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Climate Change


Le 10/12/2011

At about 19:15 the AWG-KP began. There was a text and five annexes, but States are proposing numerous amendments to commitment period lengths and LULUCF provisions. No State has rejected it out of hand when the Chair breaks for 15 minutes at 19:55. when Chair tries to reconvene at 20:10 the EU ask for more time (10 mins.) to find consensus among their 27 member States. Australian withdraws its request to strength LULUCF provisions, says they have old text. Gambia (LDCs) asks to bracket para. 12 in FCC/KP/AWG/2011/L.3/Add.1. Russia rejects the brackets around 12bis and says they will not agree to text without brackets. Chair against suspends for 10 mins. for EU.  When they resume the EU proposes new language and dates that make commitment periods vague. Saudi Arabia tries to make proposes to strengthen Kyoto Protocol, but chair rejects. Venezuela (ALBA) criticizes chair for bowing to developing countries proposals and gets applause. EU asks if proposal will be put in text. Venezuela strongly criticizes this. Columbia, Kenya, and  Papua New Guinea recognize EU commitments too weak, but defend them anyway. Nicaragua says that almost all proposals it made in Ministerial consultation have been omitted from draft text goes through a list of concerns. Brazil makes statement of support for respect for views of Nicaragua, Bolivia, and Venezuela, but says text should go into to plenary under responsibility of the Chair. After cutting off any additional speakers and not allowing discussion of agenda point 3, the report of the AWG-KP was adopted and the session closed. KP text goes to CMD.

Now AWG-LCA to follow in a few minutes....but no new LCA text (still FCCC?AWGLCA/2011/L.4 from 9 December 2011)? 



Extra Time

Le 10/12/2011

At around 18:15 spoke with H.E. Ms. Bomo Edna Molewa, the South African Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs. She was very optimistic. She was waiting outside the Sabi Star room because she could not get in. She said the Chair was enforcing the rule very strictly that only two delegates per state were allowed in the room. She said, "Everyone is welcome to stay here as long as they want we will provide them the friendly African hospitality." She also said that the African Group was very united, but that the G77 was "more diverse" and therefore "not as united."

UNFCCC Secretariat arrives at Baobab with green-shirted young assistants carrying boxes of papers. Stocking keeping in more like pep-rally...but when the team is losing badly and time is running out. 

At 6 pm there was suppose to be President's stocktaking, but she is still involved in negotiations. Many negotiators are out of room getting something to eat and some going to Stocktaking. NGOs probably outnumber negotiator in the still about 600 people still at ICC. Proposals range from just going home after suspending the session, adopting whatever they reach and sending the rest to the next COP, rejecting everything which leaves us at stocktaking exercise on LCA and with four options for KP. One delegate told me that if they reject everything there will be more bracket and ten KP options by the time we look at it again.

Rio+20 Co-Chair Ambassador Ash says that they could continue in Rio. The prospect of a trip to Rio de Janeiro might be enough to halt negotiations. One delegate was overheard saying she is not coming back tomorrow if there is sunshine. Right now it is raining...both inside and outside the ICC.

The lack of trust runs beyond the State parties as NGOs and the UNFCCC itself are extremely cautious about sharing information with each other. States' negotiators are also giving increasingly generic answers. It is hard to see much progress in such an environment of distrust.

At about 14:30 an Indian negotiator emerged from the Kosi room where closed door negotiations are taking place to explain that there still were no numbers on the table in relation to mitigation pledges meaning that States are heading towards agreeing to new commitment periods under the Kyoto Protocol merely to empty them of any meaning. Several AOSIS members were very careful about saying anything of meaning. At about 15:00 a Nicaraguan delegate also lamented that they States were not yet negotiating mitigation numbers. And a Saudi Arabian said he thought the GCF was now agreed and it would have legal personality and be based in either Bonn or Geneva. At 4 pm still no COP as the hall's doors remain closed an guarded. For the first time in two weeks, Executive Secretary Figueres is nowhere to be seen. Although it is possible, the UNFCCC's lack of transparency prevents confirmation of this.

