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why is legally binding Kyoto Protocol (KP) being junked by developed countries?

Written By Krishna on Saturday, December 10, 2011 | 10:33 PM

No outcome on mitigation, adaptation, finance, technology development and transfer and capacity building at Durban because developed countries allergic to principles of equity and common but differentiated responsibility and respective capability (CBDR).

Following is the text of Jayanthi Natarajan, Minister for Environment & Forests at Indaba Session:December 10, 2011 in Durban

Thank you Madam Chair. I do not know how to start. I have heard people across the room carefully. I am from India and I represent 1.2 billion people. My country has a tiny per capita carbon footprint of 1.7 ton and our per capita GDP is even lower.

I was astonished and disturbed by the comments of my colleague from Canada who was pointing at us as to why we are against the roadmap. I am disturbed to find that a legally binding protocol to the Convention, negotiated just 14 years ago is now being junked in a cavalier manner. Countries which had signed and ratified it are walking away without even a polite goodbye. And yet, pointing at others.

I was also deeply moved listening to the comments of my colleagues and friends from the small island states. Our positions may be different, but their sentiments resonate with me very strongly. India has 600 islands which may be submerged, we have deltaic region in which millions of people live. We are absolutely at the forefront of the vulnerability of Climate Change. When I talk here, I have in front of my eyes, the face of the last Indian who is affected by the effects of Climate Change.

It would be helpful if we do not talk at each other and do not prejudge each other.

As a developing country, the principles of equity and CBDR are central for us. India is asking for space for basic development for its people and poverty eradication. Is this an unreasonable demand? Former Prime Minister of India Indira Gandhi said that poverty is the greatest polluter and development is the greatest healer. Equity has to be the centerpiece of the Climate discussion and our negotiations should be built on it. We cannot accept the principle of CBDR to be diluted. The firewall of CBDR must not be broken. Equity in the debate must be secured.

I too raise my voice for urgency. Climate Change is the most pressing and urgent problem for us. I too have a grandson, the son of my son. Climate Change affects us too. What is important is what action we are taking to address it. We are not saying nothing should be done now, or no action should be taken. On the contrary. We are asking that the actions of the developed country parties must be reviewed.

We have taken ambitious steps in India to address Climate Change. My Prime Minister has announced that our per capita emissions would never exceed that of developed countries. Has any other country done this? We have ambitious energy efficiency targets. We have pledged to lower our emissions intensity of our GDP by 20-25% by 2020. A recent report from Stockholm Institute has noted that the mitigation pledges of developing countries amount to more mitigation than that of developed countries.

What we demand is for existing commitments to be met. What we demand is comparability of actions. We demand that the emissions gap must be bridged.

Coming to the text you have presented Madan Chair, I have three comments.

First of all, there is an imbalance in the two texts. The KP is weak. It does not have:

The numbers for KP parties, not till next years

No timeline for ratification

And no indication of how the gap in the implementation will be avoided

My biggest concern with reference to the texts is that there is no reference to the fundamental principle of equity and CBDR in the bigger picture text.

We should have clear timelines that advance the actions and ambition of parties. We in the developing world are taking very ambitious domestic actions. It is because we need urgent actions that we should urgently implementation the Bali Action Plan and operationalize the Cancun Agreements.

We should have an ambitious implementation phase till 2013 and then go to the Review in 2013-15 to make an assessment based on science and commitments.

We should then begin work on the arrangements that can enhance our ambition further. We should not confuse legally binding arrangements with ambition. We need commitments, not mere hollow promises.

Thank you.

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US does not want a legally binding treaty

Transcript of the US press briefing by Todd Stern, US special envoy on climate change- Durban, December 7, 2011

Todd Stern: Negotiations are continuing...Both Kyoto and what happens in the future, questions and the issues relating to implementation of Cancun Agreement... Let me take your questions.

