Redefining the Concept of Negotiation

Enrique Maurtua Konstantinidis
Regional Coordinator
Climate Action Network Latin-America
Argentina

For many years now, climate change negotiations are not delivering what the world needs in order to stay below an increase of 2ºC. The influence of inaction and lack of ambition or compromise from developed countries means new big emitters are not willing to move forward.  

Interestingly, climate change meetings no longer seem like real negotiations- countries are simply informing others of their views. To negotiate means to have formal discussions with someone in order to reach an agreement, therefore, the main task is to listen. Agreement is only possible once middle ground is found, and, in order to do so, clear positions and some flexibility are needed.

When Countries have the floor, they speak only on the issues to which they are personally inclined to. In fact, once they finish their speaking, they are even permitted to leave the Plenary! This makes you wonder: how is it possible to reach an agreement if we won’t listen to anyone but ourselves!

Latin-America needs desperately a climate agreement that will allow LA countries to adapt, receive appropriate technology, and develop NAMAs that contribute to mitigation actions. None of this will happen if parties continue to rehash old speeches and speak only amongst themselves. There are countries with good proposals, but they seem to keep that information to themselves and are not willing to listen to others. Learning about others’ opinions is beneficial for everyone involved.

As a Civil Society representative, I am very interested to see countries start looking to each other: to listen and move this process forward.

There may be only one skill that parties are missing: listening.

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Keep up your end of the bargain, Parties.

In Durban, Parties agreed to a package – the adoption of a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, a successful conclusion of the LCA, urgent action to close the pre-2020 mitigation gap between the 2 degrees goal and the collective pledges now on the table, and collective movement toward a fair, ambitious and binding agreement in 2015. Parties must honour this political bargain.

Let's start with the KP. Those trying to get another bite of the negotiation cherry by dragging out submitting their carbon budgets (QELROs) have to understand that this will be perceived as acting in bad faith. Australia – ECO remembers the brinkmanship with your QELRO last time. So for you, as well as New Zealand, Ukraine and others on the fence on the Kyoto second commitment period, ECO demands to see your QELROs up front. And, of course, just any old KP second commitment period won’t suffice. We must have a robust, ratifiable agreement that respects the original intention of the KP to raise ambition and create real environmental integrity. The AOSIS and Africa Group proposals will facilitate this endeavour. Effectively eliminating surplus AAUs and ensuring the environmental integrity of the CDM is also essential – you can’t have your cake and eat it too.

On to the LCA. There are a number of elements that jump to the head of the queue in importance. We need a positive decision on finance – including ensuring that the discussion on scaling up Long Term Finance following the report of this year's work programme, among others, has a home in 2013 and beyond. And who needs an empty fund? We hear that the EU, Australia, Japan and Canada already have budgets they could allocate. Don’t be shy!

Enhanced post-2012 climate finance is essential to enable developing countries to implement low-carbon development strategies and facilitate desperately needed adaptation. Deciding to hold back on finance until the last moment – or not coming forward at all in Doha – will undermine confidence and faith in moving the climate negotiations forward.Japan, Canada, Russia and the United States, do not think that by jumping overboard from the Kyoto Protocol that you’re diving into balmy waters. You're still on the hook to do your share of closing the gigatonne gap, by putting forward quantified economy wide emissions reductions AT LEAST as stringent as the QELROs of Kyoto Protocol parties, and using common accounting to an equal standard as the Kyoto Protocol. We also expect to see your QEERTs well before Doha.

On these and the other LCA issues, it is essential that the LCA Chair, and the spin-off group facilitators, be supported to develop text proposals to put forward in Doha. Finally, on the ADP, you all need to do your homework between now and Doha on the ADP work programme. Doha must agree to a plan of work, including a clear timeline and milestones. So let’s take inspiration from our setting here in Bangkok – these milestones can incorporate a period of “contemplation” on some issues. How equity and CBDRRC will apply in the 2015 protocol will require a work stream that allows discussion and agreement on principles before being applied to all of the elements that will constitute the final deal. On other elements, including ways to urgently enhance short-term ambition, Parties must pick up and start negotiating immediately in Doha and beyond.

Leaving the workplan “loosey goosey” will result in a repeat of the Copenhagen tragedy. Rather, parties must agree on specific issues to manage each year while ensuring compilation text by COP19, complete negotiating text by COP20 and draft a fair, ambitious and legally binding protocol to be circulated by May 2015.This is indeed an ambitious agenda for Doha. But it is the least the peoples of the world demand, and expect their political leaders to deliver at a time when the impacts of climate change – and the costs in terms of both human suffering and economic development – are more evident than ever.

Aren’t You Lowering Ambition, Japan?

Japan will soon make a decision on new energy and climate policy in light of the Fukushima nuclear accident. ECO supports the voices of the majority of Japanese people, who say, “No, thank you” to nuclear. Nuclear is not a solution.

