The informal additional sessions of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action under the Convention (AWG-LCA), Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol (AWG-KP) and the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP) open today at the UN Conference Centre of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific in Bangkok, Thailand, and will continue until Wednesday, 5 September 2012.
The AWG-KP session will be used towards resolving outstanding issues to ensure the successful completion of the group’s work in Doha, Qatar, in December 2012 by recommending an amendment to the Conference of the Parties (COP) serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP) for adoption. This would allow a second commitment period under the Protocol to start immediately from 1 January 2013.
The AWG-LCA will continue working on practical solutions to fulfill specific mandates from COP 17 in Durban. The focus will be on what substantive outcomes are needed to conclude each element in Doha, how the elements will be reflected in the final outcome of the AWG-LCA and whether additional work might be needed beyond COP 18 and if so, identifying concrete issues and whether those issues require technical work or political consideration. Parties are expected to initiate the textual basis for the Doha outcome of the AWG-LCA. Five workshops based on Decision 2/CP.17 (outcome of the work of the AWG-LCA) will also convene in Bangkok.
Under the ADP, parties are expected to discuss their vision and aspirations for the ADP, the results of its work and how these results can be achieved. Parties will also discuss how to enhance ambition and the opportunities to bridge the gap, the role of means of implementation and how to strengthen international cooperative initiatives, as well as the elements that could frame the ADP’s work. Parties will also discuss how they envisage giving effect to the Convention principles.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE UNFCCC AND THE KYOTO PROTOCOL
The international political response to climate change began with the adoption of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 1992, which sets out a framework for action aimed at stabilizing atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases to avoid “dangerous anthropogenic interference” with the climate system. The Convention, which entered into force on 21 March 1994, now has 195 parties.
In December 1997, delegates to COP 3 in Kyoto, Japan, agreed to a Protocol to the UNFCCC that commits industrialized countries and countries in transition to a market economy to achieve emission reduction targets. These countries, known as Annex I parties under the UNFCCC, agreed to reduce their overall emissions of six greenhouse gases by an average of 5% below 1990 levels between 2008-2012 (first commitment period), with specific targets varying from country to country. The Kyoto Protocol entered into force on 16 February 2005 and now has 192 parties.
LONG-TERM NEGOTIATIONS IN 2005-2009: Convening in Montreal, Canada, at the end of 2005, the first session of the CMP decided to establish the AWG-KP under Protocol Article 3.9, which mandates consideration of Annex I parties’ further commitments at least seven years before the end of the first commitment period. COP 11 also created a process to consider long-term cooperation under the Convention through a series of four workshops known as “the Convention Dialogue.”
In December 2007, COP 13 and CMP 3 in Bali, Indonesia, resulted in agreement on the Bali Roadmap on long-term issues. COP 13 adopted the Bali Action Plan and established the AWG-LCA with a mandate to focus on mitigation, adaptation, finance, technology and a shared vision for long-term cooperative action. Negotiations on Annex I parties’ further commitments continued under the AWG-KP. The deadline for concluding the two-track negotiations was in Copenhagen in December 2009. In preparation, both AWGs held several negotiating sessions in 2008-2009.
COPENHAGEN: The UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, took place in December 2009. The high-profile event was marked by disputes over transparency and process. During the high-level segment, informal negotiations took place in a group consisting of major economies and representatives of regional and other negotiating groups. Late in the evening of 18 December, these talks resulted in a political agreement: the “Copenhagen Accord,” which was then presented to the COP plenary for adoption. After 13 hours of debate, delegates ultimately agreed to “take note” of the Copenhagen Accord. In 2010, over 140 countries indicated support for the Accord. More than 80 countries also provided information on their national mitigation targets or actions. Parties also agreed to extend the mandates of the AWG-LCA and AWG-KP until COP 16 and CMP 6, respectively.
CANCUN: The UN Climate Change Conference in Cancun, Mexico, took place in December 2010, where parties finalized the Cancun Agreements. Under the Convention track, Decision 1/CP.16 recognized the need for deep cuts in global emissions in order to limit global average temperature rise to 2°C. Parties agreed to keep the global long-term goal under regular review and consider strengthening it during a review by 2015, including in relation to a proposed 1.5°C target. They took note of emission reduction targets and nationally appropriate mitigation actions (NAMAs) communicated by developed and developing countries, respectively (FCCC/SB/2011/INF.1/Rev.1 and FCCC/ AWGLCA/2011/INF.1, both issued after Cancun). Decision 1/CP.16 also addressed other aspects of mitigation, such as: measuring, reporting and verification (MRV); and REDD+.
