TWN Info Service on Climate Change (Sept12/05)
25 September 2012
Third World Network

BASIC ministers express expectations for COP 18

Beijing, 24 September (Chee Yoke Ling) – A BASIC ministerial meeting reiterated concern at the insufficiency of mitigation pledges by developed countries that are far below what science requires.

The Ministers pointed to the fact that developed countries’ greenhouse gases emissions reduction pledges in aggregate represent a lower mitigation potential contribution than the nationally appropriate mitigation actions presented by developing countries. They stressed again that historical responsibility, and accordingly, the principles of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities must remain central to the global climate regime.

The BASIC platform comprising Brazil, South Africa, India and China is aimed at coordination for the UN climate negotiations.

The 21 September ministerial joint statement was issued at the end of the 12th BASIC Ministerial Meeting on Climate Change held in Brasilia, Brazil on 20-21 September, 2012 with the participation of Mr. Antonio de Aguiar Patriota, Minister of External Relations of Brazil, Ms. Izabella Teixeira, Minister for the Environment of Brazil, Mr. Xie Zhenhua, Vice-Chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission of China, Ms. Edna Molewa, Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs of South Africa, and Mr. Bellur Shamarao Prakash, Ambassador of India to Brazil.

As is the usual “BASIC-Plus” approach, the other invited participants were Ms. Maxine McClean, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade of Barbados, Ambassador Mourad Benmehidi of Algeria (current Chair of the Group of 77 and China), Mr. Rashid Ahmad Al-Kuwari of Qatar’s Ministry of the Environment Qatar (representing Qatar as the incoming President of COP-18/CMP-8), and Ms. Marํa Fabiana Loguzzo of Argentina’s Ministry of Foreign Relations and Worship.

This meeting signals the views and positions of the four countries for the upcoming 18th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the 8th COP serving as the Meeting of Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP) that will be held in Doha, Qatar at the end of the year.

The Brasilia meeting came shortly after the recent meetings of the three UN climate working groups in Bangkok, Thailand (30 August to 5 September): the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action under the UNFCCC (AWG-LCA), the Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol (AWG-KP), and the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP).

The Ministers stressed that the outcome of the 2011 Durban climate conference, was a carefully balanced package, which must be fully implemented in all its aspects, and reiterated their commitment to a successful outcome of COP 18/CMP 8 in Qatar.

They also emphasized the centrality of the decision to initiate the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol on I January 2013. They underscored that the final formal adoption of the second commitment period is a key deliverable for Doha and an essential basis for ambition within the (international climate) regime. In this regard, the Ministers welcomed the progress achieved under the AWG-KP during the intersessional meetings held in Bonn (May) and Bangkok (September), including the formulation of a G77 and China proposal for addressing surplus and carry-over of units from the first to the second commitment period.

The Ministers also urged Annex I Parties (developed countries and economies in transition) to present concrete information on their quantified emission reduction commitments for inscription under the second commitment period (as legally required under their Kyoto Protocol commitments). They expressed concern about the level of ambition submitted so far by these Parties, which is far below what science requires. They reiterated that Annex I Parties that decide not to join the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol demonstrate an unwillingness to substantively cut their greenhouse gas emissions.

(Canada has withdrawn from the Kyoto Protocol, while Japan and the Russian Federation have officially announced that they will not join the second commitment period.)

The Ministers emphasized the importance of achieving a successful and meaningful conclusion of the AWG-LCA in Doha, as part of the Durban package. Serious engagement and substantive work are needed to reach an agreed outcome and finalize negotiations on unresolved issues mandated under the Bali Action Plan (adopted in 2007 by the UNFCCC COP), such as equity, intellectual property rights and unilateral trade measures. Additionally, it will be necessary to reach an understanding on how to address the ongoing issues in case we are not able to conclude them in Doha.

They stressed that key issues cannot be allowed to fall off the table in order to achieve a successful closure of the AWG-LCA. This will require the consideration of different possible solutions, according to the technical or political nature of the different issues, in order to ensure their adequate treatment in appropriate technical or political bodies beyond 2012.

[The AWG-LCA was launched in Bali, Indonesia in 2007 to advance the work of the Bali Action Plan on long-term cooperative action to enable the full, effective and sustained implementation of the Convention in order to reach “an agreed outcome”. In Durban, Parties agreed “to extend the AWG-LCA…for one year in order for it to continue its work and reach the agreed outcome through decisions adopted by the 16th, 17th and 18th sessions of the Conference of the Parties, at which time the AWG-LCA… shall be terminated”. COP 16 was held in Cancun, Mexico in 2010 and COP 17 in Durban.

