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First, developing countries attempted to speak with a common voice in order to express the concerns and priorities of the ‘South’. The so-called Group of 77 and China (G-77&China) officially presented the common position of the developing countries by emphasising they are more vulnerable to the adverse effects of possible climate change than developed countries.[1] For instance, small and low-lying island states and coastal areas in developing countries with a high population density would need assistance in order to adapt themselves to a projected rise of the sea level due to global warming. Such assistance would, in their view, have to take place in the form of transfers of technologies for mitigation and adaptation and financial resources.

At the same time, developing countries were concerned about adopting absolute emission reduction or limitation targets, as this could hamper their socio-economic developments. They argued that they needed sufficient scope for an increase in their standards of living and thus should not be subjected to emission cuts that could produce public backlash and political impasse (PANOS 2000).

In addition, the G-77&China argued that industrialised countries, through their large-scale combustion of fossil fuels in the past, had been mainly responsible for the build-up of anthropogenic greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. In the negotiations, G-77&China claimed that industrialised countries would, given this responsibility, have to take the lead in reducing greenhouse gas emissions through adoption of quantitative emission reduction or limitation targets to be achieved within a particular timeframe. Throughout INC negotiations, this position formed the basis for the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities (see above).

In the course of the negotiations, however, the group of developing countries slowly but surely became fragmented, which reflected the wide spectrum of countries with diverse levels of development and different priorities as far as the global warming issue is concerned (Depledge 2004). The oil producing and exporting countries (OPEC), for example, became increasingly reluctant to accept a climate convention with (strong) emission reduction targets for industrialised countries as this could affect OPEC oil exports. The small islands states, many of them directly vulnerable to sea level rise, started to present their own position papers under the heading of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS, later called small island development states, SIDS) and were in favour of emission reduction targets for industrialised countries. The targets proposed by AOSIS were often stricter than those proposed by the G-77&China.

  • [1] The G-77 was formed in 1964 and consisted by that time of 77 countries; nowadays, it comprises134 members and is active throughout the UN system (UNFCCC 2014). The term G-77&Chinastems from the time that China was not a member of the G-77 but usually allied with the groupduring negotiations (Depledge 2004; UNFCCC 2014). Nowadays, China is also member.
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