TWN Info Service
on Climate Change (May09/01)
proposes South's commitments in new climate treaties
Geneva, 25 May (Meena Raman) -- Developed countries have submitted proposals under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), calling for new agreements under the Convention, as possible legal outcomes for the meeting of the Conference of Parties in Copenhagen in December this year.
countries forwarded their submissions to the UNFCCC, in view of the
next negotiating session on 1-12 June in
the different proposals are a new "Implementing Agreement"
under the Convention (proposed by the
These proposals have serious implications for developing countries. They seek to alter the nature of obligations of developing countries under the Convention and the Kyoto Protocol, by requiring some countries among them, to take on binding emission commitments. Under the present rules, only developed countries (also known as Annex I countries) have to undertake binding and quantified emission reduction commitments.
proposals call for a differentiation of mitigation actions among developing
countries. They seek to create a new category of developing countries,
to be included within terms such as "countries with significant
emissions profiles" (as referred to by the
For such a proposed differentiation of countries and commitments to be implemented, amendments to the Convention would be necessary. Further, a new implementing agreement or a new single treaty, as proposed, could lead to the scrapping of the Kyoto Protocol and basic alterations to the Convention itself.
The issue of differentiation of developing countries has been highly controversial in the climate talks, as under the present UNFCCC and Kyoto Protocol provisions, developing countries are not obliged to undertake any binding quantified emission reduction targets based on the principle of common but differentiated responsibility under the UNFCCC.
under paragraph 1(b)(ii) of the Bali Action Plan (adopted in
developed countries' proposals also call on individual developing countries
to list their national mitigation action plans, to be placed in an annex
or appendix in an agreement in Copenhagen.
Additional obligations would thus have to be undertaken by all developing countries, while some among them would have to take on even deeper and more binding obligations, according to the developed countries' proposals.
The developed countries have also proposed that the present two tracks of UNFCCC negotiations (under the two working groups on Kyoto Protocol and on the Bali Action Plan's long-term cooperative action) be brought together or merged.
This is contrary to the position of most developing countries that have insisted that the negotiations be maintained on the two separate tracks, one on the further emission-reduction commitments to be made by Annex I parties under the Kyoto Protocol, and the other on long-term cooperative action under the Bali Action Plan that includes mitigation and adaptation actions, transfers of technology and finance, and a "shared vision."
Under the present rules, developed countries listed as Annex I have to make a new commitment to reduce emissions through certain quantified targets and within a deadline in a second commitment period after the expiry of the first period in 2012. The developing countries are generally of the view that this is a commitment under the Kyoto Protocol separate from the actions to be agreed to under the Bali Action Plan.
The developed countries, in contrast, want their actions being negotiated under the Kyoto Protocol, to be linked to the negotiations on the Bali Action Plan, through which they aim to extract concessions from developing countries in the form of higher commitments on mitigation.
believe this aim of getting developing countries to commit to more than
what they are now obliged to can only be obtained by making it a condition
for their own further action under the Kyoto Protocol. Thus, they are
attempting to have the two tracks merged into a kind of "single
undertaking" (a term originating from the WTO), to be agreed to
complication is that the
attaching the implementing agreement to its submission, the
On mitigation, the implementing agreement proposes that all Parties implement their respective nationally appropriate mitigation actions which are to be reflected in an appendix called Appendix 1. In addition, Parties are to formulate and submit low-carbon strategies that articulate an emissions pathway to 2050. The mitigation action is subject to measurement, reporting and verification.
respect to developed-country Parties, the
It further proposes that in relation to developing-country Parties whose national circumstances reflect greater responsibility or capability, for such countries, Appendix 1 includes nationally appropriate mitigation actions in the 2020 or other time-frame that are quantified, as, for example, reduction from business-as-usual and are consistent with the levels of ambition needed to contribute to meeting the objective of the Convention.
Such developing countries are also required to formulate and submit a low-carbon strategy for long-term net emissions reductions by 2050, consistent with the level of ambition needed to contribute to meeting the objective of the Convention. Appendix 1 is to also include the date by which the Party will commit to the type of action.
On the issue of measurement, reporting and verification (MRV), the US submission suggests the need for provisions on MRV for: mitigation actions generally; on mitigation actions that are externally funded; on financial, technological and capacity-building support; and on various aspects of enabling environments in recipient-country Parties to promote external financial, technological and capacity-building support.
relation to mitigation obligations,
For Parties who are not in Annex 1 (referring to the developing countries), the Japanese proposal suggests that they take nationally appropriate mitigation actions as described in an Annex C. It states that as part of the nationally appropriate mitigation actions, Parties are to develop and submit national action plans, including policies and measures for mitigation which shall include quantified elements to the extent possible. It also provides that Parties who have substantial contribution to the global emissions and have appropriate response capabilities, shall achieve their respective emissions intensity targets as described in Annex C with a view to limiting substantially their emission growth.
Japan stated that no later than one year prior to the start of the commitment period, for Parties who have their intensity targets inscribed in Annex C, a national system for the estimation of emissions be decided upon by the Conference of Parties. Further, such Parties are also required to submit annual inventories of emissions, including sectoral information.
The Australian proposal said that a single treaty would accommodate the schedule and registry approach for capturing mitigation commitments and actions. The treaty could make provision for schedules to be adopted as annexes to the treaty, similar to those used in the World Trade Organisation and the Gothenburg Protocol (Protocol to the 1979 Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution).
These schedules could record a Party's mitigation commitments and actions and provide a legally-binding framework as necessary. Australia stated that if key developed-country mitigation commitments (under the amended Kyoto Protocol) were separated from commitments and actions relating to non-Parties to the Kyoto Protocol and advanced developing economies (under a new Protocol), it would be more difficult to assess comparability of effort, given that such assessment would take place across two negotiating fora.
It also stated that schedules are a particularly effective way to reflect the separate circumstances and capacities of individual non-Annex 1 Parties. A variety of mitigation policies and measures may be registered. In addition to actions, schedules could also allow more advanced non-Annex 1 Parties to register mitigation commitments that may differ from economy-wide QELROs without joining Annex 1. Sectoral commitments may be one example. LDCs would not be expected to undertake commitments.
EU did not make a submission on the form of the legal outcome for
On the long-term global goal, the EU stated that there was need to focus on the global emission reductions needed in line with the objective of keeping global mean temperature increase below 2 degrees C compared to pre-industrial levels. It therefore needs to be quantified in terms of a long-term global emissions reduction goal and a global mid-term pathway in terms of the time-frame for peaking of global emissions.
On mitigation, the EU reiterated that developed countries should commit to collectively reducing their emissions in the order of 30% by 2020 compared to 1990 levels. As for non-Annex 1 Parties, it called on countries whose levels of development and GDP per capita are comparable to those of the group of developed countries, notably OECD member countries, to consider making similar commitments in line with their responsibilities, capabilities and national circumstances.
It stated that each developing country shall elaborate a low-carbon development strategy, which contains the description of a long-term strategy for the low-carbon development of the developing country in the context of its broader sustainable development strategies, including an emission pathway, meaning an emission projection planned to be achieved with the implementation strategy.
The EU said that developing countries shall commit to integrate low-carbon development strategies covering all key emitting sectors into national and sectoral strategies, and have them in place as soon as possible and no later than 2012. For the LDCs, the low carbon development strategies should be supported financially and technically.
The EU stated that it would expect the ambition of propositions made by developing countries to be in line with their common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities and that recent analysis indicates that for developing countries as a group, there needs to be a deviation in emissions in the order of 15% to 30% below business-as-usual by 2020. +