Monday 31 May 2010

Climate talks begin with a plea to industrial nations to honour $30 billion promise
By Makereta Komai in Bonn for Climate Pasifika

31 May 2010 Bonn, Germany --- A plea to industrialised countries to fulfill the US$30 billion pledge made in Copenhagen last year, kicked off the second round of climate change talks, convened in the German city of Bonn before the Conference of the Parties (COP16) meets in Mexico in December.

And Yvo de Boer did not mince his words when he clearly spelt out that “Cancun will only deliver, if promises of help are kept.”

In 2009, a number of developed countries, led by the United States, promised to deploy USD$30 billion from 2010 to 2012 in short term financing to kick start climate action in developing countries.

"Recent pledges by Spain and Germany towards the adaptation fund have been useful first steps to build trust among developing nations," said the UNFCCC Executive Secretary, Yvo de Boer.

"But we must see more concrete contributions from other countries in the run-up to Cancun which shows that developed countries are ready to deliver on what they promised five months ago in Copenhagen.  Times are harsh, especially in Europe, but USD$10 billion a year for three years from all industrialised countries is not an impossible call.  Meeting this promise will establish greater trust between developing and developed nations"

Strong criticisms have come from international NGO’s who want more clarity on where the funds will come from.  Action Aid India’s Raman Mehta told journalists it’s not clear whether the 10 billion will be realised.

“Is it a new funding altogether or is it coming from the current level of overseas development assistance (ODA) given to developing nations?  This is one of the gaps that need to be fixed before Cancun. Another gap in negotiation is that of trust and goodwill amongst negotiating Parties", observed Mehta.

Alden Meyer of the Union of Concerned Scientists expanded on the issue of trust saying the 12 days of talks here in Bonn should attempt to bridge that ‘division’ if a way forward for a legally binding and ambitious deal is to be secured in Cancun.

“There is sharp division on the legal form of the agreement and this need to be thrashed out now. It’s not clear whether the agreement will come from one or two negotiating tracks", said Meyer.

The two-weeks negotiations in Bonn is expected to resolve three main issues, said Yves de Boer.  These include a commitment to get promised money to fast-track action, wrap up implementation package and ensure political leadership to answer political questions that remain outstanding.  There is a growing consensus on an operational architecture to implement effective and collective climate action. 

In Bonn, the chair of the long term co-operative action (LCA), Margaret Mukahanana-Sangarwe, with the agreement of governments will table a new text when it convenes Tuesday (01 June). The proposed text integrates parts of the Copenhagen Accord.  The focus of this group is on emissions reduction commitments for the 37 industrialised countries that have ratified the Kyoto Protocol for the period beyond 2012. 

“The fight over the longer term for a safer climate will take generations. Others will judge the final victory, but we can measure up to a successful start this year if we can keep the process focused", said de Boer.

In addition to the two working groups mandated to negotiate a long-term response to climate change, two UNFCCC standing committees – the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) and the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI) – are meeting in Bonn.  SBSTA deals with the issue of building capacity in developing countries to measure emissions from deforestation. It will convene a research dialogue between governments and research organisations to generate discussion on the latest information on climate change science. The SBI is expected to agree on the modalities for the review of the Kyoto Protocol’s Adaptation Fund in Mexico at the end of this year.

The Bonn gathering is being attended by more than 4,500 delegates, including government delegates, representatives from business and industry, environmental organisations and research institutions.

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 and the climate pasifika blogspot,

Saturday 29 May 2010

No climate pact this year: de Boer

By Makereta Komai, Climate Pasifika and Editor of PACNEWS

28 May 2010 Bonn, Germany - A global, comprehensive and legally-binding agreement on climate change that was expected to have been finalised in Copenhagen in December last year is unlikely to be delivered at the next climate change conference as well.

The outgoing head of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Yvo de Boer said on Tuesday night that it was unrealistic to expect that the next Conference of Parties (CoP) to be held in Mexico in December this year, would be able to produce a legally-binding agreement.