However, we realized with surprise, Japan considered that mitigation is not possible without nuclear. Believe it or not, the projection of GHG pollution in 2020 for Japan is from 0% to -7% from 1990 levels when Japan chooses a nuclear-free future. This is nearly at the level of the first commitment period Kyoto target (-6%)! Is nuclear really a mitigation solution? ECO believes NOT. Japan could surely reduce CO2 while reducing its dependence on nuclear. Rather, it’s better and faster to realise a low-carbon society through shifting the tremendous nuclear investments to renewables and energy efficiency.

ECO is anxious to know whether Japan intends to discuss raising ambition as a matter of urgency. We have no time to delay. No room to lower efforts. In the last session in Bonn, ECO urged Japan to reaffirm its 25% reduction target by 2020 in Bangkok. Your silence is deafening. So, take the ambition discussion back home, identify any possible reduction potentials other than nuclear (here's a preview – you will find a lot) and come back with an ambitious target. Through that, Japan could make a sizeable contribution to Doha and to the world by transitioning toward a safe, low carbon economy. The international community is watching you.

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And a note to Japan: contrary to what you stated in Sunday's 1(b)(i) workshop, double counting of credits IS a VERY big problem. A 1-2 GtCO2e bit problem, according to the UNEP Bridging the Emissions Gap Report, “if double counting of emissions reductions by developed and developing countries due to the use of the carbon market is not ruled out, and if the additionality of CDM projects is not improved." ECO reminds Japan that they noted (here it comes again) – with grave concern – the existence and size of the gap. Japan needs to do its part to close it – and avoiding double counting is a an important part of that.

 

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Get Technology's "Boots On the Ground" Grounded

We stand at the precipice of what could be the final stroke of the LCA at COP18 in Doha, and the conversation is turning ever more to the question of how political decisions for various elements of the LCA that have not been fully resolved will be handled post-COP18. ECO sees that the discussion on technology transfer, which cuts across mitigation and adaptation, provides a stark view of what's at stake if the LCA's closing is not properly done, in the light of the sometimes yawning gap between the understandings of developed and the developing countries. 

If you mark the IPCC Assessment Report 1 (1990) as the starting point, the discussion on technology transfer has been ongoing for more than two decades. That’s a lot of work to sit idle if the Technology Mechanism suddenly faced a lack of support, and a staggering missed opportunity to close the mitigation gap and address the growing need for climate adaptation.

As it now stands, the Technology Mechanism lacks full funding even on a short-term basis, its governance and reporting structure are incomplete, its linkages with other bodies inside the Convention are hampered by the chicken/egg dilemma, its cross-cutting support for NAMAs and NAPAs/NAPs is uncertain and ill-defined, and the conversation on what is likely the most political decision of all – how priorities are to be set within the TEC and CTCN – has barely been broached, if at all. Undoubtedly, some of these issues will be addressed and hopefully resolved in Doha, but some of them have little or no hope of finding true resolution in that timeframe, and some are likely to require ongoing political guidance.

As for funding, which must stand above all other issues in terms of a critical path forward, the organisation requested by COP17 to financially support the early operations of the CTCN failed to be chosen, and CTCN support disappeared with the nomination.

So how do we avoid leaving the CTCN – the technology mechanism's "boots on the ground" – up in the air?

As the shaman of Pride Rock, Rafiki, says: "It is time." Let's get those boots grounded with at least five years of interim public funding and let's go kick some adaptation and mitigation bootie!  Oh, and by the way, maybe we might also find a concrete way to ensure appropriate follow-up care for all the outstanding technology transfer and other LCA issues that risk being stranded?

 

The Ugly, the Not So Bad and the Good

ECO listened with great interest to Parties' expectations of COP18 in Qatar this year. The greatest surprise came from those bottom-up loving Brollies, who mentioned the need to have a significant amount of technical preparation to give Ministers “options” on the Kyoto Protocol. Yes, you heard it, optionSSSSSS. Why do we need plural options? Surely one will suffice? Provisional Application – period.

But it wasn’t all bad, we liked the EU’s call for more creative thinking that shouldn’t just be exclusive to parties. ECO was jumping for joy. We will definitely let our creative juices run wild and are always happy to share these with our European colleagues, as well as others.

But the real music to our ears came from the UAE, which characterized itself, like Qatar, as a small but ambitious country, claiming that many countries in the region have renewable energy initiatives and targets, and hope that Doha can be a chance for these initiatives to get the "international recognition" they deserve. ECO is often wishful, but could this be the onset of support for the Arab countries to submit NAMAs? We hope so.

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Qatar: Still Time to Lead

As Qatar comes closer to assuming the Conference of the Parties Presidency and leading the global negotiations for the next year, some are wondering whether having a COP in the Middle East was a big mistake. They are afraid that Qatar would be overly influenced by their neighbours the Saudis, who have been constantly labelled as obstructionist since the start of this process.

