TWN Bonn News Update No.5

13 April 2010
Published by Third World Network

Kyoto Protocol work continues in 2010 despite threats to its future

Bonn, 12 April (Lim Li Lin) — The concluding session of the Ad hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol (AWG-KP) ended early in the morning of Monday, 12 April after heated wrangling over whether or not the Chair of the AWG-KP should meet with the Chair of the Ad hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action under the Convention (AWG-LCA) on the issue of developed countries’ emission reduction commitments.

This debate reflects divergent views over the future of the Kyoto Protocol and whether it should continue after 2012 as legally mandated or whether it should be terminated and replaced with a new legally-binding instrument. Many developing countries viewed the proposed meeting of two Chairs as a procedural stepping-stone towards merging the two working groups, and collapsing the Kyoto Protocol into a new treaty.

Developed countries have been advocating for one single treaty, which would require merging the outcome of the two working groups, and terminating the Kyoto Protocol. This is because the United States in not a Party to the Kyoto Protocol, and developed countries would like to have some developing countries also take on emission reduction targets or actions, with all countries committing in a single legal instrument.

Some developed countries are also attempting to avoid the international legally binding disciplines of the Kyoto Protocol for emission reductions, and setting an aggregate figure for emission reductions determined by what is necessary according to the science. Instead, they want a pledging system, where countries can voluntarily propose the amount of their emission reductions, without consideration of whether the collective pledges are sufficient to prevent dangerous climate change.

Developing countries on the other hand are united in their demands that the Kyoto Protocol should not be terminated in order to preserve the Kyoto Protocol’s system of international legally binding emission reduction targets for developed countries, and that the negotiations for the second commitment period must be concluded so there is no time lag in between the first and second commitment periods.

The AWG-KP and the AWG-LCA met for three days in Bonn on 9-11 April to discuss their work programme, and organization and methods of work for 2010. The closing plenary of the AWG-KP was postponed until related issues being discussed in the AWG-LCA were concluded.

The AWG-KP has been meeting since 2006 to determine the second commitment period of Annex I (developed) countries under the Kyoto Protocol, beginning in 2013. The AWG-LCA has been meeting for the last two years in order to reach an agreed outcome on the full, effective and sustained implementation of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). These two working groups were supposed to conclude in Copenhagen last December, but their work will continue in 2010 and is scheduled for adoption in Cancun, Mexico this December.

The African Group had proposed deletion of the paragraph on the meeting of the AWG-KP Chair with the AWG-LCA Chair to discuss developed countries’ emission reduction commitments. The African Group’s view was that this was not necessary as the two working groups have separate mandates, work programmes and outcomes, and that a “firewall” should be maintained between the two.

The European Union (EU), Japan, Colombia and Micronesia opposed its deletion. The EU went so far as to say that if this issue was not included in the AWG-KP outcome, it could not support any outcome of this AWG-KP session.

This issue had initially been introduced by the EU and other developed countries who had proposed that horizontal groups across the two working groups could be established in order to have closer coordination. Some developed countries had also proposed that the work of the AWG-LCA should be prioritized over the work of the AWG-KP. In an official submission, New Zealand had proposed that there should be no additional meetings of the AWG-KP in 2010.

The Chair of the AWG-KP, John Ashe from Antigua and Barbuda requested Luiz Machado from Brazil to facilitate discussions in order to reach a compromise.

In the end, the following text was adopted on this issue:

“The AWG-KP noted that taking fully into account the mandate of the AWG-KP, the Chair of the AWG-KP has undertaken, under his own initiative, to meet with the Chair of the AWG-LCA to identify information on the commitments of Annex I Parties, which is to be made available to the Parties.”

The decision that was adopted by the AWG-KP mirrors the decision of the AWG-LCA in terms of additional meeting time in 2010. Meetings of the AWG-KP and the AWG-LCA will be held in parallel. In total it was agreed that four meetings of the AWG-KP (and the AWG-LCA) will be held in 2010 – in June, in conjunction with the meetings of the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI) and the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA); and another two meetings between the June session and the meetings in Cancun, Mexico “of a duration of at least one week each while ensuring sufficient negotiating time as well as allowing sufficient time between sessions to enable Parties to consult and prepare…”

It was also agreed, after much negotiation in the AWG-LCA closing plenary, that the two working groups would also meet in Cancun “for as long as necessary”.

The AWG-KP also took note of a proposal to the SBI to consider that a high-level session be held between the June session of the subsidiary bodies and the meetings in Cancun to “provide guidance”. This was a proposal by Papua New Guinea.

The AWG-KP agreed to focus its work on the aggregate Annex I emission reduction commitment, and the individual and joint contribution of each Annex I Party to this target. It also agreed to continue to work on “other issues” arising from the implementation of the work programme, to improve the environmental integrity of the Kyoto Protocol.

The “other issues” include improvements to emissions trading and the project-based mechanisms; the definitions, modalities, rules and guidelines for the treatment of land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF) in the second commitment period; the coverage of greenhouse gases, sectors and source categories; common metrics to calculate the carbon dioxide equivalence of anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks; and consideration of information on potential environmental, economic and social consequences, including spillover effects, of tools, policies, measures and methodologies available to Annex I Parties.

The Chair of the AWG-KP has been requested to prepare documentation to facilitate negotiations on the basis of the Chair’s text that was adopted by the AWG-KP in Copenhagen, taking into consideration the work undertaken and decisions adopted by the 5th Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties (CMP) to the Kyoto Protocol on the basis of the report of the AWG-KP in Copenhagen. This documentation should be made available at least two weeks before the next session of the AWG-KP in June.

After some discussion, a paragraph that requested the Chair to revise the documentation for each of its sessions in 2010, was deleted. The deletion was proposed by the African Group and supported by Saudi Arabia, on the basis that it was not necessary to provide the Chair with a “blank cheque” to revise the documentation, and that this request could be made as and when necessary. The paragraph was deleted on the understanding that this issue could be decided upon when necessary at each session.

(Consultations on the next Chair of the AWG-KP are still on-going, and will be decided at the beginning of the next session in June. There are two nominations – John Ashe from Antigua and Barbuda (the current Chair), and Adrian Macey from New Zealand.)

The Chair will make proposals on the scheduling of the issues in his scenario note prepared for each session in 2010, bearing in mind the focus of the AWG-KP’s work this year, and its work on “other issues”.

The Secretariat has been requested to prepare, for consideration at the June session of the AWG-KP, a paper compiling pledges for emission reductions and related assumptions provided by the Parties to date and the associated emission reductions, and a technical paper laying out issues relating to the transformation of pledges for emission reductions into quantified emission limitation and reduction objectives.

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