Tuesday, December 6, 2011

COP 17: Update on December 05, 2011

In order to analyse and assess the negotiation process with regard to future climate policy, FutureCamp's policy analysis team of experts - Andreas Kohn, Daniel Scholz and Matti Nygren are on-site and providing daily updates on the climate negotiations in Durban.

Sixth day: Amalgamation day

Saturday was moderately busy at the ICC. Large protests were held outside the perimeter, and members of the Occupy-movement were found camping inside the conference grounds. The two subsidiary bodies, SBI and SBSTA, mainly concerned with technical and scientific issues, have concluded their work and sent a set of draft decisions to the COP. A number of open issues remain in those draft decisions. Guided by Dan Reifsnyder, the AWG-LCA has been slowly bulldozing its way forward through the textual walls built at the previous conference Panama, the EU and the US are heading for a possible confrontation about the roadmap, and a big portion of the BASICs remains as elusive as ever.

The main event on Saturday was the publication of the AWG-LCA Chair’s ‘amalgamation document’. The document is not a breakthrough proposal by the Chair. Instead, it is a package of texts prepared by the different negotiating groups. The Chair called it a ‘Saturday snapshot’ that should give an overview and help structure further work. Although the document is 143 pages long, it contains a lot of less controversial text on technical issues, on which significant decisions are possible in Durban. More advanced issues include adaptation, REDD-plus, and institutions for technology transfer and finance. MRV is moving forward but requires a lot of work. In addition, the big political issues remain disputed. For instance, there are two new texts on emission reductions which have not been discussed yet. Shared vision, where numbers for emission reductions are also considered, new markets mechanisms, and long-term finance are also highly contested. All these items will not be solved without landmark political decisions, as they depend on progress on e.g. the issue of 2nd commitment period. Next steps for the LCA are an in-depth discussion of the text on Monday and then work, work, and more work in informal groups. A new text is likely by Tuesday. This text needs to contain clear options for ministers.

Parallel to the LCA, the Presidency is continuing the Indaba behind closed doors. The President explained the Indaba is now focusing on so-called ‘cross-cutting’ issues such as the three ‘gaps’ we described Saturday. She explained the consultations are conducted with the Chairs of the AWGs, meaning that the Indaba is likely trying to help with the big political issue prepare the ground for ministerial work.

As we reported earlier, the EU and US have clearly articulated their views vis-à-vis the future of the UNFCCC.

However, a significant ‘known unknown’ remains: the first, and in particular the last letters of the word BASIC. Brazil and China have not yet clearly positioned themselves. India seems to be closer to the position of the US in terms of next steps. China will be decisive in this regard, and it is likely both the EU and US are working hard behind the scenes to rally Chinese and Brazilian support for their approaches. China has been very elusive and now keeps the conference on its toes.

In the context of this discussion, the head of the German delegation Karsten Sach pointed out that there is common ground on the implementation of the Cancun Agreements, in particular the Green Climate Fund, clarifying the implications of the current mitigation pledges, and MRV. He was also optimistic about the technology discussions here in Durban, describing them as cooperative and pragmatic. But he also emphasized that the implementation of Cancun is not sufficient to reach the 2 degrees goal. Therefore, the EU wants to launch negotiations towards higher targets immediately, whereas the US prefers to wait until the Cancun Agreements are really operationalized and MRV, the main US interest, is fully functioning.

On Sunday ministers start to arrive in Durban and are expected to do the heavy lifting on the big issues next week. Wednesday will see the opening night of the high-level segment. It remains to be seen whether ministers of environment have enough carrying capacity for the kind of cargo they are expected to deliver. And before the ministers can begin, the AWG-LCA needs to wrap up the cargo in manageable pieces.

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