The Cancun Agreements also established several new institutions and processes, including the Cancun Adaptation Framework and the Adaptation Committee, and the Technology Mechanism, which includes the Technology Executive Committee and the Climate Technology Centre and Network. The Green Climate Fund (GCF) was created and designated as a new operating entity of the Convention’s financial mechanism, governed by a 24-member board. Parties agreed to set up a Transitional Committee tasked with the Fund’s design, and a Standing Committee to assist the COP with respect to the financial mechanism. Parties also recognized the commitment by developed countries to provide US$30 billion of fast-start finance in 2010-2012, and to jointly mobilize US$100 billion per year by 2020.
Under the Protocol track, the CMP urged Annex I parties to raise the level of ambition towards achieving aggregate emission reductions consistent with the range identified in the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and adopted Decision 2/CMP.6 on land use, land-use change and forestry.
The mandates of the two AWGs were extended to the UN Climate Change Conference to Durban.
DURBAN: The UN Climate Change Conference in Durban, South Africa, took place from 28 November to 11 December 2011. The Durban outcomes cover a wide range of topics, notably the establishment of a second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol, a decision on long-term cooperative action under the Convention, and agreement on the operationalization of the GCF. Parties also agreed to launch the new ADP with a mandate “to develop a protocol, another legal instrument or an agreed outcome with legal force under the Convention applicable to all Parties.” The new negotiating process, which began in May 2012, is scheduled to end by 2015. The outcome should come into effect and be implemented from 2020 onwards.
The manadates of the AWG-LCA and AWG-KP were again extended to Doha.
BONN CLIMATE CHANGE CONFERENCE 2012: The Bonn Climate Change Conference took place from 14-25 May 2012 in Bonn, Germany. The conference comprised the 36th sessions of the Subsidiary Body for Implementation and the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice. It also included AWG-LCA 15, AWG-KP 17 and the first session of the ADP. Under the AWG-KP, the focus was on issues to be finalized for adopting a second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol and for the AWG-KP to conclude its work at CMP 8. Many outstanding questions remained, including the length of the second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol and carry-over of surplus units.
Under the AWG-LCA, after agreement on the agenda, debates continued on which issues require consideration so that the AWG-LCA can finalize its work at COP 18. Developed countries stressed “significant progress” and the various new institutions established in Cancun and Durban. Many developing countries identified the need to continue discussing issues required to fulfill the Bali Action Plan mandate.
Under the ADP, discussions centered on the agenda and the election of officers. After nearly two weeks of discussions, the ADP plenary adopted the agenda, initiating two work streams: one addressing matters related to paragraphs 2-6 of Decision 1/CP.17 (post-2020 regime) and the other paragraphs 7-8 (enhancing mitigation ambition during the pre-2020 timeframe) and agreed on the election of officers during the final day of the conference.
UNFCCC WORKSHOP ON LONG-TERM FINANCE: This workshop was held in Bonn, Germany, from 9-11 July 2012. One hundred forty representatives from governments, major financial institutions, private sector entities and civil society, participated in the workshop. Participants discussed key issues for scaling-up finance mobilization for climate change.
11TH BASIC MEETING ON CLIMATE CHANGE: The 11th BASIC Ministerial Meeting on Climate Change was held in Johannesburg, South Africa, from 12-13 July 2012 and attended by representatives from Brazil, South Africa, India and China (BASIC). In line with the “BASIC-Plus” approach, representatives from other negotiating groups also attended. The meeting concluded with a joint statement, reaffirming that the ADP process and outcome should be under the Convention, in full accordance with all its principles and provisions.
CARTAGENA DIALOGUE: The Cartagena Dialogue for Progressive Action (Cartagena Dialogue) met in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, from 19-20 July 2012, to discuss key questions ahead of the informal additional sessions of the AWGs and COP 18. On the ADP, participants addressed, inter alia: how the Bangkok session can be used to kick-start the ADP’s work; expectations on what COP 18 should deliver regarding the new legally-binding agreement; and the elements that should be included in the ADP’s organization of work. On finance issues, participants discussed, among other issues: the type of finance discussions parties foresee beyond COP 18, given the closure of the AWG-LCA; and how to include innovative sources of finance and private finance in the negotiations to provide greater clarity on their potential and role in meeting the 2020 goal on finance.
FIRST MEETING OF THE GREEN CLIMATE FUND: The first board meeting of the GCF, which took place from 23-25 August 2012 in Geneva, Switzerland, considered the work plan of the Board, and initiated the work towards the operationalization of the Fund. Zaheer Fakir (South Africa) and Ewen McDonald (Australia) were elected as Board Co-Chairs to serve for one year. Participants also adopted a decision on how to select the host country of the GCF based on the following offers: Bonn, Germany; Mexico City, Mexico; Windhoek, Namibia; Warsaw, Poland; Songdo City, Republic of Korea; and Geneva, Switzerland. The Board agreed to convene its second meeting in Songdo, Republic of Korea, from 18-20 October 2012, where a decision on the host country is expected to be forwarded to COP 18.