29 November, 2011

COP17 looking at an agreement by 2015?

Sergio Abranches, from Durban

Negotiators from G77+China and the BASIC countries (Brazil, South Africa, India and China) have admitted that the financial crisis will affect the pace and scope of decisions here in Cancun.

This admission might imply some margin for a decision that postpones enforcement to a future date. It might thus create some ground for a compromise around what the European Union has proposed: an agreement for 2015.

On the first press conference of the European Union, the idea put forward was of an agreement to be ready to be signed by 2015, and to be enforced by 2020. Such a wide time frame would be unacceptable to many key players from the developing world. On the second press conference, European negotiators rephrased the proposal: the agreement should be ready by 2015, and enforced no later than 2020. Still too far away from the urgencies felt by many players. Today, on the meeting of the group discussing the new climate change agreement (AWG-LCA), the representative from Poland, Tomasz Chruszczow, presented a new version on his statement on behalf of the European Union: the agreement should be ready by 2015 and to be enforced as soon as possible.

It is likely that 2015 is the most realistic time frame for a new agreement to have a fair chance of moving forward. The economic conditions may have improved by then, and many countries may be ripe to enter into a legally binding agreement.

The idea of establishing 2015 as the deadline to close a post-Kyoto Protocol agreement could be the clue to solve the deadlock that has paralyzed the working group called LCA. This group was established in Bali, in 2007, as a temporary subsidiary body under the Climate Convention to negotiate an encompassing agreement that legally binds all major emitters, on the basis of common but differentiated obligations. It is supposed to conclude its work in Durban. Its mandate has already been extended because it has failed to reach an accord in Copenhagen and in Cancun.

One may argue that if the group has not met previous deadlines, why should one to expect it to successfully meet the 2015 one? A tentative answer would be twofold: first, the enforcement of a substantive package containing long-term finance and technology, and several other substantive elements, that could be closed in Durban, could work as an incentive for further progress towards a new agreement. Second, recalcitrant countries may be riper to change their position at some time before 2015, thus contributing to close the deal by that time.

Tags: , , ,