through intra group collaboration with other SIDS. The PICs are a geographically contiguous group of twenty‐two countries and territories. They cover a region of 30 million square kilometres of ocean, but share only 550 thousand square kilometres of land. 14 . The countries (some remain foreign territories and dependencies) are characteristically Southern, sharing a history of colonisation (Tonga the only exception) and relatively low levels of economic development: six are among the fifty Least Developed Countries (LDCs) in the United Nations. 15 As in other former colonies, the region is marked by political, environmental and economic vulnerability. 16 The majority of the countries have small export bases and are separated from trading partners by considerable areas of ocean. Their economies are dependent on overseas direct assistance, largely from Australia, New Zealand and China. 17 A great diversity exists in size and resource availability, from the low‐lying and resource poor 12 L. Campling, ʹA Critical Political Economy of the Small Island Developing States Concept: South South Cooperation for Island Citizens?ʹ (2006) 22 Journal of Developing Societies 235, 248. 13 A. Djoghlaf, ʹThe Beginnings of International Climate Lawʹ in Mintzer and Leonard (eds), Negotiating Climate Change: The inside story of the Rio Convention (1994) 97. 14 J. Carew‐Reid, Environment, Aid and Regionalism in the South Pacific (1989) 12. 15 UN‐OHRLLS, LDCs List (2007) <http://www.un.org/special‐rep/ohrlls/ldc/list.htm> at 19 June 2007. 16 Campling, above n 12, 256. See also S. Siwatibau, ʹSome Aspects of Development in the South Pacific: An Insiderʹs Viewʹ in P. Bauer, S. Siwatibau and W. Kasper (eds), Aid and Development in the South Pacific (1991). 17 R. Alley, ʹThe South Pacificʹs environmental policy tensionsʹ (1999) 19(2) Public Administration and Development 137, 139. A Different Divide? | Edward Boydell 5 atolls, to the large tectonic landforms of Papua New Guinea and Fiji. However, PICs are unified in their vulnerability to climatic hazards, as most are within the cyclone belt and all are affected by short‐term climatic variability due to the El Nino Southern Oscillation. 18 While Pacific and other SIDS share characteristics with continental nations of the South, inherent challenges create a clear differentiation and define them as a distinct interest group. The group has a history of relative unity in regional co‐operation on environmental issues. The need to co‐operate on shared environmental problems was first identified by the South Pacific Commission (SPC), which led to the establishment of the South Pacific Regional Environment Program (SPREP) in 1980. SPREP was, and still is, instrumental to developing regional environmental policy and engaging with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). 19 Co‐ operation on environmental issues was greatest when linked with major threats to security and health. This was demonstrated by regional anti‐ nuclear action against the “external” influence of French and the United States of America. Vanuatu set its place as a policy entrepreneur in the region, with stringent antinuclear policy. 20 Following Vanuatu’s lead, the PICs lobbied for and established the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone in 1985. This involved lobbying regional ‘middle states’, Australia and New Zealand. 21 There was also significant grassroots activity by the Nuclear Free and Independent Pacific movement. This movement set the stage for citizens’ concerns to be communicated to the government, and established important links between PICs and Northern NGOs such as Greenpeace. 22 The PICs established themselves as a cohesive unit with a common environmental agenda and defined leadership, poised 18 J. Overton and R. Thaman, ʹResources and the Environmentʹ in J. Overton and R. Scheyvens (eds), Strategies for Sustainable Development: Experiences from the Pacific (1999) 27. 19 Alley, above n 17, 140‐141. 20 E. Y. Shibuya, ʹʺRoaring Mice Against the Tideʺ: The South Pacific Islands and Agenda‐ Building on Global Warmingʹ (1996) 69(4) Pacific Affairs 541, 547. 21 E. Y. Shibuya, ʺMice Can Roarʺ: Small Island States in International Environmental Policy (PhD Thesis, Colorado State University, 1999) 193. 