The Big Question : From Mexico, to South Africa – ‘Can humanity afford NOT to take a leap of faith?’
From China Daily today
Cancun progress on second commitment period and global emission cuts should be furthered at Durban
Climate change is one of the issues of crucial importance to the interests of human beings and the national development of every country. It requires the collaborative efforts of all countries.
Thanks to the joint efforts of all parties, the Cancun Agreements were adopted at Cancun, Mexico, in December last year. They are of significant importance to furthering mutual understanding and advancing the negotiating process.
China’s contribution to the Cancun Conference
The Copenhagen Conference in 2009 caused a certain amount of skepticism among parties about the effectiveness of the multilateral mechanism under the United Nations framework. Under such circumstances, along with other developing countries, China strongly supported the multilateral negotiation mechanism of the United Nations by pressing for more ad hoc working group meetings in 2010, in order to achieve concrete progress and practical results in Cancun, as well as guaranteeing the negotiations got back on track.
In the meantime, by exchanging opinions with all parties on important issues at the Cancun Conference, China enhanced mutual understanding with all parties, so as to overcome divergences and boost mutual trust. China reinforced coordination and cooperation among developing countries through BASIC and the “Group of 77 and China“, and had constructive dialogues with developed countries to enhance mutual confidence. This paved the way for success in Cancun.
In communications with the Mexican Presidency of COP-16/CMP6, China put forward constructive proposals and extended its full support. China hosted the last climate change conference before the Cancun Conference in Tianjin last October. The Tianjin Conference succeeded in building a solid foundation for a successful Cancun Conference by creating a consensus “seeking a set of balanced outcomes from elements within and between the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol“.
China also carried out a series of practical actions to accomplish the targets of energy-saving and emission reductions set up for the 11th Five-Year Plan (2006-2010). During this period, China reduced its energy consumption per unit of GDP by 19.06 percent on the 2005 levels, which is equivalent to reducing 1.5 billion tons of CO2 emissions. The 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-2015) attaches even more strategic importance to the work of addressing climate change and green low-carbon development. The international community has recognized China’s efforts in tackling climate change, which has bolstered the confidence of all parties in their future cooperation to combat climate change.
During the Cancun Conference, the Chinese delegation was fully engaged in the negotiations, adhering to the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and endeavored to ensure openness, transparency and inclusiveness. On important issues, such as long-term global goals, the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, international consultation and analysis of mitigation actions by developing countries, as well as emission reduction commitments by developed countries, China, with its flexibility, communicated with all parties to formulate a plan that could be accepted by all and that protects the interests of developing countries.
The Government of Mexico and Mexican President Felipe Calderon have publicly appreciated China’s support and contribution to the Cancun Conference many times, and this has been echoed by the wider international community.
International negotiations on climate change: an arduous task
The COP17/CMP7 will be held in Durban, South Africa, at the end of this year. No doubt the talks will be arduous, but participants should seek to translate the challenges into opportunities in order to preserve the current achievements and reach a new consensus.
The Durban Conference should strictly follow the mandate of the Bali Road Map, carry out the Cancun Agreements, and enhance implementation of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and its Kyoto Protocol to achieve a comprehensive and balanced outcome by accomplishing the following four major tasks:
First, the Durban Conference should determine deeper quantified emission reduction targets for developed countries in the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol.
The Kyoto Protocol is one of two negotiating tracks, its first commitment period ends in 2012. The Cancun Agreements require that there is no gap between the first and the second commitment periods of the Kyoto Protocol, thus, the Durban Conference should fix the targets as soon as possible. This is the most urgent task of the Durban Conference.
The Kyoto Protocol is an integral part of the legal framework for the international community to address climate change. Having a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol is a firm demand by developing countries and is a continuation of the existing legal framework and political trust among and between developed and developing countries.
In the meantime, based on the Cancun Agreements, developed countries should raise the level of their emission reduction commitments. Only if developed countries conduct ambitious mid-term emission reductions, can the possibility of limiting global warming to a 2 degrees Celsius rise in global temperature be realized. Moreover, only if the emission reduction targets of developed countries in the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol be determined, can the emission reduction targets of developed countries that are not parties to the Kyoto Protocol be compared.
Second, the Durban Conference shall also determine the emission reduction targets of developed countries that are not parties to the Kyoto Protocol comparable with the commitments of other developed countries, and the autonomous mitigation actions of developing countries.
In accordance with the mandate of the Bali Road Map, developed countries that are parties to the Kyoto Protocol shall undertake emission reduction targets under the Kyoto Protocol, while developed countries that are not parties to the Kyoto Protocol shall undertake comparable emission reduction targets under the Convention. The comparability of emission reduction efforts shall include comparability in nature, magnitude and compliance.
Developing countries should, in the context of sustainable development, actively carry out mitigation actions with the financial and technological support from developed countries. Many developing countries have set up targets for their autonomous emission reduction actions. As long as developed countries carry out international legally binding emission reduction targets by 2020, in accordance with the principle of common but differentiated responsibility, we can, in a proper legal form, define the mitigation actions of developing countries and recognize their efforts to reduce emissions.
