TWN Info Service on Climate Change (Nov07/02)

2 November 2007


The Bogor meeting on climate change (24-25 October) – attended Ministers and officials of 40 countries – was a prelude to the Bali meetings of the UNFCCC and Kyoto Protocol.

Many issues were discussed at the meeting, and the discussions revealed differences of views among the countries present.  Among the major issues were:

  • Whether the Bali meetings should launch negotiations for a “new framework” or make use of the existing framework (Convention and Kyoto Protocol) and negotiate a second commitment period of the Protocol.
  • Burden sharing in the need for global reduction in emissions and what the common but differentiated responsibility really means in that context.
  • The so-called “building blocks” for the post-2012 framework – including the interpretation of the four blocks usually mentioned, plus whether other “blocks” should be added on.
  • How to "deliver the building blocks.” – or the structure and format of the future negotiations, whether it should be formal or informal, and whether it should be under the UNFCCC or Kyoto Protocol or some combination.  This will have implications on the nature of the future “regime”.

Below is an analysis of the major issues that emerged at the Bogor meeting.  It was published in the South North Development Monitor on 1 November 2007 and is reproduced here with the permission of the SUNS.  Any reproduction or re-circulation requires permission of the SUNS (

With best wishes
Martin Khor

By K. Ayu Sarasvati, Jakarta, 31 October 2007

The recent Informal Ministerial Meeting on Climate Change held in Bogor, Indonesia (October 24-25) has been reported by the media as having agreed that the Bali meetings of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) will launch negotiations for a post-2012 framework or regime for climate change, with 2009 as the deadline for completing the talks.

The press has also reported that developed countries have agreed to take the lead in commitments to reduce Greenhouse gas emissions, and that the four building blocks for the regime have also been agreed to i. e. mitigation, adaptation, technology transfer, and finance and investment.

The meeting (which was attended by Ministers and officials of 40 countries) supposedly had also agreed to include deforestation and forest degradation as another important building block. The above points reported by the media seem to have been drawn from the "Summary Notes" presented by the Chair of the meeting, Indonesian Minister of Environment, Mr. Rachmat Witoelar.

Witoelar made his summary on the second day. It said there was a general agreement that the four building blocks (mentioned above) are at the core of a post-2012 framework, that they need to be built upon and expanded, and that equal weight must be given to adaptation and mitigation and special issues such as deforestation and forest degradation.

The summary also said that work on this will continue under the UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol, and there is a need to give content to the principle of common but differentiated responsibility and respective capabilities in the design of a post-2012 framework.

The summary further said that Annex I Parties accept that they should continue to take the lead in combating climate change and there is also need to respect economic growth objectives which is best done by taking sustainable development as the central objective.

The regime would also aim at broader engagement by developing countries through incentives and further developing the concept of sustainable development policies and measures. Finally, the summary said there was agreement to aim at completing work on a post-2012 framework by 2009 and assuring the continuation of the Clean Development Mechanism beyond 2012.

The Chair's summary also outlined the means to deliver the building blocks. It said there was broad consensus on the need for a Bali Roadmap towards a comprehensive multilateral framework beyond 2012, and that the framework would be provided by the Kyoto Protocol and UNFCCC.

In addition to the ad hoc working group on the future commitment of Annex 1 countries under the Kyoto Protocol, there is a need for a process under the Convention to advance work on the building blocks, said the summary.

In addition, results of other parallel processes such as the G-8+5, should be brought in. And finally, there might be a need to establish a contact group in Bali and conduct complementary consultations by the President of the Bali meetings (which will be Witoelar himself).

This summary, which the Chair revealed was prepared by the Secretariat, was not a negotiated document and thus is not taken as agreed conclusions of the meeting.

Indeed, there was quite a lengthy discussion on this summary after the Chair's presentation of it. And in this discussion, it became clear that there were many important points on which there were divergences of views among the countries present.

First of all, Saudi Arabia said, after the Chair presented his summary, that the meeting cannot come to a general agreement, as it was an informal meeting and involved only about 35 countries. Brazil also said that it may not be comfortable with the word "agreement" (used in the Chair's summary). In response, the Chair said the summary was for his own use, and not a document to be negotiated (as an agreed text).

Secondly, some developing countries said that the negotiations to be launched in Bali are not for a new or future framework, but rather on the second period of commitment to reduce greenhouse gases by Annex 1 countries (under the UNFCCC), which is already mandated in the Kyoto Protocol. There is thus no need to establish a new agreement, said these countries.

There was also a suggestion to set a time frame for the second period of commitment, for instance, 2012-2020.

