Last saturday a new negotiation text was published in the Climate Change Negotiations in Durban.
The text presents a few interesting points, many of which come from the People Agreement of Cochabamba. See the article on those interesting points here. The problem is, it is quite probable that those proposals don’t get into the final COP decisions.
On the contrary, there is a big push to get all the bad ideas in the decisions. It is impossible to be exhaustive, but I will be reflecting on some of the major problems.

No real mitigation being projected

What the whole climate change negotiations should be looking for in the very first place, is for the necessary mitigation commitments by developed countries (responsible of 75% of all historical emissions, and still today responsible of 41% of the emissions, representing only 16% of world population, which makes they have with per capita emissions of 4 times more than the avarage in developing countries).

Actual mitigation pledges, as defined after Cancun, will make the world to warm by 4°C, making it inhabitable in most regions, if not everywhere.

Let’s see if the problem is attended.

What does the chapter of mitigation realy talk about? It has three main sections:
1) Matters relating to paragraphs 36-38 of the Cancun Agreements
2) Biennial reporting guidelines for developed country Parties
3) Modalities and procedures for international assessment and review (IAR)

Let’s be clear: nor reporting, nor international assessment and review do really attend the climate problem. Leaving aside the injustice that what is demanded in this sections is almost less stringent then what is demanded to developing countries in the correspondent sections, those issues may be important to follow up the damage we are doing to Mother Earth, but do not define mitigation commitments nor mitigation actions.

So much attention to the measuring issue is like a group of firefighters spending all their energy to measuring the advances of the fire, without working to extinguish the fire itself.

So the real issues are suposed to be attended in section 1, on ‘matters relating to paragraphs 36 to 38 of the Cancun Agreements’. Do they?
In the first place, this is a wrong starting point:

  • paragraph 36 just takes note of the totally insufficient pledges Annex I Parties made
  • paragraph 37 urges parties to increase their ambition
  • paragraph 38 asks the secretariat to organise workshops to “facilitating understanding of the assumptions and conditions related to the attainment of their emission reduction targets and comparison of the level of emission reduction efforts;” It doesn’t even ask to take conclusions and further actions based on those conclusions.

Now, what is the actual content of this section in the negotiation text?
Apart from recognising the urgent climate situation, and the emissions gap, in fact it just repeats what last year was decided:

  • Paragraph 7: explore ways to increase level of ambition
  • Paragraph 8 and 9: seeking further information and clarifying the pledges of developed countries
  • Paragraph 10: update last year’s pledges. Lets hope it will not be for worse as actually happened last year!

The rest of this short text just enters in requests for more tecnical assistance of the secretariat, workshops, and measurement issues.

So, the big problem of the mitigation text is not so much what is in it; it is the absance of all really important issues:

  • Clear mitigation commitments for developed countries that are not part of the KP
  • Comparability of efforts among all developing countries (KP parties and non-KP parties)
  • Assuring that the total mitigation comitments of all developed countries are sufficient to maintain the world under a secure limit. Therefor, the total emissions must stay within a carbon budget, calculated by scientists. It should also ensure it is fair and equitable towards developing countries
  • Making sure countries commit to their future mitigation objectives, don’t just make ‘promises’ or ‘pledges’
  • Installing compliance mechanisms for those who don’t fullfil their promises. Therefor the Peoples Agreement proposed an International Court of Climate Justice.

Once again, we are seeing that the most important issue of all is not being attended, and is in fact being camouflaged by a lot of meaningless legal literature.


Dangers of the Durban negotiating text in other sections soon to be published.

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