Items tagged ‘UNFCCC’
What does the balance sheet from the climate change negotiations look like?
Expectations were low going in to Cancun. Throughout the two weeks we heard several refrains reflecting that the problems in Copenhagen the year before were not to be repeated: “There are no secret texts.” “There are no closed meetings.” And there were not. “A balanced package in Cancun means that everyone gets something but no one gets everything.” There must be compromise. And there was.
What were the key issues going in to Cancun?
There was a long wish list: mitigation, adaptation, financing for developing countries, technology transfer to ensure mitigation and adaptation, reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries, including conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon sinks (REDD+), and monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) and international consultation and analysis (ICA).
Under the climate change convention, there is on balance a positive outcome. A multilateral agreement was achieved. This is a huge advance over the divisiveness of the previous year and a foundation on which future negotiations can move forward.
- Mitigation: a process for “anchoring” mitigation pledges by developed and developing countries; the establishment of a registry of Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions by developing countries with procedures for verification.
- Financing: Creation of a climate fund which provides for fast-start and long-term financing.
- Forests: REDD+ was agreed on although not finance for long-term finance.
- Technology: establishment of a Technology Executive Committee and a Climate Technology Centre and Network.
- Adaptation: adoption of a Cancun Adaptation Framework aimed at enhancing actions on adaptation, including through international cooperation.
Unfortunately, not as much was achieved under the Kyoto Protocol negotiations. There is still no agreement on moving forward for the second commitment period. There is only a commitment to complete the work in time to ensure there is no gap between the first and second commitment periods. (2012 is the year when the first commitments expire.)
Clearly the work is in midstream and leaves much to be done at next year’s climate change negotiations scheduled for Durban, South Africa, from28 November-9 December 2011.
Jessica Chen, program director, and Catherine traveled to Cancun, Mexico on 27 November, 2010, to take part in the first week of the 16th session of the UN Conference on Climate Change. While there, they will be lobbying governments to make stronger commitments to overcome the effects of human-caused climate change using two recently commissioned cartoon postcards emphasizing the effect of climate change on water (1, 2). We hope to provide you with two or three short updates on the website for the two weeks of the session.
Jessica Chen, Program Coordinator, and Catherine Ferguson will attend the first week of the 16th Session of the UN Climate Change Negotiations to be held in Cancun, Mexico from 29 November–11 December 2010. UNANIMA, along with the Blue Planet Project, will collaborate in a side-event with the Third World Network and the South Centre. Get more information.
It’s been a week since the third session of the UNFCCC Bonn Climate Change Talks concluded. As delegates take their vacations and prepare for the next session of negotiations in Tianjin, China, they leave much for civil society to reflect and act upon with only two months before COP 16. This time, the talks took a large step in the right direction in that both working groups, ended the week with draft negotiating texts. Ironically, the feelings of optimism and uncertainty that had foreshadowed the work of the AWG-LCA and AWG-KP respectively flip-flopped in the closing plenaries.
The 11th meeting of the AWG-LCA began with a much-improved second iteration of the draft negotiating text from the previous session, but after working in heated drafting groups all week, several delegates emerged disappointed or frustrated at the text’s ballooning size. Whereas some developing countries were enthused by the inclusion of e text from the Cochabamba’s People’s Agreement, others were concerned with the pace of the negotiations and felt that the explosion of bracketed text would hinder, rather than help the efforts to achieve a global climate agreement. The 13th meeting of the AWG-KP got off to a rough start with anxiety over the “numbers” debate and whether a negotiating text could be produced by Friday. Thankfully, a “numbers” workshop that began on the first day of the session brought clarity and resonance to the science that has decried the state of current pledges in relation to capping temperature increase. As the the AWG-KP Chair swiftly brought the closing plenary to an end, delegates were hopeful that the level of ambition could be increased in line-by-line negotiations in Tianjin.
