While exploring behind-the-scene issues, achievements and unfinished businesses of the Sixteenth Conference of Parties (COP 16) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) that held recently in Cancun, Mexico, Executive Director, Centre for Investment, Sustainable Development, Management and Environment (CISME), Lekan Fadina, concludes that the challenge to Nigeria is to key into the process as it is now no longer business as usual. The challenge to us in Nigeria is to key into the process as it is clear that it is no longer business as usual
The United Nation Climate Change Conference held in Cancun Mexico from 29th November to early morning of Saturday 11th December 2010 focused on a two-trade negotiating process aimed to enhance long-term international climate change co-operation under the Convention and the Protocol. Many issues that were supposed to be completed at the Copenhagen Conference in 2009 were carried over to Mexico. The mandates of the two Adhoc Working Groups (AWGS) were extended until Cancun, where they were reported at their respective outcomes to COP 16 and COP/MOP6.
The international political response to climate change began with the adoption of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate change (UNFCCC) in 1992 which sets out a framework for action aimed at stabilising atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases to avoid “dangerous anthropogenic interference” with the climate system. The UNFCCC entered into force on 21st March 1994 and now has 194 parties (countries) as members including Nigeria.
In December 1997, delegates to COP3 in Kyoto in Japan agreed to a Protocol to the UNFCCC that commit industrialised countries and countries in transition to a market economy to achieve emission reduction targets. These countries known as Annex 1 Parties under the UNFCCC agreed to reduce their overall emission of six greenhouse gases by an average of 5.2 percent below 1990 levels between 2008-2012 (the first commitment period) with specific targets varying from country to country. The Kyoto Protocol (KP) entered into force on 16th February 2005 and now has 192 Parties.
In December 2007, COP13 and COP/MOP3 took place in December 2007 in Bali, Indonesia. Negotiations resulted in the adoption of the Bali Plan of Action (BAP) which established the Adhoc Working Group on Long-term Co-operative Action under the Convention with a mandate to focus on key elements of Long-term co-operation on four critical areas including mitigation, adaptation, finance and technology transfer. The Bali conference also resulted in agreement on a two-year process; the Bali Roadmap which established two negotiating “tracks” under the Convention and the Protocol and set a deadline for concluding the negotiations at COP15 and COP/MOP5 in Copenhagen in December 2009.
The Copenhagen Conference was marked with disputes over transparency and process. Informal negotiations took place in a group consisting of major economics and representatives of regional and other negotiating groups. In the evening of 18th December 2009, the Copenhagen Accord was reached and while some countries supported it others, especially developing countries, opposed it.
From Copenhagen to Cancun many waters went under the bridge with meetings in Bonn, German in April and June 2010, August 2010, Tianjin in China October, 2010 and other sectional activities in Sanjose, Costa Rica October/November 2010, Delhi Ministerial Dialogue on Climate Change: Technology Mechanism 9-10 November in New Delhi, India Group of 20 (G20) in Seoul, South Korea, Crystal city Virginia, USA – Forum on Energy and Climate Change, African Union Meeting in Addis Abba, Ethiopia, and African Environmental Ministers meeting, among others.
These meetings were to ensure that Cancun provided a platform for achieving a successful, balanced result that included core issues of mitigation, transparency, finance, technology, adaptation and forest preservations. Many participants at these meetings also identified the need for agreement on future commitments under the Kyoto Protocol that will expire in 2012.
COP16 opened with the outgoing President, Lykke Fris, Minister for Climate Change and Energy in Denmark stressing the need for a “response to climate change to match reality” and for decisive steps toward a legally binding outcome. She also urged delegates to show the world that climate change was not “put on ice” in Copenhagen and that “Cancun can”.
The elected President of COP16, Patricia Espinosa, who is the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Mexico, identified Cancun as an opportunity to move from discussions to action on many fronts, highlighting that the credibility of the multilateral system was at stake. She emphasised that a broad, balanced package of decision was within the reach of parties.