Q: On what answer he might have to the Guatemalan delegation question about how many in the world must die before the world reaches an agreement

Stern: I wouldn’t give that answer. I appreciate the concern behind that question… We all understand that this is an important issue that affects an enormous number of people and will affect a larger and larger number of people as we go forward, so there is an imperative for countries at the national level to take action and for the international process to be as effective as possible.

Q: Financial Review: On the Green Climate Fund, its governance structure, sources of finance, and the demand by the BASIC countries

Stern: I think the Green Climate Fund negotiations are going pretty well. The focus of the negotiations is not on the underlying instrument itself which was completed in October. The negotiation right now is over the covering decision that the CoP will adapt… I think there is good progress on that issue.

You had asked a question about whether there would be an independent board, and my answer would be yes. The design of this fund would be rather like the existing financial entity that relates to climate change which is the GEF. There is intended to be a fair amount of independence. The language of the underlying treaty, the underlying framework convention, is that the financial entity is supposed to operate under the guidance of and not under the authority of the CoP… That’s exactly the way it’s been designed. The board hasn’t been picked yet. The board will have a fair amount of independence, but it will be taking policy guidance from the CoP.

You asked about public and private finance, and they are both going to be important. We don’t believe in prescribing specific percentages. I think there is a vastly larger pool of private capital in the world that’s potentially available if the right kind of mechanisms can be put in place and the impediments that exist right now to even more private finance in being devoted to infrastructure in developing countries if those can be addressed through public government, public policies and instruments… that’s a big challenge. But there should be as much public money as possible and there is no doubt about that.

Of course there should not be an empty shell, but I don’t think any donor countries are prepared to put money in yet as there isn’t quite any place to put it in yet even when the instrument is approved and we get going if you don’t have the thing set up yet... You will still have a number of technical operational details that will have to be worked out by the board. I would expect that most donor countries will be waiting to have the thing up and running… before contributions…

Q: DPA News: On the money in the green fund

Stern: Yes, if the green fund gets working in the way that we hope it gets working, it will be a very important channel, one of the channels through which some of that 100 billion dollars will flow, but not the only channel…

(On how much money will the green fund will have) We gave a platform to Mexico in the spring of 2009 to talk about the fund at that time and in the major economies forum meeting, and I think the Mexicans had a figure of 10 billion dollars but that is not at all relevant now… I would not suggest that 10 billion dollars is the right amount at all…

Q: IANS: On the Indian position that there will not be any binding commitments

Stern: The truth is that I wouldn’t say there is a conflict between us right now. We are not insisting on a legally binding agreements at the moment… When was the time when the most actual progress got made with respect to real action in climate change, I would argue that it was last year… when you had commitments by countries amounting to over 80 per cent of global missions being made and an agreement to a transparency system which is supposed to be set up this year… not to mention the green fund, technology centre and so forth and I would argue that precisely one of the things that unstuck the previously stuck negotiations was the fact that it wasn’t legally binding, it’s politically and morally binding… Nobody takes CoP decisions lightly. They are after all decisions made under a legally binding treaty. But the fact is it wasn’t allowing countries like India and the US to act. We are not arguing that there needs to be a legally binding agreement. Many people are, but we are not. We are also not saying that there are no circumstances in which we could do it. But you are pointing to the circumstances in which we could do it. And those are not consistent with where India’s at right now… That’s fine and that’s reality. That’s why we tend to say that the conditions are not quite right yet for that kind of agreement, but I don’t have any quarrel with India at all…

Q: AFP: On how the US views the 2 degree target set in Cancun, on whether it is something rock solid, something that should not be surpassed and whether, in conversation with delegates, he has used the word ‘aspirational’ to describe the target. Has he used the word ‘aspirational’?

Stern: I don’t know…let me tell you what I think…whether I have ever used the word ‘aspirational’ or 'not' I don’t remember all the words I use. But I’ll tell you the way I look at it, which is consistent with the way many countries look at it and different from the way some other countries look at it…we look at 2 degrees as an important and serious goal that ought to guide what we do, that ought to guide the way we act in order to attain it…Its important, its serious and it is a guidepost, I would say. That is still different from looking at it as an operational cap that you must meet and that if you see yourself off it, based on science, … you have …some kind of mandatory obligation to change what you are doing, whether you are in the United States or Europe, China, wherever you might be… I think when we look at science and you see the trajectories…it ought to inform our sense of what might be done, it might well cause us or anybody else to say “jeez, we need to do more”, we don’t see it as akin to a national target…I mean it’s a nuance, but that’s the difference.

