May/June 2010: BONN CLIMATE CHANGE TALKS
The Bonn Climate Change Talks begin today and are scheduled to conclude on Friday, 11 June 2010. The meeting will include the 32nd sessions of the Subsidiary Bodies of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the tenth session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action under the UNFCCC (AWG-LCA 10) and the twelfth session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol (AWG-KP 12).
The main item on the AWG-KP’s agenda focuses on further commitments by Annex I parties. The AWG-KP is expected to work based on documentation prepared by the Chair to facilitate negotiations (FCCC/KP/AWG/2010/6 and Adds.1-5). The AWG-LCA’s agenda focuses on preparation of an outcome to be presented to the sixteenth Conference of the Parties (COP 16) and parties are expected to consider a new text by the Chair to facilitate negotiations (FCCC/AWGLCA/2010/6).
The Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI) will consider issues including national communications and reporting, the financial mechanism and capacity building. The Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) will consider, inter alia, methodological issues, technology transfer and the Nairobi work programme on impacts, vulnerability and adaptation to climate change.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE UNFCCC AND THE KYOTO PROTOCOL
The international political response to climate change began with the adoption of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in 1992, which sets out a framework for action aimed at stabilizing atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases to avoid “dangerous anthropogenic interference” with the climate system. The UNFCCC entered into force on 21 March 1994 and now has 194 parties.
In December 1997, delegates at COP 3 in Kyoto, Japan, agreed to a Protocol to the UNFCCC that commits industrialized countries and countries in transition to a market economy to achieve emission reduction targets. These countries, known as Annex I parties under the UNFCCC, agreed to reduce their overall emissions of six greenhouse gases by an average of 5.2% below 1990 levels between 2008-2012 (the first commitment period), with specific targets varying from country to country. The Kyoto Protocol entered into force on 16 February 2005 and now has 191 parties.
In 2005, the first Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (COP/MOP 1), held in Montréal, Canada, established the AWG-KP on the basis of Protocol Article 3.9, which mandates consideration of Annex I parties’ further commitments at least seven years before the end of the first commitment period. In addition, COP 11 agreed in Montréal to consider long-term cooperation under the Convention through a series of four workshops known as “the Convention Dialogue,” which continued until COP 13.
BALI ROADMAP: COP 13 and COP/MOP 3 took place in December 2007 in Bali, Indonesia. The focus of the Bali Conference was on long-term issues. These negotiations resulted in the adoption of the Bali Action Plan (decision 1/CP.13), which established the AWG-LCA with a mandate to focus on key elements of long-term cooperation identified during the Convention Dialogue: mitigation, adaptation, finance, as well as technology and capacity building. The Bali Action Plan (BAP) contains a non-exhaustive list of issues to be considered under each of these areas and calls for articulating a “shared vision for long-term cooperative action.”
The Bali conference also resulted in agreement on a two-year process, the Bali Roadmap, which covers negotiation “tracks” under the Convention and the Protocol and set a deadline for concluding the negotiations at COP 15 and COP/MOP 5, held in Copenhagen in December 2009. The two key bodies under the Bali Roadmap are the AWG-LCA and the AWG-KP.
FROM BALI TO COPENHAGEN: In 2008, the two AWGs held four parallel negotiation sessions in: April in Bangkok, Thailand; June in Bonn, Germany; August in Accra, Ghana; and December in Poznán, Poland. In 2009, the AWGs convened for parallel sessions: in April, June and August in Bonn, Germany; October in Bangkok, Thailand; November in Barcelona, Spain; and December in Copenhagen, Denmark.
AWG-LCA:For the AWG-LCA, the first part of 2009 focused on developing draft negotiating text. At AWG-LCA 6 in June, parties clarified and developed their ideas, using a Chair’s draft (FCCC/AWGLCA/2009/8) as a starting point. This process resulted in a text (FCCC/AWGLCA/2009/INF.1) that was nearly 200 pages long and covered all the main elements of the BAP.
During its informal session in August, the AWG-LCA first held consultations on how to proceed with the text and then began to produce non-papers, as well as reading guides, tables and matrices (FCCC/AWGLCA/2009/INF.2) aimed at making the negotiating text more manageable. Convening in Bangkok and Barcelona, AWG-LCA 7 continued streamlining and consolidating the negotiating text. The outcome was a series of non-papers, forwarded to Copenhagen as an annex to the meeting report (FCCC/AWGLCA/2009/14).
Going to Copenhagen, many felt that the AWG-LCA had made satisfactory progress on issues such as adaptation, technology and capacity building but that “deep divides” persisted on mitigation and certain aspects of finance.
AWG-KP: For the AWG-KP, the focus in 2009 was on the “numbers,” namely, Annex I parties’ aggregate and individual emission reductions beyond 2012, when the Protocol’s first commitment period expires. Parties also continued discussing other issues in the AWG-KP’s work programme, including: the flexibility mechanisms; land use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF); and potential consequences of response measures. The discussions were based on documentation divided into proposals for amendments to the Protocol under Article 3.9 (Annex I parties’ further commitments) and text on other issues, such as LULUCF and the flexibility mechanisms.
Most felt that no significant progress was made on Annex I parties’ aggregate and individual targets, and differences also surfaced between developed and developing countries concerning whether the outcome from Copenhagen should be an amendment to the Kyoto Protocol or a single new agreement under both AWGs.
