Daily Report from Bonn: Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Yesterday, attendees of the UN Climate Change Talks heading to lunch were greeted by a disarmingly charming sign: “Welcome to the LULUCF Loophole!” Below it, young advocates lined the walk, offering colored plastic balls labeled “CO2” to each passerby. “Let us do a magic trick for you,” one of them shouted, “Just throw the emission into the loophole, and we’ll make it disappear! Want to see this on a larger scale? Ask one of the Annex I parties to do it for you!” Though somewhat cheeky, the YOUNGOs (Youth non-governmental organizations) had a critical point – Under a weak climate agreement or text, emissions loopholes will increase potential for developed countries to escape deep reduction in key industrial sectors at home, while also degrading the potential for timely peak and decline necessary for avoiding dangerous climate change.

I was plagued by a similar discomfort while sitting in on the sixth meeting of the AWG-KP Contact group on Annex I Parties’ emission reductions (aggregate/individual). The discussion topics included efforts and achievements to date, the carryover of Assigned Amount Units (AAUs), and a technical aper on translating pledges into QELROs (Quantified Emission Limitation and Reduction Objectives). Not long into the session, the FEDERATED STATES OF MICRONESIA countered the EU table from the day before with its own table: “Aggregate Annex-I reductions including surplus AAUs and LULUCF acounting” (photo provided). A relatively simple explanation was provided in that the right-side contained “where we’d like to get to” (IPCC AR4 -25 to -40%), the left-side contained “where we’d been” (Reductions relative to 1990), and the center-section contained “the current debate.” Not using surplus emissions or carryover from CP1, the effective 2020 target would be -13 to -17% from KP CP1. Crucially, if surplus and carryover were included, this aggregate percentage could be reduced -1 to -7% – clearly not a good sign for the atmosphere. The FEDERATED STATES OF MICRONESIA provided several options, including: disallowing, capping, or restricting carryover; agreements not to purchase surplus AAUs; taxing transfer or acquisition of carryover AAUs; agreeing not to purchase surplus AAUs; adopting stricter emission reduction targets; and restricting use of acquired AAUs. SOUTH AFRICA, BRAZIL, and INDIA supported capping, while AUSTRALIA and CHINA remained ambiguous about the effectiveness of these measures. NORWAY reiterated that more ambitious targets are the best way to address surplus AAU’s, while others asked for more workshops and technical papers. ZAMBIA, in response, reminded the group that while these implements are helpful, we should not reduce this to an academic exercise. I agree – If the goal is climate justice, why is there still an unfortunate number of parties who seek to gain from the over-achievements of others? Why is there talk of carbon emissions being traded or carried over like currency? Because the real loser in this gamble is Mother Earth, and I do wish that the players would be more conscientious of the fact.

Not to sound completely downtrodden, but it was a relatively uneventful day. To further progress in the oncoming days as the bodies and groups being preparing their respective outcome documents and reports!

Your reporter in Bonn,
Jessica Chen, Program Coordinator