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North-South differences re-emerge in Bangkok talks


 
Discussions at the Bangkok climate talks on “long-term cooperative action” showed differences broadly between developed and developing countries on priorities of issues and the sequence in which they should be discussed.
 
This picture emerged at the formal plenary (on Monday and Tuesday) as well as the informal plenary of the ad hoc working group on long-term cooperative action (AWG-LCA) of the UN Conference on Climate Change (UNFCCC).  (See first report of the meeting in Bangkok News Update 1, dated 2 April 2008).
 
Developed country members, such as the Japan, Canada and European Union placed the stress on the role of developing countries in mitigation either directly, or indirectly through the issue of “shared vision” (in which they emphasised global emission reduction, which is a code for drawing developing countries into emission reduction targets).
 
Most developing countries on the other hand pointed to the poor performance of developed countries in meeting their existing commitments and stressed the need to have these commitments fulfilled as the first priority.  Many wanted discussion on the shared vision to be broader than emission reduction goals, and to be phased after finance and technology were first discussed.
 
However, the LDC Group and the alliance of small island states (AOSIS) wanted to phase discussion on global goals for mitigation at the start.
 
In the formal opening plenary session, where an overview of the process and all issues of the AWG-LCA was discussed, Brazil said there should be a balanced treatment of the four issues and shared vision, and they should not be considered in a sequence but progress should be in unison.  The objective of the work is full implementation of the Convention.  The Shared vision should be considered in all aspects, not just the long-term reduction target, but also address mitigation and adaptation.
 
Saying technology is fundamental, Brazil stressed there was an implementation deficit. There must be differentiation between technololgy development and transfer that we need versus the “business as usual technology trade.”  IPRs should be considered in this context.
 
On finance, new proposals should be coordinated within the convention. Fair governance is needed and it is better for contributions to be made to financial mechanisms inside rather than outside the Convention, while new conditionalities should be avoided.
 
Pakistan said the most formidable problem is lack of fulfilment of Annex I countries’ obligations regarding emission reduction, finance and technology.  A clearly outlined progress on this is critical to translate the Bali roadmap into reality.  The proper sequencing of the agenda items in the next 2 years is needed.  A review of implementation of existing commitments should come first, and a discussion on the obstacles to meeting the obligations and the means to overcome these obstacles.
 
India said the comparability clause in the Bali Action Plan is to ensure that developed countries not in the Kyoto Protocol take on the same level of obligations as developed country parties in the protocol.  All issues in this AWG should be taken together.
 
India added that the long-term stabilisation goal must be considered together with equitable burden sharing.  It must be guided by Article 2 of the Convention in its entirety.  The common but differentiated responsibility principle is critical.  The Prime Minister of India has said that India’s per capita emissions will not exceed the level of developed countries.
 
Venezuela said that the legal regime of long term cooperative action is already established under the Kyoto Protocol and UNFCCC. Principles therein must rule. It does not agree that there is need for a new multilateral regime on climate change.  “We are concerned with comments heard here on the Bali Action Plan as the basis for a new legal regime,” said Venezuela.  The current regime has been there for 17 years and we should not waste that effort.
 
Annex 1 countries must meet their historical responsibility and lower their greenhouse gases within their current legal regime. It is contradictory to see developed countries invest unimaginable amounts of money on warfare while not meeting their basic responsibility in UNFCCC and Kyoto Protocol. The lives of present and future generations are at stake. The developing world faces hunger and poverty and are now asked to accept responsibilities to reduce emissions.
 
The current legal regime is flexible and sufficient to address the issues. There are two kinds of modalities existing -- binding on developed countries, as they are historically responsible, and the contribution of developing countries based on common but differentiated responsibility and taking into account national priorities.
 
Developing countries will contribute in line with the financial resources and technology transfer offered by developed countries, added Venezuela. The Bali Action Plan is a declaration where states agree to act but its mandate does not include a new legal regime.  We are ready to debate what elements could be in work programme but not to talk on a new protocol.
 
