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TWN Info Service on Climate Change (July10/02)
6 July 2010
Third World Network
 

Indian Minister calls for equity to be put back in Chair's text
Published in SUNS #6959 dated 6 July 2010
 
Geneva, 5 Jul (Meena Raman) -- In a statement to the Major Economies Forum (MEF) held in Rome on June 29-30, Indian Minister of Environment and Forests, Mr. Jairam Ramesh, said the issue of equity, equitable access to the carbon space and equitable burden sharing (in emissions reductions) seems to be sliding out of the negotiating discourse, and needs to be brought back into the mainstream of the climate negotiations.
 
He called for the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change's meetings in Cancun in December to be "an equity-based conference" and not one that "gives a burial" to equity in the climate talks.
 
Criticising the most recent draft text issued by the Chair of a working group at the UNFCCC's meeting in Bonn in June for deleting relevant parts on equity, Mr. Ramesh called for the re-installation of two paragraphs that had included the need for the equitable access to atmospheric space, including that this matter precede the choice of limits to the increase in global temperature.
 
He also said the issue of "measurement, reporting and verification" (of mitigation actions and of the commitments of developed countries to transfer finance and technology) cannot be seen or agreed in the absence of the critical issue of equity in the climate change discussions. "This is critical if we are to have an international agreement at Cancun," he added.
 
In a statement presented at the MEF meeting, the Indian Minister called for the restoration and operationalisation of the equity paradigm in sharing atmospheric space in the climate negotiations. A copy of the statement was obtained by TWN.
 
The MEF on Energy and Climate was launched by US President Barack Obama on 28 March 2009. The 17 major economies participating in the Forum are Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, the European Union, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States.
 
"Carbon space is development space and therefore we must agree on an appropriate methodology to determine carbon space that has been used up and that can be used in future, the rights and allocations for this space between developed and developing countries, including the implications for finance and technology transfers to developing countries," said the Indian Minister.
 
"It is critical that we arrive at an operational set of formulae on equity based primarily on cumulative per capita emissions," said Minister Ramesh further.
 
"Some scholars have also suggested that allocation of per capita emissions must be supplemented with the fact that the level of development of a country is important in determining what level of per capita emission may be appropriate," he added.
 
"A country with low per capita income, with little infrastructure, few climate-friendly technologies and little organisational capacity requires a higher per capita emissions entitlement compared to a developed country with well developed infrastructure, technology and capacity. Thus, the carbon space concept also means that poorer countries need more carbon space in order to achieve the same level of per capita income than richer countries."
 
The Minister also expressed hope that the 16th Conference of Parties to be held in Cancun in December this year "becomes an equity-based conference and not one that gives a burial to it."
 
The Minister said that the 10 June 2010 text of the Chair of the Ad-hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action (AWG-LCA) was rejected by most Parties.
 
Referring to paragraph 2 of the text which reads "Deep cuts in global emissions are required according to science, and as documented in the Fourth Assessment Report of the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), with a view to reducing global emissions so as to maintain the increase in global temperature below [1.5][2] degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, and that Parties should take action to meet this objective consistent with science and on the basis of equity, taking into account historical responsibilities and access to global atmospheric resources," the Minister had two observations on the formulation.
 
"First, this paragraph has no reference to the foundational principle of CBDR (common but differentiated responsibility) and respective capabilities, which is enshrined in United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). This is unacceptable," he said.
 
The Minister also in this context referred to a speech made by US climate envoy, Todd Stern, at Brookings Institution some weeks back, and said that Stern had "given a completely new interpretation to CBDR - new to the rest of the world, that is. I think we need to understand this interpretation in some detail".
 
The Minister continued: "Second, this paragraph omits the need for a paradigm for equitable access to precede any agreement. This is unacceptable. Any discussion on a global goal - whether for limiting temperature increase or emissions reduction - is incomplete, meaningless and impossible in the absence of such a paradigm. There is no substitute for the equitable access paradigm. Unilateral pledges, for example, do not and cannot substitute for this paradigm."
 
Mr. Ramesh said that "equitable access has been an integral part of previous texts in the AWG-LCA, for example, in the LCA Chair's text in Copenhagen that was adopted in Copenhagen and was also in the present Chair's May (17th) 2010 text."
 
The Minister said that this was in two places of the Chair's facilitative text of May 17th as follows: (1) that a goal for emissions reduction as part of the shared vision must include "taking into account historical responsibilities and an equitable share in the atmospheric space"; and (2) that Parties recognise the broad scientific view that the temperature increase should not exceed 2 or 1.5 or 1 degree, "preceded by a paradigm for equal access to global atmospheric resources."
 
The Minister said that he would "therefore strongly propose that all of us agree to restore these texts in the relevant two places and send the message to our negotiators."
 
"Moreover, it is vital that these principles be operationalised so that the equity paradigm in sharing atmospheric space is spelt out in practical terms," stressed the Minister further.
 
"The carbon budgets approach, made explicit by think tanks in Germany, UK, Brazil, China, India and other countries as well as the South Centre in Geneva, provide a useful basis for conceptualising and operationalising equity, and must be brought to the mainstream of our discussions and negotiations," he said further.
 
