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Sources  say  that  the main  focus  of  the  small-group meeting was on how Parties viewed  the  issue of  the “anchoring  of  the  mitigation  pledges”  of  countries under  the AWGLCA  and  the AWGKP.  It was  not clear as to whether this was only about the “pledges” of  developed  countries  under  the  Copenhagen Accord or also  included the “pledges” of developing countries.

Several delegates have dubbed the newly formed as a “Green  Room”  meeting,  the  name  given  to  a controversial  practice  in  the WTO  in which  a  small exclusive  group  of  selected  countries  are  invited  by the Secretariat  to discuss and make decisions, which are  later given  to  the wider membership  to endorse.   Some  delegates,  especially  those  who  were  not invited  to  the meeting, and even some of  those who were, were  expressing unease  at  the  “Green Room” method being used in the UNFCCC due to its lack of full transparency.

Meanwhile,  in  a  separate  development,  two  papers were  issued  on  1  December  late  afternoon  on  the MRV  (measurement,  reporting  and  verification)  of developed  and  developing  countries  by  the  co-facilitators of  the 1  the drafting group on mitigation (under  the  AWGLCA).    They  contain  the  co-facilitators’ views on possible elements of parts of the outcome  (i.e.  the MRV  aspects)  on  paras  1b(i)  and 1b(ii)  of  the  Bali  Action  Plan  that  deal  with mitigation  of  developed  and  developing  countries respectively.

The  convening  of  the  mitigation  meeting  by  the Mexican  Presidency  that  includes  a  discussion  on issues common  to  the AWGLCA and AWGKOP  is a  sensitive  development  because  developing countries  have  for  a  long  time  been  resisting  the breaking  of  a  “firewall”  between  the  two  working groups. Their main concern  is  that  this would be an initial  step  to  “merge”  the  two  tracks  and  could eventually  lead  down  a  slippery  slope  to  the  demise of  the  Kyoto  Protocol  (which  has  legally  binding mitigation commitments for Annex I parties) and the wholesale transfer of the Annex I mitigation  issue to the  AWGLCA,  which  in  turn  could  lead  to  an inferior non-binding  system of  individual pledges by Annex I parties.

The decision to form the small group did not seem to arise  from  formal decisions of  the AWGLCA or  the AWGKP,  and  took many delegates by  surprise,  and several did not even know of its existence.

On  Wednesday  (1  December)  late  afternoon,  and after  the  first  meeting  had  been  held,  the Mexican Foreign Affairs Minister Patricia Espinosa  informed Parties during a session of the Conference of Parties that Mexican Ambassador, Luis Alfonso de Alba was holding  consultations on  issues  common  to  the Ad-hoc  Working  Group  on  Long-term  Cooperative Action (AWGLCA) and the Ad-hoc Working Group of the Kyoto Protocol (AWGKP).

It would  appear  that  discussion  on  the  issue  of  the numbers  for  developed  countries’  mitigation commitments  was  not  taking  place  either  in  the AWGLCA  (whose mitigation  drafting  group  is  now focusing  on  the  MRV  issue)  or  the  AWGKP  (in which the numbers for the commitments of Annex I parties has traditionally been its top issue).

Many  developing  country  delegates  were  expecting negotiations  on  the  ‘numbers’  under  (AWGKP)  to determine  the  developed  country  commitments  for emissions  reductions  in  the  second  commitment period  of  the  Protocol,  which  is  a  critical  outcome for Cancun. The  ‘numbers’  issue was  also  supposed to be a key issue to be discussed at the drafting group on  mitigation  under  the  AWGLCA,  which  is mandated  to discuss  the mitigation  commitments of developed countries, particularly the commitments of Parties of the Convention, which are not Party to the Kyoto Protocol (i.e. the United States).

The  attempt  to  “anchor”  the  pledges  made  by countries  under  the  Copenhagen  Accord,  in  an outcome  document  of  Cancun,  appears  to  some delegates to have emerged as a major or even the top priority of some developed countries.

According  to  several  delegates  and  observers,  this “anchoring”  exercise  is  problematic  for  several reasons.    First, many  countries  have  not  associated with  the  Copenhagen  Accord,  and  do  not  see  why the  pledges made  under  it  should  be  transferred  to the  Convention.    Second,  there  is  the  concern  that “inscribing”  the  pledges  of  Annex  I  parties  in  the AWGLCA  or  in  the  COP would  pave  the way  for the  demise  of  the  Kyoto  Protocol.      Third,  the “pledges”  by  developing  countries  that were  placed on  the  UNFCCC  website  are  mainly  taken  from letters  sent  to  the  Secretariat  and  are  in  different formats  and with different  conditions,  and were not “made”  in  a  formal way  nor were  they  expected  to end  up  in  a  formal  ‘schedule”  or  annex  of  the Convention.