Third, we should implement the relevant financial and technology transfer arrangements.
Most developing countries have taken active actions to address climate change. However, the developed countries are lagging far behind in providing effective financial and technological support to developing countries. Only by establishing effective mechanisms, and providing adequate financial and technological support, can developing countries effectively implement mitigation actions, and make a positive contribution to holding the increase in global temperature below 2 degrees Celsius as a long-term global goal.
Fourth, we need to further elaborate on the MRV (measurable, reportable and verifiable) and transparency related issues that were included in the Cancun Agreements.
The Cancun Agreements have clearly defined the principles for MRV and transparency. At the upcoming Durban Conference, China will support detailed arrangements for the MRVs of emission reduction commitments for developed countries, as well as financial and technology support to developing countries from developed countries. Such arrangements shall fully reflect the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities between developing and developed countries.
The international negotiations on climate change are a long-term and arduous task. The Cancun Conference showed that the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol, as a United Nations multilateral process, are still full of vigor and play an irreplaceable role after 20 years of negotiations. So long as each of our countries takes the interests of human beings as the priority, shows its spirit in cooperation and compromise and unswervingly adheres to the basic framework and principles of the Convention and its Kyoto Protocol, we can further the process of international cooperation on climate change.
China has been, is, and will always be, a constructive force advancing international negotiations on climate change. China will work with all parties to make active efforts to achieve a positive outcome at the Durban Conference.
The author is vice-minister of the National Development and Reform Commission.
Conference of Parties
From the International Herald Tribune
CANCÚN, Mexico — The United Nations climate change conference began with modest aims and ended early Saturday with modest achievements. But while the measures adopted here may have scant near-term impact on the warming of the planet, the international process for dealing with the issue got a significant vote of confidence.
The agreement fell well short of the broad changes scientists say are needed to avoid dangerous climate change in coming decades. But it lays the groundwork for stronger measures in the future, if nations are able to overcome the emotional arguments that have crippled climate change negotiations in recent years.
The package known as the Cancún Agreements gives the more than 190 countries participating in the conference another year to decide whether to extend the frayed Kyoto Protocol, the 1997 agreement that requires most wealthy nations to trim their emissions while providing assistance to developing countries to pursue a cleaner energy future.
The agreement is not a legally binding treaty, but the success of these talks allows the process to seek a more robust accord at next year’s climate conference in Durban, South Africa.
“This is not the end, but it is a new beginning,” said Christiana Figueres, the Costa Rican diplomat who serves as executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. “It is not what is ultimately required, but it is the essential foundation on which to build greater, collective ambition.”
The agreement sets up a new fund to help poor countries adapt to climate changes, creates new mechanisms for transfer of clean energy technology, provides compensation for the preservation of tropical forests and strengthens the emissions reductions pledges that came out of the last United Nations climate change meeting in Copenhagen last year.
The conference approved the package over the objections of Bolivia, which condemned the pact as too weak. Bolivia’s chief climate negotiator, Pablo Solón, said that the emissions reductions laid out in the plan would allow global temperatures to rise as much as 4 degrees Celsius over the next half century, twice the stated goal of the agreement and a level that would doom millions in the poorest and most vulnerable nations.
But his protests did not block acceptance of the package. Delegates from island states and the least-developed countries warmly welcomed the pact because it would start the flow of billions of dollars to assist them to adopt cleaner energy systems and adapt to inevitable changes in the climate, like sea rise and drought.
But it left unresolved where the $100 billion in annual climate-related aid that the wealthy nations have promised to provide would come from.
Todd Stern, the American climate envoy, said the package achieved much of what he had hoped, including a more solid commitment by all nations to take steps to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and a more formalized international program of reporting and verification of reductions. It adds needed specifics to the fuzzy promises of last year’s Copenhagen Accord, he said.
“This is a significant step forward that builds on the progress made in Copenhagen,” he said in a news conference after the package was adopted. “It successfully anchors mitigation pledges of the Copenhagen Accord and builds on the transparency element of the accord with substantial detail and content.”
Mr. Stern had been particularly insistent that the agreement include a consistent formula for countries to disclose their emissions, report on the measures they are taking to reduce them and provide detailed statements of economic assumptions and methodology. Although a number of large developing nations like China, Brazil and South Africa balked at the intrusiveness of the system, Mr. Stern helped devise a compromise they could live with.
Yvo de Boer, who stepped down this year after four years as executive secretary of the United Nations climate office, said that the success of this year’s conference was in large measure attributable to the modesty of its goals.
“This process has never been characterized by leaps and bounds,” he said in an interview. “It has been characterized by small steps. And I’d rather see this small step here in Cancún than the international community tripping over itself in an effort to make a large leap.”
In all, the success of the Cancún talks was a shot in the arm for a process that some had likened to a zombie, stumbling aimlessly but refusing to die.
