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Shared Vision group discusses "jigsaw puzzle" and clashes over work in other fora PDF Print
Written by Third World Network   
Monday, 17 August 2009 11:53

At the meeting on 12 August of the informal group on 'shared vision' under the Ad-hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action (AWG-LCA) to further work under the Bali Action Plan, the G77 and China gave a long elaboration of its views on shared vision. It called for a holistic approach and used the analogy of a jigsaw puzzle and the need for all the pieces to be created and to be put in their proper place for the whole picture to be completed.

An important exchange took place about the relation between the UNFCCC talks and the process in other fora. The United States, the European Union and Australia drew reference to 'agreements' reached in fora outside the UNFCCC such as in the Major Economies Forum (MEF) to advance the concept of the shared vision under the AWG-LCA process.

The United States, represented by Jonathan Pershing, referred to the MEF and said that there was agreement to recognise the scientific view that the increase in global temperature above pre-industrial levels ought not to exceed 2 degrees C.

The US and other developed countries said that they were encouraged by these processes in deliberating what the shared vision of Parties must be under the Bali Action Plan..

India, represented by its special climate envoy, Shyam Saran, took issue with these statements and said that its participation in these other processes was with a clear understanding that these fora were not where negotiations on climate change are taking place. It said that negotiations on climate change are under the UNFCCC. It was not correct to use the formulations or text which are agreed in other fora to influence negotiations under the UNFCCC, said India.

India said that the MEF Declaration which recognised the scientific view that the increase in global average temperature above pre-industrial levels ought not exceed 2 degree C were premised on acceptance of the fact that peaking will be longer in developing countries, bearing in mind that social and economic development and poverty eradication are the first and overriding priorities of the developing country Parties. There should not be selective quoting of what was stated, said India.

It added that it has consistently taken the position that any long-term stabilization goal must be achieved on the basis of an equitable sharing of the atmospheric resource, since denial of their equitable share would prevent developing countries from reaching their development potential. This point is accommodated in the MEF Declaration, which recognises that economic and social development and poverty eradication are not only the first but also overriding prorities of the developing countries. Developing countries cannot be expected to sacrifice these priorities, it said.

It may also be noted, said India, that while it recognised a scientific “view”, it was not endorsing a scientific finding because this does not exist at this point in time.

The informal group on shared vision was facilitated by the Chair of the AWG-LCA, Michael Zammit Cutajar of Malta.

The G77 and China also gave a comprehensive statement on how it viewed the shared vision.

Ambassador Lumumba Di-Aping of Sudan, speaking for G77 and China said that the shared vision encompasses all the four building blocks of finance, technology, adaptation and mitigation into a coherent whole. “It should express our shared and collective goal of taking enhanced actions on all relevant fronts to address climate change. However looking at the 200-page revised text, there is no consensus yet.” Though there is aspiration of a shared vision, there is no agreement on it.

The G77 and China would like a holistic and comprehensive view and an ambitious set of goals within the framework of our shared principles enshrined in the Convention.

Like all visions, our shared vision in the AWG-LCA must have all the important pieces as in a jig-saw puzzle, and all these pieces have to be placed in exactly the right places, so that the parts become part of a whole, and the whole is more than the sum of its parts.

Lumumba pointed to the G77-China text on shared vision in the 200-page text. The group’s text states that the shared vision integrates the 4 building blocks in a comprehensive and balanced manner to enhance the full, effective and sustained implementation of the Convention, to achieve sustainable development, enhance actions and integrating the means of implementation needed to support action on adaptation and mitigation, to achieve the ultimate objective of the Convention.

The G77 and China proposal reminds us that the ultimate objective includes “to enable economic development to proceed in a sustainable manner.” Lumumba said that rapid economic growth for developing countries is a pillar of the global deal.

The shared vision must be pursued in accordance with the principles and provisions of the Convention, including equity and common and differentiated responsibilities. It must take full account of the economic and social impacts of any global goal for emissions reductions on developing countries. It must recognize the right to development. It must address all implementation gaps especially on finance and technology commitments. Lumumba stressed that “it is impossible to envisage a deal where rapid economic development is not at its heart.”

The G77 and China proposal envisions that a long-term goal must successfully integrate the means of implementation (technology, finance and capacity building) to enable and support mitigation and adaptation actions in developing countries. The group’s text reminds us of the key article 4.7, that the extent to which developing countries can take action depends on the extent to which developed countries meet their finance and technology commitments.

This, said Lumumba, is an “article of faith.” It is critical that this is taken into any assumption of finding convergence or reaching agreement.

He added that the G77/China proposal also wants a shared vision that demonstrates that developed countries are taking the lead in modifying long term trends in anthropogenic emissions. In other words, the developed countries have to prove that their recent actions and their future targets and actions must be in line with the deep emission cuts that the most recent science says is needed.

“We envision that if we are to strive towards a global goals for long term emission reduction, all the pieces of the jigsaw have to be created and put in their proper place,” said Lumumba. “The long-term goal would also be a piece of the jigsaw, also put in its proper place.

“The long-term goal cannot be the whole of the jigsaw, nor can it be a distorted piece either in size or shape or content, for then it would cause a distortion of the whole jigsaw. An over concentration of the discussion on this global goal without placing it in its proper context and its proper place would be missing out and neglecting all the other essential pieces of the picture.”

This places an “unimaginable burden” on the shoulder of the Chair, said Lumumba, as attaining the balance is not an easy task.

He said that the G77 and China had criteria on what should be in the shared vision text, and that some of the proposed texts do not fall under the criteria. These criteria include that the shared vision must be about implementing the finance and technology that enables developing countries to act; including that the vision must be in accordance with the principles and provisions of the Convention; and that the vision fully respects and articulates the equity and common and differentiated responsibilities principles that infuses the whole Convention.

