Canada’s lead negotiator, Mr. Guy Saint-Jacques, gives Adopt a Negotiator an update on negotiations and the future of Kyoto from…
Canada’s lead negotiator, Mr. Guy Saint-Jacques, gives Adopt a Negotiator an update on negotiations and the future of Kyoto from the latest UN Climate Conference in Bonn. I would like to express my thanks to Mr. Saint-Jacques for giving us this update. As always, dear readers, the comment thread is yours: how do you see a strong climate future for Canada?
AAN: What is your general sense of the meeting in Bonn and how does the Canadian Delegation view the meeting process?
The negotiations in Bonn have been generally productive. We have a team of very dedicated negotiators, who have been working hard to move the Cancun Agreements forward and we have some outcomes from this session that we can take forward to Durban in South Africa later this year. However, a lot of work remains before Durban.
Our goal is still to achieve a comprehensive, legally-binding post-2012 agreement that is fair and effective and, while discussions have certainly been challenging, these negotiations have been taking us in that direction.
AAN: What is your anticipated outcome for COP17 in Durban, especially regarding the legal form of a second commitment period? Is Bonn generating progress towards a legally binding outcome?
Canada continues to be actively engaged in the international negotiations aimed at developing a new, fair and effective international post-2012 climate change regime.
We have joined our international partners in adopting the Cancun Agreements. These are a set of significant decisions that together represent a concrete step forward in establishing the type of global climate change regime necessary to achieve real environmental results. The Cancun Agreements acknowledge the global reality that all major emitters need to take action if we are to succeed in effectively addressing climate change.
Negotiations to advance the Cancun Agreements will continue at COP17 in Durban, South Africa this November, possibly preceded by another intersessional session in early fall. In the lead-up to this meeting, Canada will continue to participate and engage proactively in all preparatory meetings and discussions. This will certainly position us to help advance the progress that has already been made.
With respect to a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol,there are some Parties that have said they are willing to consider taking targets, but only in the context of meaningful and comparable commitments by all major economies.
In Canada’s view, however, a second commitment period alone will not achieve the global goal that we have set ourselves in the Cancun Agreements and is not sufficient to truly reduce global emissions.
As we have been saying, Canada is looking for a single, new comprehensive climate regime that addresses both mitigation and adaptation and that includes commitments by all major emitters. That is why Canada is not taking a target under a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol. Ourpost-2012 target has been taken as part of the Cancun Agreements.
AAN: What is Canada’s stance regarding the legal nature of a second commitment period? According to the Fossil of the Day Awards, the Delegation has indicated publicly that a legal framework is not a shared goal by the Delegation.
As we work towards the development of a new international climatechange agreement beyond 2012, we need to take advantage of the experience gained through the implementation of the Kyoto Protocol to strengthen our efforts in meeting the objectives of the UNFCCC and enhance the environmental effectiveness of the existing global climate change regime. We believe the Cancun Agreements form a solid basis for an effective, rules-based global post-2012 regime that will include all major emitters.
AAN: Can you offer clarity on why Canada excluded the tar sands from the National Inventory Report, and consequences this has on our reporting at the UNFCCC?
Our UN reporting is very detailed and in full compliance withUNFCCC requirements, and as always, it includes all emissions from oil sands.
Oil sands emissions are included in several categories of activities, including fossil fuel production and refining, mining and oil and gas extraction, and fugitive sources. Our UNFCCC report does not calculate a total for emissions from the oil sands sector. We did calculate a total an as additional information item only once on a pilot basis in 2010, but discontinued it due to issues regarding the data methodology.
Separate from the UNFCCC report, Environment Canada now has a preliminary estimate that the oil sands sector made up about 6.5 percent oftotal emissions in 2009. We will be publishing more data on the oil sands in the fall.
Canada’s lead negotiator, Mr. Guy Saint-Jacques, gives Adopt a Negotiator an update on negotiations and the future of Kyoto from…Read post →
In the early hours of Saturday morning, countries reached a near-unanimous decision on a negotiating text at the UN conference on climate change in Cancun. These decisions, now known as the Cancun Agreements, offer some practical developments on issues relating to finance, adaptation, and accountability.
To be sure, the 147 paragraphs in the Cancun Agreements do not offer any groundbreaking direction on climate leadership. But instead, the modest gains achieved offer a lifeline for the multilateral climate process.
The Cancun Agreements
A Green Climate Fund was established to ensure that climate financing for mitigation and adaptation in developing countries is “accountable to and functions under the guidance of the Conference of the Parties” (paragraph 16). The World Bank will be the interim trustee of this bank but subject to review three years after the Fund is established.
