Future of Kyoto Protocol the focus of Panama climate meet
Governments recognise that current levels of efforts to combat climate change are not enough, said the executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Christina Figueres, at the end of the second day of the Panama climate meet, which ends on October 7.
Panama is currently hosting the third part of the 16th session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on further commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol (AWG-KP) and the third part of the 14th session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action under the Convention (AWG-LCA). The first phase of the Kyoto Protocol ends in 2012 and its progression into the second phase continues to be a sticking point among countries.
In the opening session of the discussions on Kyoto Protocol, parties expressed the lack of political will to make substantial progress and ensure there is no gap between the first and the second commitment periods of the Kyoto Protocol. The African group, the AOSIS (Alliance of Small Island States) and the LDCs (Least Developing Countries) iterated the need for legally binding agreements to avoid catastrophic climate change. Most of the G-77 Parties stressed that the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol should be agreed to in Durban and that lack of progress in the AWG-LCA track should not be used as an excuse to not arrive at a decision on the Kyoto Protocol second commitment period.
But the EU and other Annex I (industrialised) countries emphasised the need for all countries responsible for substantial GHG emissions to be covered under the post-2012 arrangement. Figueres agreed that it is a contentious issue and discussions in Panama would focus on how to address the second commitment period of the protocol and how to bring the pledges of the US and the developing countries under emissions reduction commitments under Kyoto Protocol.
“It is also important to increase both the levels of emissions controls as well as the adaptive capacity of countries,” Figures said. Besides the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, the Panama meet would focus on the elements of what Figueres called the “Cancun package”, which comprises the Green Climate Fund, Technology Mechanism, Adaptation Committee and the Monitoring, Reporting and Verification (MRV) system. She added that while progress had been made in the areas of Green Climate Fund and the Technology Mechanism and that they should be approved in the forthcoming Durban climate meet, the adaptation committee and the MRV system needed to be discussed in depth in Panama. The adaptation committee needs to give “coherence to adaptation efforts in developing countries” and the MRV system, which seeks to increase accountability and transparency of all parties, was “behind” and governments would focus on that in Panama.
All the countries though expressed urgency for a solution to be reached at Durban. A positive development in the LCA session was that the first and the last meetings of the informal consultations among countries would be made open to the observer organisations, which was not the case in earlier meetings. However, several contentious issues such as the second phase of the Kyoto Protocol remain and these may see more heated debates and indecisiveness in the next few days. “Panama is the last opportunity for a middle ground or even solution and pre-agreements,” Figueres said. The decisions taken in Panama will either pave the way, or not, for Durban, the next stop for climate negotiators.