LDCs ring the alarm bell before Bonn

Demand higher ambition; will EU still take the lead?

By Uthra Radhakrishnan
Published: Monday 14 May 2012

Bonn Climate Change Conference - May 2012

Just ahead of the mid-year climate change session at Bonn, starting on May 14, the least developed countries (LDCs) have issued a call for efforts to be directed towards raising ambition on mitigation for the pre-2020 period, calling it the sine qua non of a successful outcome on the new Durban Platform negotiations.

The upcoming two weeks in Bonn will witness all parties begin fresh round of negotiations to draw up a new protocol under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which should be implemented by 2020. The urgency of the situation is reflected in LDCs' submissions to UNFCCC, which urges all parties to stay ahead of schedule in charting out a framework for a new protocol post-2020 and avoid the familiar trap of leaving most of the issues for the last minute. A reading of the submissions, though, shows that despite new emerging alliances, parties remain divided over fundamental issues such as differentiated responsibilities and legal form of the new protocol.

The LDCs have stepped up their ante by saying they cannot wait. “We are already feeling the effects of climate change, but the time has come for us to be leaders in the international effort to address this global challenge,” said Pa Ousman Jarju, chair of the LDC group.

Besides drawing up a specific timeline and plan towards meeting the ambitious target of drawing up the new framework by 2015, the LDC group has made very clear demands on the form and content of the new framework.

LDCs demand: 

  • 75 per cent majority should suffice for parties to adopt a protocol and need not wait for full consensus as it is currently carried out. This needs to be understood in the context of the frequent occurrence of stalemate in the past and major decisions being blocked due to a minority preventing the consensus

  • Measuring, reporting and verifying (MRV) should be strengthened and a compliance mechanism should enforce common accounting rules

  • A full negotiating text should be ready a full year ahead of time
The first demand is that a completely new legally binding protocol needs to be drawn up but it should build on the commitments under the existing Kyoto Protocol. “The creation of a new body to negotiate a second protocol under the Convention represents an overdue acknowledgement by all Parties that the Convention and the Kyoto Protocol alone are insufficient to drive action consistent with the ultimate objective of the Convention,” said Jarju. Their other demands include issues related to consensus and adoption of new deal and common accounting rules for monitoring, reporting and verification, or MRV (see box).

In the past, LDCs have usually struggled to push their agenda through; but during the Durban CoP, they gained leverage by forming an alliance with the EU and the group of small island nations. Something, however, appears amiss. In a recent EU inter-ministerial meeting, which both LDCs and Alliance of Small Island States attended, island nations asked the EU to increase Kyoto targets from 20 per cent to 30 per cent by 2020. The EU failed to show promise calling such a move “very challenging”.
Thus, in what can be taken as a clear absence of a lead from the EU with respect to raising ambition, any progress on the issue might only face more obstacles. And as negotiators get ready for an intensive two weeks ahead of them, Bonn heralds no promises as parties go back to the drawing board once again.

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