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Talks on mitigation actions show differences of views


The informal plenary session at the Bangkok climate talks on mitigation saw several countries giving their views and interpretations on the meaning and implementation of the Bali Action Plan sections dealing with mitigation actions to address climate change. 
 
The discussion was held in the UN Convention on Climate Change’s ad hoc working group on long-term cooperative action (AWGLCA) that is tasked with following up on the Bali Action Plan adopted at the meetings of the UN Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Bali last December.  
 
The European Union, represented by Slovenia, said it was surprised by the G77 and China’s interpretation of Article 4(1)c of the Convention (in relation to the sectoral approaches). This could be interpreted in either a broad way or restrictive way, and the G77 interpretation was restrictive.
 
On mitigation, the EU would like to see parallel discussions on actions by developed and developing countries.
 
The EU recognised that finance would go into all issues. On developed countries’ mitigation actions, we should not duplicate issues being dealt with in the ad hoc working group of the Kyoto Protocol (that deals with further commitments of Annex I countries).  Areas requiring further discussion in the AWGLCA include developed country actions, the issue of comparability of efforts, the issue of “measurable, reportable and verifiable”, and the mitigation potential of non-Kyoto annex 1 parties. A technical paper and workshop are needed on these.
 
On developing country actions, the EU said there is need for discussion on exploring a wide range of options for mitigation actions, incentives, responsibility and capability parameters. The “measurable, reportable, and verifiable” term should also be explored, and the meaning for developing countries with a view to achieve a common understanding.
 
On land use and land use change (LULUC), under the mitigation umbrella, there should be concrete polices to halt deforestation, underpinned by the SBSTTA on methodological issues. There is need for a holistic approach and to explore all aspects of the REDD (reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation) in the Bali Action Plan.
 
On sectoral approaches, there is need to define what these mean and discuss various theories.  On differentiation (of countries), this is a timely issue. We should explore what “differentiated responsibilities” and “respective capabilities” means between and within groupings.
 
The EU said it had endorsed a target for itself of a 30% emission cut by 2020 compared to 1990, provided other developed countries commit themselves to comparable efforts and that the economically more advanced developing countries contribute according to their capabilities.
 
This can take various forms including sectoral approach, non-binding LULUC, and enhanced clean technology.  
 
For LDCs, the action can be to integrate climate change into sustainable development with view to avoiding climate change impacts and in enhancing resilience.
 
Russia said the mitigation discussion should take on board technology as part and parcel of this, which is necessary to consider costs associated with this or what technology which makes it possible to achieve these goals. It was interested in seeing the role of sinks, and the emissions of CO2 in forestry.
 
Russia added it is important to work out an effective regime in cooperation in fighting climate change. An awareness of differentiation and specificities of different countries is needed.  We do not contemplate a review or to reopen what is in the Convention.
 
The common but differentiated (CDR) principle covers not only differences between developing and developed countries but also within groupings of developed and developing countries.  For the period beyond 2012 we need to understand the potential of the specific groups of countries and how they can contribute to achievement of the common goal. 
 
China supported the Brazil statement. Developed countries should fulfill their mitigation commitments and there is a difference between developed and developing countries, as reflected in the documents. The future work programme should be clear about comparability of efforts between developed country parties to the Convention and non-Kyoto parties, which should reduce their emissions by 25-40% by 2020.
 
As for mitigation actions of developing countries in the context of sustainable development and in view of their own national conditions, supported by measurable, reportable and verifiable funding and technology, they can take voluntary actions which are based on domestic procedures and processes, and these can be reported, measured and verified according to national processes.
 
It is the mitigation actions that are to be reported, measured and verified, and not the effectiveness of such actions, said China.
 
It added that sectoral approaches are well defined in the Bali Action Plan and their purpose is the implementation of article 4(1) c of the Convention.
 
South Africa said that the nature of mitigation commitments by developed countries and mitigation actions by developing countries are different. There is recognition that mitigation actions are to be undertaken by developing countries in the context of sustainable development needs. The issue of “measurable, reportable and verifiable” with regard to technology transfer, finance and capacity building need to be addressed.
 
