Playing the Convention Against the Plan

The “response measures” discussion – which OPEC countries seem to want included in absolutely every negotiating context, regardless of what Parties have previously agreed – drags on in the most inappropriate places. Why compensation for potential loss of oil revenues should be considered in the same breath as supporting adaptation for the world’s most vulnerable countries and communities has been a deep mystery to many Parties – and to ECO -- for some time.

Sure, response measures is an important issue. It should be discussed, and it is – in the KP and LCA mitigation groups. But shoehorning response measures into LCA adaptation box is a problem. It takes time and energy away from addressing the more urgent needs of countries that see the impact of climate change not only on their bottom line but on their declining elevation above sea levels and their fight against hunger. All this reduces trust, and it diminishes the likelihood of an effective adaptation outcome.

Various Parties have made the call for some time for response measures to be dropped from the adaptation discussion. Despite that, the Saudi intervention on the opening day’s LCA adaptation contact group took a legalistic tone. Response measures are in the same sentence of the Convention as the needs of countries affected by the impacts of climate change. Therefore, it is said, they should remain in the adaptation discussion.

But the Algerian negotiator may have inadvertently given us a way out from OPEC’s desire to keep response measures in the adaptation arena. Speaking in support of the Saudi intervention, he pointed out that the Bali Action Plan does not replace the Convention, and is expressly for the purpose of facilitating its effective implementation. In short, “Don’t play the Convention against the Plan.”

ECO couldn’t agree more . . . though maybe not in the way he was hoping. The Bali Action Plan clearly separates response measures from the adaptation discussion and places it under mitigation. That’s how parties agreed to effectively implement the terms of the Convention.

If OPEC members are truly serious about implementing the Convention, then their course of action is equally clear. Stop playing the Convention against the Plan – drop response measures from the adaptation discussion.

[from Eco, Sep. 30, 2009 from Bangkok, Thailand UNFCCC negotiations - full PDF version here]