22 M. Hamel‐Green, ʹNetworking Against Nuclear Colonialism: The Nuclear Free and Independent Pacific Movement, 1975‐95ʹ in H. Wallace (ed), Developing Alternatives: Community Development Strategies and Environmental Issues in the Pacific (1996) 149. 6 Cross sections | Volume IV 2008 to take their agenda to a global audience to protect themselves from the threat of climate change. Climate Change – A call to Order Setting the Agenda As with the regional struggle against nuclear activity, the external threat mobilised the Island States into the international environmental policy arena. Whilst PICs were parties to regional conventions, few participated in policies of a global nature – as these were often inaccessible or of low relative concern to them. 23 Climate change, however, is a clear and tangible threat. Earliest concerns were associated with sea level rise. Many Pacific atoll states, including Tuvalu and Kiribati, are only 1‐2 metres above existing high tide. Early high range estimates and media speculation suggested that Tuvalu and Kiribati may become uninhabitable. 24 By the mid 1990s, small rises in sea level had inundated Tuvalu’s scarce groundwater supply adversely affecting their subsistence agriculture. 25 Other effects of global warming included coral bleaching with the associated loss of marine biodiversity as well as an increase in the frequency and intensity of cyclones. 26 Coral bleaching puts strain on already narrow resource bases. Reef ecosystems form the basis of much of the subsistence and commercial fisheries. 27 The adaptations required for PICs to weather development challenges that climate change creates places a disproportionately large burden upon them. At worst, climate change jeopardises the continued existence of the most vulnerable. PICs, along with other SIDS recognised actions to reduce emissions would require international co‐operation, and most adaptation 23 Osmunden, 1992 cited in R. Taplin, ʹInternational policy on the greenhouse effect and the Island South Pacific ʹ (1994) 7(3) The Pacific Review 271. 24 J. Connell, ʹLosing ground? Tuvalu, the greenhouse effect and the garbage canʹ (2003) 44(2) Asia Pacific Viewpoint 89, 96‐97. 25 M. Paterson, Global warming and global politics (1996) 85. 26 Taplin, above n 23. 27 W. J. Davis, ʹAlliance of Small Island States (AOSIS): The international conscienceʹ (1996) 1(3) Asia‐Pacific Magazine 17. A Different Divide? | Edward Boydell 7 strategies would require financial and technical support from the North. It was thus imperative for SIDS to successfully steer the way that global warming appeared on the international agenda. 28 In 1988 the island nation of Malta submitted a draft proposal for climate change to be on the Agenda of the UN General Assembly. It has been suggested that Malta’s argument for a co‐ordinated global response was the critical first step in initiating the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). 29 SPREP countries were catalysed into action in 1989 by an Intergovernmental Meeting on Climate Change. The countries created a united stance on climate change by signing the Marujo declaration. This declaration included the concept of Common but Differentiated Responsibility, stating: “these problems have been caused by industrial nations outside the south pacific… it is up to the large developed countries of the world to respond to the clear challenge”. 30 The principles of the declaration, and the connections it formed, guided the SPCs as they entered the international arena. Strength in Numbers The voice of the SPCs was strengthened greatly by the extra‐regional coalitions with other SIDS: the Alliance of Small Island States (AOIS). Twenty four SIDS, from the Caribbean, Indian and Pacific Oceans, formed the AOIS at the Second World Climate Conference in 1990. 31 Economically, thus politically, powerless as individuals, pooling their sovereignty gave them power and voice in agenda setting for the UNFCCC and beyond. Today, the 43 members of AOSIS are a powerful negotiating bloc, making up almost a quarter of the United Nations. 32 Van Lierop, Vanuatu’s permeant representative to the UN, was elected as the first president of AOSIS. He became a policy entrepreneur in UNFCCC negotiation and was elected to co‐chair Intergovernmental 28 Shibuya, above n 20, 550. 29 Taplin, above n 23. 30 SPREP, ʹReport of the SPC/UNEP/ASPEI Intergovernmental Meetingʹ (1989). 31 Taplin, above n 23. 32 Davis, above n 27. 