He said such a full-fledged treaty would probably have to wait another year, till the next CoP in South Africa in 2011.

“I think developing countries especially would want to see what an agreement would entail for them before they are willing to turn it into a legally-binding treaty.

So I think if we are to get to a treaty, South Africa a year later is much more realistic,” de Boer said in a teleconference with journalists.

One of the divisive issues before climate change negotiators is the push by the United States and 20 other nations, mostly developed countries, to integrate the Copenhagen Accord into the negotiating text to be considered in the 12 days of talks in Bonn, Germany, beginning May 31.

Mr. de Boer had earlier indicated that the Accord, although not endorsed by all the UNFCCC’s 193 Parties, ‘should be included in the formal UN negotiations.”

The UN climate change chief, who will step down after the Bonn meeting to be replaced by Costa Rican diplomat Christiana Figueres, said the chair of the Long Term Co-operative Action (LCA) UN working group would table a "new text that integrates parts of the Copenhagen Accord", adding that the meeting could " significantly enhance that text".

The status of the Copenhagen Accord has been one of the main sticking points for the long-running negotiations since the end of the Copenhagen summit, with richer nations arguing that it provides a better framework for a binding deal than the existing Kyoto Protocol and poorer nations warning that any move away from the Kyoto Framework risks resulting in a weaker agreement.

De Boer said governments needed to "act now to develop greater clarity on the future of the Kyoto Protocol, since this cannot be left unattended until Cancun".

He reiterated his view that Cancun could deliver meaningful progress towards a binding international treaty, but only if rich nations provide evidence that they are making good on their commitment to provide $30bn of fast-track climate funding to poorer nations, and all countries deliver progress on emissions targets and the mechanisms for ensuring they are met.

He also warned that the Copenhagen Accord "set a political intent to keep temperature rises below two degrees Centigrade, yet existing industrial country pledges to cut emissions will not meet this goal".

De Boer’s comments came as one of China’s top climate change officials, Xie Zhenhua, confirmed for the first time that China is targeting the UN climate meeting in South Africa in late 2011 for the completion of any international treaty.

UN and EU officials have already signaled that they do not expect a deal to be finalised in Cancun, and Xie endorsed that view yesterday, confirming that the best that could be hoped for in Cancun was progress towards a deal.


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 and the climate pasifika blogspot,

Wednesday 26 May 2010

Tussle for a legally binding deal on climate change will continue in Bonn

By Makereta Komai, Climate Pasifika and Editor of PACNEWS
If the United States position will again shape the outcome of the two weeks global climate change negotiations in Bonn, Germany next week, then expect a ‘tough ride’ ahead towards Cancun in December.

Before talks begin on Monday 31 May at Hotel Maritim in Bonn, the U.S has told the chair of one of the two subsidiary bodies of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change that it does not recognise the current text proposed by the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long Term Co-operative Action (AWG-LCA) as a basis for negotiations.

“COP 15 in Copenhagen decided that Parties are to draw from the LCA text rather than use it’s as a basis for negotiations, said the U.S submission to the chair AWG-LCA submitted in April.
“In the U.S view, the chair should only import on a provision by provision basis when it would facilitate the progress of the negotiations.

The U.S argued that while the Conference of the Parties (COP) did not formally adopt the Copenhagen Accord, 120 of the 194 UNFCCC Parties have now signed onto the Accord.
Because of that, ‘it is relevant to progress the Accord under the Convention, the U.S pushed.
A statement issued by the UNFCCC Secretariat in April said the Copenhagen Accord ‘may be used as part of UN climate change negotiations, but as an option.’

India and China have opposed the move saying negotiations should be conducted only on two existing UN tracks — Kyoto Protocol and Long term Cooperative Action (LCA) — but agreed to incorporate some elements of the Copenhagen Accord in the LCA text.

The UN climate change body has come up with a new draft which has elements of the Copenhagen Accord as alternative options for the nations to agree.

