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UNFCCC’s 5th Subsidiary Body inaugural plenary
It is not unusual for sessions convened under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to start an hour or so after their scheduled time – as published in the Daily Programme (the formal source of meeting notices).
At COP 17 in Durban last year, many delegates affectionately credited such outcomes as being consistent with 'African time'. In Bonn however, where expectations tend to embrace some notion of German precision, the reasons for such delays seem more akin to the very heavy workload consisting of some 175 plus agenda items.
The Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP) is no exception. While the session was scheduled to begin at 10am on Thursday morning, it finally kicked off about an hour late with an opening speech by the South African COP 17/CMP 7 President, H. E. Ms Maite Nkoana-Mashabane. The plenary then opened the floor to statements by negotiating interest groups, Parties and Observer groups. Views tended to re-iterate the need for any future legally binding arrangement to strongly observe the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities, and characterised the spirit of the effort required by Parties to expeditiously harmonise outstanding issues from the two negotiating tracks (AWG-LCA and AWG-KP) into the ADP, the SBI, and/or the SBSTA.
The somewhat controversial AWG-LCA also re-convened late Thursday afternoon to adopt its provisional agenda and organise itself in such a way so as to expeditiously consider its extensive list of actions. This includes tasking either the central contact group (covering the outstanding issues agreed to at COP 17) and/or informal spinoff groups with responsibilities for agenda items. This meeting successfully completed both tasks, but it appears that this negotiating track carries many potentially long lived tensions – negotiating parties seemed very relieved to be finally up and running.
Unfortunately, delays to the start of sessions are not the only challenges facing the often very small delegations of accredited observers who try to cover multiple agendas. The wrong classification of sessions in the Daily Programme can also result in missed opportunities for civil society to witness ensuing dialogues and arguments. The third meeting of the CCS in CDM informal group was convened on Thursday morning, and was clearly classified as being closed to NGOs. As it turns out, it was in fact open to observers. While no updated version of the draft text has been made available (unlike yesterday), there is likely to be a fourth meeting to try to finalise related discussions. Anecdotally, the discussions seem to be progressing in a positive spirit.
A number of other important events happened on Thursday, not least of which a stakeholder consultation hosted by a few members of the high level Panel on the CDM Policy Dialogue. An interactive discussion resulted between the Panel and the audience on the readiness and future positioning of the CDM in order to meet the challenges of a post-2012 period. A popular matter of interest, as gleaned by the number of questions posed from the audience, concerned the prospective consequences and interactions of the CDM and New Market Based Mechanisms (NMBMs).
Two major concerns were identified including what the consequence might be for investments in CDM projects due to the increasingly speculative nature of NMBM implementation (ie. both design and timing) in the short term – especially in regards to potential gaming between the two mechanisms, and remedies to the current price volatility of CERs. Several delegates observed however that low CER prices are not necessarily examples of price volatility but rather a symptom of a lack of demand (which is all tied to the emission reduction obligations for the Kyoto Protocol’s second commitment period currently being negotiated). Another major issue mentioned in passing by one of the panel was that it was looking into the implications of quotas for either mitigation solutions and/or regions. This Institute considers any such action would fundamentally compromise any principle of technology neutrality.
Thursday also saw the Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC Ms Christiana Figueres release a statement announcing a delay to the first meeting of the Green Climate Fund (GCF). Due to a need to reach full agreement on its membership (refer to Tuesday 15 May blog for related details), the meeting has been pencilled in for either the last week of June or first week of July. The GCF Board was, until today, scheduled to meet on 31 May.
If you would like to contact Mark while he is in Bonn, please do not hesitate to email email@example.com or phone +61 439 343117.
Topics:Policy legal and regulation