Stalemate deepens over future of GHG reductions

One after other, developed countries decline to any binding commitments post-Kyoto

By Aditya Ghosh

Bonn, June 12: Future course of mitigation of green house gas (GHG) emissions seem in jeopardy with wealthy countries pulling out of any extension of Kyoto or Protocol or a similar legally binding commitment one by one. The latest in the list is Canada which joined Japan, Australia and Russia here in UNFCCC meeting at Bonn to declare that neither would the country meet Kyoto targets nor will they commit to any legally binding emission targets post-KP. New Zealand also has refused a low-carbon development plan, something which has come under heavy criticism from its own NGOs.

The US was never a party to Kyoto and continues its distance with any such mechanism. With five of the biggest polluters walking out of any binding commitments, future of Kyoto hangs precariously. On Saturday in AWG-KP ? the negotiating track to decide on global action on GHG emission reduction ? a hapless KP chair mandated three spin-off groups to discuss technical and political issues in informal meetings, expecting a consensus on at least some technical issues that might pave way for constructive discussions at Conference of Parties (CoP 17) in Durban later this year.

The developing countries, however, are clear on their demand and feel technical issues don’t exist in isolation. “Technical issues need to be resolved but there must be political clarity from Annexe I countries,” said the Brazilian negotiator, on behalf of G77 & China.

The European Union, while stressing that they were ‘dead serious’ for a second commitment period, admitted that the progress has been too slow to have any positive outcome at Durban. Ministers at CoP17 must have limited issues on the table to deal with, which meant that the technical issues must be resolved soon enough to allow political debates to take place, the EU negotiator said.

The spin-off groups will work through the next week to elicit consensus on key issues. However, with limited mandate, the efficacy of these groups remains questionable. This is why it was important that these groups must have mandates to clean up the text beyond discussions and meetings, said the Swiss negotiator.

India also urged that without the prospect of a second commitment period of KP, the discussions would rather be insincere. Processes post Cancun Agreements have threatened the delicate balance achieved at Cancun CoP 16 last year, and it would be futile to talk about mere technicalities if political processes remained deadlocked, said the Indian negotiator.

There is little prospect of any climate deal in Durban as these spin-off groups will now have to work through the next week to decide on mechanisms, the basket of methodological issues and amendments and numbers before talks can move forward.

Hard evidence
World Banks’ double-handedness
imageA report released by Friends of the Earth shows how the World Bank hit a new record in 2010 for annual fossil fuel lending at $4.7 billion, increasing its coal-related spending alone by 256 percent. The World Bank has now been made a trustee of the Green Climate Fund which will administer the flow of funds from developed to developing countries to cope with climate change, which includes deploying 'clean energy' solutions.
See full report »

Highest ever recorded GHG emissions were reached in 2010
imageThe world CO2 emissions have hit a record high in 2010 at 30.6 gigatonnes, according to a recent study by the IEA. This is a 5% increase from previous record of 29.3 Gt in 2008. An IEA scenario sets the emissions limit at 32 Gigatonnes for 2020 in order to stay within the “safe” 2 degrees Celsius rise. This means that the rise in emissions for the next 10 years needs to be lesser than that between 2009 and 2010.
See full report »

A Financial Transaction Tax could effectively address climate finance woes
imageA new report from CIDSE throws light on how the climate financing challenge can be met by taxing global financial transactions. A financial transaction tax, such as this, introduced at a mere .05% could raise up to US$ 6661.1 billion.
See full report »

Climate change will mean lesser water availability for food production new FAO report warns
imageA comprehensive survey of existing literature points to the impacts that climate change will have on water used in agriculture. Those dependent on glacial melt water for irrigation will be heavily impacted; this covers 40% of the world’s population. The report, although issues a risk warning for both rural livelihoods and food security of city populations, states the rural poor will be the most vulnerable.
See full report »

South Asia and parts of Africa are amongst climate hotspots where food supplies will be worst hit
imageThe study which maps out regions based on sensitivity to and capacity to adapt to the impacts of shifts in temperature and precipitation highlights the South Asian region where millions of already-impoverished people will be further impacted due to loss in agricultural productivity.
See full report »