Showing posts with label UNFCCC. Show all posts
Showing posts with label UNFCCC. Show all posts

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Durban package: a first assessment

Delegates huddle to resolve outstanding issues
Courtesy of IISD

On Sunday morning, after more than 14 days of negotiations, the 17th Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC (COP 17) came to an end. Delegates from 195 countries achieved two main outcomes. Firstly, the Working Group which works on the future commitments under the Kyoto Protocol (AWG-KP) decided that there will be a second commitment period. It shall begin on January 1, 2013 and end either on December 31, 2017 or 2020 (to be further agreed by the group). By May 1, 2012 countries which take part to this second period have to convert their economy-wide reduction targets into quantified emission limitation or reduction objectives (QELROs) and submit them for consideration by the next session of the AWG KP. From a legal point of view, the Conference proposed to amend the Annex B of the Kyoto Protocol by including Annex I Parties’ commitments for a second reduction period. Despite the document takes into consideration that Canada, Japan and Russia do not intend to participate in a second period, this solution allows to save the future of market-based mechanisms and, at the same time, to avoid that developing countries will continue to block the negotiation process on that issue. The proposal also adds the Nitrogen trifluoride (NF3) to the six greenhouse gases (GHG) regulated under the Protocol (1995 or 2000 will be the base year). The second key outcome is the launch of a process aimed at developing a protocol, another legal instrument or a legal outcome under the Convention applicable to all Parties. To achieve this, a new Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (AWG DB) has been established. The group shall start its work in 2012 in order to adopt the new instrument by 2015 and to implement it from 2020. In addition, the Conference asked to raise the level of ambition of the new agreement, according to the future recommendations of the IPCC. This last-minute compromise, which puts together developed and developing countries, represents a success of the EU strategy which strongly linked its approval of a second commitment period to the adoption of a roadmap for a new climate comprehensive agreement to be launched by 2020. Besides these two unexpected results, the COP also achieved some progress in defining outstanding issues of the Cancun Agreements. In particular, the Green Climate Fund has been launched as an operating entity of the Financial Mechanism of the Convention. It will start to operate in 2012. Although countries failed to agree to a plan to capitalise it, they succeeded to approve a broad design of the Fund and to set up the body that will manage it. Resources will be allocated between mitigation and adaptation activities in a balanced proportion, ensuring appropriate allocation for other activities and taking into account vulnerable developing countries’ needs. As regards the REDD mechanism, further technical steps to better define safeguards and modalities for forest reference emission levels have been undertaken. Noteworthy is the fact that a summary of information on how the safeguards are being addressed should be provided periodically and should be included into national communications from non-Annex I Parties. Procedures to include Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) activities into the CDM have been put forward. Finally, countries decided that the Technology Mechanism will enter in function in 2012. Almost all countries welcomed the Durban package as a first step in the right direction, with the exception of Venezuela that reported poor nations had been threatened they will not get money for climate finance if they blocked the texts.
All the decisions adopted by the Conference are available at

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

EU agrees on a second commitment period. But not alone

During the EU official visit to Australia and New Zealand, Climate Action Commissioner Connie Hedegaard clarified that the EU is willing to sign up to a second period under the Kyoto Protocol only if other major emitters will do the same. The launch of a second commitment period gained ground in recent times because it will allow to keep CDM and other Kyoto mechanisms in operation. Strongly supported by developing countries, this option had been refused by developed countries during the last year talks. However, the EU is open to consider an extension of its commitment if U.S. (which is not part to the Kyoto Protocol) and other emerging economies, such as China and India (which have no binding commitments under the Kyoto Protocol) will join such effort in the near future. EU leaders will possibly discuss this proposal ahead of an October meeting of environment Ministers, at which is expected they will define a common negotiating strategy for the next U.N. Conference in Durban.

