Year after year, the world turns it’s eyes towards the UN climate conference, and again and again final results do all but give a reasonable answer to the climate crisis. What is wrong, and how can we bring negotiations on track?

20 years ago, in 1992, the climate convention defined as its main objective the stabilization of the GHG concentrations in the atmosphere. Up till now, there is no decision on what these levels should be, and even worse, the issue is being swept of the negotiation table. Meanwhile, they rose up till 392 ppm, far above the safe upper limit  of 350 ppm as defined by respected climate scientists, like James Hanssen. The results are already clear: unprecedented arctic melting, major floods, never-seen storms, and impressive draughts.

The criteria for the blame game

One of the main reason why climate negotiations don’t advance is a never-ending blame game: most countries condition their proposed actions to commitments by others, or have reasons -like ending poverty first- to postpone climate action. They all have some criteria – reasonable or not- for passing their responsibilities to others. A serious discussion on what should be the criteria to divide the burden of the climate problem among the countries never took place. More »

Scientists have the picture clear. James Hansen et al, in “The Case for Young People and Nature: A Path to a Healthy, Natural, Prosperous Future”,  explain us very clearly that the impact of the actual 0,8°C global warming is causing already several global warming reinforcing mechanisms, like ice melting, ocean acidification, expansion of hot dry subtropical climate belts, etc.

They warn us, with clear scientific arguments, that sustained greenhouse gas (GHG) concentrations of more than 350 parts per million (ppm) will lead to very dangerous climate disruption. We now live in a world with 390 ppm.

In 1992, time when the climate convention was agreed upon, an objective was set: “The ultimate objective of this Convention is to achieve stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.” At that time, the GHG concentration in the atmosphere was of 354 ppm. More »

The official package deal of Durban consisted of 4 main documents, apart of several other decisions, most of them less critical, that have been adopted:

  1. A decision on the second commitment period for the Kyoto Protocol 
  2. The LCA outcome: the partial implementation of the Bali Action Plan and the Cancun Agreements
  3. A Durban Platform for Enhanced Action: the decision to work towards a new “agreed outcome with legal force, applicable to all”
  4. The green climate fund

The package was officially sold to the world as a success, but having a closer look, it’s easy to see it doesn’t do what it is suposed to do, and it does what it shouldn’t do. More »

The following text was written before the approval of the decision on the second commitment period. It was approved in the early hours of Sunday 11th December in Durban, as part of a more extented “Durban Package”.

In essence, all the analysis stayed the same. The only very remarkable point is that in the proposal, it the commitment period would have been 5 years. Now it is in doubt if it will be 5 or 8 years!

In the approved decision, it says:

1.  Decides that the second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol shall begin on 1 January 2013 and end either on 31 December 2017 or 31 December 2020, to be decided by the Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol at its seventeenth session;

Throughout the whole “proposed amendment Annex” the text has both options in brackets: e.g in 3.1bis: “(…) in the commitment period 2013 to [2017][2020]“. 

Thereby, it is fundamental to take into account that a reduction of 20% in an 8-year period, is in fact 50% less than 20% reduction in a 5 year period!

On all other issues, the analysis written before the approval of the text is unchanged.

(Original text)

The new text proposal for the Kyoto Protocol states that a second commitment period will be established. That seems good news; it was what everybody was waiting for.

But, a second commitment period for what? For the sake of having it? For the sake of carbon markets? For calming public opinion?
Let’s see the good points and the bad points of the actual proposal. More »

After this morning a set of 2 negotiation texts, giving the “bigger picture” for the Durban outcome were presented, and later rejected by the G77, now a second trial has been presented.

Let’s see what it says. More »

Decisions are there to be implemented, mandates are there to be fulfilled. That’s the basis of a multilateral legal regime. If decisions and mandates are not followed anymore, then there is no confidence to build upon. There is no use in ‘saving’ the multilateral regime in such a way that nobody believes in it anymore.

Therefore, the legal instruments of the Climate Change Convention are fundamental: More »

One of the longest chapters in the Durban negotiation text (cf pages 35 – 52), and with most ‘new’ ideas in it — in terms of legal text — is the chapter on “Various approaches, including opportunities for using markets, to enhance the cost-effectiveness of, and to promote, mitigation actions, bearing in mind different circumstances of developed and developing countries” (Chapter 1bv).

Why such a long title, and why do I even bother to retake it completely?

Well, it is important to state what the Bali Action Plan was looking for: ‘various approaches, to enhance cost-effectiveness and to promote mitigation action’. Many consider this chapter to be on carbon markets. But in fact, carbon markets are just a means of financing mitigation actions, and in order to consider them to be included in the various approaches they should demostrate to be cost-effective, and More »