Climate Change negotiations are often deliberately made very complex, so normal people cannot understand what it is all about, even less be able to react, and ultimately can’t demand climate justice.

I will make a series of posts during the Durban climate change negotiations to make them understandable.
A first difficulty is understanding the UNFCCC webpage, and the documents on it. Everything is available, but finding them is like searching for a needle in the haystack.

In order to help you: here the overview to the links of the relevant bodies. I will give background and links to main documents for the most important ones.

As the main bodies of political interest are the AWG-KP, dedicated to the definition of the second commitment period for the Kyoto Protocol, and the AWG-LCA, aiming to implement the convention in all its relevant aspects, I will first concentrate on the KP, and soon also on the LCA.

Ad Hoc Working Group of the Kyoto Protocol (AWG-KP): aiming to achieve a second commitment period

What it really is about

The aim of this working group is surprisingly simple: to define an amendment to the Kyoto Protocol, in those specific articles that need to be amended in order to assure the second commitment period to be approved.
The Kyoto Protocol demanded in its first commitment period (2008-2012) a reduction of 5% from 1990 levels from all developed countries, as defined in Annex B to the Protocol. This list included the US, unfortunately, they never ratified the Protocol, thereby undermining it severely.

Of course, just defining a second commitment period is not enough. It needs to have convincing commitments by all Kyoto members. The actual list of developed countries’ pledges — yes, some promises, no commitments — was composed after Cancun, and is in fact the same as the list for the LCA. Its total reduction is of 13 to 17% under 1990 levels, while the IPCC established that this should be at least 25-40% under 1990 levels.

The mandate for the AWG-KP and its work up till now

The mandate for the AWG-KP was decided in 2005, it has been a decision adopted by all Parties to the Protocol, and obliges parties to establish a second commitment period. In Bali, 2007, it was defined (cf paragraph 22) that this work should be finished by 2009, in the Copenhagen Conference.
In order to assure that this would be possible, in Poznan, 2008, a work program  was defined. I invite readers to turn specifically to article 49, which determines that first an aggregate number for emission reductions was to be determined, and then the individual commitment for every country. This work program was actually never followed, nor the deadlines reached, and now, in 2011 we are still left with highly inconclusive negotiation texts and no work program at all.

Contributions from countries to this text, have been mainly through submissions.

Also important are the list of ‘trigger’ submissions (cf agenda item 5) made in 2009 to the CMP, as those gave the textual proposals for amendment to the Kyoto Protocol.

The work of the KP in Durban

Since 2005, there have been 23 meetings in which the AWG-KP worked. Most of the time, a meeting has been coinciding with a session, which means an agenda is adopted in the beginning and conclusions are drawn at the end of the meeting. During 2011 however, three meetings took already place, but all were under the same session, which resumed over and over again. This makes that the actual session of KP in Durban is the fourth part of the resumed 16th session. Implications are that the agenda  is still the same since April this year, and that no conclusions were ever decided upon.

The Chair released a different scenario note for this part of the session. A scenario note explains the ways the Chair intents to conduct negotiations and what he expects to happen.
The actual negotiation text for KP still has incredibly many undecided issues in it, leaving few time in the Durban negotiations to clear them out. In fact, it shouldn’t be that long, nor that complicated, because the only issue that needs to be amended is art 3.1 of the Protocol, some consequential amendments, and of course Annex B, which defines the actual commitments.

Up till Cancun there was a previous version of the text, which in its option A (page 9) showed only necessary amendments, and in its option B (page 11) the whole ‘wish list’ of ways how (mostly developed) countries want to profoundly change the Protocol. This is precisely the big danger of Durban: they may decide to have a second commitment period, but with a legal text that totally perverts the original idea of the Kyoto Protocol.

This would be fooling the public opinion, but the climate can’t be fooled!

If you have questions on the Climate Change negotiation process, feel free to write me, I’ll try to give answers in next posts.

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