Friday, July 1, 2011

No news from Bonn

The second 2011 meeting of the Parties to the UNFCCC, which was held in Bonn (6 -19 June) ended without major decisions on the shape of a follow-up to the post-2012 commitments.
Although delegates confirmed that progress was made on technical texts, the debate regarding the possibility of a second commitment period of the KP was inconclusive since the positions of the different negotiating groups seemed as distant as ever. With Russia, the USA, Canada and Japan all set for a “no” to an extension of the Protocol, as wished by developing countries, the fate of the KP hinges by a thin thread. The heat was on the European Union, whose commitment regarding climate change has turned it into a key player in the post-2012 debate. The pressure from developing countries to the EU to unilaterally sign a second commitment period to the KP, was met with resistance by Connie Hedegaard, EU Climate Commissioner, who commented that, despite its efforts, the EU represents a minor share of global emissions and that other major emitters should be pressured and involved in climate negotiations. In fact, at the end of the two weeks, even the European Union, confirmed that no such possibility is feasible unless all major emitting countries commit to binding reduction targets. Remaining on the European front, according to Artur Runge-Metzger, EU’s head of delegation, the possibility of the EU undertaking a 30-percent reduction commitment is not feasible before the talks in Durban at the end of this year, thus wiping out another signal for strengthened commitment in what looks like a crucially complex round of talks.
The debate on the future of the Protocol addressed also the issue of the Clean Development Mechanisms, whose market volume shrunk compared to previous years. The parties did not reach an agreement on whether HFCF and Carbon Capture and Storage credits should be eligible to produce credits under the mechanism, or whether to allow for auditors a greater margin for error when verifying emission reductions. Several other mechanisms were discussed following the proposals brought forward by parties, but no agreement on a shortlist was reached.
A notable decision taken during this round of talks regarding the financing of the UN climate office, whose original request for $51.3 million to be spent between January 2012 and 2014 has been cut by 3 percent in light of the recent economic difficulties due to the crisis. Before the next Conference of Parties in Durban, South Africa, the parties will meet again in July and October.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

UNFCCC meets in Bangkok

The meeting of the United Nation Climate Change Conference, held in Bangkok on April 3-8, closed without major developments, highlighting lingering differences between developed and developing countries. The meeting was mainly aimed at organizing the work of 2011, starting from the conclusions of the last Conference of Parties held in Cancun. While developed countries seemed more focussed on discussing ways to implement the Cancun Agreement, developing countries’ main concern was the future of the Kyoto Protocol. This issue became central to the discussions held during the Conference and was responsible for creating a stalemate in the debate between developed and developing countries, overcome by an agreement to continue discussing about the future of the Protocol. No specific binding emission reductions were agreed, with the emission reduction pledges remaining unenforceable by law, despite the call of developing countries to go for even bolder binding cuts to avoid environmental consequences. The work of the UN Climate Conference will resume at the beginning of June, when the delegates from the 175 parties will rejoin in Bonn, Germany.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Cancun agreement: adoption without consensus

COP 16 ended with the adoption of the Cancún agreements, even if consensus was not reached. Actually, the UNFCCC does not have formal voting rules, Parties were indeed not able to agree on which kind of rules was worth adopting during COP 2 and options remained only on paper (Art. 42). The consensus rule was then assumed as custom (a somewhat elastic term that in practice has required only the lack of formal objection by one more parties, rather than unanimous agreement), which could therefore evolve over time.
COP 2 and COP 15 represented in themselves exceptions, since Parties “took note” of the produced agreement and declarations without having reached consensus on them. The Geneva Declaration actually marked the first time that countries were willing to act in the absence of consensus (Bodansky, 2009).
Cancún represent a different situation, since the documents were not noted but adopted in the absence of consensus. Would this set a precedent for climate change negotiation within the UN system? Why a similar decision was not taken at Copenhagen? As regards the first, time will be needed to redefine new customary rules. As regards the second, the outcome of COP 16 was challenged only by one country (Bolivia), while the Copenhagen Accord was opposed by a group of six countries. Numbers could make the difference. Also, Cancún had the more or less outspoken goal of proving that the UN was able to be the fundamental venue for climate change negotiations and Mrs. Espinosa had to provide public and political opinion with an outcome."Moving forward" has this time substitute the "reaching consensus" mantra.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Cancun: mixed feelings on the day after