"Overcome differences, says de Boer

Sensing another deadlock in Bonn, the outgoing Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC Secretariat, Yves de Boer urged all Parties to ‘overcome differences and work for greater clarity on what can be agreed to by all Parties for Cancun in December.’

The UN’s top climate change official, whose term comes to an end after the Bonn meeting, said negotiators must finalise a functioning architecture that will launch global climate action across the board.

“Specifically, negotiations need to conclude on mitigation targets and action, a package on adaptation, a new technology mechanism, financial arrangements, ways to deal with deforestation and a capacity building framework, said de Boer.

Indicative road map to Cancun

A copy of the provisional agenda of the Bonn meeting reveals an attempt by the chair of the LCA group to provide direction to the negotiation process.

An indicative roadmap has been proposed to help steer the negotiations to an outcome to be adopted by COP in Mexico at the end of the year.

“It is the intention of the chair to bridge positions and find mutually agreeable ways of proceeding.

The negotiating text still contains options on several central key questions related to mitigation, finance and measurement, reporting and verification of action and support.

“AWG-LCA should resolve these questions to the extent as possible. In the cases where these are not achieved, the AWG-LCA will need to identify clear and limited set of remaining political choices, said the chair.

Limits to greenhouse gas emission reduction and global temperature still stick out as a sore thumb in the negotiations.

Two options are before negotiators – whether to commit to deep cuts as soon as possible or set up a long term ambitious global emissions reduction plan.

An increase in average global temperature, according to the proposed text should (or ought not) exceed the three bracketed options of 2 degrees, 1.5 degrees or 1 degree.

On greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) reduction, Parties are urged to collectively reduce their emissions by at least three bracketed positions – 50, 85 and 95 percent from 1990 levels by 2050.

In addition, developed countries as a group are asked to reduce their GHG emissions by three options – 75-85 percent or at least 80-95 percent or more than 95 percent from 1990 levels by 2050 or more than 100 percent by 2040.

But the United States maintains its position that increase in global temperature must be kept at below 2 degrees.

“To address the views of some that it is inadequate, the text should provide for a review process, said the U.S submission.

However, a common thread amongst all the Parties is the need to conclude a legally binding agreement at the end of the year in Mexico.

“The U.S wants a legally binding agreement provided the text is legally binding to all relevant parties and not just to Annex 1 or developed countries, the U.S argued.

AOSIS sticks to its position

The Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) will not shift from its position, as supported by more than 100 Parties.

“AOSIS share the view that long term goal should be to limit any global temperature to well below 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels to stabilise atmospheric greenhouse gas concentration at well below 350ppm. This goal must be reflected in the draft negotiating text, said Grenada on behalf of AOSIS states.

“Greenhouse gas emissions must peak by 2015 and global Co2 reduction should be greater than 85 percent by 2050.

“Mitigation pledges of 3 degrees centigrade are not enough to limit temperature increases to the 2 degrees ceiling sought by some, let alone limit temperature to well below 1.5 degree sought by over 100 parties.

“The gap between current pledges and what the best available science demands must be addressed as soon as possible, according to the AOSIS submission.

On the indicative roadmap, AOSIS submitted that it wants the LCA process to achieve a defined outcome in Cancun.

“It should have clearly defined milestones for each negotiating session. It should also provide for a contingency processes aimed at ensuring that any failure to achieve milestones are addressed at inter-sessional period.

“Such contingency process should be transparent, inclusive and efficient with results being brought back to the formal UNFCCC processes for discussion and adoption, AOSIS stated.

To drive home the urgency of the call of AOSIS, the Pacific Group at the United Nations in New York compared global warming to an invading army.

The 11 nations that make up the Pacific Small Island Developing States wrote to members of the U.N.’s most powerful body to argue that the threat they face from a warmer world and rising sea levels is comparable to armed conflict. The 15-nation Security Council oversees threats to international peace and security.

“Climate change can devastate a country just as thoroughly as an invading army,” Nauru’s U.N. Ambassador Marlene Moses said as chair of the island nations’ group.

Ms Moses said the Security Council must step in because the U.N.-led negotiations for mandatory cuts in greenhouse gases and assistance for the most vulnerable nations is stalled.

