Monday, December 06, 2010

Mexico COP16/MOP6 Leader Paints Positive Outcome Picture

Dec 5: Despite growing skepticism about the success of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference (UNFCCC) being held in Cancun, Mexico, and diminishing political support for the climate change issue in the U.S.; the United Nations is reporting that two bodies within UNFCCC have concluded their work on a number of significant draft decisions that will be presented for adoption on Friday, December 10, in the final plenary of the Conference of the Parties (COP16) and the sixth Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP6 or MOP6).
    The two groups -- the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) and the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI) -- concluded their deliberations yesterday with draft decisions on continued, strengthened support to developing countries efforts in climate change adaptation and mitigation, including concrete technology transfer projects, UNFCCC said in a statement. Patricia Espinosa, President of the Conference and Secretary for Foreign Affairs of Mexico said, "These advances form an important part of the groundwork for strengthened global climate change action," said They also clearly show that countries have come to CancĂșn in good faith to show the world that the multilateral process can deliver as long as a spirit of compromise, cooperation and transparency prevails."
    Espinosa added that the progress "should be seen as a positive sign for the conference as a whole," and urged all UNFCCC Parties to maintain the spirit of compromise with a view to reaching a balanced agreement that will take the world into a new era of cooperation on climate change.
    According to a release, the decisions included a near agreement that carbon capture and storage may be an eligible project activity under the Kyoto Protocol's Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), provided it complies with stringent risk and safety assessments. The move is significant because it presents ministers, who will be asked to give political guidance to the negotiations, with only two clear options on the issue. UNFCCC Executive Secretary, Christiana Figueres said, "This conclusion is important because it gives Parties a key to unlock other outstanding issues under the two tracks of the negotiations on Long-Term Cooperative Action and in the Kyoto Protocol." 
    Another achievement was a decision to broaden the mandate of a Least Developed Countries (LDCs) Expert Group and extend it for a five-year term, the longest period given to the Group since its establishment in 2001. The Group provides technical guidance and advice to LDCs on the preparation and implementation of national adaptation programs of action. Countries also agreed to strengthen education, training and public awareness on climate change through increased funding for such activities, and to engage civil society more strongly in national decision-making and the UN climate change process. Figueres said, "Faster and more effective action on climate change requires governments to welcome the fresh ideas and active participation of all sides of civil society, especially the young whose futures are at stake. This underlines the commitment of the negotiations to remain open, transparent and engaged."
    In her brief statement on December 5, Espinosa, President of COP16/MOP6 meeting said, "No international conference can succeed without there being confidence among the parties and in the process itself. We believe that, after much hard work by all, current conditions should allow .indeed must allow. for the reaching of understandings. This is in no small measure due to a commitment by all to transparency and inclusiveness, principles that the Mexican Presidency will continue to honor throughout.

    "Ministerial-level representatives from all over the world are already in Cancun. Yesterday I offered a welcoming dinner to them, in which no papers were distributed and no negotiations took place. Starting today, however, the presence of high-level officials must be capitalized, as they can provide the necessary political guidance to push forth on several key issues. . . Allow me to stress this central point:Ministers have very kindly agreed to contribute to the work that is already under way, in which we have made important progress but still require political decisions to be taken in order to forge ahead.

    "I have approached pairs of ministers, one from a developing country and one from a developed country, who I know would greatly benefit our effort by focusing on specific matters. I hope their agendas allow them to undertake this task. Sweden and Grenada could help on matters related to shared vision; Spain and Algeria on adaptation; Australia and Bangladesh on finance, technology and capacity building; New Zealand and Indonesia on mitigation, including MRV [Measurable, Reportable, and Verifiable], and the United Kingdom and Brazil on items under the Kyoto Protocol. Other ministers, among them those from Ecuador, Singapore, Norway and Switzerland could support on other specific issues as they arise. . .

    "One week into the process, the conditions are in place to reach a broad and balanced package of decisions that leads to an era of increasingly effective global action on climate change. However, the positive outcome that our societies demand is still not complete. We must continue working with a renewed sense of urgency. I believe we can complete the package, or at the very least to make significant advances, before the opening of the high-level segment on Tuesday afternoon. . ."

    Access a release from the UN (click here). Access the complete statement from Espinosa (click here). Access a December 3, press briefing webcast from UNFCCC's Christiana Figueres (click here). Access the UNFCCC website for complete details, documents and live, on-demand webcasts (click here). Access the Mexico host country COP16 website (click here). Access detailed, day-by-day coverage from IISD (click here).