The 16th Conference of Parties to the United Nation Framework Convention on Climate Change closed officially this weekend, raising mixed reactions among delegates and those involved with climate change policy all over the world. Despite the low expectations, the Cancun Conference managed to score some points in the direction of settling core issues in international policy such as discussing the future of the Copenhagen pledges, increase the transparency in motoring, reporting and verification, establish a technology transfer mechanism, address deforestation, and launch a green fund for climate finance.
With the support of 193 parties, overriding the objections of Bolivia, the UN conference adopted the text developed during the conference, which includes the anchoring of the pledges made during the previous UN conference in Copenhagen. The Conference confirmed the future role of the market mechanisms created under the Kyoto Protocol, which will continue to remain available to Parties. Moreover, the eligibility of carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) within the Clean Development Mechanisms (CDM) will henceforth be allowed, provided that issues over leakage, liability and environmental impacts are addressed.
The Cancun conference also agreed on a new set of rules to increase the transparency of monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) rules, making them voluntary for developing countries. The Cancun decisions also addressed the role of forests in the mitigation actions of developing countries, which are encouraged to undertake the following activities: Reducing emissions from deforestation; Reducing emissions from forest degradation; Conservation of forest carbon stocks; Sustainable management of forest; Enhancement of forest carbon stocks. Moreover, countries should develop a national action plan, with an adequate monitoring system, thus setting the stage for the development of a global Redd mechanism, although details on the implementation such as the role of market have not been clarified yet. Recognizing the important role of finance, the Cancun conference provided for the creation of a Green Climate Fund, as the operating entity of the financial mechanisms of the Convention (UNFCCC), which aims to raise $100 billion per year by 2020 and will be managed by a board with equal representation between developed and developing countries with the World Bank as a trustee. The adopted text also addressed technology transfer, capacity building and adaptation, establishing a Technology Mechanism to enhance technology development and transfer to support action on mitigation and adaptation, calling for a strengthening of the institutions targeted at capacity building, and establishing the Cancun Adaptation Framework, managed by an Adaptation Committee, whose composition, modalities and procedures will be finalized after the submission of Parties on February 21, 2011.
Despite progress in many areas, the Cancun conference did not deliver an agreement on binding emission reductions, leaving countries free to submit their new pledges, nor said a final word on the future of the Kyoto process. In fact, it remains unclear what the future of the Kyoto architecture could be, but some observers commented that not having it ruled out of a future climate agreement is already a progress.
The full text of the decisions taken during the Cancun conference is available at

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

High level negotiations: China takes the first step

Press conference of the BASIC countries: Brazil, China, India and South Africa

This week, high levels ministers and heads of state are arriving in Cancun to negotiate texts prepared by delegates.
On Monday, the Chinese Minister Huang Huikang tryed to revamp the debate on the second commitment period announcing that its country is prepared to making concessions on Kyoto. Indeed, China offered for the first time to submit its voluntary carbon emissions target to a binding resolution under the UNFCCC. Such unexpected concession has the clear objective to make pressure on developed countries to agree on a second commitment period, especially after the announcement that "Japan will not inscribe its target under the Kyoto Protocol on any conditions or under any circumstances”.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Cancun: the time has come

