In Hot Pursuit of the SBI

4 June 2013

FCCC/CP/1996/2…*sigh*…is a document close to ECO’s heart! While there is no denying that clear rules of procedure – finally formally adopted and adhered to – would be an important development, ECO should be forgiven for doubting the sincerity of the sudden, but independent, interest of Russia, Belarus and the Ukraine in the matter. 

ECO has been around since 1972 (if you forgot to send us a birthday present this year, see yesterday's issue for some suggestions). However, one’s institutional memory need not stretch that far back. In fact, one only needed to be in Doha, to understand where our scepticism comes from. 

Russia, Belarus and Ukraine opposed the overwhelming consensus on a COP decision in Doha. But their reasons were completely different from those of Bolivia's similar objections in Cancun. Bolivia objected a COP decision on the grounds that the deal on the table was not ambitious enough. ECO notes a clear difference here. In Doha, Parties made progress on improving the environmental integrity of the Kyoto Protocol by getting rid of some of the hot air in the system. ECO was delighted with this development as – after all – important things in this process (emissions, hot air, the gap in financing commitments) are supposed to go down and not up. But Russia, Belarus and Ukraine did not agree. In fact, a number of targets that were on the table in Doha from the economies in transition would have increased the total amount of hot air in the system.

There have been ample opportunities to discuss ways forward on the rules of procedure – the Mexico and PNG proposal being a prime example – and ECO does not remember strenuous and vocal support from the current proponents back then (in fact, Russia seemed more interested in its other proposal to amend Art. 4.2(f) of the Convention). So why raise concern now?    

Improving decision making procedures in the UNFCCC is appreciated. And if Russia, Belarus and Ukraine want to help, ECO encourages them to team up with Mexico, PNG and others to make real progress on this issue at COP19.  Even better, there is already a place holder on the provisional agenda for the COP to discuss it! A fast-start step towards improving procedures would be to get on with the SBI work now. Though the negotiations and their rules may seem surreal to some, climate change is very real to millions across the planet, and there is strong consensus that we need urgent action.


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