Report of main proceedings for 11 May 2007
The high-level segment continued on Thursday with an interactive discussion with UN organizations, regional commissions, UN specialized agencies and Bretton Woods institutions. This was followed by official statements, and an interactive discussion with Major Groups. Vice-Chairs Frances Lisson (Australia), Alain Edouard Traore (Burkina Faso) and Luiz Alberto Figueiredo Machado (Brazil) also held informal consultations, including a closed "friends of the chair" session, with regional groups and key delegations to address unresolved issues on energy, air pollution/atmosphere and climate change.
INTERACTIVE DISCUSSION WITH UN ORGANIZATIONS, REGIONAL COMMISSIONS, SPECIALIZED AGENCIES AND BRETTON WOODS INSTITUTIONS
Chair Abdullah Bin Hamad Al-Attiya (Qatar) facilitated this session. UN-HABITAT highlighted the importance of urban energy access and called for strengthening local authorities. UNEP reviewed partnerships and noted that new technologies such as biofuels raise questions about possible negative consequences. UNIDO said lessons learned in Latin America and Asia should be more effectively shared with Africa. GEF noted that US$1 billion of last year's replenishment is targeted for climate change and US$200 million has been mobilized for adaptation. ECONOMIC COMMISSION FOR LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN described support for regional research efforts and new approaches to transboundary pollution management. The WORLD BANK reviewed many positive developments such as recent IPCC reports, calls by industry for regulatory frameworks for GHG emissions and rapid growth of carbon markets. UNDP reviewed priorities, partnerships and the development of a new energy-access development facility. OPEC highlighted the need to diversify the energy mix, and described efforts with IPCC on the climate-biodiversity link. OPEC FUND FOR INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT emphasized the need to develop clean fossil fuel technology.
UNCCD said that adaptation and mitigation must involve combating land degradation. UNFCCC urged the private sector in developing countries to engage with the clean development mechanism. FAO called for further research on the ramifications of using agriculture to produce biofuel. WHO called for global action to minimize the health effects of burning biomass. The INTERNATIONAL ENERGY FORUM cautioned against misunderstandings between countries on key issues in the debate on climate change and energy. ICAO outlined the energy efficiency efforts made by the aviation industry. IEA welcomed the opportunity to shape sustainable energy policy. DESA called on delegates to send a strong message on access to energy and the relationship between energy and climate change. UNCTAD underscored the importance of energy efficiency. Calling on delegates to view environmental issues through the prism of trade, the WTO urged delegates to turn commitments into action.
TURNING COMMITMENTS INTO ACTION: WORKING TOGETHER IN PARTNERSHIP
This session, facilitated by Vice-Chair Alain Edouard Traore (Burkina Faso), continued to hear official statement from ministers. ZIMBABWE highlighted the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities. JAPAN urged developed countries to take the lead and IRELAND, SWITZERLAND and SWEDEN called for an integrated and coordinated approach. While NEW ZEALAND emphasized SIDS' unique challenges, SINGAPORE underscored the importance of energy efficiency. On technology transfer, the CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC urged new and additional finance, and INDIA called for a review of the balance between rewarding innovators and facilitating access to clean technology. TURKEY underscored the importance of affordable and reliable energy. MOLDOVA highlighted the increase in climate-related disasters and BANGLADESH expressed concern about climate refugees, stressing the importance of climate risk management. SOUTH AFRICA expressed its resolve to increase the relevance of the CSD within the UN reform process.
DENMARK emphasized the importance of setting time-bound targets, which are crucial for energy consumption, and called for establishing a review arrangement on energy. ALGERIA urged the establishment of regulatory frameworks to promote energy conservation, and supported nuclear energy. CAMBODIA called for the full and immediate implementation of the Bali Strategic Plan, and SOUTH AFRICA presented the outcome of the Fourth World Congress of Rural Women. GHANA suggested increased use of bioenergy, and emphasized African cooperation. POLAND discussed energy security, and urged diversification of energy sources, suppliers and transmission routes. BELARUS highlighted energy efficiency through energy saving and increased renewables. OMAN stressed changing the patterns of consumption from wood to liquefied petroleum gas. PHILIPPINES urged diversification of energy sources, including the use of indigenous, renewable and sustainably sourced clean energy sources. BRAZIL stressed the efficiency of liquid biofuel. BELGIUM suggested a review arrangement on energy for sustainable development and a more prominent role for UN-Energy. CAMEROON highlighted difficulties experienced by Africa regarding technological and financial resources and access to energy. ICELAND presented views on renewable energy sources, in particular geothermal. CAPE VERDE supported the EU proposals on increasing the share of renewables and voluntary target-setting.
TUNISIA emphasized energy diversification and establishing the best possible balance between the three pillars of sustainable development. The HOLY SEE highlighted energy security and called for national education schemes to address current patterns of consumption. The INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATION FOR MIGRATION warned of 50 million additional environmental migrants by 2010, and the WORLD BANK suggested a new approach to public policy that is inclusive of all stakeholders. The INTERNATIONAL MARITIME ORGANIZATION presented on the role of the IMO in reducing the environmental impacts of shipping.
