12 April 2010
Published by Third World Network
UNFCCC group gives mandate to Chair to prepare new draft
Bonn, 12 April (Meena Raman) – After an intense session that ended close to midnight on the last day of the Bonn climate talks on 11 April, Parties agreed to invite the Chair of the Ad-hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action (AWG-LCA) to prepare under her own responsibility, a text to facilitate negotiations among Parties for its next session in June.
Following the opening of the climate talks in Bonn on April 9, there had been differences among Parties on whether a new draft negotiation text should be prepared for the forthcoming session of the AWG-LCA and if so, on what basis. While all the developed countries and some developing countries were in favour of the Chair of the working group drafting a new text for negotiations for its next session, many developing countries were opposed to this proposal, as they wanted a round of discussions first on the draft of the previous AWG-LCA Chair (Michael Zammit Cutajar) that had been adopted in Copenhagen.
On the other hand, developed countries led by the United States wanted the Chair to do a new draft that takes account of both the Copenhagen Accord and the AWG-LCA text. Many developing countries had objected to this, as the Accord does not have legal status in the UNFCCC unlike the AWG-LCA text that had been adopted by the Conference of Parties. (See separate article on views of Parties expressed on Friday, April 9.)
(The Accord, arising from a meeting of 25 political leaders, was not adopted by the COP but was only taken note of).
The session on Sunday, 11 April was considering draft conclusions proposed by the Chair of the AWG-LCA, Margaret Mukahanana Sangarwe of Zimbabwe for adoption on the organization and methods of work in 2010.
The Chair, on Saturday, 10 April 2010 proposed the adoption of following conclusion in relation to the negotiating text –
“The AWG-LCA invited its Chair to facilitate negotiations among Parties by preparing, under her own responsibility, texts for consideration by Parties. The first of such texts should be made available two weeks in advance of the tenth session of the AWG-LCA; draw on the report of the AWG-LCA presented to the COP at its fifteenth session, as well as work undertaken by the COP on the basis of that report; and take into account decisions taken by the COP at its fifteenth session as well as views expressed by Parties at this session of the AWG-LCA”.
Several developing countries had concerns with the words in the last line of the paragraph “and take into account decisions taken by the COP at its fifteenth session as well as views expressed by Parties at this session of the AWG-LCA” which they felt was a way for the Copenhagen Accord to be taken into account.
Following interventions from Parties on Saturday, 10 April, the Chair of the AWG-LCA proposed the following language in paragraph 5 as follows to be considered by Parties on the final day of its meeting on Sunday (which commenced only at around 7 pm when it was scheduled to begin at 11.30 am) –
“The AWG-LCA invited its Chair to prepare, under her own responsibility, a text to facilitate negotiations among Parties, drawing on the report of the AWG-LCA presented to the COP at its fifteenth session, as well as work undertaken by the COP on the basis of that report, and to make it available two weeks in advance of the tenth session of the AWG-LCA.”
Bernarditas Muller, Coordinator of the G77 and China in the AWG-LCA, said the group wanted a small amendment to include a footnote to reflect the correct citation of the document referred to as the report of the AWG-LCA presented to the COP.
The Group also proposed new paragraph 5 bis as follows –
“The AWG-LCA invites Parties to make submissions on additional views at the latest by 26 April 2010 which the Chair may draw upon in preparation of her draft text for consideration of Parties at the June session’’.
Saudi Arabia elaborated why the G77 and China presented the paragraph. It said that it was to show that the Copenhagen Accord does not have legal status. It said that whoever wants to include (the Accord) into the negotiating text can do that in the form of submissions which the Chair can take into consideration. Otherwise, it would be understood that all documents have the same legal basis which is not the case. The Accord was only taken note of. Nobody can prevent any Party from submitting the whole or parts of the Accord to be included (in the text). This was the reason for the additional paragraph, it explained.
In response, Jonathan Pershing of United States said he was upset with the process. He said that Parties spent time to find middle ground but it appeared to be a “quicksand”. He said that there were a great number of Parties in the G77 who had associated with the Accord and felt differently. This notion that (the Accord) cannot be drawn upon is not acceptable, said the US.
Russia said that it was willing to accept the G77 proposal if its proposal for the Chair to also “take into account decisions adopted by the COP” was also accepted. The Russian proposal was also supported by the US and the European Union.
Mueller, speaking for the G77 and China in response said that the proposal it made (re addition of new paragraph 5 bis) was to recognise that there were different levels of understandings (as regards the documents to be drawn on for the negotiating text). The report of the AWG-LCA (including the annexes) was fully negotiated in an open and transparent manner. Work undertaken by the COP on the basis of that report during last week in Copenhagen had not been negotiated. Other Parties may wish to put in “whatever” which was not openly negotiated (in an apparent reference to the Accord) and that was why the proposal was being offered. The (Russian) proposal was not acceptable to the Group, said Mueller.
She explained further that the Group had tried to exercise utmost flexibility to come to an agreement that was difficult and was carefully calibrated.
Following further exchanges, the Chair, Margaret Sangarwe proposed that the meeting would have an understanding that “work undertaken by the COP on the basis of that report” (the AWG-LCA report) covers all work undertaken by the COP and asked Russia to consider this.
(This “understanding” would not be in the text of the conclusions of the meeting).
Russia then accepted the compromise based on this understanding announced by the Chair.