The conference went on for days without a clear vision as to whether agreement will be reached. Although Cancun’s beautiful whether, sandy beaches and the lovely Caribbean waters welcomed participants, the mood of many in the first week and early part of the second week was not optimistic.
There were low expectations for a positive outcome; infact, lower than Copenhagen. The conference logistics were popular topic among those not staying at the conference venue. The different views on “numbers” and the Japan’s “bombshell” statement that it would neither inscribe its commitments in an amended protocol Annex B nor accept a COP/MOP decision extending the Protocol’s first commitment period or establishing a second commitment period. New texts seemed to be introduced at every step and no one could tell where the pendulum would swing.
Things started getting interesting on Wednesday 8th December, following the COP and COP/MOP plenary. From then till the early morning of Saturday when the Cancun Agreement was announced, key negotiators were on their toes only to find one or two hours to change their clothes, have their bath and rush down to the Moon Palace (one of the two main conference venues) as many discussions were taking place behind closed doors. The consultation process was interesting, challenging, educating, enlightening and tough. It was a clear lesson that actual negotiation for any serious issue takes place at night.
After the bitter taste of Copenhagen, many were of the view that without a positive, balanced outcome in Cancun there would be little chance of achieving meaningful global action on climate change and restoring trust in the UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol.
There was a high spirit when the Cancun Agreements were adopted early on Saturday morning. The speech by the Mexican President and the current President of COP16 showed that a lot of work went behind the scenes. The Executive Secretary of UNFCCC summed it up: “The beacon of hope has been restored and faith in the multilateral Climate Change process put on track.”
The Cancun Agreement was different from the Copenhagen Accord for many reasons:
Fewer Heads of State and Governments, less media and celebrity and lower expectations. Its greatest achievement is restoring hope that tomorrow will be better.
Mexico managed a disciplined and extensive campaign aimed at restoring faith among the delegates. The speech of the Foreign Minister who is also the current President of the COP in Tianjin, China in October 2010 showed what to expect in Cancun.
There was no secret Mexican Text unlike the situation during the closing dates of the Copenhagen Conference. The commitment to transparency and inclusive process was reinforced throughout the two weeks of negotiations.
Consensus gave everyone the right to speak and inspite of Bolivia’s strong opposition, she had opportunity although the 193 other countries were anxious to move the process forward after years of negotiations on issues that affect the future of mankind.
The outcome creates a process for “anchoring” mitigation pledges by developed and developing countries combined with technical work to better understand them.
It establishes a registry for Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Action (NAMA) by developing countries and enhances procedures on MRV/ICA.
The establishment of a Green Fund addresses fast track and long-term finance.
It creates a standing committee under COP to assist Parties.
A long-awaited decision on REDD+ was agreed on, which gives signal that the international community is committed to positive incentives.
A new Technology Mechanism encompassing Technology Executive Committee as well of Climate Technology and Network is to be put in place.
The Cancun Adaptation framework, aimed at enhancing actions on adaptation including international cooperation, was also established.
There are windows of opportunities for private sector as the road to low carbon economy has now become an acceptable concept. There is need to tap into the green economy and follow the new global economy pathway.
The acceptance of the Report of the UN Secretary General’s High Level Panel has now recognised the Private Sector and the opportunities in the business of climate change.
The Cancun Agreements have added impetus to the process and a clear positive direction has been show towards COP17 in South Africa.
There are still unfinished businesses:
The legal form of the outcome to be adopted by COP17 in South Africa next year remains open. The discussion continues on whether it will be COP decision or new Protocol.
Many saw the outcome of the balance between the Protocol and Convention tracks as less successful.
The mode, methodology and the ground rules of the “Green Fund” are yet to be worked out.
The composition of the Board, the take-off of the Fund and other logistics are continuous dialogue up to COP17 in South Africa.
The funding of the Climate Change Financing is still on-going. What role for public and private sources are yet to be determined.
The Agreement states that the World Bank will serve as interim trustee and this role will be review after three years of operation of the fund.
Sent via iPad™ ~