As the fortnight long UN climate summit in Durban, South Africa, went into a series of closed door meetings on its extra day Saturday, some hope emerged by the mid-afternoon that there may be a deal yet.
Ministers and bureaucrats from 194 governments were debating a draft resolution to come out of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) summit after a series of Indabas. Indaba is the Zulu word for an open meeting of elders, like a Panchayat in India or a Jirga in Afghanistan.
India, China, the US, EU, Brazil and Mexico were the countries that had already been consulted as the Indaba chair prepared the draft, according to a senior member of the Indian delegation here. “But we still have some problems, which are now being discussed,” he added.
The draft “notes with grave concern the significant gap between the aggregated effect of Parties (countries) mitigation pledges in terms of global annual emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) by 2020 and aggregate emissions pathways consistent with having a likely chance of holding warming below the global average temperature goal.” Scientists have been warning that current pledges to mitigate GHG emissions fall 40 percent short of what is needed to hold global temperature rise within two degrees Celsius.
The draft takes note of the “amendments and related decisions to secure a ratifiable second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol,” the global treaty under which rich nations are obliged to reduce their GHG emissions. Continuation of this commitment beyond 2012 has been the thorniest of the issues dogging climate summits for years.
The draft says countries are deciding to “launch a process to develop a protocol or another legal instrument applicable to all Parties under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.” It also says the process will be launched in the first half of 2012 and be completed by 2015. This is likely to prove contentious, since India does not want the process to be launched before 2015. The sentence about the launch date is in brackets, which is UN-speak for lack of consensus.
There is another bracket around the draft proposal that the new treaty should come into effect in 2020.
The draft says at the next climate summit, a working group of the UNFCCC will present to all countries its work plan, including on mitigation, transparency, adaptation, finance, technology development and transfer and capacity building. However, the word transparency is again within brackets. Developing countries have been demanding transparency about the mitigation efforts of developed countries.
The draft says the negotiations for the new treaty shall be informed “by the fifth assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the outcomes of the 2013-2015 review and the work of the subsidiary bodies with a view to raising ambition in light of the ultimate objective of the Convention.” Green NGOs from around the world have been charging that the governments are not being ambitious enough and the steps they are taking will be insufficient to combat climate change.