The 16th Conference of Parties to the United Nation Framework Convention on Climate Change kicked off on Monday, gathering about 20,000 delegates from all over the world to agree on a future international climate agreement to replace the Kyoto Protocol. Halfway through the conference, which will conclude at the end of next week, the road to walk down before an agreement emerges seems still very long. The Cancun conference saw the return of an unpleasant tradition in international negotiations, with a divide emerging between developing and developed countries. In fact, the Alba group, including also Bolivia, Dominica, Ecuador, Nicaragua, the Venezuelan representative lamented the lack of commitment of some (unspecified) developed countries in ensuring a successor to the Kyoto Protocol. As was expected from the conference onset, the very issue of the Kyoto Protocol sparked the utmost disagreement, even among developed countries, with Japan continuing in its refusal to consider a second commitment period and even countries like the EU backing off from an outright support, as long as other developed countries do not move in that direction as well. Moreover, even UNFCCC executive secretary Christiana Figueres commented the widely anticipated opposing positions of many parties by saying that “I know for sure that Cancun cannot obliterate the possibility of a second period (of the Kyoto Protocol).” Besides also calling to parties for working towards an agreement regarding the architecture of a future international climate agreement, Figueres hopes for the resolution of some less controversial issues like agreeing on plans for an climate adaptation framework for poor nations, on a system to help transfer green technology from rich countries to poor and on starting a test phase for avoiding deforestation. The possibility to start including emissions from the farming sector, currently responsible for 15-30% of global greenhouse gases, depending on whether or not forest clearances for farmland are included, as hoped by lobbyists from the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research, seems less feasible now, with major issues still under discussions and pressure to agree on a deforestation first. In addition, a business forum on the sidelines of the Cancun conference called the delegates’ attention on the need to focus on energy efficiency, claiming that up to half the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions recommended by scientists to avoid a sharp increase in global average temperatures can be accomplished through such measures.
Delegates are reportedly keeping their expectations down, to avoid last year’s disappointment, but with a week to go, anything can happen.

Published by Caterina Cruciani

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Climate Change Talks begin in Cancún

Yesterday in Cancun, the 16th Conference of the Parties (COP-16) to the UNFCCC opened its work, which is scheduled to conclude on Friday 10 December 2010. The conference includes also the 6th session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (COP/MOP 6).
The focus of the conference is on the two-track negotiating process aiming at enhancing long-term international cooperation on climate change and further commitments under the Kyoto Protocol.
Despite the lack of progress achieved during the last climate talks in Tianjin, it could be foreseen that Parties in Cancùn will translate into a “balanced set of decisions” some negotiating issues, where consensus can already be reached.
For more information read the last issue of the International Climate Policy & Carbon Markets "GETTING READY FOR CANCÚN", which features an in-depth analysis of the main issues that are likely to be debated during the Conference of the Parties.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The last shot

Last week climate negotiations went into their final step before the Conference (COP 16) which will take place in Cancun next December. UNFCCC delegates met in Tianjin (China) from Monday, 4 to Saturday, 9 October with the objective to streamline the negotiating texts and prepare a set of decisions to be approved by the world leaders in Mexico. Accordingly, countries worked to better define advanced issues in order to prepare a balanced "Cancun package". During the week Parties focused on how to translate the emission reduction pledges made in Copenhagen into a new deal. In this context, the increasing China-US divide regarding mitigation commitments confirmed that developed and developing countries are still divided over responsibilities for emission reduction. In fact, the north-south divide beats again: developing countries are called upon to agree on the details on the monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) procedures for emission reductions, but are wary of the proposals presented so far. Different positions still remain also on other issues, especially on the second commitment period for the Kyoto Protocol, supported by the EU-27, Norway, Switzerland, Australia, and Small Island, but strongly opposed by the US and Japan.
After the lack of progress in this last session, the hopes to definitively agree on a 2012 post-Kyoto climate regime are much lower than those in Copenhagen. Already before the Conference in Cancun starts, it seems certain that the outcomes will be minimal.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

