A Little Clarity, Please

5 November 2009

Now that the dust has mostly settled and Parties are back at the negotiating table in the KP track, it is a good moment to take stock and reflect on the African Group gambit earlier in the week.

An important result from Wednesday’s plenary is that industrialized countries will put their emission reduction targets on the table with no further delays, including the portions that will be met through international offsets and from land use change and forestry.  It is truly amazing that after four years of negotiating the post-2012 regime this information isn’t readily available.

Some Annex I countries haven’t even tabled their overall targets yet.  (And ECO won’t comment here on the non-Kyoto major developed country and whether they have numbers on the table.)

It is no wonder that many developing countries are feeling more than a little frustrated by the lack of progress on emission reductions commitments from rich countries.  If all developed countries actually delivered the requested information on their targets it would, at long last, provide the needed clarity on their opening bids, including how much of their effort will be domestic actions to reduce emissions, as well as how much will simply be bought from abroad.  And countries planning on achieving a large portion of their target from LULUCF credits could be queried for clarification on how they expect to do so without resorting to weak accounting rules that allow phantom credits.

The agreement to put these details on the table is an important moment in the negotiations. But mind you, what this development does not do is deliver actual decisions, like an aggregate target for developed countries. If that kind of progress isn’t seen soon, no one should be surprised if frustrations rise further and tactics become bolder. Of course, further breakdowns, here and going forward in Copenhagen, can be avoided if developing countries see political leadership from their rich counterparts on the critical issues such as Annex I emission targets.

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