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CCS enters the CDM at CMP 7
The 17th Conference of the Parties (COP 17) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) held in Durban comes to a close after two weeks of sun, wind and sometimes stormy weather – both inside and outside of COP 17/CMP 7.
The story of CCS at CMP 7 really started immediately after a decision was made by the CMP (the ultimate decision making body of the Kyoto Protocol) at CMP 6 (Cancun, Mexico) to include CCS in the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), providing a limited number of issues could be resolved. What this did was initiate a year long program throughout 2011 to enable the UNFCCC to draft a suite of modalities and procedures, or rules, which Parties could negotiate in Durban.
Tasked by the CMP in Cancun, the UNFCCC Secretariat subsequently called for submissions from Parties and observers in February 2011 to express their views on these issues. The Secretariat then hosted by invitation an experts workshop in Abu Dhabi, where expert scientific and technical evidence and opinion was offered on the various issues identified by CMP as needing to be institutionalised. The Global CCS Institute participated in every step of the way; click here for our submission to the UNFCCC.
The result of these efforts culminated in the UNFCCC Secretariat presenting to the SBSTA a draft suite of modalities and procedures, which were publicly released just two weeks before these climate change talks commenced on 28 November 2011.
The draft modalities and procedures presented to the CCS community (business, government, environmental NGOs etc) some novel approaches to resolving issues. The document principally served to establish a basis on which negotiators could start discussions in Durban to agree on what the ultimate rules should be. It should be remembered that it is a document of compromise, reflecting potentially 195 differing views, and as such it successfully avoids making the 'perfect an enemy of the good'.
The challenges to getting agreement on the CCS modalities and procedures prior to CMP 7 seemed overwhelming, with country positions covering most extremes on issues. By the end of Wednesday the first week of COP 17, at the first round of negotiations on CCS, it seemed that old negotiating foes were once again flexing their muscles. Many new options were floated to addressing some of the major non-technical issues (liability, financial provision, CER reserve account management) and accordingly recorded in the text that was being negotiated.
By Tuesday the following week however, after many hours of discussions in the negotiating room and within delegations more generally, as well as an intervention by the SBSTA chair (which indicated to me that enabling CCS to leave the SBSTA was a priority issue) the saga seemed to have ended. All parties had come to sensible agreements on acceptable ways forward to systematically address these issues. At the time of writing this blog, the latest version of the modalities and procedures can be found here.
Success in the UNFCCC is all about finding middle-ground, which seems to be a rare commodity in these talks for many other agendas. Don't get me wrong, there has been substantial compromise in the CCS in CDM negotiations (and there needed to be given the many new positions laid out on the table especially by the European Union and Brazil). For example, recommendations on how to address two key issues of transboundary movement (capturing CO2 in one sovereign state, transporting it and storing it in another) and possible alternatives to the future fate of the CER reserve post long-term liability transfer have been deferred to CMP 8 (Doha, Qatar). But as important as these issues are, they are longer-term issues and rightly don't hold up the legitimacy of CCS projects in the CDM.
So, on Thursday 8 December the SBSTA put forward to the CMP four CDM related agendas that they were charged with, and one of these agendas was the recommendation that the CMP adopt the rules that are to underpin the inclusion of CCS in the CDM. At 3:35pm Durban time on Friday 9 December 2011 the CMP adopted (with an almost savage efficiency) the CCS in CDM related modalities and procedures in its final proceedings at CMP 7.
This potentially marks an exciting new era for the global deployment of CCS as a major mitigation option in developed and developing countries alike. It will not only help facilitate the establishment and refinement of the institutional arrangements necessary to support technologies capable of helping contain global emissions at large scale, but also enhances the community's confidence in CCS's application due to the formalisation of its international acceptability.
To close, I'll offer a personal view on the Institute's engagement at COP 17/CMP 7.
It has been an incredibly valuable effort enriched by speaking and listening to a large and diverse group of stakeholders. Our executives and staff were afforded significant opportunities to publicly explain and promote the work of the Institute, to learn more about how we can help shape and participate in future UNFCCC related opportunities, and to enhance our ability to apply our knowledge base to help accelerate real projects. This of course is imperative within the context of the climate change challenge.
We raised the international profile for our CCS advocacy in this fora of some 15,000 people, and our events and exhibit were very successful if the number of people in the audience and the conversations had are anything to go by. We hosted and engaged in many high level discussions at ministerial level; with senior bureaucrats and heads of delegations; senior private sector executives; globally respected research organisations; industry associations; environmental NGOs, and surprisingly quite a few PhD university students - some even expressing a personal interest in a future career in the CCS sector broadly and in the Institute specifically.
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