Tuesday, May 15, 2012

A Letter To HARC Members from Tom Cortina





Last week the State Department held a briefing to discuss the start of negotiations on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action, which was adopted at the 17th Conference of Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) in November.  The briefing was hosted by Jonathan Pershing, Deputy Special Envoy for Climate Change.

The Durban Platform calls for a new legally-binding climate change accord to be signed by 2015 and come into force in 2020.  The new accord will include commitments for all countries, both developed and developing.  As part of the Durban agreement progress was made on rules for monitoring and verifying emissions reductions, protecting forests, transferring clean technologies to developing countries, and other technical issues.  In addition, a Green Climate Fund was launched under the UN that will provide $100 billion a year to developing countries by 2020 to mobilize low carbon investments, prevent deforestation, and assist vulnerable countries in adaptation.

One of the keys to convincing developing countries to approve the Durban Platform was the European Union (EU) agreeing to extend the Kyoto Protocol until 2017.  As part of the amendment to extend Kyoto it is expected that the EU will commit to a 20% reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, a goal it is believed they can achieve under existing policies.  Japan, Russia, and Canada did not agree to extend Kyoto, which means that the extended Kyoto Protocol will cover only about 14% of global GHG emissions.

Negotiations on a new international climate treaty will begin May 14-25 in Bonn, Germany under the newly-formed Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform (ADP).  It is expected that the first few meetings of the ADP will consist of brainstorming sessions to explore the different options for the structure of a new legal instrument on climate.  The Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action (AWG-LCA), where the previous negotiations on a pot-Kyoto climate treaty were held, is scheduled to close at the end of 2012.

We will provide an update on these issues at the June 11 HARC meeting.

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