By June 2009, the Secretariat had received five submissions from parties for a new protocol under the Convention, and twelve submissions concerning amendments to the Kyoto Protocol for consideration by COP 15 and COP/MOP 5, respectively, in Copenhagen.
COPENHAGEN CLIMATE CHANGE CONFERENCE: The United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, took place from 7-19 December 2009. It included: COP 15 and COP/MOP 5, held in conjunction with the 31st sessions of the Subsidiary Bodies, as well as AWG-KP 10 and AWG-LCA 8. What many characterized as “intense negotiations” took place over the two weeks at the level of experts, Ministers and Heads of State. Over 110 world leaders attended the joint COP and COP/MOP high-level segment from 16-18 December.
Questions concerning transparency and process played out during the meeting. Differences emerged, inter alia, on whether work should be carried out in a smaller “Friends of the Chair” format or in open contact groups. A proposal by the Danish COP Presidency to table two texts reflecting the work done by the AWGs also caused divisions. Many parties rejected this idea, urging that only texts developed in the AWGs by parties should be used. During the high-level segment, informal negotiations took place in a group consisting of major economies and representatives of regional and other negotiating groups. Late on Friday evening, these talks resulted in a political agreement entitled the “Copenhagen Accord.”
During the closing COP plenary, which lasted nearly 13 hours, discussions ensued on the transparency of the process and on whether the COP should adopt the Copenhagen Accord. Most negotiating groups supported its adoption as a COP decision in order to operationalize it as a step towards a “better” future agreement. Some developing countries, however, opposed the Accord reached during what they characterized as an “untransparent” and “undemocratic” negotiating process. Ultimately, parties agreed to adopt a COP decision whereby the COP “takes note” of the Copenhagen Accord. Parties also established a procedure for countries supporting the Copenhagen Accord to accede to it. By May 2010, 130 countries indicated their support for the Copenhagen Accord. Forty-two Annex I countries and 37 non-Annex I countries have also provided information on their emission reduction targets and other mitigation actions, as agreed under the Accord.
On the last day of the Copenhagen Climate Conference, the COP and COP/MOP also agreed to extend the mandates of the AWG-LCA and AWG-KP, requesting them to present their respective outcomes to COP 16 and COP/MOP 6, which will convene in Cancún, Mexico for two weeks beginning on 29 November 2010.
AWG-LCA 9 AND AWG-KP 11: From 9-11 April 2010, AWG-LCA 9 and AWG-KP 11 convened in Bonn, Germany. Their focus was on the organization and methods of work in 2010 to enable each AWG to fulfill its mandate and report its outcome in Cancún.
The AWG-LCA agreed, inter alia, to mandate its Chair to prepare text, under her own responsibility, for the June session drawing on the AWG-LCA report to COP 15, as well as work undertaken by the COP on the basis of that report. The AWG-LCA also agreed to invite parties to submit additional views by late April, which the Chair may draw upon in preparing her draft negotiating text.
The AWG-KP agreed to continue considering Annex I parties’ aggregate and individual emission reductions, as well as the other issues. It mandated the Chair to prepare documentation for the next session. The AWG-KP also agreed to note that its Chair has undertaken, under his own initiative, to meet with the AWG-LCA Chair to identify information on commitments of Annex I parties, which is to be made available to parties.
MAJOR ECONOMIES FORUM ON ENERGY AND CLIMATE (MEF): On 17 April 2010, the MEF Leaders’ representatives meeting convened in Washington, DC. Countries participating in the MEF are: Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, the European Union, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Mexico, the Russian Federation, South Africa, the United Kingdom and the US. The meeting was also attended by the UN, Colombia, Denmark, Grenada and Yemen. According to the Chair’s summary, discussions covered, inter alia, goals for COP 16 and beyond, form of the legal outcome and the Kyoto Protocol’s role. Recognizing the urgency of moving forward, participants felt that in Cancún, countries should, at a minimum, agree on a balanced set of decisions informed by the Copenhagen Accord.
WORLD PEOPLE’S CONFERENCE ON CLIMATE CHANGE AND THE RIGHTS OF MOTHER EARTH: The Conference took place from 19-22 April 2010 in Cochabamba, Bolivia, and was attended by more than 35,000 delegates from social movements and organizations from 140 countries. It addressed issues including: developed countries’ climate debt, harmony with nature, Mother Earth’s rights, a global referendum on climate change, dangers of the carbon market, climate refugees, adaptation, emission reductions and establishment of a climate justice tribunal. The Conference resulted in the People’s Agreement of Cochabamba and a draft proposal for a “Universal Declaration of Mother Earth’s Rights,” which were developed and submitted to the AWG-LCA by Bolivia (FCCC/AWGLCA/2010/MISC.2). The People’s Agreement calls, inter alia, for limiting the average global temperature increase to a maximum of 1°C, with a view to returning temperatures as close as possible to pre-industrial levels in the longer-term.
OSLO FOREST CLIMATE CONFERENCE: The Conference took place on 27 May 2010 in Oslo, Norway, where representatives of 50 governments agreed to establish a partnership for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, plus conservation and enhancement of forest carbon stocks (REDD+). The agreement describes the intent of partner governments to provide a voluntary framework to serve as an interim platform for immediate action in order to scale-up REDD+ actions and finance while negotiations on REDD+ continue under the UNFCCC. The agreement highlights, inter alia, the inclusion of representatives of relevant stakeholders and establishes an organizational framework, as well as secretariat services, to be provided jointly by the UN and the World Bank.