By IISD Team
The United Nations Climate Change Conference in Durban,South Africa, opened on Monday morning, 28 November. Following a welcoming ceremony attended by South African President Jacob Zuma and other high-level dignitaries, delegates gathered for the opening plenary meetings of the COP, COP/ MOP, SBI and SBSTA. During these opening plenaries, parties gave initial consideration to the various agenda items, referring many issues to informal groups for further consideration.
Following are Major Highlights
1. Green Fund and Kyoto: COP 16 President Patricia Espinosa, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mexico, urged delegates to agree on, inter alia: full implementation of the Cancun Agreements; capitalizing the Green Climate Fund; and the future of the Kyoto Protocol, reaffirming the relevance of a rules-based system.
2. Adaptation Committee and Fast Start Finance: UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres stressed that two decisive steps must be taken in Durban: tasks from COP 16 must be completed; and key political questions from Cancun answered. She highlighted: launching the Adaptation Committee; operationalizing the Technology Mechanism in 2012; approving the Green Climate Fund; and providing more clarity on fast-start finance.
3. Adoption of the agenda: Parties agreed to proceed with their work based on the provisional agenda (FCCC/CP/2011/1) with a view to its formal adoption at a later stage following informal consultations on three agenda items proposed by India (on accelerated access to critical technologies, equitable access to sustainable development and unilateral trade measures).SYRIA supported having discussions on India’s proposals.
4. Second Commitment Period: Argentina, for the G-77/ CHINA, supported a second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol as part of a balanced and comprehensive outcome for Durban, saying the Cancun Agreements should be fully operationalized.
5. Three Aspects: Switzerland’s Environment Group-EIG, outlined three important steps for Durban: agreeing on key elements of an international regime after 2012; launching a process to further strengthen the regime in the mid-term; and agreeing on the key elements of a shared vision, including a long-term global goal for emission reductions and a date for peaking of global emissions.
6. Youth on Kyoto: YOUTH said Durban should not be the “burying ground for the Kyoto Protocol.”
7. Emission Binding: The Gambia, for LDCs, called for a second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol and on Annex I parties to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by at least 45% below 1990 levels by 2020 and at least 95% below 1990 levels by 2050. Saudi Arabia, for the ARAB GROUP, rejected attempts to marginalize the Kyoto Protocol.
8. Second Commitment Period: China, for the BASIC countries, said defining a second commitment period should be the main priority for Durban.
9. REDD+ Voluntary: Papua New Guinea, for the Coalition for Rain Forest Nations, supported an agreement on a second commitment period, the introduction of a REDD+ mechanism on a voluntary basis, and eliminating loopholes in the rules on LULUCF.
10. More Practical NWP: On the Nairobi work programme, the EU supported making it more relevant for practitioners and a COP decision to enhance its work.
11. Bunker Fuels: On emissions from fuel used for international aviation and maritime transport (bunker fuels), CUBA, ARGENTINA, BRAZIL, CHINA, INDIA and SAUDI ARABIA, said work to address sectoral emissions under the IMO and ICAO should be guided by the principles of the UNFCCC.