Sunday, December 11, 2011

Durban Package serves Corporate interests

After two weeks of painful process “Durban package” was delivered by the COP 17 at 5 am in the 11th December 2011. Last 48 hours of the negotiations was non transparent similar to Copenhagen and Cancun climate negotiations. Many national delegations were not inside some negotiations which were happen in the green rooms. Many decisions have been rushed through in the last minute. Many negotiators were not in the room due to the extension of the COP 17 for an extra day. While many spectators and the civil society still believed the UN multilateral process, it was evident that multilaralisms is not functioning in the UN system.

The so called “Durban Package” has come to a number of controversial decisions around many of the major issues written in the Cancun Agreements, yet many of the elements have been postponed. Countries such as Russia was not sure what was just signed onto, as many of the final decisions involving relatively new texts were rushed through.

India played a major role in bringing equity and Common but differentiated responsibility in to the next commitment period of the Kyoto protocol but lost in the last minute. Final plenary discussions on both the Kyoto Protocol and Long Term Cooperative Action were noisy due to the disagreements on the disputed texts forwarded to the main COP plenary despite objections.

Despite the disagreements, parties were successful in agreeing to a 2nd commitment period to the Kyoto Protocol, which is rather weak and unambitious. Yet, it does not include major polluters such as US, Canada, Japan etc. It was decided that quantifiable emission reductions targets to be decided in May 2012, which will be “an agreed outcome with legal force”. Second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol shall begin on 1 January 2013 and end either on 31 December 2017 or 31 December 2020. However due to the lack of ambition in emission reduction targets the KP second commitment period, it will cover less than 15% of global emissions. According to the  CMP decision “the aggregate emissions of greenhouse gases by Parties included in Annex I are reduced by at least 25-40 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020, and a review to be concluded by 2015.

Many countries felt that unless ambition is increased, KP second commitment period could potentially lock the world onto a pathway of dangerous climate change to 3-3.5 degrees, as opposed to the 2 degrees currently aimed.

One of the serious problems under the KP second commitment period is with monitoring and reducing greenhouse gas emissions from Land Use and Land-Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF), which is a critical structure under the Kyoto Protocol. As it was discussed the LULUCF loopholes in forest management would allow developed countries to increase their emissions by up to 6 gigatonnes by 2020.

One of the most contentious issues in COP 17 is the establishment of the Green Climate Fund (GCF). The private window of the GCF was heavily criticized by the civil society and by Venezuela.  The Fund however was approved without funds as an empty shell. The World Bank will remain as the interim trustee, but and independent board will be formed by March 2012. However, Fund is suppose to produce safeguard, disclosure and accountability mechanisms. The Durban package invites Parties, to submit to the Board expressions of interest for hosting the Green Climate Fund by 15 April 2012. The independent nature of the GCF is therefore uncertain at this stage. Among other disappointment the programme on National Adaptation Plans decision has been postponed until COP18.  

The Durban Package hasn’t delivered much on the need for immediate action and ambitions to cut the GHG emissions in time. While developing country negotiators were struggling to keep the multilateral process, rich countries, had green room discussions to influence selected countries and groupings with bilateral financial packages.

Following the Copenhagen and Cancun processes,  once again the people been let down by the governments in Durban. US, EU and developed nations have won by allowing the polluters to profit from the climate crisis. As pointed out by Sarah Jayne Climate Coordinator of the Friends of the Earth International “It is clear in whose interests this deal has been advanced, and it isn’t the 99% of people around the world. The noise of corporate polluters has drowned out the voices of ordinary people in the ears of our leaders”.

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