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No consensus towards Cancun, revised text not balanced, says negotiators

Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) Press Release (reprinted with permission)

By Makereta Komai for Climate Pasifika in Bonn, Germany

File11 June 2010 Bonn, Germany — After two weeks of climate change talks in the German City of Bonn, there are more questions than answers to what was expected to be a consensus text to usher in a possible legally binding deal in Cancun, Mexico at the end of the year. A non paper introduced Thursday by the chair of the long term co-operative action, Margaret Mukahanana-Sangarwe was re-submitted as the revised text Friday in the hope that it becomes the conclusions of the negotiations here in Bonn.

Much to the dismay of many Parties, including the Alliance of Small Island States and the influential Group of 77 and China described the revised text as “unbalanced and not reflective of the views expressed in the informal contact groups.”

A delegation from Egypt told the plenary that his delegation does not want to see the revised text again in August and urged the chair that the text remains a non-paper and not be used as a basis for negotiations.

India joined in the chorus of opposition, saying new un-bracketed paragraphs have appeared in the text which is inconsistent with the Convention.

It called for line by line negotiations in the August negotiating session.

Brazil was equally furious. “We are dismayed because the revised text did not bring the Parties to any consensus. Many of our views are deleted in this revision making this text less balance and therefore less acceptable for negotiations.”

Another delegate said, “The chair presented us with a recipe at the start of the talks two weeks ago and when it came to meal time today, we were presented with a very strange meal that we cannot eat. Since this is a Party driven process, the chair needs to take our ingredients.”

Surprisingly, the United States was not happy with the revised text. “We are studying the draft text and as it stands, it contains language that is unacceptable to us. It has parts that incorporate the Kyoto Protocol that we will not accept.

This is in complete opposite to the position of the Umbrella Group of countries of which the U.S is a member.

Speaking on behalf of the Umbrella Group, Australia said they are pleased that the text contains fast start financing that was committed in Copenhagen.

In his last appearance before the international media, the executive secretary of the UN climate body, Yvo de Boer agreed that there are differences but the document can be used as a starting point for negotiations.

“Yes it has shortcomings but we can use it as a basis to continue talking to each other. Some feel that it is not balanced but it’s not being totally rejected.

“The process here has resulted in many Parties talking to each other rather than at each other.

De Boer said more work needs to be done and urged negotiators to up the tempo in the last two rounds of negotiations – Bonn in August and Beijing in October.

“The work here opens the way for Cancun to deliver a full package of operational measures that will allow developing countries to take part in stronger action across all areas of climate change but governments must make full use of the next two formal sessions.

“There is a real need for intense work at all levels including the highest level to provide guidance, said de Boer.

The Dutch national, who leaves the UNFCCC Secretariat this month after almost four years at the helm urged negotiators to begin an in-depth consideration of the legal nature of any new agreement or set of agreements.

It’s essential to take a “cold look” at the 76 emission reduction and emission limitation pledges that have been made by developed and developing countries since the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, he said.

All industrialised countries have pledged emission reduction targets, and 39 developing countries have pledged voluntary actions to limit their greenhouse gas emissions.

“The fact remains industrial country pledges fall well short of the -25-40 percent range the IPCC has said gives a 50 percent chance to keep the global temperature rise below 2 degrees,” he said. “Take all current pledges and plans from all countries and we won’t stop emissions growing in the next 10 years,” he added.

The pledges made by rich countries so far add up to about 12-19percent of emissions over 1990 levels by 2020. Industrialized countries as a group have indicated their willingness to take on a -80 percent goal for 2050.

The European Union acknowledged that some progress had been achieved during the two weeks where Parties were beginning to talk to each other and understand each other’s negotiating positions.

But, ‘the rejection of the revised text by many Parties showed how fragile the process was and that there was still mistrust amongst Parties.’

Cook Islands lead negotiator, Pasha Carruthers was frustrated with the dilly dallying attitude towards adaptation. This, she said, was a delaying tactic from developing countries to meet their obligations.

“It was frustrating at this session because it seemed like developing countries were trying to put things on hold or outside the UNFCCC process rather than engaging on climate change in the central forum that involves all parties.

“There is still mistrust amongst Parties and no willingness to accept some of the responsibilities they are obligated to and that is why they want to push it out of the process. Article 4.4 of the Convention obligates developed countries to assist vulnerable countries in meeting the costs of the impacts of climate change, said Carruthers.

Responding to the ‘adaptation’ clause in the revised text, Carruthers said some of the concerns are reflected in the language of the text especially the establishment of an international mechanism for loss and damage.

“For now, I can safely say that we are still a long way from an agreement. There has been some reaching out amongst Parties behind closed doors, which have proved fruitful. It was through these bilateral meetings that we realised that some of our positions weren’t as far apart as we thought, said Carruthers.

Carruthers, who has been part of the climate change negotiations for almost ten years, remains optimistic and urged Pacific and AOSIS negotiators not to give up too soon.

“People have suggested to me that some things will not get through because they are red light for many parties but we have to believe in the integrity of the process and ensure that we have an outcome that does guarantee our survival”.

International civil societies also jumped on the opposition bandwagon calling for more transparency from the chair of the LCA.

The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) said climate change negotiators have missed some important goals, while showing a much stronger performance than in previous rounds.

“Bonn made good progress on some crucial building blocks that will be essential parts of a future regime to tackle climate change, and there is really no reason for negotiators to go into extra-time instead of concluding them at the Climate Summit in Mexico this December.”

In WWF’s view, progress in Bonn was mainly a result of improved team spirit among negotiators, with countries from North and South teaming up in unusual coalitions, creating fresh dynamics and space for solutions and compromise.

However, Bonn did not see any major victories on challenging issues like funding and policies to wean economies off fossil fuels and make them fit for the low carbon future, mainly due to a lack of progressive champions and blocking tactics by oil-exporting countries like Saudi Arabia.

The new negotiating text emerging from the Bonn talks could put delegates attending the next two rounds of negotiations before Mexico – one in August and one in October – in a good position to turn trust into traction in Mexico.

“Bonn reminded parties that negotiating in good faith is the best choice, and on this basis Mexico can be the moment where they agree on a significant package of actions and solutions, so that striking a new climate deal in South Africa the following year becomes a realistic goal”, said Gutmann.

“While the football teams of Mexico and South Africa are playing today’s opening match of the football world cup 2010, their governments are key players for success in the low carbon world cup 2011, where it’s not about the victory of one nation, but about a safe future for the entire planet.”

The results of a WWF poll among delegates, observers and journalists at the Bonn talks revealed that a majority of people following the negotiations shares this view. As part of the WWF Climate Deal Oracle, they were asked when we should and when we will get a global climate deal.

54.7 percent of the 265 participants thought we should get a deal by Mexico this December. However, 53.6 percent acknowledged that – realistically – we’d get this deal only in South Africa a year later.

The Bonn gathering was attended by more than 5,500 participants, including government delegates from 185 governments, along with representatives from business and industry, environmental organisations and research institutions.

This is the final posting on the Climate Change negotiations from Ms Makereta Komai who provided media coverage on the Bonn Climate Change talks from 31 May – 11 June 2010, thanks to support from Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).

We would like to commend her for her hard work during the Climate Change negotiations in Bonn, which has helped raise the profile amongst Pacific communities of international climate change negotiations and their impact upon the Pacific islands region.

Fa’afetai lava.

Related Link: http://www.climatepasifika.blogspot.com/

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