by Trudi Zundel
The new AWG-LCA text came out on Saturday, a bulky 130-page document that was to serve as a guiding tool for the high-level negotiations going on this week. The LCA, or Long-term Cooperative Action, is the negotiating track that runs alongside the discussion on the future of the Kyoto Protocol. Any “Durban Mandate” that comes out of this session will be based on the LCA negotiating text, so its contents are vitally important.
The text is little more than an updated version of country submissions–it’s hard to tell where many of the issues will end up. The crux of the new text, though, which is mitigation, is in an absolutely disastrous state. Article 1.b.i of the Bali Action Plan, the agreement on which this text is supposed to based, describes developed country commitments. It was under this article that the United States was finally trapped in a mitigation commitment. The US has realized that, and is trying to steer the LCA text away from the Bali Action Plan and towards the Cancun Agreements, which were based on a pledge-and-review system, under which countries would simply record how much they were able to mitigate and then somehow, someone would check and see if they did that. Given current country pledges, the earth’s temperature would rise by at least 4 degrees. A pledge-and-review system would effectively seal our planet’s fate.
Nationally appropriate mitigation commitments by developed country under this new text includes no specific commitments; no strong language about increasing ambition or scaling up efforts; nothing about Annex 1 countries, only “developed country Parties,” which could be interpreted in many ways. The only real content is a paragraph on the relationship between targets and market mechanisms, and referrals to SBSTA or the secretariat for more information.
On multiple levels, this text is bad. Really bad. With the way Kyoto Protocol negotiations are going, the Durban outcome could be to lock in a system that disregards the mandate of the Bali Action Plan and replaces it with the Cancun Agreements, which have feeble pledges and no “guarantee” of strong US involvement.
If we can’t commit developed countries under the KP because they don’t agree to a second commitment period, and don’t have good enough promises under Article 1.b.i in the LCA–how are we supposed to hold developed countries accountable to any emissions reductions? If they can’t hold up a legal agreement like the KP, there is no way, no way at all that they will voluntarily mitigate even close to what they say they will.
This is one of the worst things that could have happened to the climate, and a huge blow to civil society organizations trying to have their voice heard and their lives saved. What’s worst is that so many people don’t understand that the progress that is being made on the text isn’t good progress, but a casually veiled facade shielding one of the biggest developed country cop-outs of our time.
** [look for more on this later]