What do countries think about the Durban Platform for enhanced action?

by nathan thanki

Welcome to the first COP of the rest of your lives. Though Copenhagen will forever remain the most widely observed, undermined, devastated, ruinous UNFCCC meeting, it wasn’t until Durban that the sea change became official. US lead negotiator Todd Stern’s famous “if equity is in, we’re out” sneer epitomised the new paradigm that is being cemented in the climate negotiations. Justice, both inter- and intra-generational, is out the window. Decision 1/CP.17, which established the ad-hoc working group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP), blew the negotiations wide open (as you will recall from my previous entry). While this doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing—indeed we are all of course depressed that there hasn’t been a meaningful emissions reductions legal instrument—it depends on how the ADP approaches its work of creating a new legal outcome by 2015. Will it support and complement the Convention and its provisions and principles, or will it undermine them and undercut justice? As this is a country driven process, it is all up to the Parties to direct proceedings…so it is worthwhile to have a look at some of their thoughts regarding the ADP.

Read more…

Time to come up with solutions

by Samuli Sinisalo

The final negotitations in Durban just began. The different negotiating bodies will meet in this order: Ad-hod working group on Kyoto Protocol, Ad-hoc working group on Long Term Cooperative Action, Conference of Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to Kyoto Protocol and finally the closing plenary of the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC.

It’s 9pm on Saturday, the conference was supposed to be over by Friday night and we are just in the AWG-KP meeting. It looks like tonight is going to be the long night.

At the moment, there are three possible results for the outcome of Durban. Either the talks will collapse, without any decision. This would not be the ideal solution for anyone. A lot of hard work has been done throughout the two weeks, some progress has been made. The need for immediate action to address climate change is ever-growing. I believe collapse is not on anyones agenda.

Another option is to adopt the texts as they stand. That would also be a suboptimal outcome. The Kyoto text is weak in ambition and lacks legal strength. The LCA text is watered down to two different documents. One is about 40 pages long, includes a lot of good things about 1,5 degrees, ambitious goals for 2050 etc, and those are being pushed forward to COP 18. The other text is about 50 pages, but it too lacks ambition. The AWG-LCA would be closed in Durban, and ultimately killed in Qatar next year. At the same time the LCA would be replaced by a new negotiation mandate, which probably would not be as ambitious as the Bali Action Plan.

The third option is to close the COP in Durban unresolved and pick up the work in Bonn in the intersessional in June. This way the Parties would have time to really analyze the texts and options and contemplate on different options. At the moment as everyone is tired and sleepdeprived, some ministers and negotiatiors have left Durban, we are running a risk of goveling down decisions in haste, without due democratic process and debate. COP bis seems to be the optimum solution at the moment.

An appeal to sanity

by nathan thanki

Yesterday, a large group of civil society–mostly youth–took the voice and anger of the street into the halls of the UN. While it could never have been a true #occupy–COP is inherently segregated into those with badges and those without; those with pink badges and those with yellow–the idea was still to say: enough is enough. You have had 20 years to negotiate a fair, ambitious, legal treaty. You have failed. We pass a vote of no confidence in you, governments of the developed world.

While there aren’t always clear good and bad guys in these negotiations (despite the US and Canada’s best efforts to be the absolute worst), there is a clear divide of North and South. The North has historically exploited the South, and has historically used up it’s share of natural resources and atmospheric space. All at the detriment of the South. All you need to do is see a flow chart diagram of money, trade, and resources to see. The wealth of the world accumulates in Europe, in North America, in Australia and Japan. But they can’t afford to pay for adaptation and mitigation? They tell the poor of the world to do it for themselves. They’ve gotten rich from burning mountains of coal and oceans of oil, but now they refuse to cut their emissions unless the poor take that burden too? Civil society is divided over whether or not this is a fair ask. The calls for “treaty now” are fine - so long as it is a fair treaty. The concern that some NGOs have is that demanding a treaty by 2015 for everyone is asking India and China to write off their hopes of tackling poverty. More than that, because of low ambition and loopholes, it writes off all our hopes of a livable world in the future.