“We suggest that any proposed texts that are not in line with these criteria should be removed,” said Lumumba. For example, any language that implies that developing countries have to undertake more than their present obligations under the Convention does not have merit, even if this is used to pressurise developing countries to agree.

He said that on the other hand, there is language in several paragraphs that the Group could consider to include. He cited language in the text that current atmospheric concentrations are principally the result of historical emissions of greenhouse gases, the largest share of which has originated in developed countries and that developing countries face serious adverse effects of climate change as well as threats to their future economic potential due to insufficient access to shared global atmospheric resources.

The concept of historical responsibility, and its use in helping us to reach a fair and just balance in our agreed actions and measures, should be part of a shared vision, which the Group can consider working further on, and would welcome further elaboration along these lines.

The G77 and China said that according to science the world has only some years ahead to curb global emissions so as to limit the concentration of greenhouse gases. However before we translate the scientific facts into a policy statement to which we can all commit, the many pieces of the jigsaw picture have to be in place. There is need to balance the need for global emission reduction and rapid economic development in developing countries.

For example, the principles of equity, CDR and historical responsibility have to be a very central part of the answer to many pressing questions. Lumumba posed the following questions. If there is a global goal for emission cuts, we need to know how much the developed countries are going to do first, and whether developing countries are being asked, directly or indirectly, to do something.

What is that something they are asked to do in concrete terms as a residual after the developed countries state what they are prepared to do? Is the sharing of responsibilities fair or unfair? What should we do about it, and how do we go about this? These are the hard questions, and if they are answered, they would be the important pieces on which to proceed.

He mentioned another set of questions which has to be resolved though equity. What are the financial resources and technology transfers that are required in adequate amounts and in correct qualities or conditions, if the developing countries are to be enabled and supported to enhance their adaptation and mitigation actions sufficient to meet the climate challenge? This ssue, he said has to be pinned down.

Other questions are whether these means of implementation are forthcoming. What are the structures and mechanisms we need to put in place to ensure that the adequate funds and technologies are flowing, and that they lad to the actions we all want to see?

As the Convention’s article 4.7 and as the Bali Action Plan confirms, the actions of developing countries depends on the finance and technology commitments of developed countries being met. Again, these are hard questions that need answering upfront. “WE have a very short time (before Copenhagen). Finding the answers to these questions is the only way to articulate a real and implementable shared vision.”

Gambia speaking for the Africa Group supported the statement of G77 and China and said that an economic transition is needed to a low emission economy promoting sustainable lifestyles and climate-resilient development while ensuring a just transition of the workforce. Developed countries must show their leadership in this regard. There was need for political determination for an inclusive, fair and effective climate regime.

Antigua and Barbuda speaking for AOSIS said that the shared vision will tell Parties what their collective efforts will be. The long-term global goal is an important and central element for all Parties to take action. The shared vision should be a political vision.

Maldives for the LDCs said that ambitious action is required to stabilise GHG concentrations in the atmosphere to a safe level. This requires deep emission reductions by developed countries and nationally appropriate mitigation actions by developing countries. The provision of financial resources and technology transfer is also important. The shared vision should be aspirational. Temperature increase should be limited to well-below 1.5 degrees C and CO2 levels should be well-below 350 ppm.

Algeria said that there was a need to ensure coherence between the elements in the shared vision. Coherence between any global goal and other goals is important as whatever is stated in mitigation requires funding to support actions by developing countries. Developed country Parties should not lose sight of their historical responsibility including for funding adaptation needs.

Micronesia said that the shared vision must be aspirational. It took issue with the numbers expressed in the shared vision part of the negotiating text and said that there was a need to look at the numbers carefully as this can prejudice other decisions.

The United States, represented by delegation head Jonathan Pershing, said that the shared vision should be concise and inspirational be contained in a chapeau of the text. It should reflect the science and the appropriate temperature goal. The Major Economies Forum has agreed to recognise the scientific view that the increase in global temperature above pre-industrial levels ought not to exceed 2 degrees C. There should also be the notion of peaking years. Poverty eradication is the first and overriding priority of developing countries and that low carbon development is indispensable. On the long-term goal, global emissions should be cut by 50% by 2050 and developed countries should reduce their emissions by 80% by 2050.

Australia echoed the views of the US and said that there was progress in high-level fora and meetings such as the G8, the MEF etc where texts from these fora could be useful to look into in the context of the shared vision.

The European Union said that the shared vision is an important part of the work of Parties as it provides the narrative that links the building blocks of the BAP. The long-term global goal is a crucial element and all Parties must collectively contribute to fight climate change. It noted developments in other fora (outside the UNFCCC) which are encouraging with agreement on the mid-century global goal and the limit of temperature to 2 degree C (in an apparent reference to the MEF process. There is need to also reflect the peaking as well as low-carbon economies and trajectories.

Japan also echoed the US and said that the long-term global goal involved all Parties. Global GHG emissions must be reduced by 50% by 2050 and by 80% by developed countries. There was need for global peaking and for low-carbon development strategies. The shared vision should also have a mid-term target.

India, represented by its special climate envoy, Shyam Saran, then made a statement that the climate negotiations are only taking place at the UNFCCC and it was not correct to use the formulations or text which are agreed in other fora to influence negotiations under the UNFCCC. It also criticised the “selective quoting” from statements from other fora. (See details at start of article).

At the conclusion of the meeting, Cutajar informed the Parties that the next meeting on shared vision will be held on Friday.


Source: TWN Bonn News Update No.6
13 August 2009
Published by Third World Network

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