UNFCCC looks into plan B

As 2012 draws closer and closer the United Nation Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) officially started thinking about a contingency plan, in case no agreement on a Kyoto Protocol successor were struck in time. The document published on the UNFCCC website focuses on the legal implications that a gap between the current international agreement and its possible successor could entail.
Under current rules three quarter of the parties to the UNFCCC (143 of the 190 countries) must accept the agreement to make it binding, and in order to avoid a gap with the current scheme, this acceptance should take place by October 12, 2012. Moreover, even once an international framework had been agreed upon, it would take a long time to ratify at national-parliament level, as the Kyoto Protocol ratification process has shown, which could undermine the continuity with the old scheme. Thus, in order to facilitate the process of ratification, instruments such as tacit acceptance or automatic opt-in after acceptance could be useful as well as other modification of the ratification amendments, or even the possibility to reduce the required majority for approving a new treaty, or the possibility to simply extend current commitments. These modifications would be considered provisional and are currently feasible under international law.

The text of the document can be found at

Friday, July 23, 2010

Time to reform climate institutions?

The last climate Conference in Copenhagen and the difficulty to reach a comprehensive agreement, pointed out three main problems with the negotiating process under the United Nations:
  1. it involves too many countries: 194, when 20 account for about 90% of global emissions;
  2. the voting rules require consensus for nearly all decisions, this often makes the decision-making too difficult;
  3. the discussion is polarized in two factions: developed vs. developing countries.
So, for these reasons the academic world is questioning the United Nation Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) as the major institutional venue for international climate policy negotiation. The matter is not new, but in recent years something is changing.
Indeed, States have begun to negotiate plurilateral, non-legally binding climate agreements outside of the UNFCCC umbrella.

Monday, July 12, 2010

A new leader for the UNFCCC

As announced last May by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC in the next years will be a woman coming from a developing country. In fact, last Thursday July 8, Ms. Christiana Figueres has taken the lead in the negotiations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. With a long experience as a member of the Costa Rican negotiating team and in both non-governmental and private sectors, Ms. Figueres is considered one of the most skilled mediators of the Convention as well as an international leader on strategies to address global climate challenges. For this reason she already facilitated and co-chaired several contact groups, in particular the Contact Group on Clean Development Mechanism in Nairobi in 2006, in Poznan in 2008, and in Copenhagen in 2009, and the Contact Group on flexibility mechanisms for the post 2012 regime, in Bonn, Accra and Poznan in 2008. In addition, she was a member of the Friends of the Chair that negotiated the Bali Action Plan in December 2007.
In replacing Yvo de Boer to the head of the Convention, Christiana Figueres becomes the fourth UNFCCC Executive Secretary and inherits the difficult task of leading climate Talks for the future agreement in Cancun and beyond.

In the picture Ms. Figueres with two of her predecessors, Mr. Yvo de Boer (left) whom she succeeds, and Mr. Michael Zammit Cutajar (right), the first UNFCCC Executive Secretary in office from 1991 to 2002. Ms. Joke Waller-Hunter, who was in office from 2002, passed away in 2005.

More info about Christiana Figueres

Monday, April 12, 2010

The long road to Cancun

After a night of negotiations, the UNFCCC meeting in Bonn concluded this early morning. Parties agreed on the future negotiating agenda, adding two more sessions before the big conference in Cancun. So, in 2010, countries will meet four times in an attempt to reach an agreement by the end of the year. However, two aspects stand out from this short meeting. The first is the "gigatonne gap", it's not a new concept but it's the first time that countries explicitly talk about it. Gigatonne gap refers to the gap between the reduction targets proposed by countries and the emission cuts needed to keep the temperature under the 2 degrees objective.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Back in Bonn

For the first time after the Conference held in Copenhagen, countries will meet next Friday in a round of formal U.N. climate talks. According to the UNFCCC agenda, national representatives of the 194 Parties will resume negotiations on the future climate agreement from 9 to 11 April 2010 in Bonn, Germany.
This first session will mainly focus on the organization of work of the two Ad Hoc Working Groups this year, including the need for additional meetings, with the objective to address pending issues and reach a shared outcome at the Conference of the Parties (COP-16) in Mexico next December.