The media, eager to feed the hatred that Europeans and Americans seem to have toward any kind of competitor – India, China, Iran, Brasil etc – are running with the theme: blame the big developing nations. The EU is loving this. They can split G77 unity by appropriating the calls of the island states and LDCs for emissions reductions, and point the finger at India. Some elements of civil society are helping: Avaaz ran an ad in the Financial Times that showed Africa burning, while grim reapers from USA, Canada, Russia and India floated overhead. So the march yesterday was somewhat split. There were back and forth shouts of “treaty now” and “equity now.”

As well as substantive differences, there were also procedural ones. Most of us were ready to get kicked out, to lose our badges, to stay there all night if need be. The whole point was to bring our voice to the door of the plenary. So most of us rejected the idea of moving the protest outside in exchange for no repercussions. Besides, I for one did not believe the UNFCCC secretariat and security. They’d tell you anything, sure. But then voices from within the protest began sowing the seeds of doubt. “You will not be able to come to subsequent COPs.” “You will be arrested by the South African police for trespassing.” The pressure to leave was too great. We weren’t kettled in, so the protest disintegrated until there were a few dozen left, stubborn as mules, to be removed by the guards. We let our protest be appropriated.

The same must not happen to our message. I understand that the Avaaz blunder is causing them some grief, but it was only an expression of an idea that seems to be gaining ground among civil soceity – that the blockers should be blamed and shamed. But, wouldn’t you block a suicide pact? It is better to frame it like this: who does a block actually benefit? Not China, not India, but the developed nations. Europe and the States, Australia, New Zealand and Japan. If it all falls to pieces, then hey presto – they don’t have to live up to their promises, and they don’t have to fulfill their responsibility. If it goes through as it stands, then it’s curtains for ambition, it’s curtains for AWG-LCA, and it’s curtains for the planet. The islands will sink, Africa will burn, the political status quo will remain. We can’t let our planet be taken hostage by the greedy, just like we can’t let our democracy be taken hostage by the greedy. Greed is the right term. Notice how the only thing the rich countries want to share with the poor is the responsibility to reduce emissions. They do not want to share their wealth, their technology, their patented intellectual property.

We should not help perpetuate the lies of the rich and powerful.

I implore activists and others engaging in the struggle to think.  Think about who you represent and how. When you find yourself talking about urgency in the negotiations, ask; where are we urgently going, and who gets hurt aslong the way? Who suffers from a “better than nothing” EU deal? Think about who has already suffered from climate change. Think about who has already acted to stop it. Then think about who the real blockers are. Please consider the true grassroots. The millions living in poverty in India, China, Brazil. Are you seriously going to condemn them to death? Or are you going to stand with them against the real polluters?

The Last Night in Durban

by Samuli Sinisalo

A lot has happened today, I hope. Everything that is going on takes place behind closed doors, so we have no way of accurately reporting it the play by play.

The ministerial Inbada started just few minutes ago, and that will hopefully bring some clarity to the situation.

So far there are two draft texts presented by the COP presidency, to conclude the work in Durban. Text from the presidency at the last minute sounds all too familiar from Copenhagen.

There are two drafts, one about the Kyoto Protocol, another about the LCA text.

As the text stood last night at 5 am, the Kyoto text would be dead as we used to know it. It would lock countries into the pledge and review system until 2020. The pledges at the moment are effectively those presented in Copenhagen. There is no aggregate overall emissions reduction target. Hopefully the consultations still improve the text, legally binding second commitment period and increased ambition would be welcome.

The LCA track on the other hand would conclude next year in Qatar by a series of decisions. It would end the Bali Action Plan without a legally binding outcome. A new negotiating mandate would be launched, which should be completed by 2015 in COP-21. This is what has been in the works since Bali 2007, and has failed in Copenhagen and ever since. It will be hard to get a deal mandate that is as balanced as BAP, but hopefully the new mandate can deliver.