Though some governments in the region have long played a less than positive role in the international climate talks, ECO believes that as President of the COP, Qatar can be a champ and lead a more progressive bloc of Arab nations within the climate talks - not only at COP18, but well beyond.

In recent years, the Qatari government has successfully positioned itself as a key player in many high profile international arenas. As a state which has become actively involved in everything from the political situation in Afghanistan, to the various democratic movements across the Middle East and North Africa, as well as successfully securing the right to host various major international events, the government is playing a significant global role, particularly relative to Qatar's comparatively small size. 

Climate change is both a threat and opportunity for Qatar. It is a low-lying, small, semi-island state, with all its developments along the coast. This makes it extremely vulnerable to climate change impacts. However, since its main export is natural gas, this makes Qatar’s economy more resilient to a transition to cleaner fuels.

Despite these facts, climate change has not been a top public political priority for the Qatari Government.  But since they will now be thrust into the spotlight in their role as COP18 hosts, ECO has maintained the hope that Qatar would become a progressive climate leader.  Unfortunately, up until now, Qatar has not shown the leadership expected, and the Qatari government is running out of time to prove ECO right and those with concerns about a Qatari COP wrong.

This is the last negotiation session before everyone comes to Doha, and there is very limited time for Qatar to show its strong political leadership, and make sure that Parties come to COP18 with the political mandate needed to ensure a successful outcome.

There are many ways that Qatar can send a message to the international community that it is serious about climate change. One way to demonstrate leadership is to have the direct involvement of the Qatari Royal Family in climate change. This has happened on other issues; for example, H.H. Sheikha Moza, the second wife of the Emir of Qatar, has been a champion of education at home and abroad.  She is the Chairperson of the Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development, which has established the education city in Qatar. It would be ideal if a member of the Qatari Royal Family would become the first Arab champion of climate change. But with less than three months to go before COP 18 opens in Doha, the Qatari Royal Family still has not been involved in the issue or even made any statement in relation to the upcoming COP. 

Another way to prove leadership is for Qatar to put a meaningful mitigation pledge into the international process, as many other developing countries around the world have already done. This would make Qatar the first Arab country to do so. Although Qatar has the highest per capita greenhouse gas emissions, what matters is not where the country's emissions stand at the moment, but what it intends to do to constrain them in the future. If Qatar could help persuade other Arab countries to inscribe their own pledges in Doha, that would further demonstrate Qatar’s leadership on the issue. Many Arab countries already have national goals and policies. They only need to take the simple step of submitting these measures to the international process as pledges of action.

Finally, Qatar can ramp up its outreach to other governments in the months remaining before COP 18, becoming more familiar with both the substantive and political issues that will play a role in the success or failure of COP 18. As it has done with previous COP presidencies, Climate Action Network stands ready to provide support and advice to the Qatari government as it prepares itself to lead the negotiations in Doha.

The world needs significant progress to be made at COP 18:

·         adoption of a second commitment amendment to the Kyoto Protocol

·         successful completion of the unresolved issues in the Bali Action Plan, including ramped-up support for enhanced action by developing countries

·         agreement of a robust work plan for the new round of negotiations under the Durban Platform

Success on these fronts depends on skillful leadership by Qatar, which ECO knows it possesses, as well as the willingness of countries to make the compromises needed to reach agreement on all these fronts.

If COP18 is a success, Qatar's reputation will be further enhanced on the international stage. Conversely, without Qatar's full leadership, COP18 risks being viewed as a "do-nothing COP," or worse, a COP where the gains of Cancun and Durban were rolled back. The world can't afford this – we all have a stake in the success of the Qatari presidency. That's why ECO maintains its hope that Qatar will fully step up to its responsibilities as the incoming Presidency, and get the job done in Doha.

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Briefing Paper for Developing Country NAMA workshop

 

Although this paper concerns developing country NAMAs, CAN stresses, at the outset, the need for developed 
countries to do much more in terms of mitigation and support obligations.
 
CAN recognizes that developing countries are already taking actions as evidenced by the inputs in previous 
workshops.  How these actions can be enhanced through international support needs to be addressed.  At the sametime, we need to look at ways in which we can address global environmental integrity through internationalizing these efforts and setting common rules for establishing baselines, dealing with underlying assumptions, and accountability, amongst others.
 
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It's the Politics, Stupid!

The UNFCCC wouldn’t be the UNFCCC if the United States of America didn’t ruffle some feathers. So, right on cue, Friday’s intervention by US lead negotiator Jonathan Pershing in the ADP ambition roundtable certainly did the trick by labelling, yet again, the UNFCCC as a long and winding road to nowhere. This comes less than a month after Dr. Pershing's boss, Todd Stern, rocked his fellow negotiators with his assertion that negotiating "a treaty with binding emission targets stringent enough to...[hold] the increase in global average temperature to less than 2° centigrade above pre-industrial levels" is "entirely logical" but "ignores the classic lesson that politics – including international politics – is the art of the possible."