The new LCA text appears on the UNFCCC website this morning. The Shared vision has been cut from 81 paragraphs to 4. Gone is any mention of equity, historical responsibility, human rights, a climate court, Mother Earth or intellectual property. What is left is a rather meaningless reference to sustainable development. If this is adopted, the very principles of international climate change law will be significantly depleted. The mitigation section focuses on reporting, mainly by developing countries. REDD+ is unapologetically reaffirmed in an expanded text as are other market-based approaches.  A section on response measures also appears to have been elaborated slightly. It appears the form and membership criteria of the Adaptation Committee has been agreed. Long-term financing has been boiled down to seven vague paragraphs from several times this and essentially deferred. There are no real commitments contained in the text, except perhaps to continue to think about the issue. Technology transfer and capacity building seem to be the carrot that developed countries have thrown to the developing countries as both are expanded or contain some degree of commitments. The Review provision reiterate some of the UNFCCC principles but nothing more. Human rights are not considered. Reporting guidelines, biennial reporting and consultation guidelines and the indicative list of activities for the Adaptation Committee and Criteria for selecting hosts of CTCNI have been kept, but pruned. Annexes on long-term financing and a timeline for review have been omitted. It would seem as if the developed countries got most of what they wanted and developing countries little of what they need.

Overnight four texts emerged that appears to foreshadow not only the death of the Kyoto Protocol, but also the most fundamental principles of the UNFCCC. As US delegates celebrated, the G77 met until almost daybreak to consider what, if anything could be done to save the text, short of all out rejection.

It also emerged that developing States were being advise voluntarily by American lawyers who sometimes appeared put their own interests over those of the States. For example, the lawyers appear to have advised States to accept REDD+ as a fait compli when REDD+ had raised significant concerns from G77 and African countries.


In Memoriam? Or the courage to live responsibly? (round up and notes of the almost last day)

Le 09/12/2011

Negotiators ended session around 2 am and went into group meetings. G77 members did not seem happy about new text, which UNFCCC  got on to website quite quickly (by 2 am). Adds very little and most seems like window dressing. For example, the GCF is setup with legal personality, but without any money. The Bigger Picture text calsl for both new Kyoto commitment period as well as start of negotiations on new treaty without preconditions by 2015, but doesn't really do much to move in that direction other than say the process should start (with a Working Group). And finally, the further commitment periods under the KP text does create a new commitment period, but there are no commitments listed and country are only invited to suggest some.

It is also somewhat troubling that although the texts were availabel at 21:40, 23:00, and 00:30 respectively, they were not made available until about 4 am and even then many did not have copies. This was another example of the UNFCCC failing to ensure transparency of the process.

Negotiators returned to the African Wattle room again around midnight to consider a new Chair's text which was not publicly distributed. Instead the UNFCCC website said this text would be distributed on Saturday morning. The site also states that there will be no COP or CMP meetings before 10 am on Saturday. Meantime several delegations are already leaving.

In a preliminary reaction to the text, a G77 advisor was that it did not significantly improve upon the earlier four pages of text that had been widely criticized. An AOSIS negotiator, and from State member of the G77, said the text is something that they can work with.

Two delegates from developing countries explained to me that India made "a very good statement" at the ministerial meeting explaining that climate change had to be combated while ensuring respect for sustainable development for all States. They got an ovation from other delegations for the statement.

Western media still reports China and India as the villain. At ICC most still see US & EU as the problem.

While redrafting text and reconsidering meaning of common but differentiated responsibilities (CbDR) the Chair might want to consider:

  • GDP (per capita) of China $7,544
  • GDP (per capita) of India $3,408
  • GDP (per capita) of US $46,860
  • GDP (per capita) average for Europe $30,388
  • Percentage of emissions of CO2 over past two hundred years by US are 30%, more than any other country and more than most other countries combined.
  • Percentage of emissions of CO2 over past two hundred years by China about 8.5%, more than any other country and more than most other countries combined.
  • Percentage of emissions of CO2 over past two hundred years by India less than 5%, more than any other country and more than most other countries combined
  • Per capita CO2 in 2008 for US 17.5 metric tons per person.
  • Per capita CO2 in 2008 for China 5.3 metric tons per person.
  • Per capita CO2 in 2008 for India 1.4 metric tons per person.

Just overheard a young European diplomat at the negotiations say: "I don't understand why they just can agree to be equally bound to cut emissions. They raise all these difficult things about development. I don't understand. Why do they have to keep causing trouble." Has this diplomat ever read the UNFCCC, likely not other wise she would know that article 2 requires action against climate change that respects the right to sustainable development. And this person is speaking for a government!