An understandable and significant amount of attention has been brought to the continuation of the KP past COP 16 into a second CP. The Umbrella Group and the EU (though somewhat more flexibly) have made signals of their preference of a single, legally-binding agreement under both working groups, one that could possibly reduce the KP to a mere amendment. Several countries, including Australia and Japan, have gestured toward the Copenhagen Accord positively. These circumstances have sent shivers down the spine of the NGO community as we brace for a possible second COP failure in Cancun.
Still, we have until November to remind our governments that we’re concerned and watching. In this short period of time, we would encourage members of UNANIMA to not only pray for clear and deliberate decision-making at COP 16, but also to contact their governments and push for a higher level of ambition on the climate agenda. This would include asking for your country to increase its current pledge for emission reductions if it is party to the KP; it would also mean encouraging the calculation of QUELROs without including LULUCFs or carryover AAUs, which can mask the actual amount of carbon emissions being produced. If your country is not party to the LCA, we urge you to petition your governments for climate legislation that is legally binding and accountable at COP 16. All countries need to be on the same page if our climates are to be preserved and protected, including those that are most vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change.
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this and past opportunities I’ve had to represent UNANIMA at the UNFCCC Climate Change Negotiations. If you have any questions or comments, please do not hesitate to email them to me. Thanks for reading — until Cancun!
Your reporter in Bonn,
Jessica Chen, Program Coordinator
As the closing plenaries take place today, I will post a brief summary of the discussions that occur. A fuller report of this session as a whole will be provided next week.
The AWG-KP 13 closing plenary was efficient and harmonious. Interventions were made by civil society, notably by the YOUNGOs, who professed love for the Kyoto Protocol and ask that further commitments be made in a proposed “marriage” so that “the ceremony may be held in Cancun.” Her humor reflected the shared sense among countries that good progress had been made at this session, especially the adoption of a draft negotiating text with no objections. Grenada, on behalf of AOSIS, noted that the “numbers” workshop had been extremely helpful, and had brought convergence to many scientific perspectives that had reached similar conclusions on emission reductions and analysis of current pledges. However, still much work remains to be done. Belize, on behalf of SICA, reminded us of the special mandate for this group, and alerted us to do the possibility of a gap between CP 1 and CP 2 if adequate progress is not made in the five-day session left before COP 16. The EU also reiterated its preference for a single agreement is adopted under both working groups so that major emitters not Party to the Kyoto Protocol will take on their fair share of responsibility. However, he stressed that they are flexible and supportive of a CP 2 of the KP, and look forward to an increased level of ambition to match the findings of science.
After a week spent in drafting groups, the AWG-LCA closing plenary was not nearly as optimistic. Bangladesh noted that this week’s session had reopened previously resolved issues. The EU stated that a balance was not being struck between the AWG-KP and AWG-LCA, which does not bode well for negotiations in Cancun. Multiple countries expressed frustration that the text had ballooned in size to include multiple proposals and counter-proposals. On the other hand, Bolivia was pleased that the new draft included much of the language from Cochabamba.
Your reporter in Bonn,
Jessica Chen, Program Coordinator
Since yesterday, the AWG-LCA has been meeting in separate spin-off groups to address four aspects of the new draft negotiating text: shared vision; mitigation; adaptation; and finance, technology, and capacity building. Below, I’ll define the focus of each group, as well as identify some key concerns that lie within them.
As the name implies, shared vision sets forth the AWG-LCA’s shared vision on long-term cooperative action. It provides the common basic understanding upon which the specificities of mitigation, adaptation, and finance, technology, and capacity building can be addressed. Intheir analysis of the new draft, the Third World Network noted that there are significant gains and losses for developing countries. I won’t reiterate all of the wording changes here, but I will underscore that in regard to natural resources, especially atmospheric space, the struggle continues to have “equitable share” articulated in the text, as opposed to “equitable access.” This fight runs parallel to the one we just won in the General Assembly on the Human Right to Water and Sanitation. Seeing the world as a commons to be shared equitably among all living things first and foremost differs from a world in which access depends on wealth, privilege, and other factors that are not at all common. In the drafting group today, developing countries asked that the shared vision address all implementation gaps, including text on human rights, particularly the rights of indigenous peoples, women, and children. Other issues that were covered include emissions cuts and global temperatures, as well as the peaking of national and global emissions. Scientists generally agree that an early peaking of emissions, preferably by 2020, is necessary for a 50% chance of limiting global temperature rise below 2°C. Developing countries are obviously in favor of a more ambitious cap of 1.5°C, but will also take longer than developed countries to peak their emissions. The new draft recognizes this difference and affirms that social and economic development and poverty eradication are the first and overriding priorities of developing countries.
