Himalayan Times: The United Nations Climate Change Conference, Durban 2011, is now warming up, and preparations are taking place. It will bring together representatives of the world’s governments, international organizations and civil society. The discussions will seek to advance the implementation of the Convention and the Kyoto Protocol, as well as the Bali Action Plan, agreed at COP 13 in 2007, and the Cancun Agreements, reached at COP 16 last December.
The high-level segment, to be attended by ministers and other senior officials, will be inaugurated December 6. There are already skeptics over the fate of COP 17, and discussion centred on the future of Kyoto Protocol. The least developed countries and countries that are vulnerable to climate change are strongly urging for strong action to curb emissions, and bring an end to the negotiation deadlock around the extension of Kyoto and emissions reduction targets. Large sections of the civil society organization are pressuring developed and industrialized nations to forge early consensus, and commitment for deal on emission reduction targets. Recently, some of the world’s largest corporations, over 200 companies from the energy, finance, retail, and manufacturing sectors, issued an “urgent call to action” to governments to approve a “robust, equitable and effective agreement” on climate change at the annual UN climate summit.
The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) secretariat and organizers are hopeful of some kind of miracle to happen to forge consensus among the parties. The UN climate negotiations in South Africa will be “tough”, with the big question focusing on the future of the Kyoto Protocol, the foreign minister of South Africa said recently after the preparatory talks. A legally-binding post-2012 climate agreement is achievable, said the UNFCCC executive secretary Christiana Figueres – but not this year.
There are disturbing signs and voices being heard this year about the fate of Kyoto. News was spreading around ‘EU setting conditions for signing up to Kyoto II’ and suggestion that Canada should walk away in 2012 from global warming treaty. Similarly, a group of influential industrialized countries, including Japan, Russia, Canada and the US, have said they will not sign up to a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol when it expires in 2012, and are instead calling for a new international treaty to curb greenhouse gas emissions.
There are also worrying news on financial commitment. Plans to establish the US$100 billion Green Climate Fund to help developing countries deal with climate change has hit a big barrier this month following the failure of the US and Saudi Arabia to support it.
In this fuzzy and uncertain global negotiation situation, it will be interesting to hear what Ministry of Environment and the Government of Nepal is thinking in terms of its plan and agenda to discuss in Durban.
There might be the regular agenda to follow LDC and G77, and China position on climate negotiation text. Besides, it will be interesting to see how Nepalese delegation will further push the agenda of Mountain Alliance Initiative on Climate Change and other specific agenda based on our national interest. Till today, there has not been any meeting or workshop organized/announced by the government and civil society to discuss the negotiation agenda and the role of the Nepalese delegation. And not even a month remains for preparation and public consultation.
As usual, there will be a strong interest and eagerness among government officials and civil society organizations to participate in the climate change conference.
There is always a change in the negotiating team every year. Why can’t we have a core team of negotiators continued over few years in order to make our presence more effective? The government and civil society need to work together to form a task force which can have deeper understanding of the agenda items, outline Nepal’s position, and identify areas where we should lobby or put forward our issues to best represent our interest. Besides supporting common interest agenda, Nepal should also have its specific agenda in the interest of the country, and vulnerable population.
The meeting in Durban may not produce concrete outcomes, but it will be an opportunity to narrow the gaps between developed and developing nations on issues around the future of Kyoto protocol and streamlining climate funds. Nepal can play an active role in bringing the negotiation deadlock to an end by closely working with the interest groups like LDCs.
If Nepal can at least be vocal in the sessions, based on its strategic country interest, it will be more than enough. There are also good opportunities that Nepal can showcase and capitalize through informal meetings and bilateral discussions with countries and development agencies. All of this requires early preparation and collaboration among government and other interest groups.
By-Bimal Raj Regmi is a PhD scholar at Flinders University, South Australia email@example.com
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