Saturday, 8 October 2011

Small progress made in Panama climate talks, AOSIS

By Makereta Komai for Climate Pasifika in Panama

07 October 2011 Panama – There is a general agreement here in Panama that some progress has been made in advancing a climate change deal, in whatever form it will take, in Durban in December.

At the conclusion of the last round of climate talks before the 17th Conference of the Parties in South Africa, the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) is happy with the draft texts that have emerged from the weeklong negotiations.

“This is critical for securing the future of the international climate regime. We must preserve the multilateral rules-based climate regime to limit greenhouse gas emissions to ensure the survival of small island states and the planet, said AOSIS chair and Grenada’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Dessima Williams. 
Ambassador Dessima Williams, chair of AOSIS
Multilateralism is likely to fail if key Parties in the 194 membership of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) will not give political backing to a second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol.

“Durban could witness the dissolution of the multilateral rules-based process that has been in place for nearly 20 years. We are disappointed that some Parties are reneging on their commitments.

“I can tell you what real progress looks like for AOSIS: Real progress means doing what is required to keep island nations from drowning, famines from spreading, rainforests from burning, and ice caps from melting.

“Real progress is setting emissions targets capable of keeping global warming well below 1.5 degrees Celsius; mobilizing a minimum of $100 billion a year by 2020 to build sustainable energy sources in the developing world and help the most vulnerable countries adapt to the impacts of climate change; agreeing to second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol before it expires in 2012; and finally climate finance must scale up after the end of fast start finance in 2012 to avoid a gap.

“Real progress is doing what is essential to save entire ecosystems, countries, and cultures from destruction and not “just enough” to get us to the next round of meetings, said Ambassador Williams.

Speaking to journalists immediately after the conclusion of Panama talks, United States deputy special envoy on climate change, Dr Jonathan Pershing said even though the U.S is not party to the Kyoto Protocol, ‘It’s uncertainty is a source of anxiety for the future of a global climate change deal.’
Dr. Jonathan Pershing, US lead negotiator on climate change in Panama
“The future of the Kyoto Protocol is relevant to the U.S. We will only undertake any commitment if major economies are part of the global deal that reflects today and tomorrow’s realities and not those of 1992.

“We are encouraged by some of the progress made here in Panama especially some of the negotiating test which we think reflects structured thinking on the Cancun Agreement.

The U.S, Dr Pershing said remains committed to its short and long term climate financing pledged under the Copenhagen and Cancun Agreements.

“Let me make it clear we are not blocking debate on how and where our funds will come from. We are committed to what developed countries promised to mobilise the US$100 billion by 2020.

In response to suggestion of a gap in financing after 2012 when the initial US$30 billion runs out, Dr Pershing said, “I do not see a gap after 2012. This is a collective effort by developed countries and we are committed to raising the long term US$100 billion financing for mitigation and transparency.”

“It will not end in 2013 and the ramp up long term finance to 2020 will be met through public and private financing.”

 The European Union (EU) on the other hand said it wants to see governance issues related to the setting up of the Green Climate Fund is in place before there is discussion on how the fund can be financed.

AOSIS is pushing the Transitional Committee to complete its work on the design of the Green Fund to allow it to be operational by 2012. The group of 43 small island developing states also want a work programme established to identify long term sources of climate change finance.

Here in Panama, ‘good progress’ has been achieved on preparing decisions on adaptation, access to technology, said UN climate chief, Christiana Figueres.
UN climate chief, Christiana Figueres
“The progress made in Panama means that governments can have more time and space in the coming seven weeks and during Durban to resolve those outstanding issues on the future of the global climate change regime which will require political guidance.

“Durban will have to resolve the open question over the future of the Kyoto Protocol and what that means for a future global climate agreement, said Figueres.

At the negotiations, governments retained their different positions but many technical issues have already been brought to conclusion and there is a strong desire from all sides to see a final political decision made, she said.

The UN climate chief said Panama has also made some progress on the longer term question of how governments will meet their agreed goal of limiting global average temperatures to no more than 2 degrees Celsius.

“In Durban, governments will decide on the shape of a formal review between 2013 and 2015, which they agreed in Cancun as a reality check on progress towards their temperature goal.

“Clarity on an effective, credible review is important, especially in light of the fact the sum total of national pledges to reduce global emissions falls 40 percent short of keeping below 2 degrees and that gap will have to be filled in the future, Figueres said.

The 17th Conference of the Parties will convene in Durban from 28 November – 09 December.

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