EU wants balancing package with adaptation, technology, finance, REDD plus and capacity-building

As the high-level segment of the U.N. climate change conference began here on Tuesday, the second period of commitment to the Kyoto Protocol (KP) has become a contentious issue. After Japan's statement on the opening day of the conference last week that it was not in favour of committing itself to a second phase, things had taken a downturn.

The first period of commitment to the KP expires in December 2012 and there is a feeling that deciding on the second phase of commitment can wait until then, according to some countries. Last year in Copenhagen, several countries already made commitments and these can be taken forward till 2012, some felt.

The European Union (EU) said it was willing to consider a second commitment period under the KP as part of a wider outcome, including the perspective of a global and comprehensive framework engaging all major economies. It called for strengthening the Protocol and backing it up with “an equally robust” outcome under the Convention track.

The EU and its 27 member States wanted a balancing package with essential elements such as adaptation, technology, finance, REDD plus and capacity-building, it added.

However, the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) and some African countries are insisting on a binding agreement and the situation has become rather fluid at the conference. Tillman J. Thomas, Prime Minister of Granada and chairperson of AOSIS, a group of 43 members, was categorical about delaying a second commitment period.

“A decision to have the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol to begin on January 1, 2013, is one of the essential ingredients of any Cancun outcome that we are prepared to accept.”

The United Nations Environment Programme GAP Report, which was released on Wednesday, clearly stated that the current emission pledges were far from adequate to limit the global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees as advocated by more than 106 countries, he said.

The 14 Pacific Island Developing States threatened with extinction if sea levels rise, said there was little room for compromise and called for a fair solution. Cancun should take the world one step closer to a two-track legally-binding outcome in Durban next year, they said. The Group of 77 and China too felt the time had come to secure an outcome that fulfilled the mandate stipulated in Bali.

It also called for establishing a second commitment period under the KP, ensuring emission reduction by developed countries and to avoid the gap between the first commitment period and the second commitment period.

Adaptation fund mooted

The 49-member group of the Least Developed Countries called for an adaptation fund, finances, but mainly stressed avoiding a gap between the first and second periods of commitment.

Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) Christiana Figueres in her speech said the stakes were high because time was running out. Cancun must deliver, she stressed.

“The deal here in Cancun will not guarantee all your short-term national interest, but reaching no outcome here in Cancun will endanger everyone's long-term well-being,” she added.

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki moon in his address said that business as usual would not be tolerated and Cancun must represent a breakthrough.” The status quo will not do,” he said. “Tangible progress is possible here in Cancun. We do not need an agreement on all issues but we do need progress on all fronts,” he said.

He underscored the need to take decisions on forests, on adaptation, on technology and on the creation of a new fund for long-term climate financing. He called for increased clarity on the KP and “parties need to agree how and when to move forward after Cancun on issues still under discussion.”