Mitigation and Adaptation
Mitigation involves reductions in the concentrations of GHGs either by reducing their sources or by enhancing their removal from the atmosphere. Mitigation is different from adaptation, in that adaptation consists of actions to reduce the vulnerability of natural and human systems to the harmful effects of climate change. Mitigation hosts discussions similar to those in the KP on baseline and target years, aggregate reduction ranges, and reduction “commitments.” In June, there was considerable alarm over whether the text was attempting to “kill the Kyoto Protocol” by “merging the negotiations into a single-track.” The new draft, however, is more reassuring in its reference to a CP 2 of the KP and in its alignment of Annex I Parties’ targets with those expressed in the AWG-KP. The drafting group on mitigation continued to discuss its relationship to the KP before textual suggestions on nationally appropriate mitigation actions (NAMAs) were made by developing country Parties. The text grew from three to eleven pages, sparking frustration among some delegates. Countries will continue to contribute to the text tomorrow. In the adaptation drafting group, developing countries called for an adaptation committee under the Convention that would provide guidance, technical support, and advice on adaptation projects. More remains to be heard from these discussions.
Finance, Technology, and Capacity Building
In brief, this aspect of the AWG-LCA’s work outlines financial commitments made by developed countries to enhance action on mitigation and adaptation, technology development and transfer, and capacity building in developing countries. Whereas the new draft includes a G-77/China proposal of contributing 1.5% gross domestic product (GDP) of developed countries per year by 2020, developing countries have been asking for a funding increase of at least 5% GDP since Copenhagen. This group will continue paragraph-by-paragraph consideration of the text tomorrow.
Your reporter from Bonn,
Jessica Chen, Program Coordinator
Yesterday morning, the AWG-KP launched an in-session workshop on “numbers,” or “the scale of emission reductions to be achieved by Annex I Parties in aggregate and the contribution of Annex I Parties, individually or jointly to this scale.” To better understand these discussions, it will be important to answer the following background questions:
- What is the “carbon market”/emissions trading?
- What is Land-Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF)?
- What are quantified emission reduction obligations (QUELROs) and Assigned Amount Units (AAUs)?
- How should an aggregate goal for emissions reductions be set for developed countries?
The “carbon market”/emissions trading (also known as “cap and trade”), is a market mechanism for controlling pollution caused by emissions. In brief, each country has a limited number of emissions that it can sell or allocate to national firms. Higher-emitting firms can buy emissions (also known as “permits” or “credits”) from lower-emitting firms. This constitutes a trade, since the buyer is paying a charge for pollution, and the seller is being rewarded for having reduced emissions. However, the country’s total, or aggregate, amount of emissions cannot be exceeded.
LULUCF is a way of offsetting emissions by increasing the removal of GHGs from the atmosphere (by planting trees or managing forests), or by reducing emissions (e.g. curbing deforestation). Though it is relatively cost-effective, LULUCF activities remain hard to estimate or measure. The exclusion or inclusion of LULUCF in setting emission reduction targets for CP 2 has been fiercely contested in the AWG-KP. Developing countries have identified major loopholes in LULUCF accounting rules and are not in favor of their inclusion in emission reduction targets.
QUELROs are promises made by countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by a set amount. AAUs are a way of counting national emissions created by the KP. Currently, the debate is whether excess or surplus AAUs from CP 1 can be carried over into CP 2. The KP allows for countries that cut their emissions by more than their defined amount to sell excess AAUs to those that missed their Kyoto target, thereby saving the latter from having to pay a penalty. Developing countries largely condemn carry over of surplus AAUs.
