TWN Info Service
on Climate Change (Feb10/18)
25 February 2010
Third World Network
Clash over UNFCCC
text vs Accord as basis for future talks
Published in SUNS #6871 dated 25
Geneva, 24 Feb (Meena
Raman) -- A major clash is emerging whether the global climate talks
this year should be based on the United Nations Framework Convention
on Climate Change (UNFCCC) texts arising from two years of multilateral
work, or the Copenhagen Accord, which was not adopted but only "taken
note of" at Copenhagen.
Following the chaotic
conclusion of the climate talks in Copenhagen
last December, the issue of what text would be the basis of future negotiations
is likely to be the first and most controversial issue to be debated
when talks resume at the UNFCCC in April.
Most developing countries
that have written to the UNFCCC have said that they want the negotiations
to resume on the basis of the reports of the Chairs of the two working
groups on Long-term Cooperative Action (AWG-LCA) and the Kyoto Protocol
However, the United States,
in a 19 February letter, said that it prefers the Copenhagen Accord
to be the basis of future negotiations. It also seemed to reject the
texts of the AWG-LCA, which it claimed, was not agreed to as the basis
for negotiations. Japan has also
said that future progress in the negotiations should be on the Accord.
The developing countries
that have said that they want the UNFCCC working group reports and texts
to be the basis for negotiations include China,
India and Brazil, while Saudi Arabia said that the Copenhagen
Accord is not a UNFCCC document and cannot be a basis. Kuwait and Nauru have explicitly disassociated
themselves from the Accord.
The strong US position was
made via a letter dated 19 February to the UNFCCC Secretariat on the
organization of work under the Ad-hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative
The US submission noted that the texts
of the AWG-LCA "have been vehicles for facilitating consensus on
key issues, but their contents do not reflect specific agreements or
understandings in the negotiating process.
it was not agreed that the LCA texts would be the basis of any future
negotiation. As such, we are of the view that Parties will need to consider
which texts are still relevant in the first session of the LCA in light
of circumstances in Copenhagen."
The US submission preferred
the Copenhagen Accord, as it said that the Accord "achieves a number
of landmark outcomes that substantially advance the implementation of
the Convention and provide a basis for an agreed outcome in Mexico"
(at the 16th meeting of the Conference of Parties which will take place
in November this year).
(The US letter seems to be turning what
actually happened on its head. The Copenhagen Accord was not adopted
by the Conference of Parties at Copenhagen,
which only "took note" of it. In contrast, the COP adopted
a decision that requested the AWG-LCA "to continue its work drawing
on the report of the AWG-LCA presented to the COP as well as work undertaken
by the COP on the basis of that report.")
Referring to the LCA
texts, the US submission
further states that "in some cases, such as the text on REDD-plus
(Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing
countries), the LCA facilitator's texts reflect an emerging consensus
among a diverse group of Parties. Other texts have not benefited from
discussion and do not reflect emerging consensus. In still other cases,
such as those relating to mitigation and shared vision, the outcomes
in Copenhagen overlap substantially with
outcomes in the Copenhagen Accord, and the US is of the view
that it will be difficult to find consensus around alternative proposals
that depart from the Accord understandings."
countries have sent letters to the COP President or made submissions
to the UNFCCC Secretariat indicating that the Copenhagen Accord is not
the basis for the negotiations and that the LCA texts form the legitimate
basis for negotiations. Some developing countries have also suggested
that elements of the Accord could serve as inputs into the LCA texts,
while others have rejected the Accord as having any status in the negotiations.
Chinese Prime Minister
Wen Jiabao, in letters dated 29 January 2010 to UN Secretary-General
Ban Ki-moon and Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen (copies of
which were also submitted to the Secretariat), said that the two working
groups under the UNFCCC and Kyoto Protocol "are the legal bodies
for such negotiations", and the draft texts proposed by the Chairs
of those working groups in the December climate conference in Copenhagen
are "the legitimate basis".
Premier Wen also stressed
that the Copenhagen Accord "has kept alive the dual-track negotiation
processes established by the Bali Roadmap", and "confirmed
the draft texts proposed by the Chairs of the two Ad hoc Working Groups
... as the basis for future negotiations".
China, in its submission
on the organization of work, said that "the Chair's text together
with all texts and submissions from Parties remain on the table as the
only legitimate basis for further negotiations under the AWG-LCA. The
political agreement in the Copenhagen Accord may be considered and where
appropriate, be translated into texts that can be incorporated in the
negotiating text of the AWG-LCA."
Saudi Arabia, in its submission to
the Secretariat, said that since the Copenhagen Accord was not formally
adopted, it was of the view that the Accord had no legal status within
the UNFCCC and thus cannot be used as the basis or reference for further
of Nauru and Kuwait have informed
the Secretariat that they do not wish to associate with the Copenhagen
Nauru has also submitted its analysis
of the Accord which criticized both the process and contents. Among
other aspects, Nauru
said that the Accord "adopts a process of allowing country pledges
to determine global aggregate emission reductions, rather than defining
global aggregate emission reductions based on what is necessary to achieve
the objective of the Accord. The pledges for emission reductions announced
by developed countries would not limit global temperature increase to
below 2 degrees Celsius, let alone 1.5 degrees Celsius."
Brazil, in its submission, said that
the two working groups (LCA and KP) "represent the legitimate fora
to advance negotiations, based on the reports of the AWG-KP and AWG-LCA."
India, in its submission, said that
"the Chair's text together with all texts and submissions from
Parties remain on the table as the basis for further negotiations under
the AWG-LCA. The political understanding among the participants as reflected
in the Copenhagen Accord should facilitate the two-track process of
Singapore, in its submission, was
however 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
Japan, in its submission, said that
further progress in the negotiations should be on the Accord. It said
that it was appropriate to discuss in both the working groups of the
LCA and KP "the elements of the Accord in a coherent, consistent
and balanced manner, not picking up some points separately, since the
Accord as a whole is a package."
The EU, in its submission,
said that "some progress was accomplished in 2008 and 2009 but
the EU regrets that notwithstanding the many sessions, progress was
limited on some of the key political issues. A number of texts, elaborated
and discussed in Copenhagen in the context
of the AWG-LCA and AWG-KP, reflect the current status of work. The Copenhagen
Accord provides important additional input and guidance needed for the
further elaboration and finalisation of these texts."
The opinions presented
by the countries above were in most cases in response to a request to
them to submit views on how the future work should proceed at the UNFCCC.
On 2 February, the
Chair of the AWG-LCA, Ms. Margaret Mukahanana-Sangarwe of Zimbabwe,
had 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.
These submissions were
supposed to be made by 16 February.
On the organization
of work, the US, in its submission,
advocates bilateral and regional consultations rather than a multilateral
process. The US
said that "a key lesson of 2009 is that significant negotiating
time is less important in reaching agreement than providing adequate
time for countries to consult with each other bilaterally and regionally."
It also called for
"serious consideration [to] be given to a longer High Level Segment
than we have had to date at COP-16, so that ministers can fully engage
on what will no doubt be a complex agenda in Mexico."
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