The Minister of State for Environment and Forests of India said that the requirement of the day is for a future and enhanced implementation of the UNFCCC and not to create a future framework. Contrary to common understanding and perception, India reminded that 2012 is not the end date for the Kyoto Protocol, nor the possible starting date for some other framework.

This point was echoed by Brazil which said that the vision should be on the second commitment period, and global efforts at mitigation means deeper targets for Annex 1 countries, while there must be support for sustainable development in non Annex 1 countries through financial and technological assistance.

Brazil suggested a realistic phase for the second commitment period, citing 2013 to 2018 or 2020.

Many developing countries questioned the term "future framework" used by the Secretariat and by some developed countries. For these developing countries, the negotiations should be on a second phase of commitments by Annex 1 countries and not a renegotiation of the Kyoto Protocol.

Although many developed countries (and the Secretariat) tried to assure that the future negotiations would be under the UNFCCC, some developing countries felt that the developed countries had a new framework or agreement in mind. As Mexico put it, the new process might be so loaded that it can lead to something in which the Kyoto Protocol would be absorbed into it.

In the corridors, when asked by a diplomat, a member of the secretariat remarked that the Kyoto Protocol has a bad name in the United States. As such, he suggested, the thing to do is to take the important elements in the Kyoto Protocol, add on the new commitments, and then repackage the whole thing into a new agreement.

The third issue is about burden sharing in emission cuts and what the common but differentiated responsibility really means in that context. Developed countries such as the EU did say that it is up to the developed countries to lead the way.

"We have the responsibility, have the capability, it is simply the right thing to do. It is time to act, to show commitment", said Secretary of State Mr Humberto Rosa of Portugal (for the EU). He said the EU fully endorses the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities.

He added that this principle has clear implications, where developed countries need to take the lead by committing to binding and deeper absolute emission cut. However, he went on to say that developing countries also have responsibilities, but differentiated.

"It is up to emerging economies to take up further, fair and effective contributions that are quantifiable and reportable to reduce GHG emissions and the energy intensity of their economic development, building on existing and future policies and technologies," he said.

To this Papua New Guinea said that just because something is forced to walk, talk, and look like a duck, we want them to behave like a duck. The PNG delegate was referring to China and India being forced to act like a developed country. "They are not ducks" he remarked. Instead, he asked that the commitment of Australia and the US be put on the table.

South Africa also said that the commitment of the US is important to achieve the global target.

The US argued that all parties must share the global goals based on common responsibilities. But we must also respect differences in economic and ecological terms, even constitutionally.

The US delegate said "one size fits all" cannot be used (thus ironically using the argument often used by developing countries in relation to IMF policy conditionalities). It argued that there is a need for comprehensiveness but also respect for diverse approaches in the future agreement.

To some, the US argument appeared to be made to give it some room for not making binding commitments in whatever framework evolves.

Overall, the impression from the Bogor meeting is that there is still a deep division between developing and developed countries on who takes what responsibility on the issue of emission reduction, beyond the statement that the developed counties will take the lead.

The so-called "building blocks" is the fourth issue of contention. Many countries agreed to the four elements that were so often mentioned (mitigation, adaptation, technology and finance/investment) as part of the building blocks. But different countries seemed to have different interpretations on the elements.

For instance, Japan presented its own elements, as follows: (1) global long-term emission reduction; (2) mitigation policies and measures including market-based approach; (3) technology R&D, diffusion and deployment; (4) Efficiency, energy security and co-benefits; (5) Greenhouse gas inventory; (6) forestry; (7) adaptation; (8) financing; (9) levelling playing field international competitiveness.

Japan clearly said that technology diffusion will have to be undertaken with respect for intellectual property rights protection.

Minister for Environment and Special Envoy of the President of Pakistan, Mr. Mukhdoom Syed Faisal Saleh, on behalf of G 77 and China, outlined five principles on which to build consensus.

First is the "polluter pays principles" and common but differentiated responsibility. This, he emphasized, implies the right to sustainable development for developing countries and the meeting of commitments by developed countries.

Second is active partnership by developing countries in the carbon market mechanisms. Third is the need to recognize and value the voluntary actions by developing countries.

Fourth is helping developing countries in adaptation of global strategies. And the "final and most important principle" is recognizing equal emission rights on a per capita basis.

Pakistan said that the new international initiatives will need to reflect three essential elements: (1) it must not compromise the goals of development and poverty alleviation; (2) It must include both mitigation and adaptation strategies; (3) It must ensure equity in the distribution of responsibilities and costs, and the most equitable way to do this is to determine the share of responsibilities on the basis of per capita emissions of Greenhouse Gases.