8 Cross sections | Volume IV 2008 Negotiating Committee (INC) working groups, indicative of the increasing acknowledgement of the special circumstances of SIDS. 33 To some extent, the plight and stance of the AOSIS states epitomised the inequity facing the South. AOSIS was coined ‘The World’s Conscience’, 34 collectively the source of only 0.06% of the world’s greenhouse emissions but having among the least resilience against the effects. 35 This legitimised AOSIS agenda for the principles section in the UNFCCC; including polluter pays and the precautionary principle. The polluter pays principle was embodied in the draft proposal submitted by Van Lierop at the fifth INC, calling for the establishment of an insurance mechanism to compensate SIDS for loss and damage caused by climate change. Contributions were to be based on greenhouse emissions and ability to pay. Unsurprisingly the suggestion was met by an unenthusiastic response from the North. 36 Their argument for the precautionary principle proved to be more powerful. As stated by the Marshall Islands, “We don’t have time to wait for conclusive proof. The proof, we fear, may kill us”. 37 The precautionary principle now forms Article 3.3 of the UNFCCC. Despite this, the AOSIS agenda fell among many conflicting calls from the South for the convention to account for inequity. South-South Tension: AOSIS and G77+China Although 140 nations of the South often negotiate together as G77 + China, conflict during the development of the UNFCCC highlights the heterogeneity of positions within the South. The majority of the G77 were opposed to the key AOSIS priority of immediate global reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. Many (including China and India) saw this as an attempt by the North to hold back Southern development by limiting the energy use of the South. 38 A fault line exists between 33 Taplin, above n 23. 34 Davis, above n 27. 35 C. Star, ʹClimate justice campaigns and environmental refugeesʹ in R Taplin and K Hebert (eds), Environmental Governance: Transforming Regions and Localities (2004). 36 Taplin, above n 23. 37 Shibuya, above n 20, 548. 38 Paterson and Grubb, above n 7, 297. A Different Divide? | Edward Boydell 9 nations: those with resilience to climate change and those without. Unlike SIDS with low resilience, many high resilience states simply took part in negotiations to “play ball” 39 looking for economic benefit from North‐South financial transfers under the principle of Common but Differentiated Responsibility. 40 In many negotiations, Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Counties (OPEC) states were at loggerheads with AOSIS, taking a sceptical view of climate science and the precautionary principle. States belonging to OPEC blocked all AOSIS proposals which led to a walk‐out of AOSIS members from G77 + China negotiations. 41 Here the critical solidarity of AOSIS was apparent. Without the distinct identity of AOSIS, homogenous representation of the South would have greatly diminished the PICs capacity to set policy agendas, as their lack of individual power would have meant that their interests would have been poorly represented. Consequences and Future Direction PICs, through AOSIS, aimed high in UNFCCC negotiation with early calls for sharp greenhouse cuts and assistance for SIDS from Northern parties. The outcomes of the process reflected in Article 3.3 and 4.8 of the UNFCCC, were small. However, these outcomes provided a platform for SIDS to ask for more in the international arena. 42 At UNCED in Rio, there was major acknowledgement and acceptance of the vulnerability of SIDS. This was demonstrated at many levels; from the tokenistic (Tuvalu and Nauru invited to be the first to sign the UNFCCC and the Convention on Biological Diversity), through to the substantial (the Agenda 21 mandate to establish a United Nations Global Conference on the Sustainable Development of SIDS). 43 . While SIDS’ role in the UNFCCC ultimately contributed to the development of the Kyoto Protocol at the 1997 Conference of the Parties (COP 3), the binding commitments to emissions targets that AOSIS sought are far from being completely realised. However, the SIDS actions have 39 Roberts, n 10, 506. 40 Paterson, above n 25, 83. 41 Davis, above n 27. 42 Shibuya, above n 20, 554. 43 Taplin, above n 23. 