TWN Info Service on Climate Change (Feb10/14)
17 February 2010
Third World Network

Developing countries call for additional negotiating meetings
Published in SUNS #6864 dated 16 February 2010

Geneva, 15 Feb (Meena Raman) -- Several developing countries have submitted proposals for additional negotiating sessions, on top of the formal meetings that have already been determined under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) following the Copenhagen climate talks.

While there was consensus among the developing countries for additional negotiating sessions to be held, there were differing views on how the Copenhagen Accord is to be treated in the resumption of work of the two working groups.

On 2 February, the UNFCCC Secretariat sent out an information note containing messages from the Chairs of the Ad-hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action (AWG-LCA) and the Ad-hoc Working Group on the Further Commitments for Annex 1 Parties under the Kyoto Protocol (AWG-KP), inviting Parties to submit their views on the need for additional meeting time for the two working groups, including the possible number, duration and timing of such meetings. These submissions to the Secretariat are to be made by 16 February.

(The Chair of the AWG-LCA is Ms. Margaret Mukahanana-Sangarwe of Zimbabwe and the Chair of the AWG-KP is Mr. John Ashe from Antigua and Barbuda.)

The AWG-LCA Chair also asked Parties to submit their views on how best to advance the work of the AWG-LCA in 2010 and the submissions could include "views, ideas and proposals on the organization of the work in 2010, including on how to ensure that the negotiating process remains transparent, inclusive and efficient in delivering substantive outcomes; initiatives the Chair could take to facilitate progress; and other aspects relevant to the work of the AWG-LCA in 2010".

Accordingly, as of 12 February, seven countries had forwarded submissions to the Secretariat: Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Indonesia, Mexico, Belize, Singapore and Malawi.

(The Copenhagen Accord was a three-page document that was not adopted by the UNFCCC Conference of Parties in Copenhagen but was only "taken-note of".)

Since the Copenhagen Accord was not formally adopted, Saudi Arabia was of the view that it had no legal status within the UNFCCC and thus cannot be used as the basis or reference for further negotiations.

Singapore, however, was of the view that the Copenhagen Accord contained many important elements which could serve as inputs to the negotiations and encouraged the Chair of the AWG-LCA to draft a Chair's text for the negotiations.

Belize was also of the view that the working groups may consider various elements of the Accord to facilitate work.

Saudi Arabia, in its submission, said that "a fully transparent process is essential for trust building. The UN process was shaken (in Copenhagen) and all efforts should be employed to rebuild trust in a transparent and inclusive process to negotiate and build agreements".

Saudi Arabia further said that having learnt the hard lesson in Copenhagen, Parties needed to avoid repeating the same mistakes. It asked for serious consideration of the following matters:

-- "The UNFCCC is, and will continue to be, the main guiding framework for all climate change actions for now and into the future. Therefore, all UNFCCC provisions, principles, rights and obligations, as well as existing annexes shall remain valid for any agreed outcome. We need also to be fully guided by the Bali Action Plan;

-- The AWG-LCA and the AWG-KP are the only official forums for negotiations under the Convention and Kyoto Protocol.  Such work and negotiations are undertaken with a view to presenting two separate comprehensive outcomes, under both tracks of negotiation, to the COP at its sixteenth session for consideration and adoption;

-- In order to ensure an efficient negotiation process, balanced progress must be made on both negotiating tracks in a way that will lead to two separate and balanced outcomes;

-- Other efforts outside the formal UNFCCC process should hold no bearing on the negotiations. The UNFCCC should only consider work that is done and generated through the UNFCCC process".

As regards meetings in 2010, Saudi Arabia said that "there are currently two formal meetings on the program of work for 2010, the meeting of the (UNFCCC) Subsidiary Bodies in June and the 16th meeting of the Conference of Parties in December. Any changes or additional meetings must only be agreed through consultations with all Parties. Noting the current state of negotiations and the work needed to reach an agreed outcome, two additional negotiation sessions could be considered for 2010".

"The AWGs should continue to conduct their work through contact groups (i.e. contact groups on the main elements under the Bali Action Plan under the LCA). No formal or informal groups should be set to discuss any extraneous elements as this reduces productivity and adds no value," Saudi Arabia added.

It said that "the only texts to be used in the negotiations are texts that enjoy full consensus of Parties, and that have been accepted as a basis for continuing the work. This also includes the submissions made by Parties and compilation texts on various proposals that were made by Parties. It has been agreed at COP15 that all texts remain on the table."

"Since the  Copenhagen Accord' has not been formally adopted, it has no legal status within the UNFCCC, and thus cannot be used as basis or reference for further negotiations. To support a Party-driven process, only the Parties can produce new text and determine the basis of further work. This must be done by consensus," it further stated.

Indonesia, in its submission, proposed that the AWGs meet four times during the year, with meetings to be held in April, June, September and November.

It was of the view that the negotiation processes should be undertaken in a transparent, inclusive and efficient manner to enable the acceptance of their outcomes by all Parties.

Mexico, the country that is hosting the 16th meeting of the Conference of Parties, in its submission, said that "it is crucial that the AWG-LCA and the AWG-KP commence their work as soon as possible".

It said that, "In this regard, both Groups should meet, in addition to the sessions already scheduled (June and November/December), at least twice more in 2010. The first meeting could take place in mid-April for one week, while the third meeting, that would follow-up June negotiations, could be held in September/October".

Sudan, in its submission, said that "two more additional sessions (total of 4 weeks) are needed to ensure completing the work" of  the two AWGs "in the same, inclusive, participatory, party-driven and transparent manner that prevailed during the sessions held in 2009 in Bonn, Bangkok and Barcelona".

Sudan also submitted that the Chairs of the AWGs "continue the practice of consulting with Parties proved to be a useful means for building trust and help avoiding unnecessary delays in the process".

Belize, in its submission, referred to the Copenhagen Accord and said that "in addition to their respective working documents, the AWGs may consider elements of the Copenhagen Accord with a view to facilitate the conclusion of the work of the AWGs".

It also said that it was "fully committed to continue negotiations under the UNFCCC with the objective of concluding a legally-binding outcome".

Singapore, in its submission, said that "the  continued  work  of  the  AWG-LCA  in  2010  should  be based  on  its  report  presented  to COP-15 containing  the  draft  texts produced  by  the  various drafting  groups  in Copenhagen".

It however viewed "the Copenhagen Accord, with which many Parties have to date associated themselves, as containing important elements which could serve as inputs to the negotiations".

Singapore said that in this regard, to advance the work of the AWG-LCA, it "encourages the  Chair of the AWG-LCA to draw on the various texts available, to produce a draft Chair's  text  for  the consideration of Parties at the first session of the AWG-LCA. This will help to streamline the discussions and pre-empt a two-tier negotiation process, one on the AWG-LCA and the other on the Copenhagen Accord".

Singapore proposed the establishment of appropriate drafting groups, with the view to address the issues in the most efficient and transparent manner.