Opening today, negotiations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Kyoto Protocol are scheduled to continue in Bonn, Germany, until 25 May 2012. The conference comprises the 36th sessions of the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI) and the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA). It also includes the 15th session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action under the Convention (AWG-LCA), the 17th session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol (AWG-KP) and the first session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP).
The ADP will meet from 17 to 24 May. Drawing, inter alia, on party submissions (FCCC/ADP/2012/MISC.3), the new body is expected to start planning its work, including on mitigation, adaptation, finance, technology development and transfer, transparency of action and support, and capacity building. The ADP is also expected to consider a workplan on enhancing mitigation ambition and elect its Chair, Vice-Chair and Rapporteur.
Meeting from 15-24 May, the AWG-LCA is expected to focus on preparation of an agreed comprehensive and balanced outcome for adoption at the 18th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 18). It will also organize five in-session workshops on: equitable access to sustainable development; clarification of developed country emission reduction targets; further understanding the diversity of developing countries’ nationally appropriate mitigation actions (NAMAs); various approaches; and a new market-based mechanism.
Meeting from 15-24 May, the AWG-KP is expected to focus on Annex I parties’ further commitments, including quantified emission limitation or reduction objectives (QELROs), carry-over of assigned amount units (AAUs) and proposed amendments to the Protocol and its annexes.
The SBI and SBSTA will both meet from 14 to 25 May. The SBI provisional agenda (FCCC/SBI/2012/1) includes items, inter alia, on: national communications; NAMAs; finance; national adaptation plan; loss and damage; response measures; technology; appeals against the decisions of the Executive Board of the Clean Development Mechanism; arrangements for intergovernmental meetings; and administrative, financial and institutional matters.
The SBSTA provisional agenda (FCCC/SBSTA/2012/1) contains items, inter alia, on: the Nairobi Work Programme on impacts, vulnerability and adaptation; technology; research and systematic observation; response measures; agriculture; various methodological issues; as well as scientific, technical and socio-economic aspects of mitigation.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE UNFCCC AND THE KYOTO PROTOCOL
The international political response to climate change began with the adoption of the UNFCCC in 1992. The UNFCCC 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 (the 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 Conference of the Parties serving as meeting of the Parties (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 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. Over the next 13 hours, delegates debated the Accord. Ultimately, the COP 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.
CANCUN: Following four preparatory meetings in 2010, the UN Climate Change Conference in Cancun, Mexico, took place in December 2010. By the end of the conference, parties had finalized the Cancun Agreements, which include decisions under both negotiating tracks. 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 also 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 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); reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries; and the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks in developing countries (REDD+).
The Cancun Agreements also established several new institutions and processes, such as the Cancun Adaptation Framework and the Adaptation Committee, as well as the Technology Mechanism, which includes the Technology Executive Committee (TEC) and the Climate Technology Centre and Network (CTCN). They also created the Green Climate Fund (GCF), designated to be a new operating entity of the Convention’s financial mechanism and governed by a Board of 24 members. Parties agreed to set up a Transitional Committee tasked with the Fund’s detailed design. Parties also established a Standing Committee to assist the COP with respect to the financial mechanism. They 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 of their emission reduction targets with a view to achieving aggregate emission reductions consistent with the range identified in the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Parties also adopted Decision 2/CMP.6 on land use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF).
The mandates of the two AWGs were extended to the UN Climate Change Conference in Durban.
DURBAN: Following three negotiating sessions in 2011, 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. After extensive negotiations, parties also reached agreement 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 begins in May 2012, is scheduled to end by 2015. The outcome is mandated for adoption at COP 21 and it should come into effect and be implemented from 2020 onwards.
CARTAGENA DIALOGUE FOR PROGRESSIVE ACTION ON CLIMATE CHANGE: The Cartagena Dialogue for Progressive Action on Climate Change met from 3-4 April 2012 in Nairobi, Kenya. The meeting brought together over 80 representatives from 38 countries committed to progressive international collaborative action to address the climate change crisis. UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres also attended the meeting. Discussions on the Durban Platform focused on the need to build on the political momentum of COP 17, to think creatively about the governance and organization of work of the ADP, and strategies for delivering a new legally-binding agreement by 2015. The Dialogue recognized the need to finalize details for the second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol, enhance mitigation ambition in the period leading up to 2020, operationalize the institutions and mechanisms agreed at previous COPs and the critical role of adaptation and finance.
MAJOR ECONOMIES’ FORUM ON ENERGY AND CLIMATE: The 13th meeting of the Leaders’ Representatives under the Major Economies’ Forum on Energy and Climate took place in Rome, Italy, on 17 April 2012. The Forum, launched by President Obama in 2009, facilitates a candid dialogue among 17 developed and developing economies to support progress in meeting the climate change and clean energy challenge globally. The United Nations, with Colombia, New Zealand, Qatar, and Singapore also participated in the session, with Algeria, Bangladesh, and Barbados also invited.
Participants welcomed the package of agreements reached in Durban, which they agreed represents significant progress. The importance of implementing the Durban outcomes in a balanced fashion was emphasized, as well as the importance of upholding and moving forward with the Durban outcome. In anticipation of adopting a Kyoto Protocol amendment this year, it was noted that Annex I Kyoto Protocol parties need to convert their targets to QELROs, and agree on rules for the second commitment period and on how to treat the carryover of AAUs. While recognizing that the AWG-LCA and the AWG-KP will conclude their work in Doha, participants expressed different views on priorities for this year and whether/how issues that could not be resolved this year would be treated.
INFORMAL MINISTERIAL MEETING ON THE DURBAN PLATFORM: An Informal Ministerial Meeting on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action was held from 4-5 May 2012 in Bonn, Germany, at the invitation of COP 17 President Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, South African Minister of International Relations and Cooperation. The meeting brought together ministers and high-level officials from 32 countries, representing all UNFCCC negotiating groups. Discussions focused on what needs to be done over the next four years to ensure implementation of the ADP’s mandate. Participants also discussed options to bridge the gap between what governments have committed to up to now and what action is required to make the world climate-resilient. The meeting expressed determination to build on the momentum of the Durban Conference and achieve a strong outcome at COP 18 in Doha, Qatar.