10 Cross sections | Volume IV 2008 assured that their vulnerability will receive continued consideration in environment and development policy. Conclusion Inequity has shaped many international environmental agreements, including the UN Framework Convention for Climate Change. However, inequity comes in many forms; expressing the complex interplay between environmental problems and development, both historical and present. The environmental, social and economic vulnerability of Pacific Island Countries mean that they face some of the greatest inequity in the consequences of human‐induced climate change. However, this inequity has catalysed environmental coalition building and solidarity of actions among PICs and other SIDS. The actions of AOSIS during UNFCCC development highlighted their common vulnerability to the world. Events in the UNFCCC demonstrate that the collective lobbying of the South is often ineffective in representing specific agendas. By differentiating themselves from the general interests of the South, AOSIS has been has been much more effective in developing a policy agenda. A Different Divide? | Edward Boydell 11 References Alley, R., ʹThe South Pacificʹs environmental policy tensionsʹ (1999) 19(2) Public Administration and Development 137 Athanasiou, T., Divided planet : the ecology of rich and poor (1996) Campling, L., ʹA Critical Political Economy of the Small Island Developing States Concept: South South Cooperation for Island Citizens?ʹ (2006) 22 Journal of Developing Societies 235 Carew‐Reid, J., Environment, Aid and Regionalism in the South Pacific (1989) Connell, J., ʹLosing ground? Tuvalu, the greenhouse effect and the garbage canʹ (2003) 44(2) Asia Pacific Viewpoint 89 Davis, W. J., ʹAlliance of Small Island States (AOSIS): The international conscienceʹ (1996) 1(3) Asia‐Pacific Magazine 17 Djoghlaf, A., ʹThe Beginnings of International Climate Lawʹ in Mintzer and Leonard (eds), Negotiating Climate Change: The inside story of the Rio Convention (1994) 97 Engfeldt, L., ʹThe Road from Stockholm to Johannesburgʹ (2002) 39(3) United Nations Chronicle 14 Hamel‐Green, M., ʹNetworking Against Nuclear Colonialism: The Nuclear Free and Independent Pacific Movement, 1975‐95ʹ in H. Wallace (ed), Developing Alternatives: Community Development Strategies and Environmental Issues in the Pacific (1996) Moyo‐Mhlanga, K. K., ʹCreating a Sustainable Development Strategy for the Southʹ in Darren Gladman, David Mowbray and John Dugman (eds), From Rio to Rai: Environment and Development in Papua New Guinea up to 2000 and beyond (1996) Overton, J. and Thaman, R., ʹResources and the Environmentʹ in J. Overton and R. Scheyvens (eds), Strategies for Sustainable Development: Experiences from the Pacific (1999) Parks, B. and Roberts, J. T., ʹGlobalization, Vulnerability to Climate Change and Perceived Injusticeʹ (2006) 19(4) Society and Natural Resources 337 Paterson, M., Global warming and global politics (1996) Paterson, M. and Grubb, M., ʹThe International Politics of Climate Changeʹ (1992) 68(2) International Affairs 293 12 Cross sections | Volume IV 2008 Roberts, J. T., ʹGlobal Inequality and Climate Changeʹ (2001) 14(6) Society and Natural Resources 501 Shibuya, E. Y., ʺMice Can Roarʺ: Small Island States in International Environmental Policy (PhD Thesis, Colorado State University, 1999) Shibuya, E. Y., ʹʺRoaring Mice Against the Tideʺ: The South Pacific Islands and Agenda‐Building on Global Warmingʹ (1996) 69(4) Pacific Affairs 541 Shue, H., ʹGlobal Environment and International Inequalityʹ (1999) 75(3) International Affairs 531 Siwatibau, S., ʹSome Aspects of Development in the South Pacific: An Insiderʹs Viewʹ in P. Bauer, S. Siwatibau and W. Kasper (eds), Aid and Development in the South Pacific (1991) SPREP, ʹReport of the SPC/UNEP/ASPEI Intergovernmental Meetingʹ (1989) Star, C., ʹClimate justice campaigns and environmental refugeesʹ in R Taplin and K Hebert (eds), Environmental Governance: Transforming Regions and Localities (2004) Taplin, R., ʹInternational policy on the greenhouse effect and the Island South Pacific ʹ (1994) 7(3) The Pacific Review 271 Taylor, M., ʹPaying for the Implementation of Agenda 21ʹ in Darren Gladman, David Mowbray and John Dugman (eds), From Rio to Rai: Environment and Development in Papua New Guinea up to 2000 and Beyond (1996) vol 6, 209 Thomas, C., The environment in international relations (1992) UN‐OHRLLS, LDCs List (2007) <http://www.un.org/special-rep/ohrlls/ldc/list.htm> at 19 June 2007