Q: Reuters: Has the US agreed on the operation of the GCF, and on the options on going ahead

I don’t want to negotiate through you…I have talked to you on a legally binding agreement…I can briefly restate it, which is…for us any agreement that will be legally binding needs to bind all the major players fundamentally in the same way or at least with the same legal force and would also need to embrace the concept of the 1992 division, it can’t be eternal, it’s got to evolve…and on that point I’d like to point out just another concept..countries said that since 1992 has evolved which is a constant feature of climate negotiations…which is the phrase ‘common but differentiated responsibilities’… the whole phrase is ‘and respective capabilities’…they are master words…because they capture the concept that as countries develop … we have never had a problem with the concept of CBDR as we think it is properly understood… it amounts to a firewall between one sort of countries and another set of countries as said in 1992 even though it is radically inconsistent … on the green climate fund, there is a negotiation going on just now to finalise … I have a fair amount of confidence that this is going to be get done in a positive way. We are very supportive of the green fund… I dont have any reason to think that we are not going to be supportive of the green fund. But there is a negotiation that is still going on. So we will let it finish.

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Intervention of India in the AWG LCA

December 5, 2011

Mr. Chairman,

We associate ourselves with the statement of Argentina, on behalf of G-77 and China, and we would like to address four issues as we take up our work for the remainder of this week.

First, the issue of the Review. We had some useful discussions on this issue, both in the Contact Group as well as in the informal consultations. We believe convergence on this issue is indeed possible. Review is a critical element in the overall process. It will be a very important marker of the overall progress in implementing our collective actions to address climate change so far, and give us insight into the way forward for a more purposeful implementation of the Convention. In this regard, we would like to highlight the importance of the 'scope' of the Review. Both 1CP16, and the agenda we adopted in Bangkok give a clear direction to "further define the scope of the Review and develop its modalities”. Therefore, we feel concerned that some parties are not prepared to engage in discussions on the definition of the Review. We believe, and this should be self-explanatory, that you cannot purposefully discuss the ‘how’ without clearly identifying the ‘what’. We would urge you Chair, and through you, to the other Parties to urgently engage on this critical piece of the Review discussion.

The second issue we would like to address is the discussion on ‘Legal Form’. We need clarity on the mandate of the group, which is to further discuss the legal options of the agreed outcome of the LCA process. The mandate is not to include the broader elements of the evolution of the future climate regime. These discussions are going on in other fora, including the Indaba. We are concerned with the direction that the discussions in the ‘legal form’ group are taking. It is important to carefully focus on the mandate and refrain from mixing up with other discussions in the process.

Mr. Chair, the balance between the two tracks is also important in this context. Kyoto Protocol discussions on the 2nd commitment period are in a logjam and we have not seen any light at the end of the tunnel so far.

Third is the discussion on the Green Climate Fund. We are not in favor of re-opening the GCF text that was forwarded to us by the Transition Committee. We would like the GCF to be established here in Durban, and therefore all decisions necessary for this purpose should be agreed to. We also agree that any clarification, if necessary, may be added as a covering text to the TC report which itself, I reiterate, need not be reopened.

Finally, Mr. Chairman, the fourth and final issue is that of IAC and IAR. We need to reach agreement on, and decide on the IAC and IAR decision texts. We believe that the aggregate targets of Annex-I parties should be part of the text. We also believe that guidelines for IAC and IAR should be part of the decision, but they will necessarily have to be brief and concise at this point given their technical nature and the paucity of time. The elaboration and further detailing of the guidelines can be done so as to be completed by SB 36 and could be part of the revised NATCOM guidelines.

Thank you Mr. Chair.

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