“If (the) international community fails to take immediate action, then it will be complicit in the extinction of entire nations,” she said.

The group said climate change is contributing to severe food and water shortages in the Pacific and already making refugees of people in Vanuatu, Micronesia and Papua New Guinea.
Leading Pacific climate change negotiator and Solomon Islands Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Colin Beck said, the Pacific will not accept anything less than 1.5 degrees limit to global temperature and GHG concentration in the atmosphere to well below 30 part per million of carbon dioxide.

“Any outcome document or agreement that does not reflect that is an imposition of a death sentence on my people", said Ambassador Beck at the end of the failed Copenhagen talks.

“There are certain elements in an agreement that can be negotiated. In our case, our 1.5 degrees to stay alive position is non-negotiable. If not, then the world is signing the death certificate of vulnerable island states.”

Copenhagen green climate change fund

The United States and the 26 developed countries that penned the Copenhagen Accord are pushing for the establishment of a Green Climate Change Fund, to operate as a financial entity of the Convention. The fund, as proposed, will support projects and policies relating to mitigation including REDD Plus, adaptation, capacity building and technology development and transfer.

It’s suggested that the Fund be governed by a board nominated by the Conference of the Parties.

The negotiating text wants a collective commitment by developed countries to provide additional funding resources of USD$30 billion for the period 2010-2012.

“Funding for adaptation will be prioritised for the most vulnerable developing countries such as LDCs and SIDS and Africa, said the provisional agenda.

Ms Komai will be covering the Bonn Climate Change negotiations from 31 May – 11 June 2010, thanks to funding 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 Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme.  Stories will be posted daily on

Saturday 22 May 2010

Tuvalu responds well to tsunami alert

Ms. Makereta Komai, Editor of PACNEWS was successful in her application for the SPREP Tuvalu Media Grant, the offer of a partnership to send Pacific reporters to Tuvalu to help document the inaugural Tuvalu King Tide Festival in February.  Below is a story from Ms. Komai

28 February 2010, Funafuti - Tuvalu’s national disaster response committee was activated early Sunday morning immediately after the first tsunami warning was received from the U.S tsunami warning centre in Honolulu.
The tiny island nation of about 10,000 population woke up to warnings of a possible tidal wave following an 8.8 earthquake in Chile in South America, which generated 9.9 metres of waves.
Tuvalu was among a number of small islands in the Pacific put on tsunami alert.
The Hawaiian weather forecasting centre predicted that tidal waves could be expected around mid morning, from 10-12 pm forcing people to move their families to higher ground.
The Ekalesia o Tuvalu cancelled all its scheduled church service to allow families to move to safety.
When PACNEWS visited the national hospital, the doctor in charge, Dr Stephen Homasi was calm as he directed patients and people to the top floor of the hospital. 

“We inform the patients in the calmest way of the tsunami and explained to them that we need to move them upstairs.
We moved our 23 patients to the conference room and families from surrounding areas. The hospital is a designated evacuation centre, said Dr Homasi.
He told PACNEWS he was pleased with the quick turn-around time for people to mobilise and move to designated higher grounds.
“We had families coming with their water and food and other essential belongings, said Dr Homasi.
The island’s lone police vehicle fitted with a loud speaker warned people of the impending huge waves, warning people to move any higher building for their safety.
Both the police and navy and government agencies including Red Cross was mobilised to assist with moving families.

Most families with young children were moved to the Taiwanese built two storey government and the Queen Mary hospital.
“It’s good to see that people have now taken heed of our warning and taken precautions. This is probably because people have seen the devastation in Samoa last year, said a Tuvaluan police officer that did not want to be named.
The tsunami alert comes on the day Tuvalu expects its highest king tide. The local weather office predicts its highest king tide for this year will on Sunday afternoon, around 5pm, peaking at 3.3 metres.
For the first time, the island has organised a King Tide Festival to promote tourism and create awareness of the impact of climate change on the tiny atoll island