Friday, 10 December 2010

Draft outcomes fall short of AOSIS expectations

By Makereta Komai, Climate Pasifika Media in Cancun, Mexico

09 DECEMBER 2010 CANCUN --- A day before the conclusion of the global climate talks in Cancun, Mexico, there is still no clarity on major issues pushed forward by Pacific Island Countries and their small island counterparts in the Caribbean and the Indian Ocean.

Chief among them is the 1.5 degrees Celsius goal to stay alive, the position that the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) has been lobbying for two years since the Conference of the Parties in Poznan in Poland.

The draft outcome of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long Term Co-operative Action (AWG-LCA) released Wednesday still has 1.5 degrees bracketed with other options of and 1 and 2 degrees Celsius.

Any hope of inscribing the 1.5 goal looks increasingly dim as the United States leads the attack to stay with the below 2 degrees subscribed to in the Copenhagen Accord.

“I think the 2 degree goal is important. We try and guide our actions by what science is telling us. 2 degrees is sometimes looked at as talismanic but we follow what science is telling us."

US Climate Chief special envoy, Todd Stern, right, speaking to a delegate
“As we move forward, science might tell us that 2 degrees is too high or that 1.5 degrees is okay but for now the 2 degrees is a good goal to be in the agreement", said Todd Stern, the United States climate change special envoy.

But the proviso in the proposed draft is the period of the review of the increase in global temperature.

“I think we built into the Copenhagen Accord a provision for a review period in this agreement to take a look at how the world is doing. Our view is that the best way to proceed is for a review period, which should be linked to the science", said Stern

The draft outcome has endorsed a review period to take into account the best available scientific knowledge, observed impacts of climate change and to consider strengthening the long term goal of 1.5 degrees Celsius.

The first review starts in 2013 and is expected to conclude by 2015.

On loss and damage, the draft outcome requests AWG-LCA to consider a mechanism to address loss and damage associated with climate change impacts in developing countries that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change.

This language is weaker than what AOSIS was asking for. The small island developing states (SIDS) wanted a mechanism established to take into account a disaster risk component, insurance and compensation funds to help SIDS manage the financial and economic risks arising from climate impacts. The mechanism should also assist in rapid recovery and rehabilitation from climate related extreme weather events and also address unavoidable damage and loss associated with adverse effects of climate change.

The draft outcome has recommended that a decision be taken at the next Conference of the Parties in Durban, South Africa in 2011.

A push for a new Green fund, proposed in the Copenhagen Accord, has found its way into the draft LCA outcome text.

Negotiators are yet to work out a name for the new fund and decide whether it will be established as a financial mechanism under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Samoa is keen to have the funds up and running, with representation on the Governing Board from SIDS.

“SIDS challenges and priorities are not identical to those of other negotiating groups both in focus, relative sizes and magnitude. It is critically important that SIDS has a voice in the transitional group to set up the Climate Fund, and in its Governing Board once its final architecture is in place", said Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, while addressing the High Level Segment of the negotiations.

PM Tuilaepa said the new Fund should be tailored to meet the needs of SIDS.

“Key to SIDS utilizing these resources is the ability to effectively access and manage them. In the absence of such modalities, any climate funding, old or new will be a disincentive and not a solution to the adaptation needs of the very group of vulnerable countries the fund was meant to address in the first place", said PM Tuilaepa.

Another element of the Copenhagen Accord now included in the proposed formal outcome is the fast start finance. There is general consensus that the US$30 billion committed for 2010-2012 must be equally shared between adaptation and mitigation and that the needs of most vulnerable developing states, such as the least developed countries and SIDS are prioritised.

At the end of 2010, most of the countries in the priority list have not received anything.

“It’s now a year after Copenhagen, and we still have not received any of the promised money", said President Anote Tong

Similarly, the same sentiments from Leaders of Nauru, Samoa, Palau, who attended the High Level Segment session here in Cancun.

One of the leading civil society organisations following the negotiations, Oxfam said a commitment to ensure that at least 50 percent of climate funding is dedicated to adaptation is missing.

"The delivery of adaptation finance to vulnerable communities already affected by climate change has been neglected so far. The new Climate Fund must close the adaptation gap to address this so that communities can protect themselves against the climate impacts of today and tomorrow," said Tim Gore, Oxfam’s international climate change advisor.

According Climate Action Network International (CAN), a group of influential civil society organisations around the world that at the end of 2010, an estimated 80 percent of the fast start finance had been allocated to mitigation and almost 10 percent was disbursed for adaptation purposed.

“This clearly shows that adaptation is the poor cousin of mitigation,” said CAN’s publication ECO.

Funding projects that have been approved for the Pacific and other Small Island Developing States have concentrated on renewable energy and energy efficiency, which accounts for the mitigation funds from the fast start finance. Denmark is the latest fast start finance donor to commit US$14.5 million for renewable energy projects in AOSIS nations.

The role of loans needs far greater clarity in the fast start finance.

“We know that a large proportion of the financing is being channelled as loans – 52 percent in the case of the European Union, for example", said ECO.

“That’s bad enough, countries should not have to get into debt to adapt to change that they didn’t cause."

On long term finance, the draft text endorsed that a scaled up, new and additional and predictable funding be made available to developing countries. Rich and industrialised countries will jointly mobilise US$100 billion a year by 2020 to help countries adapt to and mitigate against the impacts of climate change.

But there is strong push that developing nations (or Annex II) are roped into contributing to the long term finance pool.

This push by the rich nations has been reflected as an option in the draft outcome.

“Annex II countries shall provide 1.5 percent of their gross domestic product per year by 2020 to address the needs of developing countries", said the draft text.

To advance this agenda, the United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon convened a distinguished group of eminent personalities to develop the thinking further. The group, led by Prime Ministers Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia and Jens Stoltenberg of Norway have concluded that US$100 billion annually will be challenging but feasible.

Hours before the close of the climate talks, the UN’s climate chief, Christina Figueres remained optimistic that Cancun will deliver a balanced outcome.

“I see Parties continuing to work hard together to deliver a successful, balanced outcome that must be the next significant step in the world’s long road towards a full solution to the climate challenge."

Under the common umbrella of the United Nations, where every country has a voice, the Mexican Presidency of the UN climate change conference has set up a transparent, fully inclusive process. All countries are free to decide to participate and to join in finding the essential middle ground that will deliver success.

“I see a willingness of Parties to move positions. I see active and open exchange in the ministerial consultations, including how to reach political conciliation on anchoring mitigation proposals that have been made in 2010, clarity on the Kyoto Protocol, establishment of a fund for long-term finance, and decisions to implement action on forests, technology transfer and adaptation."

"But more needs to be done. I call on all sides to redouble their efforts and use creative ways to reach solutions, to travel the last mile to a successful outcome,” said Figueres

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