December 2009

According to Google Trends. I guess it might have something to do with COP 15.

Amount of searches involving 'climate change'

There were three things that resulted from the talks in Copenhagen:

  • A 13 paragraph ‘political accord‘ was agreed by most of the parties, but could only be ‘noted’ by the COP because there was not consensus.
  • The negotiations on extending the Kyoto Protocol had unresolved issues, and the next meeting in Mexico will return to this. The key text that resulted from the Kyoto side of the negotiations is here.
  • The negotiations on long-term cooperative action also had unresolved issues, which the Mexico meeting will have to resolve. The key text that resulted from the long-term cooperative action (LCA) side of the negotiations is here.

What did not result from Copenhagen was a framework for developing a fair, ambitious and legally binding agreement. What was positive about the accord was a commitment on finance from developing countries, which would add up to $100 billion per year by 2020, but whether actual commitments will add up to this number is still unresolved.

While the the Kyoto and LCA negotiations did not result in a successful conclusion, the draft texts are now considerably shorter, and the unresolved issues are more obvious. Whether there is a successful outcome to the negotiations at a later date depends crucially on how these issues get resolved.

Some undecided issues related to the Kyoto Protocol include how land use, land use change, and forestry is accounted for; carry-over of permits from the first commitment period (hot air); the scale of the Annex I (developed country) commitments; and how these commitments are represented in a table, and the issue of base years and reference years (a less important issue, but the one that takes up most of the negotiators time). The most important unresolved issues for the LCA track are the precise nature of developing and developed country mitigation commitments and actions, and whether anything from the text will facilitate a legally binding agreement.

The final meeting of the Ad-hoc Working Group on Long-Term Cooperative Action (AWG-LCA) was supposed to commence early in the evening on December 16. It instead commenced at 4.45 in the morning on December 15, after negotiations went through the night. The meeting was considering a new version of a text on long-term cooperative action that is to be considered by world leaders over the next few days. In this meeting, the United States delegate watered down the nature of any mitigation commitments that would be required from developed countries. The text that he is referring to (with the changes included) is here.

A fundamental problem with any international treaty is that for it to work it has to be ratified by its Parties, in this case including the United States Senate.

At an earlier meeting of the Conference of Parties, when discussing Tuvalu’s proposal for a fair, ambitious and legally binding deal, the Tuvalu negotiator made some eloquent remarks on the role of the US Senate in these negotiations, noting the irony that the fate of the world is in the hands of a few US Senators.

The talks at Copenhagen are not exactly what would be called a smooth operation…

This is an excerpt from a short meeting (slightly less than four minutes) of the CMP, this original video of this meeting is here.

Below is blogging from the KP track of the negotiations. New draft texts have been released to Parties, I haven’t been able to get hold them yet. A “stocktaking plenary” is about to commence. There was supposed to also be plenaries for the LCA track of negotiations this evening, not sure if that is happening or not.

Chair: we agreed we would establish a contact group for the sole purpose of fixing up the text. After this plenary we will work on the contact group. Time is of the essence, we hope to have something good to report to COP/MOP tomorrow.

Co-chair: contact group on numbers resumed. in this session we used various methodologies to try to get agreement, small informal consultations were particularly helpful. through consultations clarified c. periods – choice of 5 or 8 years. agreed to have single base year, not to have a common base year. discussed reference years. discussed surplus AAUs and LULUCF. This ensured numbers would be meaningful from environmental perspective. we have forwarded you an annex, which is bracketed, it is not a clean text. we did not discuss the ?? decision. two options option A consequential; option B go beyond, but fit under 3.9 of KP. need to return to reference periods. no agreement on how to express aggregeate figure and what it is, also on ‘top down vs bottom up’. much work remains to be done on other possible amendments.


The Federated States of Micronesia, on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), has distributed among the contact group on ‘numbers’ a document titled ‘Potential effect of Surplus AAUs on Annex I allowed emissions in 2020: Technical Background and Assumptions’. It states:

Several economies in transition (EITs) have Kyoto first commitment period (KP.CP1) (2008-2012) targets that exceed their likely emissions for that period. Paragraph 13 of Article 3 of the Kyoto Protocol permits that surplus Assigned Amount Units (AAUs) from the first commitment period are carried forward to “subsequent commitment periods”. This leads to the situation where surplus AAUs are created and potentially available for transfer to other Parties where they may be used towards compliance with their obligations. As a result, surplus AAUs that are transferred to other Annex I Parties or carried forward will lead to more emissions to the atmosphere than would otherwise have happened.

The scale of surplus AAUs in the first commitment period is sufficient, if transferred to and used by other Annex I parties to meet their obligations, to permit Annex I as a group to emit as business as usual levels through 2020.

What the document is saying is that if Kyoto emission permits (AAUs) are carried over from the first (2008-2012) commitment period to the second commitment period, then the Kyoto Protocol will not have a significant impact on developed country emissions. In terms of emissions, this would be equivalent to not having a second commitment period, which is also a possibility (and has some support from Japan and Canada).

The document also has analysis of the impacts that each parties preference for accounting for land use, land use change, and forestry would have on emissions. It suggests that this would have a similar impact, but not quite as great as the impact of banking AAUs.

The EU has made similar statement on banking AAUs from the first commitment period, noting that banking could lead to an increase in emissions even if Annex I emissions added up to a 30% reduction (which they do not).

In an informal briefing to NGOs, an Australian negotiator did speak in favour of banking AAUs. I have not yet observed Australia saying anything on this in the negotiations.

This is the second meeting of the Contact Group on Further Annex I Emission Reductions today. At the first meeting, further meetings of the Kyoto Protocol contact groups were postponed for about 5-6 hours, in response to Africa and the G77 postponing negotiations on the LCA text.

A non-paper was distributed, containing the various options suggested by parties at the Dec 12 meeting. There were:

  • A: 3 options for tables for Annex B;
  • B: four options for article 3, paragraph 1 and paragraph 1 bis;
  • C: article 3, paragraph 1 ter;
  • D: article 3, paragraph 1 quater;
  • E: article 3, paragraph 1 quinquies;
  • F: article 3, paragraph 7 bis;
  • G: article 3, paragraph 9 bis;
  • H: article 4, paragraph 2 bis;
  • I: article 4, paragraph 3.

The text of the non-paper was put up on the screen, like with many of these contact groups, there is likely to be quite a bit of editing of the text during the meeting. Lots of squealing noises coming from the microphones…


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