Climate Change

Developed v developing debate on Durban Mandate intensifies

While some countries at the Bonn conference stressed on need for enhancement of pre-2020 action plan, others opined differently

By Vineet Kumar
Published: Wednesday 17 June 2015


Though the process of building consensus over post-2020 actions has made some progress during the Bonn climate talks, the pre-2020 enhanced actions remain a bone of contention.

Meanwhile, different country groups at the same meet, held recently in Germany, have interpreted the Durban Mandate differently. While the G77 + China group has been insisting that the 2011 Durban Mandate clearly requires developed countries to enhance the pre-2020 ambition and that they cannot imagine a post-2020 climate regime without clarity on workstream 2 that states the pre-2020 actions.

What is Durban Mandate?

Recognising that climate change represents an urgent and potentially irreversible threat to the world, and thus requires to be urgently addressed by all countries members of United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP) was constituted in 2011. The formation of the group was also based on the global nature of climate change that calls for the widest possible cooperation by all countries and their participation in an effective and appropriate international response.

UNFCCC had also noted the “significant gap between the aggregate effect of Parties’ (countries members of UNFCCC) mitigation pledges in terms of global annual emissions of greenhouse gases by 2020 and aggregate emission pathways consistent with having a likely chance of holding the increase in global average temperature below 2 degree Celsius or 1.5 degree Celsius above pre-industrial levels”.

The mandate was to reach an agreement that will be implemented from 2020 and to decide to launch a work plan on enhancing mitigation ambition with a view to ensure the highest possible efforts by all the Parties.

At its first session in 2012, the ADP working group had adopted the agenda under two workstreams—pre-2020 (Workstream 2) and post-2020 (Workstream 1). Despite 10 days of negotiations that were just held in Bonn (a few months before COP 21 in Paris), countries have yet not reached the consensus on pre-2020 climate actions.

Meanwhile, the European Union had said that Durban Mandate does not require them to enhance pre-2020 ambitions, and that instead of focusing on issues of divergence, we should focus on the points of convergence between countries.

The US, however, has strongly rejected the need for enhancement of pre-2020 action by saying that the Mandate does not require them to enhance pre-2020 actions. The country has added that it has already had several discussions on this. India and China, on behalf of G77 + China, on the other hand, have expressed surprise over how developed countries were interpreting the Workstream 2 that covers elements like mitigation, adaptation, finance, technology development and transfer, transparency of action and support, and capacity-building. China said that if it all these were not a mandate of Durban then why were they being discussed at the Bonn meet. The representatives of the developing Asian economy added that it was high time to reach a common understanding on Durban mandate so that we can fill the “ambition gap” that is required to keep the temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius, as existing mechanism and current emission pathways are not enough.

Despite all the negotiations and commitments, the question that can the world afford to wait till 2020 without enhancing pre-2020 ambitions continues to haunt.

Bonn climate change conference: Who said what
On last day of Bonn climate meet, closing statements made by different parties in the closing plenary highlighted different issues as follows:
Maldives, on behalf of AOSIS (Alliance of Small Island States):

We have to limit global temperature below 1.5 degrees Celsius. Amount of time given to us to discuss Work Stream 2 was helpful as it helped to clarify party positions.

South Africa, on behalf of G77 + China:

It is important to have transparency and equitable and ambitious agreement. Text agreed to in 2015 should reflect cross cutting issues like scope, support, thematic parity, equity, differentiation, structure and legal form. Workstream 2 on pre-2020 ambition is an integral part of the ADP that has a direct bearing on the successful outcome of the Paris COP. We reiterate that Workstream II shall be treated in a balanced manner with Workstream 1. The Group shares its concern on unbalanced progress between Workstream 1 and 2 in this session.

Sudan, on behalf of African Group of negotiators:

Modest progress has happened. Next negotiating text should be presented in a manner that will help in negotiation. Our humble request is that correct message should go out to the world. It said that it fully supports the statement made by South Africa on behalf of the G77 and China.

European Union:

Negotiation has been in good spirit and the Paris deal has good prospects. However, there are procedural and timing constraints.

Mechanical editorial exercise to consolidate Geneva text should have been done by the Secretariat before we arrived in Bonn. We welcome the progress in discussions on how to raise mitigation ambition before 2020, where we face the challenge of building a comprehensive decision text.

Republic of Korea, on behalf of Environment Integrity Group (EIG)

We support a concise, consolidated sand streamlined text. We must keep ourselves engaged in discussions to make further progress.

Malaysia, on behalf of Like-Minded Developing Countries (LMDC):

We support the proposal by G77+China. Workstream 2 is a critical pillar and foundation for post 2020 actions. We are stressed against the imbalance between workstream 1 and workstream 2. There should be a balance between the progress made in both. Submissions made for workstream 2, negotiation should start from day 1 of next ADP session.

Columbia, on behalf AILAC (Independent Alliance of Latin America and the Caribbean)

We support proposal made by G77+ China. We have to agree to workstream 2, as otherwise it will not be possible to reach an agreement in Paris.

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