After a firestorm of reactions to his speech from both negotiators and NGOs, Stern issued a clarification that the US still supported the 2 degree goal agreed to by President Obama and other world leaders.  But the damage was done.

Don’t get us wrong – ECO, along with most others here in Bangkok, shares the frustration at the glacial (at least there are still glaciers somewhere) speed at which these negotiations proceed. But to paraphrase Bill Clinton: it’s the politics, stupid! The continual swipes and undermining of this process demonstrates the bad faith of the US.

ECO agrees with the US – and virtually everyone else – that other processes must help deliver the much greater ambition required to save civilisation as we know it.  We need all hands on deck. This battle can’t be won in the confines of the UNFCCC alone. But the UNFCCC is an essential element of an effective global response to climate change, and the US vision of a fragmented, bottom-up international process will never deliver enough ambition to keep us well below 2 degrees. Our experience with the agreements reached first in Rio, and more recently in Copenhagen, clearly proves this.

Higher degrees of trust and accountability are required to encourage greater ambition. Isn’t this why the US pushed so hard in Copenhagen and Cancun for more robust MRV from China et al? It claimed that reassurances of other countries' ability to meet their pledges is essential to persuade its Congress and public that the administration's pledge to reduce US emissions 17% below 2005 levels by 2020 (read: -4% based on 1990 levels) is reasonable. But now that the shoe is on the other foot, and it's constructive action that is demanded of the US to encourage others to act, all we get are claims of

“NO WE CAN'T”

The assertion that top-down agreements produce lower-ambition results is nonsensical. It goes without saying that complementary investments to support change in the real economy are critical to change a country’s perception of its national interest. But top-down agreements are essential to incentivise ambition, as only a serious multilateral regime can convince those whose capital allocation decisions shape the economy that a high-carbon business model will expose them to greater risk and hit their returns harder than betting now on a low-carbon future.

The Kyoto Protocol, though far from perfect, gave us a legal framework that culminated in European taxpayers and companies investing at least €40 billion to purchase international carbon credits. The Kyoto Protocol spurred on Europe’s renewable energy investments, which have helped create a global revolution in renewable energy investment now outstripping annual new fossil fuel-powered investments. Thanks to Kyoto, it is Europe’s energy regulations and standards which emerging economies are emulating, and which underpin a global market worth US$3 trillion. Without Kyoto, China would not have decided to implement a Five-Year Economic Plan based on the core assumption of rapidly expanding global markets in clean energy. It's clear that Kyoto, a top-down multi-lateral agreement, has shaped global economic reality. 

The sluggish progress we witness at these negotiations is not due to the intrinsic nature of the UN system, but is truly a reflection of the woeful political leadership of countries like the United States. It's ironic that a decade after the world was compelled to defend the Kyoto Protocol against the vicious and unfounded attacks of the Bush administration, the US is yet again proving a grave threat to the progress needed in these talks.

ECO would suggest the next time Dr. Pershing feels the urge to make yet another comment about the rapidity and effectiveness of agreements here in the UNFCCC, that he stop and take a long, hard look at what the US is doing, compared to its fair share of the much greater global effort needed to address the urgent threat of climate change.

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Increasing Mitigation Ambition in Doha

 

A good agreement in Doha requires considerable progress on mitigation issues. For 2012 there are four tracks for action that are in play and need to be utilized to the full. The needed decisions include:

 
Kyoto Protocol
  • Clarification of which countries will have quantified emission reduction commitments in Annex B in CP2: all developed countries should have their action anchored within the KP architecture. The agreement by the EU, Norway and Switzerland and others to be good faith actors is welcomed. Australia and New Zealand in particular should commit to take action in CP2
  • Increase developed country pledges within the KP:  Developed countries should, by COP18/CMP8, increase their 2020 pledges so that the combined effort, with the developed country pledges under the LCA, moves into the 25-40% range.  Translating pledges into QEROs must not lead to further de facto weakening of the pledges.
  • Agree the full package of amendments need for a ratifiable outcome: the complete package of KPamendments need to be adopted in Doha, so CP2 can be ratified and enter into effect in 2013. The package of amendments will need to be provisionally applied pending ratification.
  • Agree a KP adjustment procedure to increase pledges This should allow (real) unilateral increases in ambition and for ratcheting up of all Annex B QEROs following adequacy reviews. 
  • Close and/or narrow existing loopholes and avoid new loopholes opening up in the KP
  • Make the KP mechanisms fairer and more environmentally robust: Strengthen additionality and baseline rules for CDM and JI, require mandatory sustainable development monitoring for the CDM and eliminate JI track 2.

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