CoP 16 Document Released!

Success and failure in Cancun! With the end of the CoP 16 working-group negotiations, a draft document was released, and to be discussed and endorsed by the plenary. The mixture of agreement and disagreement becomes evident from the first sentences of the document: “Seeking to secure progress in a balanced manner, in the understanding that, through this decision, not all aspects of the work of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action under the Convention are concluded…”. [N.B. Please note that this is a draft document and has not been agreed upon! Yet, it is close to the final version to be accepted by the CoP]

Yet, there are several highlights in the document, which stand out. The issue of adaptation has been recognized to be just as important as mitigation, requiring the appropriate institutional arrangements to enhance adaptation action and support. In this respect, the Cancun Adaptation Framework is established, with the objective of enhancing action on adaptation. The main institution to take care of this being the Adaptation Committee, which would provide technical support, information, and promote synergy, remains to be created, with a clear step-by-step process laid out.

Furthermore, a Green Climate Fund will be established to manage funding for developing countries. Its immediate establishment, and the high-level of agreement between the parties, can be found in the detailed institutional set-up described in the document. Also, the World Bank is invited to act as an interim trustee (or administrator of assets) for the first three years, pending review – a much expected outcome, nevertheless disliked by some civil society organizations.

Which way will they go?

Also, a registry will be set up to record national mitigation efforts. This will effectively standardize the recording, modelling and reporting of the parties to the convention. The introduction of these standards to the Convention was a much-needed step towards a balanced record-keeping.

The final decision is on transfer of technology, which was much expected. It also entails the creation of a Technology Executive Committee and Climate Technology Center and Network – two bodies which will administer the Technology Mechanism under the CoP.

As a separate part, the countries participating in the Kyoto Protocol have come out with a document mired in disagreement. No second commitment period has been agreed upon, but the hope remains that it could be, since it is mentioned several times. The statement that the CoP “agrees that further work is needed to convert emission reduction targets to quantified economy wide limitation or reduction commitments” portrays the lack of change to the status quo.

It was expected that, under the UN’s proposal, the base-year for measuring greenhouse-gas emissions would be changed from 1990 to 2005. Yet, this has not taken place. The document specifies that, in the event of a second commitment period, the base-year will remain the same. This is of no significant impact, since the existence of a Kyoto II remains a nearly-impossible possibility.

On the whole, the working document produced by the CoP 16 in Cancun is comprehensive and balanced, without major surprises. The issues agreed upon coincide with the UN Secretary-General’s expectations, as stated on Dec 7th in his opening speech to the high-level part of the conference. Now this text is up for negotiation in the plenary.

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