Friday, 7 October 2011

Mitigation targets remain a sore point of the negotiations - AOSIS chair

By Makereta Komai for Climate Pasifika in Panama

06 October 2011 Panama ---- A day before the resumed negotiation session here in Panama concludes, mitigation actions by wealthy nations remains a major sore point of the climate change talks, especially for Pacific Island Countries and the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS).

Climate Pasifika caught up with the chair of AOSIS, Ambassador Dessima Williams Wednesday evening before she went into one of the many informal meetings convened here to try and consolidate positions of Parties before draft decisions are finalised at the end of the weeklong negotiations.
Ambassador Dessima Williams
“AOSIS is working at three levels – within our group we are working to streamline our positions, within G77 we are working to get our positions on board and we are also working on more understanding with Annex 1 and other partners. 

Under the Kyoto Protocol, Annex 1 countries refer to 37 industrialised nations who have committed to reducing their emissions by an average of 5 percent against 1990 levels over a five year period 2008-2012.

While Ambassador Williams was very cautious with her views on the negotiations so far – describing them as ‘slow but positive energy’ there remains huge gaps in the positions of Parties, especially on mitigation targets.

“I think everyone believes the mitigation is very weak. There is some agreement that we cannot have the gap between the second commitment period and the first but not enough parties are convinced yet. 

“I don’t see universal agreement on that yet and that remains a problem. 

“I think AOSIS, the African Group, the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and others are in conversation and are committed to that. We are in conversations with the European Union, the Environment Integrity Group, Australia as chair of the Umbrella Group and we will be meeting with the U.S on Thursday. So there is a sense that everyone is in dialogue. It’s not enough but it’s a starting point, Ambassador Williams explained to Climate Pasifika.

Since the European Union is taking the lead on pushing for a second commitment period for the Kyoto Protocol (KP), most AOSIS members who also members of the G77 and China group have been meeting with the EU to reiterate their positions to find common grounds.

“We want a KP that is five years (2013-2017), we would like to see real mitigation and not a carry-over of commitments of emissions reduction. There is still some weakness and divisions but we will get there. 

“My point is that within a structure of 190 plus member states, it is very difficult to reach agreements. We have limited and good but insufficient agreements in Cancun and we are now trying to build on them because there are new submissions and that is what is slowing us down.

“I think there is no magic solution and this is a slow multilateralism. But we in AOSIS are clear that we must have a rules based multilateral system that is consistent with our commitment under the Bali Action Plan and almost all delegations agree to that but it is how they want to implement it that is causing the difficulties. 

“Parties are now submitting proposals on how to implement the Bali Plan of Action. Panama is awash with proposals. There are lots and lots of ideas, proposals and texts and that is really where the work is – to see common ground.

She has ruled out any compromises from AOSIS.

In a number of the non-papers and draft text now emerging from the talks, the AOSIS push to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees is reflected but under consideration or bracketed. 

“Everything is on the table. Some of the major emitters in the developing countries are showing flexibility around KP that we haven’t heard before so watch out for that, she told Climate Pasifika. 

Most of the debate around the negotiations for the past three years now has been the push by industrialised or Annex 1 countries for major developing nations like Brazil, South Africa, Indian and China, whose global emissions are high to make similar mitigation commitments under the Kyoto Protocol.

“The legal obligations are different. Developed countries who are historically the cause of the problem have to take obligatory actions under the Conventions. 

“Developing countries under the Bali Plan of Action have two points – one, we must focus our priority on poverty eradication, that’s our main obligation. Our second obligation is to move away from business as usual. If you notice, developing countries are doing both. 

“We cannot do that – eradicate poverty and disrupt business as usual until and unless we get some support, argued Ambassador Williams.

On the expected outcome, Ambassador Williams expects closure to come very late Friday.

“We still have two or three political opportunities to finalise an agreement before Durban. The pre-COP meets in two weeks time and this would be another occasion where what we cannot agree technically here will be discussed politically and fed into the process. 

South Africa has taken the lead in the canvassing the views of the Parties.

“They are leading the way in calling for ambition and providing a space to discuss idea. I think Parties here are impressed and encouraged by South Africa’s initiative. The Mexicans have not pulled back and are also leading the conversations in some areas, especially in the legal form and legal outcomes. However, there are still wide gaps in the negotiations but there are lot of conversations going on now, said Ambassador Williams.

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