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UNFCCC meeting debates mitigation actions


The climate change talks under the UN Convention on Climate Change held an interesting discussion on mitigation actions, with developing countries detailing their understanding of the different nature of obligations of developed and developing countries in acting to curb Greenhouse Gas emissions under the Convention and the Bali Action Plan.
 
However, the United States disagreed, saying it the Convention does not define what constitutes a “developing country”, and moreover the Bali Action Plan does not say that developed countries have to take commitments while developing countries only have to take action, as this is an “open question.” 
 
The session on mitigation also saw India orally presenting data on the different rates at which developed and developing countries would have to either reduce their emissions or have the space to increase their emissions on a per capita basis, under certain scenarios and using certain categorisation of countries.
 
Argentina asked the European Union to provide data on whether developing countries would have to reduce their Greenhouse gas emissions, and if so by how much, under the European Union proposal of a global reduction target and a target for developed countries by 2050.
 
Some developing countries, notably Brazil, also warned against attempts to make use of a “sectoral approach” in mitigation.  The developing countries are concerned that if this approach is adopted, it may be used to smuggle in the use of harmonised standards and concepts like a level playing field for international competitiveness, which would open the door to protectionist trade measures against developing countries’ products.    

The session on mitigation took place in the ad hoc group on long-term cooperative action (AWG-LCA) which is tasked with implementing the Bali Action Plan that mandates taking a decision on five main areas (mitigation, adaptation, finance, technology and a shared vision for long-term cooperative action).
 
At the start of the session, the G77 and China, represented by Bernarditas Muller of the Philippines, said that on enhanced action on mitigation of climate change, there is need to recognise the differences between developed and developing country parties.
 
Developed country parties have distinct commitments under the Convention which are different from those of developing countries. Developed countries have mitigation commitments which are quantified emission limitations and reduction objectives.  
 
As regards measurable, reportable, and verifiable mitigation actions, there are also distinctions between developed and developing country parties. For developed, they are nationally appropriate mitigation commitments or actions including quantified emission limitation and reduction objectives which are measurable, reportable and verifiable.
 
For developing countries, nationally appropriate mitigation actions are in the context of sustainable development and these actions are enabled and supported by technology, finance and capacity building, in a measurable, reportable and verifiable manner.
 
There is need for clarification of what is meant by “ensuring the comparability of efforts among developed country parties. There is need to develop clear criteria for comparability of efforts among developed countries who are parties and non-parties to the Kyoto Protocol.
 
On sectoral approaches referred to in the Bali Action Plan, these are allowable within the specific boundaries of Article 4.1 c of the Convention and refer to cooperative approaches within that holistic consideration should also be given to the economic and social consequences of response measures (of developed countries) as to the adverse impacts on developing countries.
 
On the holding of workshops, Muller said the G77 and China wanted the workshop to be open-ended and its organisation to be transparent. It wanted to have a say in how these workshops are to be conducted, and parties should agree on the topics, choice of experts and presenters, and there should be a balance of perspectives. There is a need to avoid proliferation of workshops, keeping in mind developing countries want to have full and effective participation.
 
The AWGLCA chair, Luiz Machado of Brazil, responded that workshops will be held in a most transparent way, and the G77 would be consulted. It would be a Party driven process and with ample possibilities for parties taking control and stewardship.
 
The Brazil delegation made a lengthy presentation.  It said the objective of the Bali Action Plan, including its section on mitigation, is to enhance implementation of the Convention. Our consideration of mitigation, therefore, must respect the text and spirit of the Convention.
 
“The Bali Action Plan deals with mitigation in a way that confirms the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities,” said Brazil. “It addresses, on the one hand, mitigation commitments, including quantified emission limitation and reduction objectives, for Annex I Parties and, on the other hand, mitigation actions by non-Annex I countries in the context of sustainable development.”
 
Brazil added that Annex I mitigation commitments and non-Annex I mitigation actions are different in nature. In the first case, developed countries must reduce their emissions to comply with their quantified targets. In the second case, developing countries, implementing nationally appropriate mitigation actions in the context of sustainable development, will seek to reduce the rate of emissions growth, as indicated in the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report.
 
All countries should contribute to the common effort of mitigation, but Annex I Parties and non-Annex I Parties contribute in different ways, guided by their specific responsibilities, capabilities and needs regarding economic and social development and poverty eradication, said Brazil.
 
Developed countries have their infrastructure in place and the essential needs of their societies fully satisfied; developing countries do not and therefore face the challenge and extra burden of combining economic growth and mitigation actions.
 
Brazil proposed that the AWGLCA should establish criteria to define and ensure comparability regarding mitigation efforts of Kyoto Annex I Parties and non-Kyoto Annex I Parties. This would set clear boundaries to position Annex I countries within an institutional framework that is adequate to their level of development and their capacity to cope with climate change.
 
In Brazil’s view, “measurability, reportability and verifiability” are different for Annex I countries and non-Annex I countries. What must be measured, reported and verified, in the case of Annex I countries, is the extent to which emission limitation and reduction complies with a quantified emission limitation and reduction objective. This must follow Convention guidelines for Annex I inventories.
 
