ON THE WAY TO COP-21
An important step was taken on the way to COP-21, the U.N. Conference on Climate Change to be held in Paris next December. The two co-chairs in charge of preparing the basic document for discussion, Ahmed Djoghlaf and Dan Reifsnyder, published on the 5th of October a project agreement which changed the previous 80 pages draft into only 20 pages.
Released by the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the new version of the document presents a basic framework for an agreement to be reached by the 195 countries of the Convention in order to prevent the Earth temperature from increasing above 2ºC.
In the beginning of October, the UNFCCC made a first evaluation of the national commitments of the member countries (the so-called INDC) to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases and to bring about adaptation to the effects of global warming. 146 countries, standing for about 87% of world emissions, delivered their proposals to the U.N. The national scenarios presented so far show a real effort which, however, is not sufficient to avoid the increase of temperature above the 2% limit. Furthermore, it should be stressed that some oil producing countries, like Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Iran, Koweit, Nigeria, Oman, Qatar and Venezuela, are not included in this initial document.
Still in October, a meeting of international financial institutions in Lima will discuss the commitment assumed by developed countries in the COP held in Copenhague, in 2009, to make available 100 billion dollars a year, until 2020, for developing countries. This issue will be incorporated to the UNFCCC basic document released on the 5th of October. This document is still a “non-paper”, i.e., has no legal value, but is the real starting point for the last negotiation session in Bonn, between the 19th and 23rd of October.
The basic document released on the 5th of October was considered by Thomas Spencer, diretor of energy and climate of the Sustainable Development and International Relations Institute (IDDRI) as a qualitative leap and a paradigm shift. But he also criticized the document. Some issues have been adressed with few ambition or have disappeared in the text. No mention is made to the 100 billion dollars commitment announced in the Copenhague COP. The text does not emphasize the alert systems which are essential to trigger the alarm signal if the member countries do not respect their commitments.
Several NGO also criticized the document expressing that various items for a long term agreement, although included, are fragmented and not properly brought together. The long term goal to reduce greenhouse gases is not related to any specific date, and no mention is made to renewable energy throughout the 20 pages of the document. According to Alix Mazounie, a member of the Climate Action Network, “if the big question is to initiate a global energy transition, the absence of renewable energy in the document is a serious problem”.
The food security issue, included in the preceding versions of the document, disappeared from the text, just when the United Nations voted the goals to eradicate hunger in the world up to 2030. In spite of those weaknesses, Pierre Canet, from the climate and energy program of WWF, said that the text will allow high level negotiations and increase the level of ambition.
From the diplomatic point of view, the text is undoubtedly a good basis for the final proposal to be taken to COP-21 in December. Some central issues are adressed directly, as mitigation, adaptation, financing, loss and damage, transfer of technology etc.
However, we are still far from the goal to prevent temperature to increase above 2ºC. If this objective is not reached, the Paris Conference risks to fail and finish, as the preceding COPs, making only recommendations for the future.
Professor – PUC-Rio