TWN Info Service on Climate Change (Feb10/03)
3 February 2010
Third World Network

Countries submit climate “national pledges” to UNFCCC Secretariat
Published in SUNS #6855 dated 3 February 2010

Geneva, 2 February 2010 (Meena Raman): The secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change has received “submissions of national pledges” to cut and limit greenhouse gases by 2020 from 56 countries, according to its press release.

This includes submissions by 36 developed countries, including 27 from the European Union (referred to as Annex 1 Parties to the UNFCCC) and submissions from 20 developing countries and others who are known as non-Annex 1 Parties to the UNFCCC, 

However the submission of pledges or intended mitigation actions does not necessarily mean the same countries have formally “associated” themselves with the Copenhagen Accord, which was a document presented to the closing plenary of the Conference of Parties of the UNFCCC in Copenhagen.  After a heated discussion, the Accord was only “taken note” of but not adopted by the COP.

The Accord sets a deadline of 31 January for Annex I countries to submit their mitigation goals and for developing countries to send in details of their mitigation actions.

The information compiled by the Secretariat indicates that 33 developed countries have expressly associated with the Accord, while only four developing countries have done so.

According to the UNFCCC secretariat, the countries that submitted their “national pledges” together account for 78 per cent of global emissions from energy use.

According to the UNFCCC website, the developing countries who have communicated their nationally appropriate mitigation actions include Brazil, China, Costa Rica, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Maldives, Marshall Islands, Madagascar Morocco, Republic of Congo, Republic of Korea, Sierra Leone, Singapore and South Africa. The developed countries include countries from the European Union, Australia, Canada, Croatia, Japan, Kazakhstan, New Zealand, Norway, Russian Federation and the USA.

According to the UNFCCC Secretariat, some of the developing countries have noted the need for international support when describing their national actions.

Some of the countries have also expressly indicated that they wish to be associated with the Copenhagen Accord.  Among the developed countries who have associated with the Accord  include Australia, Canada, Croatia, the EU and its 27 member states, Japan, Kazakhstan, and New Zealand.

The developing countries who have expressly stated their association with the Accord include Maldives, Singapore, Indonesia and Costa Rica.

India and China are among the developing countries that have communicated  their mitigation actions to the Secretariat.  Their separate letters cited existing provisions of the Convention under which the information was being conveyed, and the letters did not make any reference to the Accord.  (See TWN Climate Information, 2 Feb. 2010).

However, the UNFCCC website displays these letters and “submissions of national pledges” under the heading “Information provided by Annex 1 Parties relating to Appendix 1 of the Copenhagen Accord” and “Information provided by non-Annex 1 Parties relating to Appendix II of the Copenhagen Accord”. This gives the impression that all countries who have made “submissions of national pledges” have associated with the Accord, although some countries have not expressly said that they are associating with the Accord.

The UNFCCC website also contains letters or communications from some of the countries that convey the information on their mitigation plans, including Brazil, South Africa and the United States.

Brazil, in its communication to the secretariat of the UNFCCC stated that it ”took an active part in the negotiation of the Copenhagen Accord and understands it as an important step in order to facilitate the conclusion of the on-going two track-negotiations under the Ad-hoc Working Group on the Kyoto Protocol and the Ad-hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action with a view to adopt a decision on the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol and also on the fulfillment of the Bali Action Plan” during the climate conference in Mexico later this year.

The Brazilian letter also states that the envisaged domestic actions are voluntary in nature and will be implemented in accordance with the principles and provisions of the UNFCCC including Article 4.7 that states that the extent to which developing country Parties will effectively implement their commitments under the Convention will depend on the effective implementation by developed country Parties of their commitments under the Convention related to financial resources and transfer of technology and will take fully into account that economic and social development and poverty eradication are the first and overriding priorities of the developing country Parties.

South Africa in its letter of 29 January to the secretariat of the UNFCCC said that it participated in the meeting convened by the Danish Prime Minister Lars Rasmussen “in order to obtain political direction” which was “aimed at reaching political agreement among Parties on some key issues that have been difficult to resolve during the negotiations.”

The letter from Alf Wills, the Deputy Director General of International Cooperation in the Environmental Affairs Department, also states that “while the Copenhagen Accord was not adopted by the COP, we acknowledge that it captures political agreement on some contentious elements among those Parties that participated in its development and those other Parties that may wish to associate themselves with it.”

“As such, the Copenhagen Accord is a political declaration within the UNFCCC process that should provide valuable direction and impetus to the further negotiations under the Convention and its’ Kyoto Protocol this year, with the aim to finalise (in Mexico) an ambitious, fair, effective and binding multilateral agreement, in line with the 2007 Bali Road Map mandates”, the letter added.

South Africa said that it was “supportive of the commitments made by developed countries in Copenhagen Accord to provide US10 billion per year to enhance immediate implementation of climate change action and ensure readiness to take climate action between now and 2012 in developing countries, particularly in those countries most vulnerable, such as the LDCs, African countries and small island Developing states.”

South Africa referred to paragraph 5 of the Copenhagen Accord and said that it “calls for non-Annex 1 Parties to submit to the UNFCCC Secretariat, by 31 January 2010 the nationally appropriate mitigation action that they will implement”.

Accordingly, South Africa said that it would take nationally appropriate mitigation action to enable a 34% deviation below the ‘business-as-usual’ emissions growth trajectory by 2020 and a 42% deviation below ‘business-as-usual’ emissions growth trajectory by 2025.  It also referred to Article 4.7 of the UNFCCC stating that the extent to which this action will be implemented depends on the provision of financial resources and the transfer of technology and capacity building support.

The United States, through its special envoy for climate change, Todd Stern, informed the secretariat via a letter of 28 January that it will associate with the Accord. The US indicated its target for emissions reductions by 2020 to be in the range of 17% “in conformity with anticipated US energy and climate legislation, recognizing that the final target will be reported to the secretariat in light of enacted legislation.

In a footnote, the US also stated that the pathway set forth in pending legislation would entail a 30% reduction in 2025 and a 42% reduction in 2030, in line with the goal to reduce emissions 83% by 2050. The US referred to a base year of 2005 in relation to these targets.

The US stated further its listing of the targets is “provided on the assumption that other Annex 1 Parties as well as the more advanced non-Annex 1 Parties have by January 31, associated with the Accord and submitted mitigation actions for compilation’.

It also looked forward to the implementation of the Accord, “including those portions of the Accord that call for COP decisions”.