On the other hand, what will be measured, reported and verified, in the case of non-Annex I countries, is implementation of sustainable development actions that reduce the rate of emissions growth. Non-Annex I countries will implement measuring, reporting and verifying according to nationally defined procedures. Such procedures will define the level of implementation achieved by sustainable development actions, expressed in physical quantities that are easily verified. Additionally, the sustainable development impact of such actions would also be reported.  
 
Brazil added that in both cases, “measuring, reporting and verifying” should enhance transparency, which is essential for the credibility of the climate change regime.  Clear information on the results of actions by non-Annex I countries would also help foster international recognition of their meaningful participation in the global effort to face climate change, a fact that often remains neglected.
 
Added Brazil:  “The extent of developing country actions depends on the level of support they receive by means of enabling technology, finance and capacity building. Brazil has made it clear that it will continue to fight climate change, through national actions, to the full extent of its capacity. However, Brazil is ready to do more, if international positive incentives are established.”
 
On the issue of “cooperative sectoral approaches and sector-specific actions,” Brazil said the Bali Action Plan is clear in defining that their role is to enhance implementation of Article 4, paragraph 1(c), which deals with promoting and cooperating in the development, application and diffusion, including transfer, of technologies, practices and processes that control, reduce or prevent greenhouse gas emissions in specific sectors.
 
“There is no basis here for discussions on sectoral mitigation commitments or actions, international sectoral benchmarks or for initiatives directed towards addressing issues totally extraneous to climate change, such as competitiveness levels among countries.”
 
Japan said it was determined to set a quantified national target. In order to ensure transparency in setting mid-term national targets, it proposed a bottom up approach using sectoral reduction potential with indicators given to each sector, based on the advanced technology to be used in the future.
 
Then, each country calculates the possible sectoral reduction volumes, based on the emission potential and size of future productive activities. The whole process could be subjected to peer-review.  Sectoral reduction amounts are aggregated in such a bottom-up approach to arrive at a quantified national GHG emissions reduction target.
 
Japan said this proposed sectoral approach is not a replacement to a quantified national target. This approach should be used to ensure transparency and fairness in setting national reduction targets in accordance with common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities.
 
“We are not trying to apply the uniform standard for developed and developing countries equally,” said Japan.  “We believe that the equity reduction obligation is indispensible for the whole world to tackle climate change and that this approach enables countries to set equitable national quantified targets. We should not repeat the “develop first, clean up later” approach.
 
In this connection, the sectoral approach can also be used for technology transfer and identifying the best available practices for relevant sectors in terms of technologies, policies and measures whilst taking into account specific development conditions of each country.
 
“It will enable to establish a system which would allow developing countries especially major economies to identify most appropriate modern technologies which would ensure economic development as well as effective reduction of emissions…We will actively contribute to establish an effective framework beyond 2012 in which all major economies participate in a substantial manner, leading to the global peak-out and reduction of emissions.”
 
Barbados on behalf of the alliance of small island states (AOSIS) said global mitigation efforts must be ambitious and consistent with a mitigation pathway that safeguards the most vulnerable countries from adverse impacts of climate change. Some scientists recently suggested that the safe upper limit for atmospheric CO2 is not more than 350 ppm. This suggests that we have already exceeded a safe concentration level of greenhouse gases.
 
Based on these findings, the 25-40% reduction range (by 2020) identified by the IPCC is clearly insufficient. Commitments by developed country parties must be drastically enhanced to reflect the present state of science.
 
We need to define the “comparability of effort”, said Barbados.  This will be complicated if developed countries parties develop different “effort parameters”. For instance, if they decide on different base years, different metrics for measuring mitigation outcomes, such as the difference between reductions in emissions intensity compared with absolute emissions reductions; and different reduction targets such as national targets compared to sectoral targets.
 
There is thus the need to standardise benchmarks, to ensure that comparable efforts can be measured. Developed country parties should use quantified emission reduction actions based on national targets. It is inappropriate for them to have the option of picking certain sectors only.
 
Once a common set of parameters are agreed, then individual developed countries are able to interpret those parameters to suit their domestic context. In other words, a country could set a national target for emissions reductions but within their own national context they may wish to identify various reduction targets for certain sectors.
 
Further to the consideration of paragraph 1(b)(i), we see no need to have a discussion on the definition of developed country parties. This definition is already established under article 4.2 of the convention and those parties are listed in annex 1.
 
On nationally appropriate mitigation action (by developing countries), we see the need for a process to clearly identify the necessary financial and technological incentives such that these actions can be measurable, reportable, verifiable, said Barbados.
 
A possible approach is for individual developing countries to identify voluntary actions in sectors which they could take towards emissions reductions, and to design positive incentives to encourage national appropriate mitigation actions within sectors.
 
Regarding the economic and social consequences of response measures under 1(b)(vi), it would be useful to have a process to explore the economic and social consequences of taking actions to address climate change, in some emerging sectors and process such as through the production of biofuels, the implementation of trade policies associated with food miles and flower miles, and the implications for countries dependent on tourism.

 

Source:Third World Network
Date:Apr 07,2008