Plan (and then DO) the work: Don’t bicker over the agenda

ECO has been impressed with the quality of both the presentations and Q&A sessions in the workshops over the past two days, and hopes parties will keep focused on content in the coming days.  Alas, we hear, parties are gearing up for a multiple day discussion about the agenda over the next three days, rather than developing a robust work programme for all of 2011.  ECO has been around the block enough times to know that parties are very good at talking about what to talk about.  So we will insist on a prompt 6pm finish today, with adopted agendas, for both the LCA and KP.  To help ensure parties adhere to this deadline and turn up on Wednesday ready to work, ECO has put together its own LCA agenda (see page 3) as well as some thoughts on what is to be agreed by the end of this week.     

The provisional Agenda is missing some key elements (namely a mitigation negotiating space, consideration of innovative sources of finance, international transport and compliance for developed countries).  Parties need to fill those gaps, and then agree to a work plan to fill the real gaps in ambition and financial support by the end of 2011! 

Cancun was a modest success as it buried the ghost of Copenhagen.  However, the Cancun Agreements postponed important issues that underpin the success, or otherwise, of efforts to fight catastrophic climate change.  In 2011 ECO expects parties to be up and ready to BOTH implement the Agreements AND fill in the gaps (gigatonne, finance and others) that remain!  You must be able to run and chew gum at the same time.  Even ECO can do it (and ECO isn’t the most coordinated).

By the end of the week, ECO expects a detailed work programme for 2011 that will deliver on both.  This work programme must include elements like:

  • The number of sessions this year;
  • What issues will be dealt with and when;
  • Number, timing and content of technical workshops;
  • Invitations for submissions from Parties and observers;
  • Technical papers, etc.

Of course, the specific requirements will vary according to the agenda item.  By way of example, ECO expects parties to produce MRV rules by Durban that, will drastically increase the length of the Cancun Agreements! So the work plan needs to enable informed discussions and the negotiation on such rules. 

With so much to discuss and plan out, there is no time to waste bickering about the agenda.  Progress can and must be made in technical forums on these issues this year, while retaining strong linkage and political oversight by the overall LCA negotiations and making progress on the remaining crunch issues.

If parties implement and operationalize all of the agreements made in Cancun (including, and improving, the Kyoto Protocol), we can build a robust regime. However, good architecture alone will not produce the level of ambition needed.  Concrete steps need to be made in 2011 to close the gigatonne and finance gaps in order to avoid dangerous and devastating climate change.