In any case, a long delay before emissions are actually cut seems to be inevitable.

The text on the bigger picture can be found here: http://www.scribd.com/fullscreen/75225916

The text on the Kyoto Protocol is pasted below:

Version of 9 December 2011 @ 05:00
Outcome of the work of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol at its sixteenth session

The Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol,
Recalling Article 3, paragraph 9, of the Kyoto Protocol, Also recalling Article 20, paragraph 2, and Article 21, paragraph 7, of the Kyoto Protocol,

Further recalling decisions 1/CMP.1, 1/CMP.5 and 1/CMP.6,

Noting with appreciation the work of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol,

Noting also the importance of developing a comprehensive global response to the problem of climate change,

Recognizing the importance of ensuring the environmental integrity of the Kyoto Protocol,

Cognizant of decision -/CP.17 {    },

Emphasizing the role of the Kyoto Protocol in the mitigation effort by Parties included in Annex I, the importance of ensuring continuity in mitigation action by those Parties and the need to start the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol without delay,

1. Welcomes the agreement achieved by the Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol on its work pursuant to decisions 1/CMP.1, 1/CMP.5 and 1/CMP.6 in the areas of land use, land-use change and forestry (decision -/CMP.7), emissions trading and the project-based mechanisms (decision -/CMP.7), greenhouse gases, sectors and source categories, common metrics to calculate the carbon dioxide equivalence of anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks, and other methodological issues (decision -/CMP.7) and the consideration of information on potential environmental, economic and social consequences, including spillover effects, of tools, policies, measures and methodologies available to Annex I Parties (decision -/CMP.7);

2. Takes note of the draft amendments to the Kyoto Protocol developed by the Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol as contained in Annexes 1, 2 and 3 to this decision;

3. Takes note also of the quantified economy-wide emission reduction targets communicated by Parties included in Annex I and presented in Annex 1 to this decision and of the intention of these Parties to convert them to quantified emission limitation or reduction objectives for the second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol;

4. Invites Parties included in Annex I and listed in Annex 1 to this decision to submit information on their quantified emission limitation or reduction objectives for the second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol by 1 May 2012 for consideration by the Subsidiary Body on Implementation at its thirty-sixth session and requests the Subsidiary Body for Implementation to deliver the results of its work to the Conference of the Parties title of decision on AWG-LCA serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol with a view to the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol adopting them as amendments to Annex B of the Kyoto Protocol at its eighth session, while ensuring coherence with the implementation of decision {    };

5. Decides to adopt the amendments contained in Annexes 2 and 3 to this decision in conjunction with the adoption of the amendments referred to in paragraph 4 above;

6. Requests the Subsidiary Body for Implementation to assess the implications of the carry-over of assigned amount units to the second commitment period on the scale of emission reductions to be achieved by Annex I Parties in aggregate for the second commitment period, with a view to preparing a draft decision for adoption by the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol at its eighth session;

7. Decides, on the basis of the outcomes and results described in paragraphs 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 above, that the Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol has completed its work in accordance with decision 1/CMP.1;

8. Requests the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice to assess and address the implications of the implementation of decisions -CMP.7 referred to in paragraph 1 above on the previous decisions on methodological issues related to the Kyoto Protocol adopted by Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol including those relating to Articles 5, 7 and 8 of the Kyoto Protocol, with a view to preparing relevant draft decisions for consideration and adoption by the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol at its eighth session, and noting that some issues may need to be addressed at subsequent sessions of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol.

Annex 1. Draft amendments to Annex B to the Kyoto Protocol
Annex 2. Draft amendments to Annex A to the Kyoto Protocol
Annex 3. Draft amendments to the Kyoto Protocol

Separate -/CMP.7 decisions:
Decision -/CMP.7: LULUCF
Decision -/CMP.7: mechanisms
Decision -/CMP.7: methodological issues
Decision -/CMP.7: potential consequences