Author: Melissa Low is an Energy Analyst with the Energy Studies Institute, National University of Singapore. Melissa was part of a 12-member youth delegation to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of Parties (COP) 15 talks in Copenhagen in December of 2009. She currently leads a research project with CliMates titled “Innovative Ways to Attribute Responsibility”. Her research focus at work and on her Masters dissertation (M.Sc. in Environmental Management from the National University of Singapore) examines the past and contemporary proposals on differential treatment in the climate regime.
The Durban Platform emerged from the agreements at last year’s talks in South Africa in an effort to engage negotiators in discussing mitigation, adaptation and increased targets for carbon reduction for all countries who have signed on to the current climate treaty. The working group charged with implementing this is the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action or ADP for short.
The ADP 2-1 convened in Bonn, Germany from 29 April – 3 May 2013 in order to make progress towards a more focused mode of work and discussing the main contours and central elements of a 2015 agreement and a practical and results-oriented approach to increasing pre-2020 ambition.
As the meeting convened, Ms. Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC noted that there was a heightened sense of concern given that the Mauna Loa observatory, the oldest continuous carbon dioxide (CO2) measurement station in the world, is the primary global benchmark site for monitoring the increase of this potent heat-trapping gas, had earlier in the week confirmed that the world was just about the cross the 400ppm CO2 concentration threshold. Independent measurements made by both NOAA and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography have also been approaching this level.
This closes the gap toward reaching the 2°C trajectory to prevent runaway climate change, particularly as a third of the time allocated for the ADP has been used up, and Parties now need to use time more wisely towards developing an ambitious agreement with universal participation that would mobilize all stakeholders in a continued sense of trust of cooperation.
All 195 Parties to the Convention agreed to cooperate, taking into account national circumstances, and to be guided by the principles of the Convention, which will underpin the 2015 agreement.
The agreement should enable the participation of all Parties so as to account for 100 per cent of emissions and ensure environmental integrity, to be done through differential treatment and a variety of nationally determined actions under a multilateral rules-based system guided by principles of the Convention.
The United States and Australia advocated a process and period of consulting and adjusting of mitigation efforts and others also identified transparency and accountability for delivery of actions as important aspects of the new agreement (also called “Pledge and Review”).
Parties are eager to know what others are able to do, when and why, and how bottom-up and top-down elements can be combined in an effective way. The ADP 2-2 session in June will address the notion of a variety of enhanced actions including various types of commitments and questions including bottom-up (nationally determined actions, pledge and review) and top-down approaches (assigned emission reduction commitments e.g. QELROs) proposed by Parties under workstream 1.
Despite the fair degree of convergence on many aspects of the ADP 2-1 negotiations, Singapore, together with the Group of 77 and China, expressed support for nationally determined actions and the need for a balanced set of internationally agreed rules. Developing country Parties noted that ratcheting up of existing commitments by Annex I Parties will provide an indication for continued action.
In a final attempt to focus the discussions on indicative measures to mitigation commitment, Uganda proposed to revisit the Brazilian Proposal, advocating an approach for distributing the burden of emission reductions among Annex I countries based on cumulative historical emissions (since 1840) on the global average surface air temperature. This was supported by Bernarditas Muller of the Philippines and representatives of Malaysia, Timor Leste, Tanzania, China and Swaziland (on behalf of the African Group).
Parties will convene in Bonn from 3 – 14 June 2013 to start preparing deliverables for the Warsaw Conference of Parties (COP19). To do this, Parties will have to work at their positions and to find areas of convergence, keeping in mind that existing arrangements continue also to evolve and mature until the 2015 agreement is adopted.
by Melissa Low