There is need to address the commitments of developed countries to ensure full and effective implementation of emission reduction commitments now, up to and beyond 2012 and to elaborate what that means. Another examination required is that of criteria for comparability of efforts and how to ascertain that and the methodologies for measurable, reportable and verifiable.
 
For developing countries, there is need to discuss positive incentives in the context of sustainable development and the means of identifying mitigation actions of developing countries that can have climate co-benefits.  In relation to sectoral approaches, they should be within the context of common but differentiated responsibilities.
 
Indonesia stressed the need to address policy approaches for emission reduction from deforestation (REDD) and the role of conservation and enhancement of forest stocks. 
 
Cuba said mitigation actions in developing countries must be determined in the context of sustainable development. Mitigation actions are to be integrated into the development plans, taking into account economic and social concerns. They must be connected to finance and technology in a measurable, reportable, and verifiable manner. There is need to look at how biofuels affect food security, and also need to address economic and social consequences of mitigation measures.
 
Ghana said the capacity for inventory management of greenhouse gases is important. The broadening of gases is needed as a number of gases are not reported in national inventories.
 
Argentina said that on shared vision, some countries have already started discussing scenarios. It asked the EU to provide more data.  The EU had proposed cutting global emissions by 50% by 2050 compared to 1990 levels, with 60-80% cuts by developed countries.  The EU needs to provide data on the following two scenarios, said Argentina.
 
First, if we set a global target of 50% in reduction of emissions by 2050, with a division of responsibility between our two groups (developed and developing countries), what is the implication for developing countries if developed countries take on cuts of 60,70 or 80%  respectively?
 
Second, a UN report says that developing countries’ population would double by 2050. What would this mean in terms of per capita emissions of developing countries in 2050 as compared to 2050?
 
This information can guide us in our consideration of the long term cooperative action, said Argentina.  It would like to “tango” with the EU until it gets this information.
 
Saudi Arabia said there is need to be comprehensive, including addressing sources and sinks with equal importance, and addressing all greenhouse gases by expanding the list (including gases under the Montreal Protocol).
 
On common but differentiated responsibilities, Saudi Arabia noted new understandings are being put forward.  In Rio, the understanding was based on rights and obligations and to differentiate between developed and developing countries. It is dangerous to reinterpret Rio.  If this is done on this issue, then others will also seek to re-interpret other issues as well.
 
There is a clear division between mitigation commitments for annex I countries and mitigation actions for non annex 1 countries in line with sustainable development goals. Definitions that apply to one group would be different when applied to the other, for example, what is “measurable, reportable, and verifiable” and a clear distinction must be made. As we are discussing bigger numbers and more stringent targets, the impact of this is going to be higher and more devastating. Issues of response measures need to be taken more seriously.
 
Papua New Guinea was worried about compartmentalisation and process redundancy. For example, on deforestation and conservation, developing countries are interested and cannot do without a new system of positive incentives; they need new technologies, adaptation and co-benefits. This also relates to shared vision.  All Annex I countries need to be actively involved.  The issue of REDD needs to a work programme with a holistic view.
 
The US said the Bali Action Plan includes consideration of all parties for actions which are measurable, reportable and verifiable. The world has changed since 1992 and the Convention must also change.  The agreed outcome should involve emission trends to reflect tomorrow’s emissions.
Mitigation actions should meet criteria, including that they are nationally appropriate. They should attract widespread participation of parties. In accounting of national action, they should address whether this is voluntary, domestically binding etc, which needs to allow change over time for upgrade of actions by countries.
 
It strongly disagreed with previous statements about distinctions between groups of countries. It said that article 4.2 of Convention does not set criteria for what constitutes a developing country. The Bali Action Plan does not say that developed countries have commitments and that developing countries would take actions. It is open question.  On sectoral approaches, it did not agree that article 4.1(c) limits the consideration of sectoral approaches.
 
On process, the US said it is premature to discuss national action now. It can discuss action by sectors and suggested a workshop. It can focus on land use and land use change. Several concepts need to be elaborated, such as “measurable, reportable, and verifiable”. Some say this should apply differently to developed and developing countries, but the US does not agree with that.
 
