New Promises Old Challenges

By Julian Velez

Here we are once more in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, trying to understand the political games that happen in this space. Climate change is what it all boils down; it is the spearhead of effects that the globalized capitalist path to development has created. Climate change is the result of excessive and wasteful lifestyles that are present mostly in the industrialized societies, but we all globally strive for it.

The form of the overall climate regime of the UNFCCC, as the is going through changes that will determine its way forward for the next years pre and post 2020, we are in crucial moments for being able to deal with our emissions to avoid catastrophic irreversible climate change.


In Durban, a year ago it was decided that the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long Term Cooperative Action (LCA) would successfully reach an outcome in all its unfinished work and close in Doha and the new Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform (ADP) was created with the task of creating a protocol, another legal instrument or an agreed outcome with legal force under the convention applicable to all parties and bridging the ambition gap for mitigation pre-2020. The ADP is working in the context of a crumbling regime where the current structures are being undermined and the past agreements are not being met, developed countries are pushing them off the table. Also in a setting where their is urgent need for climate actions on mitigation, adaptation, finance and technology transfer to avoid climate change tipping points and address the crucial needs due to the present and future impacts of climate change. Additionally the ADP is dealing in a setting where Canada has withdrawn from the Kyoto Protocol (KP) with out having fulfilled the commitments under the 1st commitment as well as most developed countries (Annex 1) and a setting where Japan and Russia have stated their intentions to not pledge to a 2nd commitment period (2nd CP) of the KP, where New Zealand is not committing either and is asking for the enjoyment of carbon markets with no participation in the 2nd CP, which is like wanting the fruits while cutting the tree down; where the EU committed to a 20% reduction in relation to 1990 levels. And it is a target they have reached in the 1st commitment period. Australia committed to 0.5% for the 2nd CP, which is just offensive for the ambition that is needed; we need at least 40-60% reductions by 2020. In addition we have a climate of extremely low political will for ambitious action and of truly achieving the goal of the convention.

The outcome of the ADP must be done with the understanding that form follows function, it must build on what has all ready been agreed to it must enhance action, not reinstate past commitments or build less ambitious plans, it must respect the Common But Differentiated Responsibilities (CBDR) of countries based on their historical responsibilities and national capabilities. And must be a top down rules based system that defines clear overall and individual targets if it attempts to achieve the overarching function of the UNFCCC. Which is it expressed in paragraph 2 of the Convention, the objective:

The outcome of the ADP must be done with the understanding that form follows function, it must build on what has all ready been agreed to it must enhance action, not reinstate past commitments or build less ambitious plans, it must respect the Common But Differentiated Responsibilities (CBDR) of countries based on their historical responsibilities and national capabilities. And must be a top down rules based system that defines clear overall and individual targets if it attempts to achieve the overarching function of the UNFCCC. Which is it expressed in paragraph 2 of the Convention, the objective:

“The ultimate objective of this Convention and any related legal instruments that the Conference of the Parties may adopt is to achieve, in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Convention, stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system. Such a level should be achieved within a time frame sufficient to allow ecosystems to adapt naturally to climate change, to ensure that food production is not threatened and to enable economic development to proceed in a sustainable manner.” (Article 2 UNFCCC)

Countries must share the atmospheric space equitably; they must share the work to do so equitably based on their historical responsibilities and national socio-economic capabilities for the achievement of equal access to sustainable development and a healthy planet for our future generations. This must be the way forward in the ADP.

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