“None of this, of course, is world changing,” said Michael A. Levi, who follows climate issues at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. “The Cancún agreement should be applauded not because it solves everything, but because it chooses not to: it focuses on those areas where the U.N. process has the most potential to be useful, and avoids other areas where the U.N. process is a dead end. The outcome does not change the fact that most of the important work of cutting emissions will be driven outside the U.N. process.”
More than 190 countries have struck an agreement at the latest round of UN climate talks putting efforts to secure a new international deal to tackle global warming back on track. Skip related content Related photos / videos Cancun climate deal struck Enlarge photo .Related content Radioactive cobalt vanishes from Polish factory Hammer protest at UN climate talks Lib Dems urge delay on student fees vote Related Hot Topic: Environment Have your say: Environment The talks in Cancun, Mexico, are the latest attempt to make progress towards a new global deal on tackling climate change, after last year’s meeting in Copenhagen failed amid chaotic scenes, to secure a new legally-binding treaty on cutting emissions, instead delivering only a weak voluntary accord. At the end of two weeks of talks in Mexico, government ministers and officials agreed a deal which Climate Change Secretary Chris Huhne described as a “serious package” of measures. He acknowledged the agreement did not give everybody everything they wanted and would still require work towards a final deal at a meeting next year in Durban, South Africa. Environmental campaigners said it threw a lifeline to efforts to get a deal to tackle climate change but there was still much work to do, in particular to close the “gigatonne gap” between the greenhouse emissions cuts countries have pledged and the reductions needed to limit temperature rises to no more than 2C. Friends of the Earth’s international climate campaigner Asad Rehman described the Cancun agreement as weak and ineffective – but said it gave the world a “small and fragile lifeline”. And he warned: “”The emissions cuts on the table could still lead to a global temperature increase of up to five degrees which would be catastrophic for hundreds of millions of the world’s poorest people.” The agreement acknowledges the need to keep temperature rises to 2C and brings non-binding emissions cuts pledges made under the voluntary Copenhagen Accord, hammered out in the dying hours of last year’s conference, into the UN process. Representatives from country after country acknowledged the agreement was not perfect, but that they supported it as progress towards a final deal – although Bolivia hit out at the proposals, likening them to genocide.
Developing nations accuse West of intransigence, as corruption is cited as obstacle to progress
Amid growing anger at the lack of political action, several thousand people marched to Parliament in London yesterday to demand that Britain become “zero carbon” by 2030.
Environment ministers from around the world flew in to Mexico yesterday for the final days of the climate-change talks in Cancun, which threatened to fracture over Chinese-led demands for concessions from the West. Campaigners marched in London yesterday to demand action. As a sign of the work still to be done, only 170 words out of 1,300 on two pages of a key text were undisputed on the “shared vision” of what delegates hoped to accomplish.However, a further issue is now being cited as a significant obstacle in the fight against climate change – corruption. The extent of the problem could see any agreements doomed to failure, according to leading global risks analysts. New research to be released this week shows that among the countries most at risk from climate change are also to be found those that are most corrupt – making it difficult to counter the effects of flooding, desertification and deforestation.”Our mapping research shows that the countries which are most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change are often those that are the most corrupt,” said Professor Alyson Warhurst, chief executive of global risk analysts Maplecroft, which will release its Business Integrity and Corruption Index this Thursday. She warned that endemic corruption “results in money being diverted away from critical infrastructure projects and towards personal gain of individuals”, adding that schemes to combat climate change are at particular risk of being compromised.Generally, bribery is more prevalent in developing economies with weak legal systems and low pay scales, meaning both that there is a greater temptation to engage in corruption and it is easier to do so with impunity. Of the world’s leading emerging markets of Brazil, Russia, India and China, Russia is cited as the most corrupt due to the “systemic nature of corruption in the country and its prevalence throughout all tiers of government”. India is categorised as an “extreme risk” country, while China and Brazil are labelled as being at “high risk” of corruption. Mexico, Saudi Arabia and South Africa are among the other countries that fall into this category. Bangladesh, Nigeria and Pakistan are among those deemed at “extreme risk”.The findings come as the outcome of the Cancun negotiations, which end this Friday, are “in the balance”, according to Todd Stern, head of the US delegation. And the mood among delegates will not have been lifted by the news yesterday that the talks had been dismissed as doomed to failure by the European Council President, Herman Van Rompuy, according to a leaked US embassy cable. The document, recording a discussion last December between Mr Van Rompuy and the US ambassador to Belgium, claimed the EC President said he had “given up” on the negotiations.The chances of any deals being struck this week are remote, with a continuing row over the future of the Kyoto protocol, which expires in 2012. In essence, representatives of developing countries want it to be extended, while rich countries do not. Existing tensions were exacerbated on Friday by China’s accusation that Western countries were trying to “kill off” the protocol signed 13 years ago, which obliges only developed nations to cut greenhouse gas emissions.Amid growing anger at the lack of political action, several thousand people marched to Parliament in London yesterday to demand that Britain become “zero carbon” by 2030.
At Cancun, we have an opportunity to make the change – in strategy and our way forward.
Although Copenhagen fell short of delivering a legally binding global treaty, Cancún is another step towards that ultimate goal