It is increasingly clear that the only way to avoid a climatic catastrophe is to move quickly to negotiate an ambitious global agreement that can bring the rise in global emissions to a halt and start reducing them sometime in the next decade. This will be impossible without substantial advances in the commitments by industrialised countries and other contributions of many developing countries to this effort.
From the Inuit in the Arctic to the Indigenous Peoples of the Pacific, and from the Kuna in Panama to the Somali in North East Kenya, Indigenous Peoples all over the world are already dramatically impacted by climate change. In addition, Indigenous Peoples are amongst the economically most marginalised in the world. Moreover, most Indigenous Peoples are very dependent upon their natural environment, thus the contraction of forests, coastlines and polar ecosystems destroy the very basis of their livelihoods.
Coming…coming…well not really. A side event hosted by the International Atomic Energy Agency can always be anticipated at every climate COP negotiations. This year was no different and neither were the two gentlemen telling their same tired old story about the wonders of nuclear power.
With the huge increase in media coverage of the climate issue over the past year, “climate” is suddenly a hot topic for cartoonists, especially political cartoonists. Over the next 10 days, ECO solicits entries from delegates, observers, and all ECO readers worldwide. We will print a selection of the best entries throughout the rest of the COP, and at the end of next week, a (sort of) impartial panel of judges consisting of ENGOs, BINGOs and RINGOs will choose our lucky winner!
The cheers echoed loudly throughout the halls of Nairobi’s 680 Hotel, witnessing the birth of an exceptional new network in the global fight against the climate crisis – the African Youth Initiative on Climate Change (AYICC). This past weekend, over 100 youth from across Africa and from around the world united at the Second International Conference of Youth to articulate a uniquely African perspective on solutions and responses to climate change and sustainable development.
The sun and drought downunder may have led to some sunstroke inspired confusion. Firstly, Prime Minister Howard, and Environment Minister Campbell are claiming that they intend to meet Australia’s Kyoto Protocol targets. Yet they state that ratifying the Kyoto Protocol would seriously damage Australia’s economy. How are these two things possible at the same time?
The response to the November 4th Day of Action on Climate Change last Saturday was fantastic. Synchronised throughout the world, tens of thousands of members of the public took to the streets to symbolise global solidarity on climate change.
Climate Action Network (CAN) sees this meeting in Nairobi as a crucial opportunity to ensure a process capable of producing a global agreement able to meet the challenge of preventing dangerous climate change and building on the tracks mapped out in Montreal.
COP12 is already notable for being the first climate COP in sub-Saharan Africa, a region suffering from the adverse impacts of climate change. Parts of our host country have been adversely affected by a prolonged drought punctuated with flooding. Negotiators here in Nairobi do not have to look far to see the urgency of preventing a climate catastrophe.
The most recent scientific evidence by Hansen in 2006 indicates that any warming over 1.8oC above pre-industrial levels constitutes dangerous climate change because of the irreversible impacts triggered above that temperature. Other recent papers demonstrate the melting of the Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets at a rate even faster than predicted by models. There is also evidence that the Arctic permafrost is beginning to melt, triggering massive emissions of methane. Clearly, the time to act has come.
What is needed is a comprehensive package for global emissions reductions in the immediate post-2012 period. During COP11 and COP/MOP1 in Montreal, Parties identified a number of tracks aimed at moving towards a post-2012 agreement, including Article 3.9 (see next page), Article 9 and the Dialogue. The process as it now stands however is fragmented and is unlikely to produce a comprehensive agreement that will come anywhere near producing the scale of reductions required.
The most obvious framework for bringing together the negotiating tracks is Article 9 of the Kyoto Protocol, which calls for a comprehensive review of the Protocol and Convention starting this year.
In ECO’s opinion the best path forward in Nairobi is to ensure that the Article 3.9 and Article 9 tracks in particular:
Build upon the existing Protocol architecture of absolute emissions reductions for developed countries and flexible mechanisms;
Be comparable in status;
Be closely linked to avoid duplication of work and ensure a coherent and fair agreement on future action;
Be orientated around the amendments needed to the Protocol for the second commitment period; and
Converge, at some point, to create a single coherent post-2012 instrument.
A positive outcome from the Dialogue may help achieve positive progress on the Article 3.9 and Article 9 discussions. Ultimately the work of the three tracks must facilitate the negotiation of a single coherent agreement that delivers the necessary emissions reductions and adequately addresses the impacts already occurring.
The process just described will require a plan of work far beyond that which can be accomplished within regular negotiating sessions. As a reminder, it took eight meetings over the course of more than two years to prepare for the Kyoto agreement. Hence ECO strongly believes that an intersessional programme is required to achieve real progress.
Moving Forward on Article 3.9
Discussions in the open-ended Ad Hoc Working Group (AWG) on Article 3.9 are important for showing good faith on the part of developed countries as Parties prepare for a mandate decision at COP/MOP3. Current emissions trajectories are not conducive to building the trust needed between Parties for progress to be made. Annex 1 countries need to continue to show leadership and bring to the table ideas on future action and evidence of progress in reducing emissions. Specifically, the AWG should reach a common understanding of the required emissions pathways for industrialised countries, in keeping with a global objective of staying well below 2oC of average global warming. Clear progress in the AWG is needed in order to move the post-2012 discussions forward. In 2007, Annex 1 countries should come prepared with new proposals for targets in line with scientific work indicating the need for emissions reductions from industrialized countries of at least 30 per cent by 2020, bearing in mind the need for global emissions to peak in the middle of the next decade and decline rapidly thereafter.
The Convention has seen some outstanding Presidents and some ordinary ones. Canada’s Rona Ambrose was neither. She might have the best hair of any COP President, but she will be remembered as the worst COP President in the history of the climate convention.
Delegates cannot have failed to notice a chunky 700-page report addressing the economic implications of climate change which came out last week. The report, led by Sir Nicholas Stern, clearly demonstrates that governments can afford to act – and must do so urgently – to avoid disastrous economic costs in the future. An investment of just 1 per cent in the global economy will avoid costs of 10 per cent, Stern says to show that measures to tackle climate change will have economic benefits.