The Adhoc Working Group on Long Term Co-operative Action (AWG LCA) has, we understand, made progress on several issues this week. Although the group meets in closed sessions we hear from discussions on the sidelines that we are closer to convergence on the issues of:
- Climate finance
- The new Technology Mechanism to develop and deploy clean technology, and
- The legal form that any binding global agreement would take.
While none of these is yet ‘in the bag’, each is advancing smoothly relative to those discussions that are in the mire. The AWG LCA negotiations have yet to make headway on two tough issues:
- When and how emission reductions will peak or tail off in developing countries, and
- How emissions or emissions reductions in developing countries should be monitored, reported and verified.
Several developed countries therefore feel they are doing too much give and not enough take and so continue to refuse to sign up to new emission reduction targets in the other AWG, the Adhoc Working Group on the Kyoto Protocol (AWG KP), until developing countries up their own ante. Meanwhile developing countries refuse to discuss their own emissions trajectories in detail until developed countries agree to curtail their emissions within a second Kyoto Protocol Commitment Period. It’s a ‘chicken or egg’ story that is reliably played out in each negotiating session and the happy “chicken and egg” ending is not yet in sight.
Settling the bill for climate change
As many of you know, the Cancun Agreements contain a commitment to establish a Green Climate Fund. In case you have managed to ignore the Cancun Agreements so far, the idea of this Green Fund is that it will channel $100 billion a year by 2020 to developing countries in order to support mitigation and adaptation in these countries. What countries need to decide now is how to raise and disburse these funds. At Cancun, 40 individuals were appointed to a so-called Transitional Committee (TC) to meet in open sessions over the course of 2011, come up with a detailed design for the Green Fund and present this to the Conference of the Parties in Durban this November. As you might imagine, the people picked for the TC come from a carefully chosen balance of developed and developing countries.
The TC conducted an open session in Bonn yesterday in which they discussed their work, elaborated on the work ahead and allowed country Parties and NGOs to ask them questions. Some of the countries who chose to speak are not happy with the design process of the Green Fund and consider the Committee members to have exceeded their mandate. These views will have to be accommodated somehow, but the representatives of the TC took these remarks in their stride. They’re a crack squad of people who are working closely together to solve the biggest problem of our age, they would.
Transport emissions – In or Out?
There is one big ticket agenda item on which the People’s Republic of China and the United States, the world’s two biggest emitters, are in agreement and on which they oppose the European Union. China and the U.S. both oppose an international scheme to regulate or reduce emissions from air and marine transport (known collectively here as “bunker emissions”).
Bunker emissions were excluded from the Kyoto Protocol because countries could not agree on what to do about them and in 2011 a global solution has still not been found. Transport is a complicated sector to regulate. Some popular examples used to describe why this is so are: trade routes and balances of trade, tourism and flags of convenience. The European Union has tired of waiting, though. It has taken unilateral measures to include the aviation sector in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS) from 1 January 2012. This will affect all airlines flying into or out of the European Union.
The subject of a global, sector-wide approach to bunker emissions is being discussed in an AWG LCA working group. It has stalled there, pending the result of a legal challenge to the EU measures. The European Court of Justice is hearing the case, which has been brought by 4 US airlines, in July. The Court will probably not issue its judgment before the EU ETS sectoral scheme enters into effect but be that as it may, this is truly a pivotal case!