Climate Change: UNFCCC Report from Bonn, Germany

May 5th, 2010 | By | Category: Climate Change

The following report from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Bonn, Germany was written by the lawyers at Norton Rose and excerpted from their insightful and oftentimes humorous blog .

To access the UNFCCC web site, click here: http://unfccc.int/2860.php.

Introduction

The twelfth session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol (AWG-KP 12) and the tenth session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action under the Convention (AWG-LCA 10) will be held from Tuesday 1 June to Friday 11 June 2010 in Bonn, Germany.

The thirty-second sessions of the UNFCCC Convention subsidiary bodies will be held at the same location from Monday 31 May to Wednesday 9 June 2010.

The overview schedule is available here: Overview schedule.

What to Look Out For

This session is the first opportunity for the Parties to formally revisit the Copenhagen negotiations of December 2009 in detail. The earlier session held in April of this year was largely of an administrative nature.

Parties will in part be discussing the AWG-LCA Chair’s negotiating text (which has a slimmed-down look for 2010 and which is available at http://unfccc.int/documentation/documents/advanced_search/items/3594.php?rec=j&priref=600005797#beg). Avid fans of the negotiations will realise that the text has strong hints of the controversial Copenhagen Accord. However, to what extent has this truly been “integrated” into the text or does Accord-style wording serve as an “alternative path” which is mapped out in the text as a further or different option? Tuesday’s opening plenary should give a good flavour of initial reactions.

Day 1: 01 June – The King is Dead, Long Live the Queen

Here we are again, at the Maritim Hotel, Bonn Germany. Another SBSTA, the 32nd SBSTA to be precise. You only have to read the Facebook postings of many international climate change negotiators to observe with what disdain the Maritim Hotel is held amongst this community. Yet here they are again.

For this blogger, as amongst many, there is a feeling of horrible deja vue sitting here in the mock bedoin tent in the hotel lobby. This international climate change process seems to have achieved the scientific impossibility of creating at the same time a perpetual motion machine dedicated to perpetual inertia. How is this so? Despite the chaos and fallout in Copenhagen with the World watching, the machinery of international climate negotiations continues to turn, setting dates for meetings and moving hundreds, if not thousands of negotiators around the globe to meetings where there is not clear objective or end game. Many negotiators and observers we have spoken to here are unclear as to the purpose, agenda or objective of this two week session.

One official commented that during this first week people were trying to find their feet after the chaos of Copenhagen. He went on to comment that it would be an achievement if there was agreement on which texts should be the basis of negotiations. Yet again more emphasis and brain cells seem to be directed towards sorting out process rather than substance.

The negotiations are still divided along two tracks, the KP and the LCA. As many of us who have followed this process closely since Bali have observed. It was this split which created many of the tensions which led to failure in Copenhagen. Yet there does not seem to be any obvious recognition of this or sign that this might be remedied anytime soon.

However there are substantive issues under discussion. For example CDM standardised baselines have been sent to informals. Views are split on the significance of this. Some believe that something sent from CMP to SBSTA is a very disappointing sign that the issue has effectively been parked. But one official closely associated with this process disagreed and felt that there was real momentum building from various quarters to do something on standardised baselines.

However, this has to be seen against the same old “cold war” politics with the same weary tit for tat arguments between Saudi Arabia and Brazil over CDM. Saudi objected to the inclusion of Reforestation under CDM, Brazil responded by threatening to object to CCS in CDM (retrospectively) – for anyone who attended CoP 14 in Poznan, Bonn, Bangkok, Barcelona and finally CoP 15 in Copenhagen this will be all too depressingly familiar. Although the Saudis demonstrated that they have their priorities clear when they argued that there should be no business intervention due to time constraints – they were concerned about time overruns impacting upon delegates, ability to watch the world cup…….

But after all the logistical issues in Copenhagen and the negative impact upon the ability of many stakeholders to input into the process, the UNFCCC Secretariat have responded by establishing a new unit to manage stakeholder interactions, called Organisation and Stakeholder Development (OSD) under Conor Barry. It has a mandate to manage across the board engagement with stakeholders. Presumably this includes business and is intended to lead to a more systematic engagement with the private sector who will be required to fund much of the transition to a low carbon economy.

One of the key questions for the private sector, which is expected to do a great deal of the grunt work in relation to unlocking the funds needed to adapt to and mitigate climate change, has been the shape of post-2012 mechanisms for confronting this issue. A number of proposals have been on the table around new, sectoral mechanisms and improvements to the CDM. Others are focusing on the role of institutional investors. With a few exceptions resulting from text agreed at Copenhagen, little headway has been made.

But discussions in the fringes and sidebars around carbon accounting point to the difficulties of getting agreement to progress in a consensus driven process. Who gets the benefit of emissions reductions achieved through these new mechanisms? The host country, those countries or investors funding the investment required? How do you account for this? Of course carbon market aficionados might argue we already have an international system of carbon accounting up to the job, i.e. AAUs and national registries. But key players such as the US object to this system and want a new system of MRV and carbon accounting. Yet if a tonne is a tonne is a tonne and you want to avoid double counting where do you end up if not an AAU like system of accounting where you account for each tonne of reductions and ensure it is recorded in a secure system of accounting? Perhaps some Orwellian renaming is required.

About the Author

Norton Rose Group is a leading international legal practice offering a full business law service from offices across Europe, the Middle East and Asia Pacific. The firm has over 1800 lawyers in 30 offices worldwide, 700 of whom will be based in Asia Pacific, and will form one of the best-resourced legal practices in the Asia Pacific region. The climate change practice at Norton Rose has extensive experience in emissions reduction projects, equity capital markets and low and zero carbon development.

To access the Norton Rose UNFCCC blog, click here:

http://www.nortonrose.com/knowledge/publications/2010/pub28748.aspx?page=all&lang=en-gb

 Photograph: Fresh Green by Henk L, Amsterdam, Holland, Netherlands.

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