Developed countries are determined to close the AWG-LCA in Doha at COP 18, while developing countries emphasize that the Durban decision on this point is based on the successful conclusion on an agreed outcome. If there are unresolved issues, the AWG-LCA cannot be automatically terminated.]

The Brasilia Ministerial statement also emphasized the importance of issues related to means of implementation. This includes the consideration of sources of long-term finance and the continued scaling-up of financing in the 2013-2020 period. They also underscored the importance of concluding, in Doha, the necessary arrangements between the COP and the Green Climate Fund, in order to ensure that the Fund works under the authority and guidance of the COP.

The Ministers emphasized that successfully concluding the work of both the AWG-KP and the AWG-LCA in Doha will be crucial to strengthen confidence among Parties and offer important definitions for the work of the Durban Platform. They welcomed the initial exploratory work carried out by the ADP and expressed the need to continue this work in Doha, in a flexible and constructive manner, providing confidence to the international community that we are implementing the Durban outcome.

They recognized that the Durban Platform, in defining the negotiation of a Protocol, another legal instrument or an agreed outcome with legal force (the phrase used in the Durban decision) to come into effect in 2020, offers a clear opportunity for the strengthening of the regime, through enhanced implementation of the Convention, in order to achieve an equitable, inclusive, effective and multilateral rules based outcome.

They reaffirmed that both the negotiation process and its result shall be under the UNFCCC, and in full accordance with its principles and provisions, in particular the principles of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities. They recognized that all countries should participate in an enhanced global effort to be implemented after 2020, under the UNFCCC, which would respect the principles of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities and differentiation between Annex I and non-Annex I (developing countries) Parties. The Ministers stressed that the institutional architecture built on the basis of decisions adopted in Bali, Cancun, Durban and Doha will continue to function in the post-2020 period, as a foundation for the full implementation of the UNFCCC.

In relation to the central principles, the Ministers reiterated the outcome of the June 2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) and the adoption (by heads of states and governments) of the document “The Future We Want”, which reaffirms the (1992) Rio Principles, in particular the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities, and urged Parties to the UNFCCC and to the Kyoto Protocol to fully implement their commitments, as well as decisions adopted under those agreements.

They further noted with concern the insufficiency of mitigation pledges presented up to now by Annex I Parties, which in aggregate represent a lower mitigation potential contribution than the nationally appropriate mitigation actions presented by non-Annex I Parties. They called on Annex I Parties to do more, in line with their historical responsibilities and the demands of science, by means of participation in the second commitment period or, for those that are still unwilling to join, by adopting commitments that are fully comparable to those under the Kyoto Protocol, as part of the Bali Action Plan outcome.

[The Bali Action Plan requires Annex I Parties that are not Kyoto Protocol Parties to undertake emissions reductions comparable to the latter. The US was the primary Party in 2007, and now would include Canada, Japan and the Russian Federation.]

The Ministers underscored that fulfillment of obligations on the part of Annex I Parties to provide enhanced financial, technological and capacity-building support to developing countries is critical in order to allow a greater number of developing countries to come forward with their nationally appropriate mitigation actions. The current level of support available is regrettably insufficient to address even the actions already presented, as part of the Bali Action Plan.

Regarding the ADP workstream on ambition, the BASIC Ministers stressed the centrality of the UNFCCC and the importance of its principles and provisions, in particular the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities. They welcomed complementary initiatives that explore specific mitigation opportunities, while respecting these principles and provisions. However, they also stressed the importance of clarity on the additionality of these initiatives and on their environmental integrity.

The Ministers also reiterated their concern regarding continued unilateral action by the European Union to include international aviation in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU-ETS), as well as with similar intentions regarding other sectors. This approach undermines confidence and weakens efforts to tackle climate change on a multilateral basis, they said.

They emphasized the active role of the Group of 77 and China in the climate change negotiations. They reiterated, as in previous BASIC statements, the importance of unity among developing countries in dealing with climate change, and reaffirmed the continuation of the “BASIC plus” approach to foster unity amongst developing countries, as well as the importance of South-South cooperation.

The next BASIC Ministerial Meeting will be in China in November 2012.