Politics Of Climate Change

Climate Change talks go forward in Bonn

The latest talks under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) towards a new legally binding global treaty to succeed the Kyoto Protocol just ended in Bonn, Germany. Although not a full conference of parties (COP) it nevertheless made some significant progress towards COP18 to be held in Doha, Qatar in December this year. The most notable decisions were to do with agreeing the membership of a number of key bodies. These included the Adaptation Committee, the Green Climate Fund Board and the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action.
Amongst the topics of contention which were debated were the issue of loss and damage and equity.

Loss and damage:
This issue had only recently been adopted in the Durban decision at COP17 in December 2011 and the work plan involves a number of regional and technical workshops to be held before COP18 in Doha next December where a further decision will be made. A number of side events and discussions were held in Bonn on this topic towards framing a decision for COP18.

This issue is linked to a famous principle of the UNFCCC namely "common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities" which India has been championing for a long time. Even though it did not get incorporated in the COP17 decision in Durban, nevertheless it was very clear at the Bonn meeting that this will have to be addressed in any new treaty to succeed the Kyoto Protocol.
It is clear that different countries have very different notions of what equity means to them. Although no clear consensus emerged in Bonn, nevertheless the fact that there was a healthy debate on the topic is better than treating it as a "taboo" subject.

Finance beyond 2012:
At COP15 in Copenhagen, Denmark in December 2009, the developed countries promised to provide $30 billion over three years (2010, 2011 and 2012) to developing countries to combat climate change. These funds were termed Fast Start Finance (FSF). The funds were to be balanced between adaptation and mitigation. They also pledged up to $100 billion a year starting from 2020 as Long Term Finance (LTF). What was not clear was what would happen between 2013 after the FSF funds were exhausted and 2020 when the LTF would start.
As 2012 comes to an end developing countries pushed the developed countries in Bonn to commit to ramping up finance between 2013 and 2020. However, developed countries did not give an unequivocal response.

Post Kyoto treaty and Durban platform:
The most contentious issue in Bonn was a four day fight on an agenda item. Although the issue seemed trivial, it was actually extremely sensitive and substantial. China was made to look the villain by holding up agreement on the agenda on the Durban platform that had been agreed in Durban last December. However, what some painted as a procedural fight was actually to do with China's view that before 2020 only the rich Annex 1 countries were supposed to take mitigation targets under the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol and that the other countries, including China, would then take on mitigation actions after 2020 as part of the new post-Kyoto Treaty. So what seemed to be a trivial agenda issue turned out to be a major issue between Annex 1 and developing countries.

Bangladesh's role:
Bangladesh continued to play a strong role both in its own capacity as well as in support of the Least Developed Countries (LDC) Group. Bangladesh won a seat on the Board of the Green Climate Fund, which is the body that will oversee the LTF and is an important position.
The Bangladesh government also showed its maturity in supporting Nepal to become the next chair of the LDC Group after COP18, as it was Asia's turn to chair the group and Bangladesh could have contested Nepal. However, since Bangladesh has previously chaired the group it was a sign of its maturity to support Nepal to be the next chair instead of contesting the chair's position.

The writer is Senior Fellow at the London based International Institute for Environment and Development and Director of the International Centre for Climate Change and Development at the Independent University, Bangladesh.
E-mail: [email protected]


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