Ministerial meeting broke at 20:30. A Developing State negotiator says that "almost everyone spoke against the text. I think the chair was shocked." The text which "appeared to come from the EU suggestions," said a negotiator, was sent back to the Chair who was asked to come with a viable text by 22:00.   

At 20:20 the group of negotiators led by Bernaditas Muller (Philippines) working on the GCF came to the end of the text that they were now sending to the Ministerial level for consideration. While the text seemed to enjoy consensus, it was unclear that it would be agreed by consensus, which is necessary for it to go into force. Choices of modalities still remained unresolved. even as the delegates were celebrating with pictures, some were gathering to argue about the text and several delegates were stating conditions that were not compatible. Moreover, the main question, where would the money come from had been left largely unanswered. The UK for example said it was not sure where the money would come from. 

At about 19:30 China and India both spoke strongly against the text. An Indian delegate now says all developing countries are against the text and have asked EU to go away and re-draft the text to give it teeth...why is EU drafting text at all at a COP in Durban South Africa?

Quote from Financial Times, on Friday, 9 December 2011:

Karl Hood, Grenada’s foreign minister commenting on Chair's text based on EU proposal for a legal framework by 2015 that leads to a treaty by 2020: “It doesn’t become operational until after 2020 so we are looking at God knows when . . . what is a legal framework, I would like to know. My first instinct is to reject it of out of hand . . . is this a conference of parties or is this a corpse?”

Pablo Solon calls two proposals on the table worse than what EU offered, just what US wanted. Says proposals lead to empty Kyoto Protocol where only carbon markets mechanisms continue, but commitments are not there...only vague "legal framework" exists. Solon called for delegates to block the two decisions because otherwise, he said, "we will burn Africa."

At 6 pm Ministerial consultations started in African Room on the new Chair text that was based on the EU proposal of a new convention by 2020.

The African Group, Brazil, AOSIS and US are now allegedly agreeing to EU proposal in principle if there is a new treaty by 2015.

The new treaty would essentially replace the UNFCC and scrap the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities.

We thought we might see the death of the Kyoto Protocol...we might be watching the death of the UNFCCC!

Two proposals emerge:

1. KP without commitments (05:00).

2. LCA text of two preambular paragraphs and eight operative paragraphs that call for work on binding treaty for all to start in 2020 while essentially putting responsibility on markets to pay (or not to pay) for carbon markets (08:00).


Talks on the rocks?

Le 09/12/2011

Despite actions led by Greenpeace and Climate Justice activists, which Un security appears to be tolerating, the talks between States to save our planet's climate appear to be on the verge of collapse on the major issue of action to stop emissions at a level that is not dangerous to our atmosphere.

At 4:45 pm (local Durban time) States convene in small conference room with the Conference Chair to discuss moving forward on a roadmap or plan of action for a new commitment period. Mot delegates had expected to see a Chair's text based on the incremental progress that was made in meetings that lasted until 4 am this morning. Instead the Chair presented a completely new text and said that she wanted on 26 States to stay in the room to negotiate it. After several objections both to the text and procedure the Chair suspended the meeting for an hour to give States a cooling down period and time to better consider the text. 

One senior negotiator speaking on condition that what was said be quoted anonymously said the new text and process "is a disaster. We are moving backwards rapidly, this is a real disaster." 

Ambassador Silvia Merega, the G77 Chair also seemed concern with the situation as she huddled with colleagues, but refused to make a public statement.

Sitting outside the room, Mr. Martin Khor, Executive Director of the South, Centre and intergovernmental think-tank, said he did not know how the negotiations  were proceeding because everything was now taking place behind closed doors.

A senior Egyptian negotiator said that there seem to be a stalemate on matter that were already leal obligations but which some developing states are still trying to deny.


The closing act...

Le 09/12/2011

At 1 am in the morning a South African delegate says that they are considering proposing that delegations stay on a couple extra days to complete the task of negotiating the world atmospheric future. The Canadian government officials allegedly response by saying they can't change their tickets, indicating that they are perhaps the only governmental delegation to have bought nonchargeable tickets. One photographer who was busy snapping shots of dozing delegates and colleagues in the press speculated that perhaps the Canadian had forgot the COP was happening until very late and had to buy last-minute tickets.

As the clock strikes 3 am a Chinese delegate says that pressure is mounting on the US to agree to allow a new commitment period. He doesn't say that the US has said that its not going to join it no matter what.


Minibluff the card game