by Elizabeth Dirth and Alexander Pfeiffer
The main session that we attended yesterday was the open plenary in the afternoon. This plenary provides an opportunity for parties and groups of parties to make statements, to reflect on the progress so far, and to outline what they believe needs to take place moving forward.
Like at the COP21 in Paris last year, it became very clear that each party and group of parties sees this process in the context of their own national circumstances. Any asks, commitments, and recommendations cannot be removed from the social, economic and geopolitical situation of the respective country making them.
The way that the groups, or parties to the UNFCCC, are formed also highlights the way in which this process and indeed this conference is a microcosm of global politics. The Groups that presented in the opening plenary include:
Group 77: Group of developing countries. They advocated for the transparency of support as well as the transparency of action because it needs to be clear who is contributing and how the funds for the transition, specifically for adaptation projects, are being distributed. In addition, capacity building was named as being a core requirement for this group for COP22 and they called for a clear work plan and deliverables to ensure that this happens.
Umbrella Group: Non-EU developed countries (Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Kazakhstan, Norway, the Russian Federation, Ukraine and the US). They advocated for the development of a clear compliance mechanism.
European Union: Both a party itself and a representative group.
Least Developed Countries (LDCs): Least developed countries often align with the Group 77 but have more specific needs and asks. They specifically asked for simplified access to financial support because they urgently need more resources, in particular for sufficient adaptation funding. Finally, they also highlighted the key issue of the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, also known as ratifying the Doha Amendment. They argued that the INDCs and the Paris agreement were built on the ‘trust’ that the emissions reduction commitment before 2020 could be achieved. This, however, depends on the ratification of the Doha Amendment. Therefore they explicitly called on other countries to ratify the Doha Amendment and to meet the requirements for pre-2020 action.
Small Island Developing States (SIDS): A coalition of some 40 low-lying island states. The Maldives spoke on behalf of this groups pointing out that the current NDCs are not enough to limit climate change to levels that give these states a chance to survive in a world with higher sea levels (current NDCs lead towards approx. 3 degrees Celsius warming). In addition, they highlighted that the Doha Amendment still needs to be ratified and that in fact not all Annex A countries have even reached their targets for the first commitment period. They communicated their concern about progress and about the inclusion of lessons learned in Kyoto into the Paris agreement, especially with regards to preventing sporadic and inconsistent progress.
Environmental Integrity Group (EIG): Mexico, Liechtenstein, Monaco, the Republic of Korea and Switzerland.
Arab Group: Algeria, Bahrain, Comoros, Djibouti, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Mauritania, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, Yemen. Oman spoke on behalf of this group and agreed largely with Group 77 that there needs to be more support to implement national commitments and that there is concern in this group about the ratification of the second commitment period of Kyoto.
African Group: African States, expressed agreement with Group 77.
Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC): Did not speak in the opening plenary
Central Asia, Caucasus, Albania and Moldova (CACAM): Did not speak in the opening plenary
Independent Alliance of Latin America and the Caribbean (AILAC): Highlighted the need for progress on the rule book for the Paris Agreement, specifically defining and rapidly implementing terms of reference on loss and damage for example..achievement of successful and inclusive conference on the Paris Agreement; progress on second commitment of the Kyoto protocol, all countries need to ratify Doha.
Brazil, South Africa, China, India (BASIC): Brazil spoke on behalf of the Basic Countries. By and large they also agreed with Group 77 and expressed their concern about the Doha agreement and their disappointment about developed countries for not increasing their ambitions.
Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of our America (ALBA): Bolivia spoke on behalf of ALBA expressing concern that pre-2020 action is already 25% of the commitment of the NDCs and that there is a gap between the “rhetoric and practice of developed countries.” They also expressed that actions by non-state actors should be in line with these commitments as well and that non-state actors cannot make up for activities of parties.
Russia, Venezuela, Palestine
Two additional countries also presented their specific interests in this discussion: Russia and Venezuela. The statements of these two nations were quite a contrast to one another as Russia elaborated on the progress they have made on funding projects for developing countries and specifically small island states, while the Venezuelan delegate talked about the rights to sustainable development of developing countries and the actions behind these commitments being currently not present. Specifically they complained that “atmospheric space is not being used in an equitable manner… Not one developing country should be excluded, blocked or deprived of receiving support for adaptation.” According to Venezuela this should not be dependent on whether they have ratified anything or submitted INDCs. “Inclusion is not a matter of participating in speaking but related to substance and results.”
Finally, for the first time Palestine was able to address the COP as an official Party. They expressed a desire to be wholly included in the process but expressed the need for more funding, capacity building, and technology transfer to achieve their climate action plan. They also expressed concerned about a bias against Palestine in funding and support available to them given the geopolitical circumstances around their existence and participation.
Overall the experiences of this day show once again that even on the highest geopolitical levels leaders, negotiators, and diplomats fight with sometimes quite basic problems that are probably relatable to most of us — lack of funding, feeling of being treated unfairly, and misunderstandings of processes, definitions, and agreements.
- Video blog – Day 2
- The COP process: Acronyms, Actions, and Agreements
- Catch all the team’s highlights and analysis here.