Saturday, 11 December 2010

Draft decisions adopted, pressure on Durban to produce a legally binding agreement

By Makereta Komai, Climate Pasifika Media in Cancun, Mexico

11 December, Cancun Mexico - Despite Bolivia's attempt to block the final decisions at the global climate change talks in Cancun, which concluded in the early hours of Saturday, the draft decisions from the two ad hoc working groups - long term co-operative action (LCA) and Kyoto Protocol (KP) were passed on majority voices.

The set of agreement, now dubbed the Cancun Agreement, will now be forwarded to Durban, in the hope that a legally binding agreement will be formalised in 2011.

Mexican President, Felipe Calderon made a brief appearance at the end of the COP plenary to congratulate all the 190 nations that sacrificed some of their national positions to reach a compromised agreement.

Earlier, there were extraordinary scenes at the close of the climate talks as the President of COP16, Patricia Espinosa appealed as a woman from the heart, for good sense to prevail in the last few hours of the negotiations before the closing plenary.

Ms Espinosa received continuous standing ovation from the packed plenary, indicating the willingness of Parties to bring to a conclusion the two weeks of negotiations, despite some of the polarised positions of key Parties during the 12 day climate talks.

When the informal session reconvened at 9.30pm Friday, there was overwhelming support from Parties to endorse the draft text submitted by the chair. But the Bolivarian Alliance for the People’s of America (ALBA) countries of Bolivia, Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela rejected the draft saying it did not reflect their positions and urged the chair to reconvene the ad hoc working groups to thrash out the issues of reducing global temperatures and the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol.

"In its current form, commitments to reducing global temperature will result in an average of 4 degree Celsius, a situation that will impose ‘genocide’ on the human race", said a Bolivian negotiator who made the intervention.

Grenada, speaking on behalf of AOSIS said while the text was not perfect because it does not reflect all the issues of Small Island Developing States, the group supported the draft document as a starting point for the building block for an eventual legally binding agreement that can be realised in Durban in 2011.  AOSIS
thanked Parties for making compromises to reach a positive outcome here in Cancun.

They congratulated the COP President, Ms Espinosa and her team for the transparent and flexible manner in which they’ve guided the negotiations.

A number of speakers, the United States, Australia, South Korea, Switzerland, Lesotho, the European Union and Maldives, all spoke in favour of the text, in the spirit of compromise.

Maldives said the ‘transparent and inclusive’ atmosphere that Mexico conducted the meetings has resulted in the ‘positive and enthusiastic end.’

Australia said the will to put together a compromised text was a ‘significant win to multilateralism.’

By 2am Saturday morning, after almost two hours, both the Long Term Co-operative Action (LCA) and Kyoto Protocol (KP) were adopted, despite interventions from Bolivia. The LCA text, drafted by chairperson, Zimbabwean, Margaret Mukahanana-Sangarwe was adopted despite an intervention from Bolivia. The chair directed Bolivia that its concerns were noted by the Secretariat.

The adoption of decisions of the two ad hoc working groups were received with loud cheers and applause from the hundreds of delegates and observers that followed the last hours of the negotiations.

United Nations climate chief, Christiana Figueres in a brief statement thanked Ms Sangarwe for her leadership in the LCA ad hoc working group.

“Your leadership has resulted in the crowning glory that we have now witnessed in the whole process. You have been calm in the face of everything – and you have ably led us to the path that we are celebrating tonight, said Figueres.

The conference, which ended early Saturday morning, has seen a lot of technicalities being discussed to take the pledges made at Copenhagen forward, and the Mexican government took a more decentralised process by forming smaller groups to discuss thorny issues and then tabling them in a plenary.

Sticky issues that tested the will of negotiators to compromise were transparency or the International Consultation and Analysis (ICA) and Measurement Reporting and Verification (MRV) , finance, technology transfer, reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD) plus, and land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF). These were mostly the views of the minority, led by the United States.

There were also “strong and divergent positions” on the continuation of the Kyoto Protocol.

Discussion on the critical areas of ICA, anchoring the pledges made at Copenhagen and legal forms were led by the developed countries, with the U.S. making an issue of the technology transfer mechanism being operationalised.

It is critical to anchor the Copenhagen pledges within the framework of the Kyoto Protocol by developed countries and in long-term cooperative action under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) for developing countries.

The commitment to the setting up of a green fund last year was also an issue of contention, with the U.S. again merely wanting a decision to establish the fund and carrying forward the modalities of funding. Developing countries, however, want a decision at Cancun on this crucial aspect.

NGOs pointed out that the phrase ‘new and additional' (for funding) has been removed from the text under discussion, and in return, timelines have been set for countries to give the money. The $30 billion fast-start finance announced at Copenhagen has been controversial with countries not really coming forward with
funding, and with much of it not being new or additional.

While no one expected a second commitment period for the Kyoto Protocol to be finalised at Cancun, at least a strong indication or political will to continue the protocol is crucial. It is important that the Copenhagen pledges be formalised under the UNFCCC.

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