What’s expected from the US

5 October 2011

Earlier this week, ECO started exploring ideas for what two of the three main groups of countries – Kyoto Annex 1 countries and developing countries – need to decide to bring to the table to enable a successful Durban climate summit. These articles have of course been far from comprehensive, as there are other important issues where movement is also required from these Parties.

As ECO has repeatedly stated (is it sinking in yet?): all developed countries currently with QELROs under the KP should continue to have (more ambitious!!) QERCs under the KP for the post 2012 period, with accounting rules that close the loopholes and increase environmental integrity of the Protocol.

Developing countries need to show their commitment to adequate action by agreeing a mandate for a future legally binding agreement to help ensure the “full, effective and sustained implementation” of the Convention. This should come, in the form of a Protocol or other legal instrument, respecting the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities.

Now let’s talk about the third “group” — the United States, for whom the mandate is no real concession.  It is essential that architecture is built under the Convention track that allows comparability of efforts of the US and other developed countries, so that there can be clarity on the overall (in)adequacy of these efforts through time.  To mitigate against the chaos of a pledge and review (4C+) world, there also needs to be clear expectations for a more ambitious level of US effort on both mitigation and finance.

All countries agreed in Bali that the efforts of all developed countries should be comparable. To avoid comparing apples and oranges, tons and tonnes, or emission reductions and loopholes, this means that common accounting standards will be an essential part of the mix that these countries will need to agree to in Durban. Since the negotiations under the Kyoto Protocol have already laid the groundwork, there is no earthly reason why they should not be the basis for the common accounting regime for developed countries under the Convention track (for all that the US is kicking and screaming like a spoiled toddler at the very thought of it)..

There are other key MRV elements that are also needed to ensure the agreed-to comparability. The main guidelines for the rest of the International Assessment & Review system need to be agreed, as well as the guidelines, assumptions and metrics for the biennial reports, including for finance. In addition, all developed countries should put forward Low Carbon Development Strategies, as agreed in Cancun, and these should be integrated into the MRV framework.

For Durban to be a success, all Parties must come to the table prepared to build upon the existing architecture of the Convention and Protocol, by ensuring the continued viability of the Kyoto Protocol, agreeing that the Convention track will result in a comprehensive and ambitious legally-binding instrument, and not allowing the regime to fall into the carboniferous pit of every country doing only what it can be bothered to do, and reporting on it, if at all, as it sees fit.

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