Last year in Cancun, Japan was heavily criticized and often appeared in media breaking stories when they announced that they would never accept the 2nd commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol.
A year later in Durban, the Japanese delegation seems a lot more relaxed. Nobody is writing about them and they haven’t even been designated for a Fossil yet.
Does this mean that Japan has reformed its ways and taken a revised position that is now acceptable? Of course not! Japan’s position is just as destructive as it was before, during and after Cancun. In fact, their position seems only to be getting worse with recent reconsideration of their 25% domestic target.
So let’s review. Japan has come to Durban with a position to refuse the 2nd commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol while having no strategic alternative or strong domestic policy in place. It is actually a very sad thing that a country that wishes to be a permanent member of the UN Security Council just cannot seem to play a positive role in these crucially important international negotiations on climate response.
Jiayi Xu, from the Institute for Environment and Development, a Chinese NGO, speaks on MRV and expectations for the Durban UN Climate Talks.
Mahlet Eyassu from Forum for Environment-Ethiopia speaks on what is needed on climate financing before the conclusion of the Durban UN Climate Talks in December 2011.
Wanun Permpibul from the Renewable Energy Institute of Thailand Foundation speaks about the catastrophic flooding in Thailand. She addresses what is needed in Panamá at the climate negotiations in order to make progress in Durban, at the annual COP, to help locally with adaptation to climate change in Thailand.
Ecological Christian Organisation (ECO)
The United Nations declared that 11.5m people currently need humanitarian assistance across East Africa and many more could join them. The BBC reported that millions in Somalia and across the Horn of Africa face dire food shortages due to the worst regional drought for decades. On Tell Me More today, Al-Jazeera English correspondent, Azad Essa, told host Michel Martin that "in a word, the situation is quite horrific." The Horn of Africa region is now full of environmental refugees who do not have real hope in this real world. Their hope could be in the climate talks in Panama City that represent the best and last chance to get climate change negotiations back on track and prepare for a legally binding agreement at COP17 in Durban, South Africa.
In Uganda, the impacts of climate change are continuing without serious interventions to help vulnerable communities to cope. The recent emergence of landslides in areas without such history is leaving communities isolated, their survival networks and social structures weakened. On March 2 2010 over 358 people were killed by landslides at Nametsi Village, Bududa district, in Eastern Uganda. Landslides killed more 50 people in Bulambuli district, towards the end of August 2011 in Eastern Uganda. This is a region hit by drought, with many requiring food aid following the lack of April-May rain, these torrential rains, flooding and landslides are crippling the ability of communities to overcome poverty. Climate change impacts are making it even worse for communities to meet their needs and the government of Uganda to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), reduce poverty, and enhance human development. For us in Uganda, the parties attending the climate change talks in Panama City should come up with a text on long-term finance, which should be easily accessed by vulnerable Countries like Uganda.
Environmental protection is necessary to prevent climate change disasters in many countries from getting worse. In Panama City, measures must be taken to accommodate the needs of environmental refugees through expanding finance, technology, and capacity building commitments to developing countries. There is also need by parties to strengthen counting rules and methodologies to eliminate loopholes and explore innovative approaches to close the mitigation gap. Developed countries, therefore, should increase the ambition of their mitigation commitments unconditionally because of their historical responsibility. The Kyoto Protocol should be extended to the second commit period and attempts should be made to desist from failing to reach a legally binding climate change regime in Durban, South Africa, in December at the final UN Climate Talks of 2011. It is also important to note that the cost of inaction in clear and the future of the next generation is at a crossroad.
ECO has been clear in its call for a three-part outcome in Durban: adoption of a strong second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol; a mandate for negotiation of a more comprehensive and ambitious longer-term climate regime based on both scientific adequacy and the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capacities; and a package of decisions facilitating near-term action on all four building blocks of the Bali Action Plan and implementation of the Cancun Agreements.
Let’s make something else clear: building a long-term structure for fair and effective international action on climate change is important, but what really matters is meaningful action supporting peoples and communities already suffering the negative effects of climate change, and collective emission reductions at the scale and pace needed to avert even more catastrophic impacts in the future. The best legally binding treaty instruments in the world don’t amount to much without emission reduction ambition in line with the science and financial resources commensurate with the need.