There are two major opposing views to how an aggregate emissions target should be set. The first is for individual national pledges to be made by Annex I Parties; this reflects the Copenhagen Accord approach. The second involves a pre-determined aggregate goal, in which each Annex I Party must have an individual target that when added up not exceed the aggregate goal; this is the top-down approach, and is how the KP currently has it set up.
In the AWG-KP workshop, remarks made by Japan and Grenada clearly captured the division between developed and developing countries on this issue. Japan found the top-down approach not politically viable for Annex I Parties. As for the general aim to limit temperature increase below 2°C by 2020, he asserted that there are multiple options towards achieving this goal and that 2020 is scientifically arbitrary. He furthermore stressed that discussions of emissions reductions should include all major emitters (e.g. the US) and that these discussions are better suited for the AWG-LCA. By contrast, Grenada for AOSIS presented options for improving the aggregate level of ambition, including removing the surplus built into 2020 pledges and excluding LULUCF credits exceeding “business as usual” (BAU); removing AAU carry over from CP 1 and CP 2; removing LULUCF crediting; and agreeing to move to the top of parties pledged ranges. The Third World Network, among others, also highlighted loopholes related to LULUCF, emissions trading, projects-based mechanisms, and surplus AAUs. She stated that these will lead to Annex I Parties’ pledges exceeding rather than reducing emissions relative to 1990 levels (the base year for CP 1).
Regardless of how, it is apparent to everyone that the needed level of ambition to protect the world’s most vulnerable countries has yet to emerge. More remains to be seen as the AWG-KP breaks into contact groups on “numbers,” LULUCF, and other issues. However, our worst and very possible fear is that little progress from June will be made. Tomorrow, I cover the discussions occurring in the AWG-LCA, while also defining its core issue areas.
Your reporter in Bonn,
Jessica Chen, Program Coordinator
I arrived in Bonn last night to observe my second session of the UNFCCC negotiations. This week marks the eleventh and thirteenth meetings of the Ad-Hoc Working Group on Long-Term Cooperative Action (AWG-LCA) and the Ad-Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol (AWG-KP). The Earth Negotiations Bulletin provides an excellent brief history of the UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol that I won’t repeat here. I will, however, try to answer these basic questions before summarizing today’s proceedings:
- What are the AWG-KP and AWG-LCA? How are they similar and how are they different?
- What is the purpose of these meetings in Bonn (April, May/June, August, and October in Tianjin, China)?
- How do these meetings relate to the UN climate summit each year?
The AWG-KP was formed by mandate of the KP in order to consider further commitments on emission reduction targets for the second commitment period (CP 2). The AWG-KP includes only those countries who have signed the Kyoto Protocol, which is a legally-binding agreement among states. The Kyoto Protocol commits 37 industrialized countries and European community, known as the Annex I Parties, to targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs). These targets are achieved through national measures, as well as through three market-based mechanisms provided by the KP: emissions trading, or the “carbon market”; clean development mechanism (CDM); and joint implementation. Later on in the week, I will do my best to explain what the “carbon market” is, and how it is complicating and diverting efforts towards an ambitious emissions reduction. I will also define Land-Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF) and quantified emission limitation and reduction objectives (QELROS) in this context. The AWG-KP is under considerable pressure this year since the first commitment period (CP 1) expires in 2012 and insufficient progress has been made thus far.
The AWG-LCA was formed by mandate of the Bali Action Plan to focus on key elements of long-term cooperation, including mitigation, adaptation, finance, as well as technology and capacity building. Unlike the AWG-KP, the AWG-LCA dialogue also concerns countries that have not signed onto the KP but are party to the Convention, notably the United States. This has proved problematic since the AWG-LCA discussions of “limiting global temperature rise” and “peaking of global emissions” inevitably overlap with and, in many ways, depend on AWG-KP decisions regarding “aggregate and individual emissions reductions.” Moreover, as one of the world’s major emitters, the US’ lack of climate legislation and legal accountability under the KP has been viewed as an impeding force in discussions. At COP 15 last year, the US was one of five countries that drafted the Copenhagen Accord, which is a non-binding agreement whose legal status and implications remain unclear. In a future report, I will discuss the Copenhagen Accord in more detail and the effect it could have on the outcomes of both working groups.
