Durban Post: Dr. C. S. Silori* writing from Durban on Day-I, 28 November 2011
The 17th Conference of the Parties (COP 17) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the 7th Session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties (CMP 7) to the Kyoto Protocol, started in Durban on November 28, 2011. There are more than 20000 delegates expected to attend the 10 days conference, ending on December 9, 2011. I had a privilege to attend the inaugural session of COP 17, and here I will be highlighting few key points of the inaugural session.
The inauguration of the conference marked the speeches by number of dignitaries. These included the outgoing President of COP 16, Ms. Patricia Espinosa Cantellano, incoming President of COP 17, Ms. Nkoana-Mashabane, Mr. Fernando da Peidade Dias dos Santos, Vice President of Angola, also representing Southern African Development Community (SADC), Mr. Idriss Deby, President of Chad, also representing the Economic Community of Central African States and Mr. Jacob Zuma, President of the Republic of South Africa. To start with all the dignitaries and delegates expressed their profound sadness on the sudden death of Mr. Mama Konate (Mali), Chair of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) in Bonn Germany on November 14, 2011.
The speeches, followed after expressing condolence on the sudden demise of Mr. Mama, were mostly rhetoric, and repetitive, highlighting the threats of climate change in general and in particular to the poor and vulnerable nations of the world, especially highlighting the vulnerabilities of African sub-continent nations.
Counting the achievements of her tenure as President of COP 16, Ms. Patricia stressed upon the need of full implementation of the Cancun Agreement, solidifying the financial pillars for the same, and defining the future of Kyoto Protocol, through achieving binding commitments from the parties. She also highlighted the differentiated responsibilities of developed and developing nations in forging ahead to find the workable solutions to climate change.
Receiving the baton from outgoing President, the new President of COP 17 admitted that world community has very high expectations and Durban therefore is a decisive moment in the history of climate change negotiations. She outlined the approach of upcoming negotiations, emphasizing on the need of transparent, inclusive, and equity based deliberations, honoring all international commitments.
Welcoming the delegates from all over the world to Durban, President of South Africa reminded them about links of the city with the great souls like Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela. Pledging to cut down emissions from South Africa to 34% by 2020 and to 42% by 2025, President highlighted the importance of adaptation to the climate change. This could be considered an important feature of the morning session of the COP inauguration, as most of the speakers emphasized on the need of further strengthening the foundation laid during Cancun on climate change adaption and setting up adaptation committees.
With specific reference to the mountain communities, in the afternoon session the delegates from Afghanistan raised the issue of vulnerability of mountain communities to the climate change. While on one hand rising temperature is threatening fast melting of glaciers, on the other hand, the drought and desertification in high altitude cold desert areas of the countries are making local communities more vulnerable to the climate change. The delegation therefore demanded that developed nations should provide more financial resources to build human and technical capacity of country to access technologies and data required to interpret the impacts of climate change and thus developing appropriate solutions.
The remarks made by the delegates reflect the issues and concerns of the mountain communities in Himalayas as well and let us hope that in coming days there is greater understanding and appreciation among the participants on the vulnerability of mountain communities.
I am hopeful that the speeches made by dignitaries do not remain merely rhetoric and in coming days we see more actions from the parties and all concerned participants to find a better solution for humanity at large and realizing the motto of the COP 17 – Working Together, saving Tomorrow Today.
I hope to keep coming back to you with more updates from Durban, till then signing off with best wishes and happy reading.
*Dr. Chandra Shekhar Silori, kindly agreed to write ‘Durban Post’ from Durban for Climate Himalaya’s readers . Dr. Chandra Shekhar Silori is Project Coordinator for Grass Roots Capacity Building Needs on REDD+ at RECOFTC-the Centre for People and Forest at Bangkok, Thailand. As a team member of delegation of observer organization RECOFTC he is at present participating in COP- 17 at Durban. His organization has a couple of side events organized, one to share the findings of our recent study on capacity building needs of the service providers for REDD+, and other on the gender and REDD+. The RECOFTC will have a booth where the team will display the work on forestry in general and REDD+ in particular. Dr. Silori recently did a regional study on Capacity Building Need on REDD+ and will be sharing it during CoP 17 at Durban.
ABSTRACT OF DURBAN HIGHLIGHTS: MONDAY, 28 NOVEMBER 2011 Source: IISD Team
The United Nations Climate Change Conference in Durban,South Africa, opened on Monday morning, 28 November. Following a welcoming ceremony attended by South African President Jacob Zuma and other high-level dignitaries, delegates gathered for the opening plenary meetings of the COP, COP/ MOP, SBI and SBSTA. During these opening plenaries, parties gave initial consideration to the various agenda items, referring many issues to informal groups for further consideration.
Following are Major Highlights
- Green Fund and Kyoto: COP 16 President Patricia Espinosa, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mexico, urged delegates to agree on, inter alia: full implementation of the Cancun Agreements; capitalizing the Green Climate Fund; and the future of the Kyoto Protocol, reaffirming the relevance of a rules-based system.
- Adaptation Committee and Fast Start Finance: UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres stressed that two decisive steps must be taken in Durban: tasks from COP 16 must be completed; and key political questions from Cancun answered. She highlighted: launching the Adaptation Committee; operationalizing the Technology Mechanism in 2012; approving the Green Climate Fund; and providing more clarity on fast-start finance.
- Adoption of the agenda: Parties agreed to proceed with their work based on the provisional agenda (FCCC/CP/2011/1) with a view to its formal adoption at a later stage following informal consultations on three agenda items proposed by India (on accelerated access to critical technologies, equitable access to sustainable development and unilateral trade measures).SYRIA supported having discussions on India’s proposals.
- Second Commitment Period: Argentina, for the G-77/ CHINA, supported a second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol as part of a balanced and comprehensive outcome for Durban, saying the Cancun Agreements should be fully operationalized.
- Three Aspects: Switzerland’s Environment Group-EIG, outlined three important steps for Durban: agreeing on key elements of an international regime after 2012; launching a process to further strengthen the regime in the mid-term; and agreeing on the key elements of a shared vision, including a long-term global goal for emission reductions and a date for peaking of global emissions.
- Youth on Kyoto: YOUTH said Durban should not be the “burying ground for the Kyoto Protocol.”
- Emission Binding: The Gambia, for LDCs, called for a second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol and on Annex I parties to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by at least 45% below 1990 levels by 2020 and at least 95% below 1990 levels by 2050. Saudi Arabia, for the ARAB GROUP, rejected attempts to marginalize the Kyoto Protocol.
- Second Commitment Period: China, for the BASIC countries, said defining a second commitment period should be the main priority for Durban.
- REDD+ Voluntary: Papua New Guinea, for the Coalition for Rain Forest Nations, supported an agreement on a second commitment period, the introduction of a REDD+ mechanism on a voluntary basis, and eliminating loopholes in the rules on LULUCF.
- More Practical NWP: On the Nairobi work programme, the EU supported making it more relevant for practitioners and a COP decision to enhance its work.
- Bunker Fuels: On emissions from fuel used for international aviation and maritime transport (bunker fuels), CUBA, ARGENTINA, BRAZIL, CHINA, INDIA and SAUDI ARABIA, said work to address sectoral emissions under the IMO and ICAO should be guided by the principles of the UNFCCC.
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