He concluded that to combat climate change, the international community should firstly extend the first commitment period of Kyoto Protocol beyond 2012 and that all Annex 1 countries should accede to the protocol and fully implement their commitments. Secondly, the Adaptation Fund and the Least Developed Countries Fund should be made operational and augmented as soon as possible.

India said all the four building blocks are already in the Convention. What is needed is enhancement of their implementation, and not to create a new framework.

In the same vein, South Africa said that after 17 years " we see little commitment in technology transfer and financial assistance under the convention; thus we should not be so fully occupied by future processes that we forget current commitments". It added that confidence building is not at the highest as long as there is little willingness on the part of developed countries to fulfil their commitments.

At the meeting, it appeared that most of the developed countries wanted the four building blocks to be built upon and be part of a new agreement, while many developing countries were saying that the building blocks already exist in the convention and the Kyoto Protocol and what is required is to enhance the implementation and to negotiate the second-phase commitments of Annex 1 countries.

Fifth is the issue of how to "deliver the building blocks." The secretariat suggested three options for processes to deliver the building blocks: (1) continue in an informal process, (2) establish a negotiating process in a new body under the UNFCCC's conference of parties (COP), or (3) establish a fully integrated process in a new body under the COP and COP/MOP.

[MOP refers to the meeting of the parties of the Kyoto Protocol. The Bali meetings will comprise the UNFCCC's COP and the Kyoto Protocol's MOP.]

Many participants at the meeting were not clear what the difference was between options 2 and 3.

On the question of negotiating format, India said that there is no need to reinvent the wheel, instead what is important is to form an ad hoc working group, based on article 3.9 of the Kyoto Protocol, to formulate the second phase commitment of emission reduction by Annex 1 countries.

This was echoed by China, Saudi Arabia, South Africa and Mexico.

Japan and Sweden stated they favoured a negotiating group under the COP, by making sure that all countries are "on board". [They seemed to be referring to the US and Australia, who are members of the UNFCCC but not the Kyoto Protocol].

Some developing countries such as Argentina, Brazil and Saudi Arabia cautioned against making linkages with processes outside of the UNFCCC, especially processes where developing countries are not represented. Saudi Arabia said, there is only one process and that is the UNFCCC. Processes outside UNFCCC should not be acknowledged.

There are currently two processes: the Dialogue on long-term cooperative action to address climate change (the Dialogue) under the Convention and the Ad hoc Working Group or AWG (on future commitments of developed countries) under the Kyoto Protocol. There were discussions in Bogor on what to do with them.

Then there will be the review of the Kyoto Protocol, scheduled to take place in 2008. There was a discussion on how to link all these and with the future framework.

Developing countries are wary about the review as it may lead to a totally new process that forces developing countries to commit to emission cuts.

China said that the AWG reflects a legal requirement of the Protocol on future commitments only for Annex 1 countries, and that the AWG process should continue.

Any other process to strengthen the implementation of the Convention should not hinder the AWG from accomplishing its work in accordance with the mandate of the Montreal meeting in 2005.

The meeting ended without agreed conclusions, in line with its status as an informal meeting. At the closing, Minister Rachmat Witoelar said that the summary was formulated by the secretariat for his use, and all views will be taken on board.

But what is important, he said, is that countries have openly discussed the issues based on trust and that would be the basis for the Bali meeting.

In conclusion, it appears that there are two different agendas. Most developed countries appear to want to use Bali to launch a comprehensive post-2012 framework on climate change.

Although many of these countries said the new framework will be within the UNFCCC process, there is a fear by many developing countries that the new framework would "absorb" Kyoto Protocol. The largest fear of some developing countries is that they will be asked to "contribute" to emission reductions.

Some developing countries are suspicious that the developed countries are trying to "lure" developing countries into negotiating a new protocol or a new agreement, through promises of finance, technology and assistance with adaptation.

In contrast, many of the developing countries seem to want the next phase of action on climate change to focus on the Annex 1 countries making their second phase commitment of emission reduction post 2012, and for them to enhance the implementation of technology transfer, financing, mitigation and adaptation under the UNFCCC.

India, Brazil and China are strongly advocating for the existing AWG to continue its work and to finish it by 2009.

The only issue on which the Bogor meeting seemed to agree on was that agreement be reached by 2009 for commitments to be made by developed countries on emission reduction after 2012 (when the first phase commitments under the Kyoto Protocol expires). On the other issues, there appears to be significant differences.

NOTE:  The author is an Indonesian expert on environment and sustainable development issues who was an observer at the Bogor meeting.