The aim of each working group is to produce a text to facilitate negotiations at the annual Conference of Parties (COP). At sessions prior to the COP, the elected Chair of each group determines the agenda, organizes and facilitates interventions, and is responsible for preparing a text that reflects what has been discussed. The Chairs also consult one another in an effort to increase the shared level of ambition and coherence between Annex I and non-Annex I parties. This year, the sixteenth COP will be held in Cancún, Mexico.
Today’s opening remarks sounded much like previous ones. In the AWG-KP opening plenary, concerns included avoiding a gap between CP 1 and CP 2, the continuation of the KP, LULUCF, and legal instruments. The G-77/China, echoed by the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), the African Group, and the Least Developed Countries (LDCs), urged for the session to focus on an aggregate emissions reduction target for CP 2. AOSIS also pointed out that given current pledges, the inclusion of LULUCF would actually produce an increase in emissions compared to the last CP. Grenada reminded us that these weren’t just “numbers,” but the survival or destruction of homes and communities. Australia, on behalf of the Umbrella Group, agreed that work should focus on LULUCF, but also noted that the Copenhagen Accord covers 80% of global emissions. The European Union (EU) and Japan offered opinions on legal outcomes. Belgium expressed that though the EU preferred a single, legally-binding agreement, they are flexible along as it is binding. Japan stated that they would not accept a mere amendment to the KP, but demanded a single, comprehensive, legally-binding post 2012 framework. The Chair articulated that this meeting of the AWG-KP should result in a draft negotiating text. The incident from the last Bonn session in which a country’s nameplate was stolen, destroyed, and disrespectfully handled was also resolved. Three individuals from civil society were identified as the perpetrators, and more can be read about it here. So much time and energy has been diverted to this unfortunate event that negotiators and NGO members alike seemed eager to move to leave it behind.
The AWG-LCA opening plenary introduced a second iteration of the Chair’s text that received sharp criticism from developing countries in June. Despite the usual stipulations, states generally agreed that the new text is an adequate basis for continuing discussions. Many of the opening statements were framed by each country’s take on the organization and content of the text. As there are several components to the work of the AWG-LCA, I will postpone explaining the specific positions of each group until later in the session. There was, however, some initial disagreement over how discussions should proceed. The Chair picked up the African Group’s proposal for spin-off groups to improve the text, but this was met with concern by delegates as to how one could follow multiple simultaneous discussions. The Chair took noted these comments and said she would streamline the eight proposed spin-off groups into four: shared vision; mitigation; adaptation; and finance, technology, and capacity building.
Tomorrow, I will cover the AWG-KP in length, as an in-session workshop on “the scale of emission reductions to be achieved by Annex I Parties in aggregate and the contribution of Annex I Parties, individually or jointly to this scale” began today.
Your reporter in Bonn,
Jessica Chen, Program Coordinator
Jessica will once again represent UNANIMA International as an observer at the UNFCCC Climate Change Negotiations in Bonn, Germany during the week of 2-6 August 2010. Her daily reports will be posted in the Eco-Justice section of our website.
Program Coordinator Jessica Chen represented UNANIMA International at the continued negotiations for at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in early June in Bonn. She will return in August for the next session of negotiations there. As she reported, “There was not a single mention of water in the negotiations.” While UNANIMA International is not promoting a separate section on water, we do believe that it is an important aspect to climate change and needs to be included in the discussion. Jessica describes this session as a learning experience for her. She networked with many more experienced NGO representatives and has ideas on how to make the UNANIMA presence more effective there in the future: partner with others to set up an information kiosk which makes available material on our position, develop side events which partner governments and NGO representatives and like-minded representatives from the business sector to show the possibilities for arriving at climate justice in partnership with others.