The June UNFCCC intercessional meeting in Bonn was the scene of another drawn out agenda fight that had repercussions for the entire negotiations.
The debate played out in the line of talks under the Subsidiary Bodies for Implementation (SBI), which addresses several key priorities for AOSIS, including loss and damage.
Russia, joined in its objections by Belarus and Ukraine, effectively blocked all work scheduled under the SBI for the duration of the meeting.
The dispute stems from the conclusion of COP 18 in Doha last year when the Qatari Chair gaveled the meeting to a close over objections.
The episode raised the long-standing dispute over the meaning of “consensus” in this process and the attendant rules of procedure that have been interpreted in a variety of ways since the Kyoto Protocol was launched in 1995.
Numerous attempts were made throughout the session to find a solution, but none could be reached and some fear that COP 19 in Warsaw may face a similar challenge at the end of the year.
AOSIS members joined efforts to break the stalemate on the plenary floor, acknowledging that it was an issue that needed to be addressed, but encouraged parties to allow progress while an adequate solution was explored in parallel.
On the penultimate day of the session the talks broke down and work ended abruptly, leading some members to express their disappointment on the floor and in press coverage.
ADP Talks Move Forward
Despite the SBI agenda dispute, some progress was made on AOSIS’s efforts to address short-term mitigation ambition under what is known as Workstream 2 of the ADP.
At the May session in Bonn, AOSIS submitted a plan to accelerate efforts to lower emissions prior to 2020, in line with what the science says is needed to avoid runaway climate change and a devastating rise in sea level.
The June meeting allowed our representatives to meet one-on-one with numerous parties to explain the plan in greater detail and address their ideas or concerns about the proposal.
The thrust of the idea is to engage those experts and authorities who are actually responsible for implementing climate solutions – leading scientists, engineers, policy analysts, representatives from the private sector, and officials from relevant government ministries, such as finance and energy – in a collaborative process capable of delivering measurable results within the required timeframe.
Ambassador Moses published a commentary on the proposal that was covered in climate change media outlets, and outreach to other parties is continuing on the lead up to Warsaw.
ADP Workstream 1
Talks on the development of the international climate agreement to be signed in 2015 and take effect by 2020 continued during a series of workshops and roundtables.
The discussions have led to a number of proposals on how to shape the core elements of the agreement, including from the United States, China, India, Brazil, and South Africa. AOSIS’s submission can be found here.
The negotiations are complex, of course, but a central area of contention is the concept of equity: that is, what kind of responsibility do parties have to take action relative to their historic emissions, current emissions, population, wealth, and a variety of other factors?
AOSIS discussed these issues and others related to the workstream and experts in the area gave two presentations on equity during the Bonn session.
Talks under the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice continued, though some of its topics, such as the scientific review, were impacted by the agenda delay under SBI.
The 2013-2015 review is a critical priority for AOSIS as global average temperature rise must be limited to well below 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
While preliminary discussions began, considerable work remains and must be expedited to ensure we fulfill the mandate coming out of Cancun to complete the Review by 2015.
It is the view of AOSIS that the Joint SBI SBSTA contact group on the Review must, with the assistance of the Structured Expert Dialogue, deliver conclusions that lead to immediate implementation of the actions required to meet the 1.5 degrees target.
Also, under SBSTA, some progress was made in the work programme on clarifying the quantified economy-wide emission reduction targets of developed country Parties and our leads on the issue intend to build on the discussions in Warsaw.
In terms of market and non-market based approaches, some key questions for elaborating discussions moving forward must be answered. For example, it will be important to explore how the new market mechanism can broaden participation while taking us beyond offsetting to substantial net emission reductions, and how certain non-market based mechanisms can target areas in which market-based approaches have proven problematic. Additionally, we should develop our understanding of why some market-based approaches have failed in the past so we can avoid making the same mistakes in the future.
A more detailed treatment of the SBSTA outcome can be found in AOSIS’s closing statement on the talks.
While frustrating at times, the session did advance key areas of the negotiations, showing that when parties are committed, progress can be made. Nevertheless, the time lost in the SBI will require negotiators in Warsaw to accomplish three-weeks worth of work in two so come ready to hit the ground running.