INTERACTIVE DISCUSSION WITH MAJOR GROUPS
Chair Abdullah Bin Hamad Al-Attiya (Qatar) moderated this session. Following presentations from the Major Groups, the Chair initiated an interactive discussion.
SCIENTIFIC AND TECHNOLOGICAL COMMUNITY urged countries to explore the options for energy innovation across the entire energy portfolio. On climate change laws, BUSINESS AND INDUSTRY suggested that it is better to have regulation than uncertainty. WORKERS AND TRADE UNIONS emphasized the opportunity for "green jobs" in the renewable energy sector. LOCAL AUTHORITIES explained that leadership is being taken at the local level to fill the "responsibility void." NGOs described the response to climate change as a "moral imperative" and rejected carbon and nuclear as long-term options. INDIGENOUS PEOPLE cautioned against ignoring the Earth's message to move away from unsustainable patterns of production and consumption. CHILDREN AND YOUTH repeatedly emphasized that "fossil fuels and nuclear energy are not sustainable," expressed disappointment with the Chair's text, and urged delegates not to turn their backs on youth. They also underscored the need to invest in holistic education and encourage youth entrepreneurship. WOMEN called for gender mainstreaming, in particular for taking into account women's concerns in energy policies, poverty reduction strategies and decision-making processes.
In the ensuing discussion, NORWAY noted the need to focus on "global footprints." The HOLY SEE underscored the importance of conceptualizing the environmental issue as an ethical and moral one, and noted that "we have borrowed our world from our children." WORKERS AND TRADE UNIONS noted that "fuels come and fuels go," and suggested that the focus be on a "just transition." He also stressed the need for "safe work, decent work and sustainable work." CAMEROON urged participants to have the courage to transcend national interests and engage in "new thinking for development." FARMERS said CSD-15 outcomes needed to guide the speedy transition to cleaner fuels, and if it could not do that, he queried the purpose of having a CSD on agriculture next year. QATAR urged a balanced approach on energy sources. The NETHERLANDS proposed an international multi-stakeholder dialogue on sustainable production of biomass, and highlighted the need for access to energy for developing countries. INDIGENOUS PEOPLE highlighted the potential liabilities arising as a result of "dumping carbon" into the atmosphere. He urged decision makers to be guided by the welfare of the "seven generations to come" and the precautionary approach. As part of CSD's outcome, the NETHERLANDS suggested that concrete recommendations emerge from the session, in particular on investment programmes for access to energy, micro-financing for young entrepreneurs and safe and decent work as a precondition for sustainable work. Chair Al-Attiyah concluded by urging participants to refrain from blaming each other, and stressed that "we live together and we will die together."
In the consultations on energy, the G-77/China had yet to reach consensus on means of implementation, and delegates worked towards removing brackets in other paragraphs. As of 8:00 pm differences remained including on whether to "avoid" or "eliminate" dumping of energy wastes in developing countries, and a review mechanism on energy for sustainable development, time-bound targets, energy markets, access to energy services and investment to provide energy services. Alternative language was proposed on the chapeau, international cooperation on bioenergy, energy markets, nuclear power and transport of radioactive materials.
On climate change, a small "friends of the chair" group met throughout the day, and discussed, inter alia, the chapeau and a contentious reference to the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities in a paragraph on reducing emissions. As of 8:00 pm no agreement could be reached.
On air pollution/atmosphere, disagreements persisted on a few remaining issues including on: "promotion of synergies" between multilateral environmental agreements; and supporting efforts to tackle air pollutants from aviation and maritime sources "through" the IMO, ICAO and "other relevant international frameworks." Delegates engaged in bilateral and small group negotiations to resolve these.
IN THE CORRIDORS
Thursday witnessed a marked disconnect between the high-level segment sessions calling for strong sustained action, and the deadlocked negotiations. True, there was frenetic activity, as small groups of interested delegates met in closed sessions to wrestle with text, which continued throughout the day. However, one participant feared the output was "less than the least common denominator," and another noted that it "may just be a lot of words with no meaning." Yet another compared the drafting with the "usual climate negotiations where everyone is waiting to see who blinks first."
More general evaluations of CSD-15 ranged from "this whole conference is a joke" (reportedly said by a minister), to "reality has finally caught up with us" (an observation by an old CSD hand). A rumor went around, although it was quickly quashed, of a "CSD-15 bis" in July.
A number of delegations offered what they claimed is the realistic view. At the close of CSD-15, they discern a growing realization that this body is not well-equipped to take quick decisions on specific actions, however attractive. Rather, it is expected to formulate policies, and other fora exist for developing, negotiating and assuming concrete obligations. An impatient drive for the latter, as some JUSSCANZ members cautioned, has little chance of success, and could only lead to trekking back to WSSD language.
Reacting to understandable frustration, an optimistic participant pointed to the "forgotten aspect" of CSD-15 - the richness of discussion, the intellectually provocative side events, exchange of best practices and lessons learned, a dialogue with civil society, the forcing effect on intersectoral dialogue within governments, the scientific input and, finally, the educative nature of ministerial interaction.