Taking Bold Steps 
on Mitigation

7 December 2010

The phrases ‘legal form’ and ‘anchoring of pledges’ are on everyone’s lips in the corridors and sidewalks of the Moon Palace. While these are indeed crucial issues, like many of the Parties who spoke at Saturday’s stocktaking plenaries, ECO wants to see serious work this week on mitigation content for both the KP and LCA.
Looking first at the KP, if Parties are not able to fully agree a second commitment period here in Cancun, there must be at least a clear deadline and process to ensure that this will happen in Durban. Further agreement on some of the thorny details of the KP like the rules on LULUCF and surplus AAUs are also keenly awaited.  
As regards the individual and aggregate Annex I targets for the second commitment period, there has been a lot of talk about how and where they will be recorded. But what about the minor matter of what the numbers actually are, and whether they bear any relation to science?
The new text has put the need for developed country targets to add up to at least 25-40% below 1990 levels by 2020 in brackets.  The KP negotiating mandate towards Durban must include an explicit requirement that both aggregate and individual country pledges be clarified and assessed against this 25-40% figure, and their level of ambition increased accordingly in the final KP second commitment period agreement.  
And don’t forget, there are two tracks in these negotiations.  For the sake of balance the non-KP Annex 1 Parties (primarily, of course, the US) must take on comparable commitments to the KP Annex I Parties.  
The Chair’s text provides some workable openings for this, though it needs significant enhancement. Several options are given for the listing of pledges, but ECO’s most serious concern is that wherever they end up, there must be a clear acknowledgement in the relevant COP decision that they fall far short of what science requires – creating the Gigatonne Gap that was highlighted in the UNEP Emissions Gap Report.  
Unlike the KP, the LCA text does not so far include an explicit reference to the quantity of emissions reductions entailed by the goal of keeping global temperature increase well below 2o C, let alone 1.5o. That should be an immediate priority.
Acknowledgment of the inadequacy of the current pledges should be accompanied by a clear process to elaborate and facilitate the measures that will help to close the gap. The Chair’s text neatly includes a cross-reference to the KP, and if the KP Parties’ pledges are strengthened as set out above, they will contribute appropriately to the overall goal.
This leaves the pledges of developing countries and of the US. There should be agreement in Cancun on a mandate for next year’s negotiations under which the US will take on its fair and comparable share, and developing country pledges for nationally appropriate mitigation actions will be clarified and adequately supported.  
ECO was very pleased to see that low emission development strategies are mentioned in the Chair’s text. Such long-term strategic plans are needed to ensure the global goal is actually met, although there is room for elaborating the scope and nature of the strategies for developed countries. Agreement to all this would be a very positive signal of the seriousness of intent by developed countries.
Climate change demands that we keep a constant eye on what science is telling us and on the adequacy of our agreed actions. The review set out in in Chapter V of the Chair’s text provides a channel for this.  The re-inclusion of the 1.5o C global goal in welcome, although the proposed completion of this work only in 2015 is alarming.  We know that emissions must already peak by then.  In addition, it is not clear is how the results of the review would be operationalised into the updating of both the aggregate and individual country targets, another point to be addressed before we leave Mexico.
There is a lot of work to do this week, but Parties noted on Saturday their desire to see this centrepiece of the negotiations addressed.   Now is the time to stand and deliver.

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