An Adaptation Framework was developed that takes into account “country-driven, gender-sensitive, participatory and fully transparent approach, taking into consideration vulnerable groups, communities and ecosystems” (paragraph 12). On February 21st 2011, countries will submit proposals to the UNFCCC Secretariat on how to enhance work for adaptation; this includes an option to develop a climate risk insurance facility.
Progress was also made on efforts to measure, report, and verify (MRV) efforts on climate change from both developed and developing countries. An MRV decision helps to hold countries accountable to claims they make on domestic climate change efforts, which can be otherwise unsubstantiated.
One area that remains sorely stagnant at the UNFCCC is that of mitigation. While many industrialized countries are eager to extend mitigation efforts under the Copenhagen Accord (praised by major emitting countries for its voluntary nature), there has been no enhanced gesture towards deepening mitigation targets. A report by UNEP calculates that even if countries fully reach voluntary targets set in the Copenhagen Accord, there is still a sobering gap of 5 gigatonnes of CO2 equivalent between the pledged targets and the CO2 reduction needed to stay below 2 degrees warming.
By next year, countries need to restate a willingness to set emissions reductions targets. This must be anchored in a treaty that is legally binding and based according to a country’s economic capacity and their historical responsibility in creating the climate problem.
A lifeline for multilateralism
Coming into Cancun, many observers and negotiators feared that multilateral efforts can not effectively deal with the climate problem. However, the Cancun Agreements bolstered a much-needed sense of multilateral efficacy. One of the many hopeful comments made during the midnight hour plenary was captured by the Zambian negotiator who said to meeting chair Minister Espinosa, “thank you for lifting our spirits from the depression of Copenhagen; you have restored our trust in multilateralism.”
Amidst the applause and ovation in the Friday meeting, the Bolivian Delegation was quick to point out the insufficient gains made at the UNFCCC. Bolivia’s ambassador described the Cancun Agreements as “a hollow and false victory.”
But the general sentiment from most delegates, including those from small island states and least developed countries, is that multilateralism lives to see another day.
The UNFCCC will continue to be the primary home for climate decisions, much to the dismay of those countries pushing for World Bank or G20 venues. The task now is to accelerate the political will of major industrialized countries so that a global treaty can be reached next year. The race to the future is on.
In the early hours of Saturday morning, countries reached a near-unanimous decision on a negotiating text at the UN conference…Read post →
5:47 – Moment of support for the bus load of twenty youth members who got debadged and kicked off Moon Palace premise. Anna Collins has the story.
5:45 – Globe and Mail article
In a Friday morning news conference, Mr. Baird acknowledged that some countries are “clinging” to Kyoto. He said Canada is not “putting a hard line in the sand.”
5:15 pm – The new KP text has some examples of creative compromise that may be the negotiator lifeline (access the doc here). For instance under baseline years, the new document gives the option for countries to either (i) use the 1990 baseline year for mitigation or (ii) use targets as a percentage of some other baseline year. But there is also strong language on science based targets, referring to the Intergovernmental Panel Assessment Report scenario of reducing emissions by 25 to 40%. There is no specification on the future of the Kyoto Protocol apart from extending the mandate of work. The current mitigation pledges also need to be anchored under the COP instead of the SBI; the SBI, my colleague endearingly said yesterday, is where “good progress goes to die.”
4:59 pm: LCA and KP draft text both available.
No sense of what Canada thinks yet, but hoping to speak with our negotiators. Language in the KP text seems positive because it recognizes the need to reduce emissions by 25-40%.
While walking to the Moon Palace I caught another youth action counting the deaths caused by climate change per year.
3:40 pm: Action alert – this was compiled by some Canadians in Cancun.
Action Alert: Tell Canada and Japan to Lead, Follow, or Get Out of the Way!
BREAKING: Canada was poised to be a major obstacle to negotiations by standing against the Kyoto Protocol process–but your pressure is paying off! The Canadian delegation appears to be holding its fire on Kyoto for the time being. There is a real sense that if we can move Japan off its obstructive position on the Kyoto Protocol that Canada will follow suit. We’re asking you to do two things: call the Prime Minister’s Office and call the Japanese Embassy in Ottawa.
Call NOW to tell the Japanese Embassy to get out of the way:
Japanese Embassy: 613-241-8541
General email: email@example.com
Post your message to the Japanese government: https://www.kantei.go.jp/foreign/forms/comment_ssl.html
Call NOW to tell Canada to stop supporting Japan’s obstruction!
Prime Minister’s Office: (613) 992-4211
Toll Free (ask to be put through to the Prime Minister’s Office): 1 (866) 599-4999
While current commitments under Kyoto are nowhere near an adequate response to climate change, it is currently the only legal framework we have for a global deal. If developed nations like Canada and Japan block the Kyoto Protocol process, developing nations may walk away from the negotiations. If Kyoto continues, there is no reason that developing nations and the USA cannot also take on commitments. But without Kyoto, the entire negotiating process may be derailed: we’ll lose over ten years of hard work and will have no framework to create a legally binding deal. We’re fast approaching the time that science says we need to peak our emissions—we simply don’t have time to start from scratch.
