Monday, October 04, 2010

UNFCCC Working Groups Meet In China In Advance Of Cancun

Oct 4: The Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Christiana Figueres called on governments meeting in Tianjin, China, from October 4-9, to accelerate their search for common ground to achieve strong action on climate change. With less than two months to go before the UN Climate Change Conference in Cancun, Mexico, Figueres said that a concrete outcome in December was urgently needed to restore faith in the ability of Parties to take the negotiations forward. The UNFCCC meeting in Tianjin is being attended by around three thousand participants from more than 176 countries, including government delegates, representatives from business and industry, environmental organizations and research institutions. The UNFCCC meeting in Cancun, Mexico, will take place from November 29 to December 10.
    She said, "Governments have restored their own trust in the process, but they must ensure that the rest of the world believes in a future of ever increasing government commitment to combat climate change. Governments need to agree on what is doable in Cancun, and how it will be achievable in a politically balanced manner." She indicated that there is a growing convergence in the negotiations that Cancun could deliver a balanced package of decisions that define the pillars of action to address climate change.

    A release from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) indicates that an agreement could include a new global framework to help countries adapt to the already inevitable changes to the climate system; the launch of a new mechanism to drive faster deployment of technology to developing nations; a decision to establish a new fund to oversee the long-term money raised for the specific climate needs of developing nations; and a decision on early and large-scale action to protect forests and the livelihoods of those who live in them. Figueres said, "The agreements that can be reached in Cancun may not be exhaustive in their details, but as a balanced package they must be comprehensive in their scope and they can deliver strong results in the short term as well as set the stage for long term commitments to address climate change in an effective and fair manner."

    Figueres acknowledged there are areas of political disagreements, mainly over how and when to agree on a fair share of responsibilities of present and future action on climate change, but she said they were not insurmountable. She said, Governments seem ready to discuss difficult issues. Now they must bridge differences in order to reach a tangible outcome in Cancun. For example, she indicated that governments can formalize the many pledges and promises they have made to cut and limit emissions, along with providing clarity on the continuation of the Kyoto Protocol.

    During the next six days of the Tianjin climate meeting, government delegates will discuss negotiating text under the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action under the Convention (AWG-LCA). This negotiating group, comprising all 194 Parties to the UNFCCC, is tasked to deliver a long-term global approach to the climate challenge. The Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol (AWG-KP) is meeting in parallel to discuss the emissions reduction commitments for the 37 industrialized countries that have ratified the Kyoto Protocol for the period beyond 2012.

    Figueres highlighted this year's floods in Pakistan, fires in Russia and mudslides in China as "a wake up call to the dangers of extreme climate." She said "The bottom line is that it is in no one's interest to delay action. Quite on the contrary, it is in everyone's ultimate interest to accelerate action in order to minimize negative impacts on all."

    Access a release from UNEP (click here). Access the full text of the Figueres statement (click here). Access the UNFCCC website for links to the Work Groups' meeting details, for press conference on-demand webcasts, and further information on the upcoming Cancun meeting (click here). Access daily coverage from the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) (click here).