He referred to an international conference on "Global Carbon Budgets and Equity in Climate Change" that India hosted on June 28-29 in Mumbai, which had participants from Germany, UK, Brazil and Malaysia, and said that "the proposals on equity and carbon budgets were discussed in great detail." [See TWN Info Service on Climate Change (July10/01) dated 5 July 2010].
 
"The BASIC Group (Brazil, South Africa, India and China) is meeting in Rio de Janeiro in late-July and we have set aside a day to have a technical workshop on equity related issues. These are important discussions and we must now bring these concrete proposals from the margins into the core of our negotiations," said Minister Ramesh.
 
"If only lip service continues to get paid to equity, and if we pay obeisance to it only in words and think we have addressed the issue, I am afraid that no international agreement will be possible," stressed Mr. Ramesh.
 
"Therefore after the workshop in Rio, the BASIC and other developing countries would like to bring our concrete proposals to the other members in the UNFCCC. We hope that a workshop can be organised so that negotiators can discuss how to integrate these concepts and how to operationalise the equity principles into the negotiations and the negotiating text. India would be delighted to host a meeting before Cancun to enable this discussion," he added.
 
Minister Ramesh also addressed the issue of MRV (measuring, reporting and verification) of mitigation actions and commitments of developed countries at the MEF meeting.
 
He said that paragraph 4 of the Copenhagen Accord "enjoins the Conference of Parties to develop appropriate guidelines for MRV of actions of developed country Parties."
 
"This is important to recall and stress since the entire focus in the MRV debate over the past year has been on developing country mitigation actions. It is also important that such an MRV regime includes not only MRV of emission reduction commitments but also MRV of the targets, time-frames and regimes related to the transfer of finance and technology to developing countries," he added.
 
"The MRV on finance assumes urgent importance, for all of us need to know very clearly how much of the additional $30 billion pledged by the developed countries during 2010, 2011 and 2012 has materialised so far; how precisely are disbursements to take place; what the mix between bilateral and multilateral assistance is; and to which countries and for what purposes are the funds going to flow. The one area where there is some clarity is REDD-plus where $4.5 billion has been pledged," said the Minister.
 
(REDD-plus refers to reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation, including forest conservation, sustainable forest management and enhancing forest carbon stocks).
 
"Four crucial action points are embedded in paragraph 5 of the Copenhagen Accord (relating to developing country mitigation actions). (1) Mitigation actions of non-Annex I Parties to be communicated to UNFCCC Secretariat through NATCOM (national communications) consistent with Article 12.1(b) (of the UNFCCC), every two years, on the basis of guidelines to be adopted by COP; (2) Mitigation actions taken by Non-Annex I Parties will be subject to their domestic measurement, reporting and verification (DMRV), the result of which will be reported through their NATCOMs every two years; (3) Non-Annex I Parties will communicate information on the implementation of their actions (nationally appropriate mitigation actions - NAMAs) through NATCOMs, with provisions for international consultations and analysis under clearly defined guidelines that will ensure that national sovereignty is respected; (4) NAMAs seeking international support will be recorded in a registry along with relevant technology, finance and capacity building support. They will be subject to international measurement, reporting and verification in accordance with guidelines adopted by COP," elaborated the Minister.
 
The Minister made the following suggestions in this regard to put these four action points into practice:
 
-- "International consultations and analysis as envisaged in action point # 3 above must be based on country implementation reports (derived from the respective NATCOM) prepared by the individual countries themselves so as to fulfill the respect for national sovereignty' promise contained within action point # 3 itself. A chapter/issue format for such reports can be agreed to by the COP."
 
-- "The frequency of international consultations and analysis can be somewhat akin to the graded system adopted by the WTO for its trade policy reviews - some countries get reviewed once every two years, some others once every four years and most others once every six years or more depending on share of world trade."
 
-- "There has to be a multilateral anchor for the international consultations and analysis process. The Subsidiary Body on Implementation (SBI) of the UNFCCC should consider, sooner rather than later, how this process should be set in motion. SBI functions under the Convention to perform this kind of work and has fairly well laid out procedures in respect of reports of both Annex I and Non Annex I countries. We should allow SBI to get on with this task and fulfill the expectations resulting from our current state of negotiations."
 
Stressed the Minister further, "it bears repetition that the regime for MRV for Non-Annex I countries cannot be more onerous than that for the Annex I countries either in form or content or the consideration of their actions. Non-Annex I countries should have a regime that is subject to consideration in terms of Article 10. 2 (a) of the UNFCCC."
 
The Minister emphasised that the issue of MRV cannot be seen in the absence of the critical issue of equity in the climate change discussions. "Without a working paradigm of equitable access to carbon space, what exactly will be the role and nature of MRV is far from clear and cannot be agreed," he added.
 
"MRV must include a determination of an allocative principle and an equitable allocation of carbon space. This is particularly relevant in the context of the adequacy of actions of developed countries. This is critical if we are to have an international agreement at Cancun," Minister Ramesh said further. +

 


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