10:30 am: Intelligence from our meeting with lead negotiator Mr. Saint-Jacques
- Negotiators were up all night (5 in the morning) on issue areas like finance.
- According to our lead negotiators, it is possible to see the outline of a deal that might be balanced (Even by tracker decoding devide can’t make sense of this right now..)
- Ministers will be making final critical decisions.
- Oustanding contentious issues remain on mitigation and MRV. China is a key player on this and they have made some important movement.
- Developing countries still worried about the burden MRV can impose and impact on national sovereignty
10 am: Meeting with Canada’s lead negotiator. Powerful speech by youth delegate from Alberta, followed by a walk-out by all youth in attendance. The last portion of audio click can be found here (you’ll have to strain to hear the speaker, but it’s worth it). The statement was followed by a walk out of most youth in attendance: a very powerful moment.
8 am: On route to Moon Palace, youth hold action to ensure the 1.5 Degrees Celsius text remains in the LCA track. Here is a video of their action as the delegates walked by.
While high-level ministers make their plenary speeches throughout the day, some serious informal meetings are going on in the adjacent building. Bolivian President Evo Morales launched the start of high-level statements on a very strong note. In this video, Canadian’s respond to Environment Minister Baird’s high level opening statement.
While high-level ministers make their plenary speeches throughout the day, some serious informal meetings are going on in the adjacent…Read post →
By Thea Whitman, from the Canadian Youth Delegation
Everyone says it: expectations are lower here in Cancún than they were last year in Copenhagen. We aren’t looking for a legally-binding treaty – we’re looking for building blocks, or stepping stones on the way to one, maybe next year in South Africa, maybe later. The collective trauma that was Copenhagen took its toll – on activists, on negotiators, on the whole process. The CYD has 4 returning members this year, as compared to the usual 15 or so. Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of the UNFCCC resigned, Michael Martin, Canada’s old lead negotiator switched positions, and Jim Prentice, Canda’s previous environment minister moved on before talks began here in Cancún. Not that each of these can be linked directly to Copenhagen’s disappointments, but they are a symbol of the shift we’ve seen.
Unfortunately, it’s hard to say that the new blood has breathed much life into the negotiations. A week and a half of negotiations have gone by, and it’s hard to point to where the most progress has been made, partly because it seems like there is very little that has been done at all. It’s not like serious regressions are being made – days have passed where no Fossil of the Day awards have been given out – it’s just that negotiations are very, very slow. The fact that almost every single meeting this week has been closed to civil society doesn’t help. Tired from being on a bus for as many as two hours every day instead of engaging with the negotiations, frustrated by the cuts to many delegation’s numbers, leaving us lopsided in our approach to the negotiations, and uninspired by a general lack of leadership at these negotiations, it’s been a tough conference for those pushing for strong climate action.
What makes this all so hard to accept, though, is that climate change is a more important issue than ever. It’s so hard for me to understand how, when the deadline for a new agreement had been set for 2009, under the Bali Action Plan, we’ve now pushed it to or beyond 2011. The Kyoto Protocol’s first commitment period expires in 2012. Now, there’s no way a new agreement could be in place in time to make up this gap. The voluntary pledges for emission reductions under the non-legally binding Copenhagen Accord fall woefully short of what is needed to keep global warming below 2°C, which is the stated goal of the Accord (and would still result in grievous impacts). It makes me feel sick to think that, in 2013, 16 years after the UNFCCC was ratified, there might be no international agreement in place to limit greenhouse gas emissions, when the IPCC suggests that global emissions should be peaking – peaking! – by 2015 in order to have a chance to keep global warming below 2°C.
Cancún should not be a stepping stone! This year’s conference in Cancún should be doing what Copenhagen was supposed to do last year: establish a fair, ambitious, and legally binding agreement. Short-sighted politics, disconnected from climate science, disconnected from those whose lives will be affected by climate change (read: all of us), and disconnected from principles of justice or equity, are driving these negotiations, and driving those who are happy to call Cancún a stepping stone. Let’s just say that those who are willing to step on Cancún likely won’t hesitate to step on a lot more.
About the authorJoanna Dafoe
Joanna is an advocate for climate leadership on both the UN and community level. She attended the Montreal, Bali, and Copenhagen climate meetings with the Canadian Youth Delegation. Outside the UNFCCC, Joanna has been active in the UN Commission on Sustainable Development where she attended the 16th and 17th sessions as a youth representative. Currently living in Sweden on exchange, she calls Edmonton and Toronto her home.