Another concept is “common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities.”  Its application has evolved as responsibilities and capacities have changed.  On the issue of developed and developing countries, the Bali Action Plan refers to “developed countries” as opposed to annex I and non annex I countries. The criteria of a “developing country” in relation to mitigation should be talked about.  The US added that the discussion on mitigation should be combined with technology and financing.
 
Venezuela said there was need to repeat the principles that guide actions of developing and developed countries. On common but differentiated responsibilities, it has heard comments about the fact that some developing countries’ circumstances have changed. Some developing countries may have done better economically, but all of them still face problems. National priorities have not changed. Poverty and social marginalisation are still priorities. No developing country can ignore that. We have not overcome poverty because of the international structure of economic power.
 
There are countries which are called emerging economies but they still face clear problems of poverty which must be their national priority to overcome. 
 
On what is “measurable, reportable and verifiable”, Venezuela said this applies in relation to international cooperation. It is this cooperation that should be given to developing countries that is measurable, reportable and verifiable. The promises of the last century have not been delivered.
On sustainable development in relation to mitigation, criteria should be set on how existing economic models may negatively affect the climate and impact negatively on sustainable development, and this must be taken into consideration.
 
Norway spoke about the conclusions of a workshop in Oslo on aviation, that the absence of policies on bunker fuels was due to a political and not a technical barrier.  Work is going on at the IMO and ICAO (international maritime and aviation organisations).  It suggested a workshop on how these sectors can be included in a new regime and how targets can be reached.
 
Australia wanted further collective understanding on “measurable, reportable and verifiable.” It agreed with the EU that we should examine differences within groups and economic criteria should be given a bigger role than political criteria.
 
India said that instead of talking in abstract terms about mitigation and long term goals, we should look at hard numbers.  It then presented some scenarios, confined to C02 emissions as data on this is reliable.  In 2005, the world emitted 28 gigatons. At the normal ranges of stabilisation, the per capita emission in 2050 should be 1-3 ton.
 
If we use the upper figure (3 ton per capita) as the permitted level (in 2050) then the world is divided into exactly two halves.  Half the world today is emitting more than 3 tons and the other half is emitting less than 3 tons.  In the upper half are two categories, Category I comprising the OECD countries emitting 11.6 tons per capita a year and Category II comprising some developing countries emitting an average of 5.6 tons per capita.  The lower half of the world is in Category III, developing countries which emit an average of 0.9 tons per capita.
 
India said that even if the countries in Category III are eliminated, countries in the other two categories would still need to reduce their emissions by about 60% to meet the target of 50% global emission reduction.  And if only the OECD countries are asked to make emission reductions, then they must reduce their emissions by over 100%.
 
In another scenario, assuming that Category III countries are not to be eliminated, and we are still to achieve a 50% global cut by 2050, then the per capita emission worldwide would have to be 1.16 ton in 2050.  With this assumption, Category III of countries can grow their emissions by 110%, while Category I countries would cut their emissions by 95% and Category II countries must reduce their per capita emissions by 76%.
 
However, if Category II countries do not want to reduce their per capita emissions (but only maintain their existing levels), then Category I countries must reduce their emissions by 150%.
 
If we relax this assumption of a 50% cut but assume that per capita emissions worldwide are to average 3 ton in 2050, Category III countries can increase their emissions by 450%, OECD countries have to cut their emissions by 70% and Category II countries have to cut their by 36%.  However if Category II countries do not reduce their emissions, the Category I countries would have to cut their emissions by over 100%.
 
India said that whatever the cooperative action to be taken, the Category III countries’ emissions will have to grow. All emission reduction will have to come from the first half of the world.  The bottom half cannot contribute to this reduction as their emission is so low today, so there has to be some form of convergence and equity to give them the space to grow their emission.
 
India concluded that the levels of reductions required cannot happen without major technological  
changes. There is thus need to use these hard numbers to have a proper perspective on the issue.
 
Switzerland, referring to the notion of developing countries, agreed with Japan that there should be a flexible approach to be able to have countries change from one category to another, and to have more than 2 categories of countries (developed and developing). The world has changed and the Bali Action Plan is a cornerstone for a new world.

 

Source:Third World Network
Date:Apr 07,2008