Countries disagree on framework for mitigation approaches

Workshop brings greater clarity on various approaches, but issue of double counting and disagreements on the role of UNFCCC still persist

By Hemant Nair
Published: Tuesday 22 May 2012

AWG-LCA workshop

Disagreements on the role of the UNFCCC and tackling the issue of double counting rendered an otherwise fruitful workshop on a framework to organise various approaches on mitigation targets, inconclusive.

The workshop held on May 19 in Bonn under the Ad hoc Working Group on Long-Term Cooperative Action (AWG-LCA) track, was mandated at the Conference of Parties (CoP) in Durban last year to enhance understanding of the fragmented nature of current global mitigation efforts. Its other objective was to achieve a consensus on a framework through which these approaches could be recognised by UNFCCC and counted towards national pledges on mitigation. According to UNFCCC secretariat, Niclas Svenningsen, a total of 32 submissions—14 from parties and 18 from observer organisations—were received for this workshop. Over the course of three sessions, 10 speakers (six from the parties and four from the observer organisations) presented their views on the issue of a framework for various approaches. Topics covered by the presenters included guidelines for the framework, governance structure and how to ensure greater accountability and transparency in the system. 

The workshop began with presentations on “general considerations for a framework for various approaches”, with three speakers from Japan, United Arab Emirates and Bolivia. While this session focused on issues related to the structure and management of the framework, the key point was transparency. The speaker from UAE, Aimee Barnes, discussed how the new framework could act as a platform for transparency in pursuing mitigation ambitions, through information sharing and a common set of basic elements that could reconcile the disparate mitigation processes.

The second session—designing and implementing a credible system—comprised discussions on issues related to ensuring the credibility and integrity of the various market and non-market-based mitigation mechanisms. Presenters included representatives from the Center for European Policy Studies, The Environmental Defense Fund, and the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) as well as the Coalition of Rainforest Nations. The presentations largely focused on the feasibility of pursuing market-based mechanisms in the new framework and suggestions on how to improve their effectiveness. In this context there was an interesting presentation from Oscar Reyes of IPS. While discussing the lessons learnt from the clean development mechanism (CDM) process, he highlighted the need for minimum standards and enhancing the registration process under CDM.

Double counting tangle

The final session of the day on “managing possible risks”, featured submissions from New Zealand, the Alliance of Small Island Nations and the Climate Action Network (CAN). It was also the liveliest as it focused entirely on the issue of double counting. Double counting is the possibility of counting identical mitigation efforts across more than one mechanism, while counting a country’s progress towards its mitigation pledges. An example of this is the CDM process where developing countries who have purchased the credits and the developed countries that generate it will both count it against their mitigation targets.

A number of suggestions were offered to solve this issue, including developing a detailed accounting system as well as a clear set of guidelines for the framework. Kay Harrison of New Zealand offered the use of a declaration model in the interim until this problem was resolved. The model would allow parties to declare their efforts towards mitigation and how they represent genuine verifiable emissions reductions.

Overall, while the workshop did help enhance the AWG-LCA through its deliberations on the various approaches, it still fell short of its objective of offering a clear framework to offer for recommendations to CoP 18 at Doha later this year. The reason for this, as acknowledged by chair of the session Alexa Kleysteube, were the doubts that still existed on the feasibility of the framework and the role the UNFCCC should play in it.


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