Sunday, December 11, 2011

As COP17 concludes....

Well, I have skimmed some of the documents that came out of the final marathon negotiations sessions and while there is still a lot of kicking the can down the road, there are some encouraging provisions.
  1. A legally binding agreement for emission reductions to be finalized by 2015 and go into effect no later than 2020.  (The U.S. timeframe was accepted here, but the U.S. didn't want the legally binding part.)  Such is the give-and-take world of negotiations.
  2. The commitments will include 194 countries - developed and developing.  So unlike the Kyoto Protocol, the provisions won't apply only to the Annex I countries.  This is a recognition of the major development that has occurred in countries like China, India, and Brazil since the original development of the Kyoto Protocol and is a pretty significant change.
  3. The Green Climate Fund (a concept that came from Cancun/COP16) was formally launched.  The agreement sets up the bodies that will collect, govern and distribute tens of billions of dollars a year for poor countries.  It will be an operating entity of the Financial Mechanism of the Convention (the UNFCCC) -- not the World Bank, so this is a "win" for the developing nations that opposed the World Bank involvement.
  4. The Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action under the Convention will be extended for one year in order for it to continue its work and reach the agreed outcome pursuant to decision 1/CP.13 (Bali Action Plan).
  5. An agreement was made to launch a new process to develop a protocol, "...another legal instrument or an agreed outcome with legal force under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change applicable to all Parties, through a subsidiary body under the Convention hereby established and to be known as the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action to complete its work no later thatn 2015. This group will plan its work in the first half of 2012, including, inter alia, on mitigation, adaptation, finance, technology development and transfer, transparency of action, and support and capacity-building, drawing upon submissions from Parties and relevant technical, social and economic information and expertise."  It is expected to deal with the emissions (gigaton) gap of greenhouse gases to try to limit global warming to 2 or 1.5 degrees C.  [Good luck to this group!]
  6. Countries are to develop national adaptation plans.  "...Enhanced action on adaptation should be undertaken in accordance with the Convention, should follow a country-driven, gender-sensitive, participatory and fully transparent approach, taking into consideration vulnerable groups, communities and ecosystems, and should be based on and guided by the best available science and, as appropriate, traditional and indigenous knowledge, and by gender-sensitive approaches, with a view to integrating adaptation into relevant social, economic and environmental policies and actions, where appropriate."  Assistance to developing countries in creating such plans will be needed.  Members of the constituency group RINGOs (Research and Independent NGOs) should take an active role here in helping to develop this capacity in developing countries.
  7. It appears that REDD+ is to be continued, but with a greater transparency in the processes and a greater respect for local and national policies and practices.  In other words, I believe this is an attempt to address the fear from many, especially indigenous groups, of a new form of colonialism by the global north.
There are many documents posted on the UNFCCC page that I won't have a chance to review in more detail until finals and grading are done (see:

The agreement is being criticized by environmental groups and developing countries as it really delays the tough task of significantly reducing emissions *now* to prevent continuing warming and extreme weather events.

Reactions from others?

1 comment:

  1. And now for the first reactions from the environmental organizations. "Climate apartheid" might be a bit strong of a term!’-agreement/