Venezuela said Annex I countries must assume their responsibilities without further excuses or delays. The focus of this AWG must be based on Article 2, and all the elements are there for setting emission reductions.  Technology transfer must be carried out without conditions and without creating new debt.  Finance and technology cannot create dependence as was the case in the past.
 
Malaysia said that as the primary purpose of the AWGLCA is to enable full implementation of the Convention, we should focus on the implementation of existing obligations.  Work should start with a focus on Annex I parties’ obligations, examining failures and barriers facing their implementation in the first commitment period and identifying ways to address those failures and barriers.
 
It is vital to know how much funding is available to undertake technology transfer and adaptation and ensure this reaches developing countries.  “We have spent much time on this issue but have yet to see any progress,” said Malaysia.  “Similarly there has been a disappointing lack of progress on technology transfer. It is important to ensure that outdated and polluting technology is not transferred to developing countries as this will slow our efforts to address climate change. We must address these aspects before we can move on to other issues that are more difficult.”
 
Malaysia proposed that discussions focus on a mechanism for technology transfer, the level and nature of public sector finance to be provided by Annex I countries, capacity building to be provided, and the means by which these will be measured, reported and verified.  
 
Saudi Arabia said the Bali Action Plan is not meant to lead to an agreement to replace or supersede the UNFCCC or Kyoto protocol. There should be no extraneous issues brought into the agenda. The initial focus should be on technology and finance which are enabling factors.  The extent to which developing countries take action depends on finance and technology. 
How to accurately measure and verify this provision of finance and technology is an essential step.  The tools available to developing countries must be understood and clarified, only then can developing countries know how much they can do.  Success is not measured by consensus language but to have a breakthrough in providing a tool-box for finance and technology.   
 
Barbados speaking for the Alliance of Small Island States said that all sessions must abide by openness and inclusiveness.  On a shared vision, any decision must be guided by a mitigation pathway, which must be sufficient to ensure temperature increase well below 2 degrees and greenhouse gas concentration as far below 450 ppm as possible, with a global emission reduction of 50-85% cut.  Some scientists have suggested a concentration level of no more than 350 ppm.  More scientific work is needed on the means and cost of mitigation pathways.
 
Barbados said that any new initiatives for funding for adaptation should be through the UNFCCC.  It also proposed the establishment of a Convention Adaptation Fund that is linked to Greenhouse gas emissions, consistent with the polluter pays principle, to generate funding to address adaptation needs.
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Bangladesh said the all important. programme on adaptation cannot wait.  A global emission reduction target is needed. A protocol on adaptation should be established.
 
Egypt wanted to limit parallel meetings (which would affect participation of developing countries) and insisted on transparency in the process.  A mechanism is needed for finance and technology.
 
Canada supported Japan’s proposal on legal aspects of the framework after 2012.  All five building blocks should be discussed in each session.  It spoke about a “single undertaking” that includes all “major economies” in Copenhagen in 2009.
 
The United States shared the enthusiasm that the Bali Action Plan is a breakthrough.  It suggested the issues be discussed under 3 clusters:  long-term vision, mitigation (with finance and technology), and adaptation (with finance and technology).  It supported the G77 that the two working groups are separate and distinct processes.
 
Speaking as an NGO, the Third World Network said that the AWG’s work should be in two sets, with the implementation of existing commitments coming first while the new issues agreed in Bali—shared vision and enhanced mitigation actions of developing countries -- coming later.
 
TWN said the issue of global emission-reduction goals have implications for burden sharing, because the cuts would affect both developed and developing countries and it is vital to have the data on scenarios on how the burden is to be shared. 
 
Finally, on finance, there is a serious concern among NGOs about the World Bank’s new initiative to set up climate funds of up to $11 billion which would undermine the finance negotiations at the UNFCCC as well as the funds under the UNFCCC. 
 
(The above is the second of two reports on the formal plenary of the AWG-LCA.  Details of the informal session that took place later are reported in a separate Update). 


 

Source:Third World Network
Date:Apr 07,2008