Warsaw climate talks: Farm emissions kept out of COP 19

G77+China successfully counter move by EU to add agriculture as a source of emissions for purpose of accounting

By Arnab Pratim Dutta
Published: Thursday 14 November 2013

Developing countries fought for two days, and finally succeeded in keeping agriculture out of CO2 mitigation discussions on the third day of the ongoing climate talks in Warsaw. On November 11, much to the surprise and chagrin of G77+China, emissions from agriculture was introduced by the elected chairs of the 19th Conference of Parties (COP 19) as an agenda item for discussion, even though it was agreed in a preparatory meeting in Bonn earlier this year that discussions on this subject would not become part of the formal negotiating process, and that it would instead be discussed in a workshop.

The chair announced that it was looking for a draft decision on agricultural emissions by the end of the first week of ongoing two-week climate negotiations. India and China, however, managed to successfully counter the move to introduce agricultural emissions and pushed discussions on it to June 2014.

The European Union, supported by developed countries such as Canada and New Zealand, has been pushing to add agriculture as a possible source of emissions for the purpose of accounting.

Developing countries have opposed this, saying it would have major financial implications for farmers, most of whom are poor. Although methane emissions from rice fields and livestock and release of soil carbon are major sources of emissions, mitigation efforts in the agricultural sector would translate into huge financial burden on developing countries.

Developing countries who have refused to undertake emission cuts so far see this push by the developed countries as means of putting an agricultural emissions mitigation burden on the developing countries, thereby, lessening their burden to reduce carbon emissions in future.

On the opening day of COP19, Fiji spoke on behalf of G77+China and said that the proposal came as a surprise to the negotiators of the developing countries as in a earlier meeting this year, all the countries had decided not to discuss this subject formally. On Wednesday, India intervened and said only adaptation of climate change resilient agriculture should be discussed. India’s intervention was supported by G77+China and, surprisingly, the United States. Mitigation in agriculture will not be further discussed in the current conference and not until June 2014.

G77+China proposal on loss and damage

Last year at COP18 in Doha, developing countries managed to get included a last minute decision on setting up of a mechanism for assessing and providing monetary compensation for loss and damage arising out of impacts of climate change. On the second day of COP19 in Warsaw, G77 and China formally put their negotiated stand in form of a conference paper, urging the all nations to begin deliberations on loss and damage.

This swiftly led to countries forwarding letters of requests, urging for establishment of an international mechanism to address loss and damage associated with the adverse effects of climate change from extreme and slow onset of weather events in developing countries, least developed countries and small island states. These nations are particularly vulnerable to the adverse impacts of climate change. The paper further delineates a mechanism through which money from developed countries will flow to disaster-struck developing countries. It proposes to install a “Technical Facility” that will conduct long-term impact assessments; enable knowledge and data management; and develop new approaches and tools to build capacity to address loss and damage from the adverse effects of climate change. This initiative, says the G77 and China paper, should be called the International Mechanism for Loss and Damage (IMLD).
The mechanism will also include a “Financial Facility” that will comprehensively address loss and damage from adverse effects of climate change in the short-, medium- and long-term. The paper says that IMLD should be administered by COP and a trust fund created with money from the developed countries.

The US and other developed countries have not quite liked the idea of a loss and damage mechanism as they may have to compensate for a natural calamity in a developing country. But developing countries are hoping that IMLD could be one of the concrete deliverables of COP 19.

The issue of loss and damage first surfaced about three years ago. The demand from the developing countries is that monetary compensation goes beyond what cannot be tackled by finance for adaptation.

The G77 and China now want this paper to become the basis of negotiating text on loss and damage.


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