G-77 and China

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International Policy

General features

The G-77 is a loose alliance of developing countries established in 1964 the context of the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and now acting throughout the UN system, with liaison offices at UNCTAD (Geneva), UNEP (Nairobi), UNESCO (Paris), FAO/IFAD (Rome) and UNIDO (Vienna). A smaller deputation (the so-called Group of 24) coordinates the group’s position on monetary and development issues at IMF and World Bank (Washington, D.C.). The group is often referred to as G-77 and China, so to reflect the particular position of the latter as an industrialised developing countries. The highest political body within the organisation is the G-77 chair, rotating every year between Africa, Asia-Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean (the chairmanship in 2017 is held by Ecuador). The chairperson often speaks for the group as a whole, thus representing the voice of the Global South as a whole.

However, the G-77 faces challenges in presenting common positions, because members often have differing interests. This is also why many countries have formed sub-groupings, in which they express their differentiated positions on climate change issues through individual statements and submissions (AGN, AILAC, ALBA, AOSIS, BASIC, OPEC and LDCs among others). It is asserted that the G-77 has become more fragmented over the last year, and these divisions are expected to further increase in the future. It is assumed that the sub-groups will hence gain even more in importance. Additionally, there is the concern that developed countries may undertake actions to undermine the cohesion of the G-77, which may have another adverse impact on the group’s maintenance.

Nevertheless, the G-77 and China is still an important part of the negotiations, especially for ensuring a smooth process and regularised procedures in the negotiations. In addition, the challenges faced by developing countries continue to underpin the relevance of the Group. Members are still in agreement with respect to the underlying principles in the cooperation among the G-77, such as the significance of development to eradicate poverty and to overcome other domestic barriers, such as inequality. Generally, the members also agree on the importance of the principles in the Convention, such as the principle of common and differentiated responsibilities and respective capacities (CBDR-RC), although there are different notions on how to operationalise this principle. As a result, despite the heterogeneity of the group, which challenges the possibility of a truly horizontal engagement, there is still a strong rhetoric in the statements of the G-77, particularly on the partnership and solidarity among its members. Further, the negotiation bloc plays a key role in coordinating developing countries with respect to the demands of the means of implementations and the provision of support by developed countries. But also in this regard, it has to be considered that there is competition around the distribution of funds, which tends to weaken the G-77. Nonetheless, the ability to present a collective voice from the South has a strong impact on the negotiations due to the numerical strength of the G-77. In addition, many smaller countries value the G-77 in terms of resources and capacity support. Therefore, the future of the G-77 will be determined by the weight and strategic value its members ascribe to the alliance.

 

Members

From the original seventy-seven members, the group has expanded to comprise 134 countries representing the positions of the geo-political south. The full list of current members is available here (external link)

Negotiating position

The group calls developed countries to take the lead in fighting climate change and its adverse effects. Consistently, they urge to enhance pre-2020 ambition and to provide for the entry into force of the Doha amendment to the Kyoto Protocol. The G-77 and China exhort Protocol parties to raise their quantified emission reduction pledges as well as non-Kyoto Annex I parties to increase their ambition in a comparable way.

Special emphasis is placed on the principles of CBDR-RC, equity, financial and technical support for developing countries, as already emphasised above. As a result, at COP21, the G-77 and China highlighted that these principles should be the basis of the new agreement, which should strengthen the implementation of the Convention. Along this line, the G-77 has warned against the re-classification of countries or differentiation among developing countries within the negotiation process.

Being socio-economic development and poverty eradication the most pressing priorities for the G-77 members, the extent to which they will be able to fulfil their commitments under the UNFCCC is deemed conditional to developed countries’ financial support. In particular, the latter should be new, additional, adequate and predictable. Priority should be given also to capacity development activities to boost developing countries’ ability to effectively cope with climate change and plan for sustainable development. Consequently, the G-77 and China also called for the upward revision of a quantified provision target by developed countries every five years at COP21, based on the USD 100 billion goal yearly from 2020.

At COP21, the G-77 and China only advocated to limit global average temperature rise to a “safe level”, as expressed by the then Ambassador Nozipho Mxakato-Diseko. This exemplifies the differing interests between G-77 members highly vulnerable to climate change and G-77 states with strong interests to keep their business model based on fossil fuels.

After COP21, the G-77 advocated for balanced and coherent progress with a clear sense of direction. In line with the core themes of the bloc, the group called the work on the “Paris rulebook” to be guided by the principles and provisions of the Convention and demanded that the mobilisation and provision of support should remain high on the agenda due to the insufficient support levels at present. The following points were made on the different items of the negotiations:

  • The mitigation guidance should fit into the landscape of the different NDC types and respect the nationally-determined nature of contributions.
  • Non-market approaches should be treated equally to the market mechanisms under the cooperative approaches.
  • The adaptation communications should not represent an additional burden for developing countries but reflect the country-driven nature of adaptation. This way, they shall enhance the understanding of progress on climate adaptation.
  • The technology framework should consider particularly linkages between the Technology Mechanism and the different bodies under the Financial Mechanism in order to provide for technology development and transfer to developing countries.
  • The facilitative and comprehensive nature of the global stocktake was underlined. The significance of the facilitative dialogue in 2018 is emphasised as well.
  • Also the facilitative nature of the compliance mechanism was highlighted. The compliance committee should be able to initiate its work following its own assessments, based on the request of Parties themselves or based on a Party-to-Party trigger.

 

Useful resources

Website of the G-77 and China.

Submissions and statements of the G-77 and China in the multilateral climate negotiations are accessible on the Submission Portal of the UNFCCC.

Party Groupings on the website of the UNFCCC.

Constantini, V., Sforna, G. and Zoli, M. (2016): ‘Interpreting bargaining strategies of developing countries in climate negotiations. A quantitative approach’, Ecological Economics, Volume 121, pp. 128-139.

Masters, L. (2014): ‘The G77and China in the climate change negotiations: a leaky umbrella?‘, Institute for Global Dialogue, Issue 111.

Herold, A. et al. (2014): ‘The development of climate negotiations in view of Lima’, EP Policy Department, Brussels.

Roberts, J. (2011): ‘Multipolarity and the new world (dis)order: US hegemonic decline and the fragmentation of the global climate regime’, Global Environmental Change, Volume 21, Issue 3, pp. 776-784.