Meanwhile,  according  to  some  delegates,  at  the meeting  of  the  drafting  group  on  mitigation  under the AWGLCA, some developing countries raised the issue of how the Mexican consultations on mitigation were  linked  to  the  work  of  the  drafting  group. Ambassador  de  Alba  is  said  to  have  attended  the meeting  of  the  drafting  group  on December  1  and informed  Parties  that  his  role  was  strictly complementary  and  not  intended  to  take  away  the role of the drafting group.

Meanwhile,  the  drafting  group  on mitigation  under the AWGLCA, which met  on November  30  and  1 December, had an exchange of views among Parties only  on  the  issue  measuring,  reporting  and verification  (MRV). Two non-papers were produced by  the  co-facilitators  from  New  Zealand  and Tanzania  on  ‘possible  elements  of  part  of  the outcome’  on  paragraphs  1(b)(i)  and  1  (b)(ii)  of  the Bali Action Plan.

According  to  some  delegates,  questions were  raised by  some developing  countries  as  to what was being MRVed  when  the  issue  of  the  mitigation commitments of developed  countries was not being negotiated  or  addressed,  and  what  was  the relationship  or  link  between  the  Facilitators’  papers and the negotiating text of August 13.

Some delegates  raised  the concern  that  the elements were  not  balanced  as  the  non-paper  for  developing countries  had  more  issues  than  that  for  the developed countries.

An  issue  in  the  paper  on  MRV  of  developed countries  is  the  enhanced  reporting  and  review  of fulfillment  of  commitments  to  ensure  rigorous, comparable  and  transparent  accounting  of  emission targets.  One option is for taking account of relevant Kyoto Protocol rules, and another option is applying these rules.


Another  issue  is  whether  to  enhance  the  current process  of  reviewing  developed  countries’  national communications  through  a  new  multilateral  forum under  the  Convention  or  through  a  compliance process.  The  review  would  cover  both  their mitigation  commitments  and  their  provision  of financial, technological and capacity building support to developing countries.

The  paper  on  MRV  of  developing  countries addresses  8  aspects  linked  to  possible  elements related  to  MRV  of  developing  countries’  NAMAs (nationally  appropriate mitigation  actions)  and MRV of support.

Among the proposed issues and options listed by the Facilitators  are different options  to  set  up  a  registry on mitigation  actions  and  provision  of  support  and enhanced  reporting  in developing countries’ national communications.

One  proposed  point  that  is  sensitive  is  that supported actions will be MRVed in accordance with the requirements of the entity providing support.

Another major point is that developing countries will submit  biennial  greenhouse  gas  inventories  and information  on mitigation  actions.   At present they only  submit  information  in  their  national communications, which developing countries submit once  in many years, and depending on availability of funds.

The  paper  also  has  an  option  for  the  creation  of  a multilateral  forum  under  the  Convention,  which would  consider  the  biennial  submission  of  the developing  countries.    It  would  seem  that  in  this proposal,  the  establishment  of  this  forum would  be an  implementation  of  a  process  of  an  international review of the developing countries’ mitigation actions (whether  these  actions  are  internationally  supported or  domestically  funded).    Under  this  option,  the paper  proposes  launching  a  process  to  develop modalities and guidelines for such a “consideration.”

It  is  apparent  that  this  proposed  point  is  an elaboration  of  the  “international  consultation  and analysis”  (ICA)  of  developing  countries’  mitigation actions,  whether  internationally  supported  or  not, which  is  a  part  of  the Copenhagen Accord. This  is confirmed  by  an  alternative  option  in  the  paper  for having no process  for  international consultation and analysis.

According  to  some  delegates,  concerns  were  raised during  the  meeting  that  the  MRV  process  for developing  countries  should  not  be  more  onerous than that for developing countries.

One senior developing country delegate said that the non-papers were  leading  to more confusion and was creating a loss of focus in the negotiations as there is already  a  negotiating  text  (known  commonly  as  the 13 August  text  put  together  by  the  Parties)  but  the Parties  are  currently  not  negotiating  on  the  text. Instead,  there  is  now  a  Facilitators’ paper.  And discussions  are  jumping  from  one  issue  to  another such  as  that  of  MRV,  the  registry  for  mitigation actions of developing counties and so on.

02 December 2010
Published by Third World Network

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Written by Meena Raman   
Tuesday, 07 December 2010 10:47


Ambassador  Alfonso  Luis  de  Alba  of  Mexico convened  the  first  meeting  of  this  small  group  at noon  on  1 December. According  to  diplomats,  the meeting  was  attended  by  about  30  Parties  that  had been  invited.    It  is  unclear  which  delegations  were invited  and  how  they  were  selected.  The Chairs of the two working groups, Ambassador John Ashe of Antigua and Barbuda and Ms. Margaret Mukahanana Sangarwe of Zimbabwe were present.

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