UNFCCC Overview scedule

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Goodbye Yvo

Last week, unexpectedly, Yvo de Boer announced that in July 2010 he will resign his position. After more than three years as UNFCCC Executive Secretary, de Boer will join the staff of the consultancy group KPMG in London as Global Adviser on climate and sustainability.
De Boer specified that it was a tough decision, unrelated to the Copenhagen outcome.
Until the end of June, he will continue to lead the negotiations ahead, but U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will have to find a successor well before the next COP-16 in November.
Yvo de Boer is one of the most experienced negotiator on climate change and the U.N. will face a difficult task finding a replacement with the same skills.

For more information: UNFCCC press release

Saturday, January 30, 2010

One day missed

Tomorrow is the deadline to submit individual or joint emission reduction target as required in the Copenhagen Accord.
So far, only China, India, Japan, Australia, Brasil, South Africa, EU and US have made it...
But it is only a "soft" deadline as defined by United Nations climate chief Yvo De Boer.

Monday, January 11, 2010

How far is the Kyoto Protocol?

While the debate on future emission targets dominates the international political scene, it might be interesting to see the current emission trends of the UNFCCC Annex I Parties.
On the UNFCCC web site are available the greenhouse gas emissions inventories for 1990 to 2007, that Parties included in Annex I are required to submit each year.
In general these data show that Annex I GHG emissions decreased by 3.9 % from 1990 to 2007. However, if we consider the two groups composing Annex I separately, GHG emissions of countries with Economies in transitions (Annex I EIT) decreased significantly, while the other countries increased their emissions by 11.2 % (See the Graph below).

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The first step: the Copenhagen Accord

After two weeks of talks and hours of wrangling, world leaders delivered in the early morning of Saturday (19th December) the “Copenhagen Accord”.
Even failing to bring a binding agreement on tackling climate change, the Accord recognizes the scientific view that an increase in global temperature below 2 degrees is required to stave off the worst effects of climate change.

The collective commitment by developed countries in the Accord is to provide actions on mitigation, adaptation, finance, technology, reducing emissions from deforestation in developing countries.

The accord calls to boost actions in the area by mobilizing financial resources from developed countries through the Copenhagen Green Climate Fund:

- to support immediate action on climate change the collective commitment towards the fund over the next three years (2010-2012) will approach 30 billion US dollars in order to help poor nations tackle global warming, reducing their emissions and embarking on a low-carbon path of development. The short-term financing will also be used to prevent deforestation.

- for long-term finance, developed countries agreed to support a goal of jointly mobilizing 100 billion dollars a year by 2020 to address the needs of developing countries.
Money will be channeled to support different initiatives for adaptation, emissions reductions and technology development. A mechanism will also be established to intensify technology transfer.

Deforestation. A point on which all countries agreed, it was the crucial role of stopping deforestation. They agree on the need to provide positive incentives to such actions through the establishment of a mechanism including REDD-plus.

Adaptation. Funding for adaptation will be prioritized for the most vulnerable developing countries, such as the least developed countries, small island developing States and Africa.

Next steps

- The Accord sets an end-January 2010 deadline for all nations to submit plans for curbs on emissions to the United Nations.

- Annex I Parties will commit to implement, individually or jointly, quantified economy-wide emissions targets from 2020, to be listed in the accord before 31 January 2010.

- Non-Annex I Parties will implement mitigation actions by 31 January 2010. Their actions will be subject to their domestic measurement, reporting and verification while those actions seeking international financial support will be monitored by international verification.

- Least developed countries and small island developing states may undertake actions voluntarily and on the basis of support.

- A review. The Accord can be reviewed by 2015, on scientific basis, to find if the pledges listed by developed and developing countries are sufficient to keep the global temperature rise below 2 degrees or less. This would also take into account the long-term goal of limiting the global average temperature rise to 1.5 degrees.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A question of numbers

46,000 people had registered for the UNFCCC meeting, while the Conference Center that can take only 15,000 delegates