Thursday, 3 June 2010

Q&A with Espen Ronneberg

By Makareta Komai in Bonn, Germany for Climate Pasifika

01 June 2010, Bonn Germany - As the world looks to Cancun, Mexico for a possible global agreement on climate change, negotiators from 185 countries are gathered in Bonn, Germany for two weeks to try and put together the building blocks of an agreement to take to Mexico. The Pacific is part of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) negotiating group in United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). 

Makereta Komai of Climate Pasifika talks to SPREP’s climate change adviser, who is in Bonn, to give a brief rundown of preparation for the Bonn climate change talks.

Espen: We started off with preliminary meetings of the Alliance of Small Island States where we went through the different agendas, and discussed concerns that members have with the agenda items. We tried to divide up the group into technical groups like we normally do so that we have a mixture of Pacific, Caribbean and Indian Ocean countries in the different subject matters. Each technical group then went into the issues with a bit more detail and provided feedback to the larger group so we could well be prepared for the sessions. You may have heard different delegations speaking on different areas- for example Kiribati and Cook Islands speaking on adaptation, Micronesia on mitigation issues and so forth. We are starting the work proper as of today and we are going through the agenda of the meeting and providing inputs to the chairs of the subsidiary bodies. Tomorrow we go into the working groups and it will be the same sort of exercise. One of the new things at this session is that the chairs have asked their co-ordinators to come up with draft conclusions before there has been discussion.

Q: Why the change?
Espen: To try and save on time feeling that at least some of the points were well known beforehand and can be reflected. We were generally a little bit surprised by that but we, in retrospect were able to say that these can be done for some topics, especially the issues that have almost been reached by consensus. We could follow that procedure. But there are some other issues that we think that we need to have full discussion before conclusions are put together.

Q: Are these conclusions from items from Copenhagen that had received consensus?
Espen: Those types of issues we can work on are already on the table but there are some issues that we have not discussed for a whole year now. As you know the agenda for Copenhagen had to be compressed so some items that were simply put off are now being looked at during this session here in Bonn. A whole year has passed and there is new information that we feel that there is a need to have detailed discussion before we out down on paper any form of conclusions to those discussions. So there is a lot of procedural things going on at the moment. Not substantial as yet but it complicates things if it’s brought later and we will spend a lot of time trying to address it later.

Q: The draft text before AWG-LCA has some parts of the Copenhagen Accord integrated into it. But there have been lot of criticism on using the Accord as the basis for an agreement, if it’s to be reached in Cancun. What is the position of AOSIS?

Espen: There was an AOSIS submission given in late April. Analysing the chair’s text, you can see that all but one of the AOSIS raised has been included in the LCA text. Off course some of them are in brackets because there are repeated or alternative ideas to what was raised by AOSIS. All the points raised by AOSIS except for one have been accepted. 

Q: Which one is it?
Espen: It’s the one that deals with safeguarding small island states as a for benchmark for any agreement.

Q: Is that at least a plus for AOSIS?
Espen: We have secured the inclusion of all but one of the issues that we submitted. On the issue of the Copenhagen Accord, I think the group is fairly pragmatic on this issue. They are willing to look at the text on its own merits, let’s discuss what’s there and see what it means for us. I don’t think anyone from the group will be adamant that the exact wording put forward has to be reflected in the documents. It’s a negotiation and the group will take a practical view of what is there and analyse it and make sure our key concerns are reflected.

Q: Is AOSIS still optimistic? There is already a lot of predictions that Cancun will be another Copenhagen and this exercise is in futility and an agreement will be only be reached in South Africa in 2011? Is that the feeling of AOSIS?
Espen: I think AOSIS is optimistic that we can make progress if we really look at the LCA text, there is a lot of progress made and that has been reflected in the new text. There are some fundamental issues that need to be discussed that are fairly cross cutting. We need to have the time to have full discussion and the political will from all parties to really want to make a deal. We can be optimistic and work on trying to bridge all these gaps to make sure we understand fully the positions of others so that we can come to a compromise solution that is acceptable to the entire membership of UNFCCC. 

Q: Yvo doe Boer talked about the trust and goodwill gap that needs to be fixed here in Bonn. Does AOSIS trust the positions of other negotiating groups, especially those that don’t agree with AOSIS position, like the U.S and other industrialised nations?
Espen: This is an interesting point. I don’t think the issue of trust has been as big an issue for the Pacific and AOSIS, with the exception perhaps of being left out of some negotiations in Copenhagen. In terms of moving us forward, the best way is to have good dialogue on the critical issues so that we can have everyone’s concerns fully reflected. Off course one of the key concerns from the Pacific is that we want to see strong emissions reduction. If the rules are so flexible that you can reach your target by creative book keeping, that’s not really in our interest. We want to see actual, real reductions because that is what’s important. We need to have emissions reduced to a level that safeguard the Pacific and that requires actual, real action in terms of mitigation and also requires proper financing and support for adaptation.

Ms Komai will be covering the Bonn Climate Change negotiations from 31 May – 11 June 2010, thanks to support from Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). She will provide daily coverage of the negotiations via PACNEWS and the SPREP website, the climate pasifika blogspot, and the PINA Green page

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