Saturday, July 14, 2012

Climate Change: The Quest for a Fair Global Climate Policy

By Ramesh Jaura
Courtesy IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

BERLIN (IDN) - Climate negotiators from around the world are wading through a jungle of multifarious vested interests to pave the way for substantive and forward-looking agreements at the next United Nations climate change conference from November 26 to December 7, 2012 in Doha, the capital of meanwhile ubiquitous soft power Qatar.

There are miles to go before those urgently needed arrangements are made. With that in view, a series of consultations have been underway. One such gathering concluded on July 11 in Bonn after three days of intensive talks. Some 140 government officials, public and private finance sector representatives and members of civil society and academia discussed ways and means of mobilising long-term climate finance.

The deliberations were based on extensive analytical work, including the UN Secretary-General's High-level Advisory Group on Climate Change Financing and the G20 report on mobilizing climate finance.

It was the first of two transparent, interactive UNFCCC (UN Framework Convention on Climate Change) workshops on long-term climate change finance. The discussions will continue through Webinars and e-fora to be organised until the second workshop, so that stakeholders can continue to put questions to the Chairs and post comments via the UNFCCC online platform and social media.

With 195 Parties, UNFCCC has near universal membership and is the parent treaty of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. The Kyoto Protocol has been ratified by 193 of the UNFCCC Parties. Under the Protocol, 37 States, consisting of highly industrialized countries and countries undergoing the process of transition to a market economy, have legally binding emission limitation and reduction commitments.

The ultimate objective of both treaties is to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that will prevent dangerous human interference with the climate system.

The UNFCCC Secretariat noted with satisfaction that the Bonn workshop participants "moved closer towards developing a common understanding of how to go about significantly scaling up the mobilization of long-term finance which developing countries need to help them limit greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to climate change."

The gathering took place as part of a work programme on long-term climate finance agreed at the UN Climate Change Conference in Durban, South Africa, from November 28 to December 9, 2011.

The main issues discussed at length at the workshop included the scale of finance-related needs of developing countries, potential sources of climate finance in the longer-term, innovations and options for mobilizing climate finance from multiple sources and lessons learnt from fast-start-finance.

"It is clear that we cannot continue to tackle climate change with old solutions, and that no one single source is going to be appropriate or sufficient to mobilize climate finance at a speed and scale that would allow people in developing countries to build their own climate-resilient futures. This event has allowed all stakeholders to think outside the box, to explore options in highly creative ways, and to pave the way for stronger climate action," said UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres.

Long-term finance Co-Chair Zaheer Fakir from South Africa said: "The technical and analytical discussions initiated . . . in Bonn paved the way for identifying options to scale up finance for fighting climate change. We are looking forward to presenting the Co-chairs' report to COP 18 in Doha."

The event was made accessible to all interested stakeholders with the help of live webcast, social media and an online platform on the UNFCCC website by which they could send in material and put questions to the two Chairs. More than 1,000 messages, comments and questions relating to the workshop were sent via Twitter using the #LTFchat hashtag or posted on Facebook.

"The role of all stakeholders in mobilizing climate finance is absolutely crucial. Because of that, we tried to make the workshop as transparent and inclusive as possible. We achieved this objective and intend to continuously draw in relevant stakeholders in an interactive fashion throughout the year," said long-term finance Co-Chair Georg Børsting from Norway.

Climate negotiators will continue to explore ways of pinning down all 193 Parties to the Kyoto Protocol to a global climate policy without 'ifs' and 'buts'. The informal additional sessions of three crucial Ad hoc Working Groups will be held in Bangkok, Thailand, from August 30 to September 5.

'Petersberg Climate Dialogue' in Berlin

An equally significant round of informal consultations titled 'Matching Ambition with Action' will take place in Berlin on July 16-17. It will be co-chaired by Germany's Environment Minister Peter Altmaier and Qatar's Deputy Prime Minister Abdulla bin Hamad Al-Attiyah. German Chancellor Angela Merkel will deliver a keynote address on July 16.

The German hosts expect the caucus "to provide a realistic picture and a political development path for the conference in Doha and beyond". The focus will be on:

- The ambition gap between the targets set so far and what actually needs to be done to meet the 2 degrees C target;

- Transformation to a low-emission economy as a strategy for modernisation and growth; and

- The new climate treaty to be negotiated by 2015 and implemented from 2020.

This is the third such round of what is known as the 'Petersberg Climate Dialogue' which was launched on the Petersberg hilltop close to Bonn in May 2010 ahead of the UN Climate Change Conference in Cancun, Mexico, from November 29 to December 10, 2010. Its aim was to bridge the gap between implementation and negotiation so that climate negotiations can be backed and supported by experience gained in the implementation of climate policy measures.

Explaining the rationale behind the forthcoming Climate Dialogue in Berlin, German Environment Minister Altmaier said: "The international climate process needs new momentum. We will take practical examples from different countries and use them to discuss how concrete initiatives and alliances can advance international climate protection on all levels. I am hoping the meeting will inject new impetus into the upcoming UN climate conference in Doha."

At the UN climate summit in Durban, the international community decided to negotiate a new climate agreement by 2015 to come into force in 2020. At the same time, there is a common consensus that the climate change mitigation measures already pledged will not be sufficient to keep the rise in temperature below the two-degree cap.

"To successfully tackle the challenges of global climate change, we need a whole array of initiatives, combined with cooperation among countries who want to make progress together," Altmaier said. Doha should provide a space for initiatives of that kind. "It is crucial to ensure that there is always a close link between national action and international negotiation," he added.

Climate Policy Departure

The Environment and Development organization Germanwatch called on the Dialogue participants to depart from climate policy as pursued hitherto.

Germanwatch's Sven Harmeling said, the forthcoming Dialogue comes at the right point in time: "In the largely disappointing Rio+20 Summit, the Heads of State and Government recognized however, that the current global climate policy is not ambitious enough to enable the world protect dangerous climate change."

The Germanwatch has published 'The Climate Change Performance Index', which on the basis of standardised criteria, evaluates and compares the climate protection performance of 58 countries that are together responsible for more than 90 percent of global energy-related CO2 emissions. 80 percent of the evaluation is based on objective indicators of emissions trend and emissions level. 20 percent of the index results are built upon national and international climate policy assessments by more than 200 experts from the respective countries.

The 2011 Index, published end of the year, shows worrying results. "The worldwide addiction to coal has not been stopped, but rather increased. 80 percent of the index is influenced by emissions trends and absolute emissions levels," says Jan Burck, author of the Index at Germanwatch. Five out of the ten biggest emitters, namely Iran (60), China (57), Russia (56), Canada (54) and USA (52) were rated with the label 'very poor' performance.

"Among these countries, China is the only one with a good policy rating. Its encouraging development of renewable energies and energy efficiency targets in the 12th Five Year Plan can help China to climb up a few ranks in the future. But most countries cannot lean back either. Instead, we need a 'coalition of the responsible' for a better climate protection", adds Burck. [IDN-InDepthNews – July 13, 2012]

2012 IDN-InDepthNews | Analysis That Matters

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