The latest from IUCN's expert Claire Parker on the state of negotiations.
After a week of ‘UNFCCC climate change talks’ (as the negotiations are called) here in Bangkok, there is no sign of a political breakthrough yet on a new agreement to which all parties to the present UNFCCC would sign up to. Work has concentrated on ‘consolidating’ (i.e. reordering and shortening) the negotiating text, which was still around 200 pages long at the beginning of these sessions. The next week of negotiations will begin with a set of working documents with ‘consolidated’ text on almost all issues. Among those, mitigation is still widely open, spanning reduction targets for developed and developing countries; reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developed countries (REDD+); sectoral approaches; market mechanisms and potential economic consequences of mitigation action.
Although more circumscribed, adaptation is deemed by many countries, in particular the most vulnerable, as equally important: what will be decided here and up to a final agreement will determine how much financial assistance developing countries will get for their adaptation plans and actions - we are talking about a lot of money here: the estimates vary widely but $50 billion per year is a conservative figure. Delegations have also been discussing finance that will be made available to developing countries to help them acquire low carbon technologies and cover their adaptation costs. How will money be raised and disbursed, and under what form of ‘governance’: i.e. who will decide and disburse, what will be the rules. As can be expected, also a heated topic!
Meanwhile, the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (all developed countries minus the US) are also discussing, in a parallel ‘stream’ of talks, on a possible new commitment period after the current one runs out in 2012. Understandably, most of these Parties would prefer to wrap up the Kyoto Protocol into a single new global agreement, covering the issues mentioned above, and to which all parties to the Convention would sign up. This is met by resistance from developing countries, as they are wary of being pushed (some slowly, some more immediately) in taking on mitigation commitments of their own. They also fear that the developed countries may be given an easier ride that way. The structure, or ‘legal nature’ of the new agreement is therefore a highly political question.
At the stock taking sessions at the end of this first week, all delegations deplored the slow pace of the negotiations - there are only two negotiation weeks left before Copenhagen: one here, one in Barcelona in early November.