Coming out of Panama, there has been some progress in developing draft text on many of the elements of the Bali Action Plan and the Cancun Agreements. But the prospects for linked agreements on extension of the Kyoto Protocol and the negotiations on a longer-term legally-binding instrument are not bright, absent significant changes in the negotiating positions of a number of key countries. Let’s look at them in turn.
EU. Fair or not, the EU holds the key to the Durban outcome. If the EU does not come to Durban with the clear goal of adopting a second commitment period (not some fuzzy political commitment) the Kyoto Protocol will wither and die. On Thursday, the EU laid out a clear set of elements for negotiations over the longer-term treaty that would assure that a KP second commitment period is a bridge to a more comprehensive and ambitious legal framework. EU environment ministers need to be careful not to set overly stringent conditions for such negotiations when they meet next Monday in Luxembourg.
Australia and New Zealand. While the view from atop the fence is nice, these countries need to get off of it and make clear they are ready to join with the EU, Norway, and others in embracing a second KP commitment period.
Japan, Russia, Canada. These countries claim they are bailing out of Kyoto because it doesn’t cover a large enough portion of global emissions. They need to come to Durban prepared to reconsider their position if agreement can be reached on launching negotiations on a longer-term treaty regime, or risk being perceived as multilateral treaty-killers, not treaty-builders.
US. The one developed country that stayed out of Kyoto, in part because the Protocol didn’t include major developing countries, claims it is willing to enter into negotiations on a new legally-binding instrument. But it has set very stringent conditions for the launch of such negotiations, while acknowledging that these conditions almost guarantee no agreement on a negotiating mandate in Durban. Meanwhile, the US is struggling to meet its already inadequate emissions reduction commitment, and has been reluctant to discuss ways of meeting the $100 billion by 2020 annual climate finance goal its president committed to in Copenhagen. At the very least, the US must contribute to such discussions in Durban, not attempt to block them.
The LDCs and AOSIS. The moral power of the most vulnerable countries needs to be heard, highlighting both the existential crisis they face and the reprehensible failure of those responsible for the problem to face up to it. These groups support both the extension of the KP and a mandate for negotiation of a new legally-binding instrument; they must continue to work together in Durban to achieve both of these goals.
The BASIC countries.All four of these countries are leaders in taking domestic actions to limit their emissions growth as their economies continue to rapidly develop. Their leadership is also needed on the current fight to preserve a rules-based multilateral climate treaty regime. They should certainly continue to demand a second Kyoto commitment period. But they should also call the US’s bluff, by indicating their willingness to negotiate a more comprehensive long-term treaty regime including binding commitments for all but the Least Developed Countries, as long as it’s truly based on principles of equity and common but differentiated responsibility.
All countries must come to Durban prepared to negotiate in a spirit of compromise if we are to achieve the ambitious package of decisions needed to address the mounting climate crisis. Ministers must take full advantage of their time together before Durban, at both the pre-COP ministerial consultations and the likely pre-Durban meeting of the Major Economies Forum, to explore constructive solutions to the current roadblocks to such a package of decisions. Then in Durban, they must work actively under the guidance of the South African presidency to bring the deal home. Their citizens need – and expect – nothing less.
ECO has noted that adaptation negotiators have worked seriously to make decent progress on the Adaptation Committee in the last days here in Panama. The time for adding new text suggestions should be over now. Parties should sort out differences, produce the negotiating text and leave only the political issues to be tackled in Durban.
COP 17 taking place on African soil is just seven weeks away and ECO is probably not the only one to note that adaptation is crucial for the African continent. Therefore insufficient progress on this issue would be an bad signal for Africa and the whole world. In no circumstances should adaptation be held hostage by other issues and used as a bargaining chip. The Durban conference must advance the implementation of the Cancun Adaptation Framework, which ECO acknowledges is not an easy task. In Durban, Parties need to finalize the modalities and guidelines of National Adaptation Plans; operationalize the Adaptation Committee; concretize the work programme on Loss and Damage and make specific decisions on activities for the next phase of the Nairobi Work Programme. ECO recommends that those few Parties that have for so long stalled and delayed the negotiations on adaptation change their behavior, otherwise they will be to blame for any failure of the adaptation track.
ECO hopes that parties will come to Durban prepared to reach an agreement on adaptation that will give Africa, the world’s poor and vulnerable peoples and communities and their ecosystems the much needed confidence to combat climate change.