The first commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol comes to an end in 2012, and the negotiations under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) have yet to reach an “agreed outcome” to regulate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions post-2012. This impasse raises the prospect that in a year’s time – even as the scientific evidence mounts that human impact on the climate system is veering out of control – there will be no internationally agreed legally binding commitments regulating greenhouse gas emissions.
Are our current efforts to avert dangerous climate change, safeguard the development aspirations of vulnerable communities, and catalyze the transition to a low-carbon future sufficient? One of the key results from last year’s climate talks in Cancun was the decision to periodically review collective efforts to stabilize the climate and prevent global average temperatures from reaching 2°C above preindustrial levels. At COP17 in Durban negotiators will be tasked with finalizing the scope, modalities, and other design elements of the first so-called Periodic Review, which is scheduled to take place between 2013 and 2015. With careful design this often-overlooked product of Cancun could inject urgency and purpose into the negotiations once more.
Though forests play an essential role in international efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the development of systems to monitor deforestation and forest degradation has been slow. This is due to the demanding technical requirements and the large capacity gaps in many countries. Measuring and monitoring change on the ground and via satellite in a consistent way is no easy task.
Countries need to develop national measurement, reporting, and verification (MRV) systems to monitor progress towards achieving REDD+ goals. Establishing procedures to do so would be a significant outcome of the UN climate negotiations in Durban. This task falls to the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA).
With all its complex processes and acronyms, it’s easy to forget that the international climate change negotiations are supposed to lead to changes on the ground. There have been several developments this year, however, which should remind us of the urgency of the task and the importance of getting each piece of the puzzle right, including incentives for developing countries to reduce their emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+).
The Cancun Adaptation Framework agreed during COP16 provides potential for a new action orientation to adaptation under the UNFCCC. COP17 in Durban presents a big opportunity to resolve several critical pieces of the Cancun Adaptation Framework, to integrate and streamline the many strands of adaptation negotiations, and to move forward on helping countries around the world adapt. Expectations of significant progress on adaptation are high – especially since Durban is an “African COP,” taking place on a continent where vulnerability to climate change is palpable and affects so many people’s future. But the Durban adaptation agenda is long, and negotiation time limited, so Parties have no time to waste. Key issues are summarized here:
You can’t manage what you can’t measure. This is one reason it is important to track countries’ individual and aggregate progress in reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Next week, COP17 of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Durban will mark an essential milestone in the design of an effective system to “measure, report, and verify” countries’ emissions, commitments, and actions. Known as “MRV,” this is one of the fundamental issues to watch in the negotiations.
At the United Nations climate conference (COP17) in Durban, delegates will negotiate detailed decisions on measurement, reporting, and verification (MRV). In another post, we review the importance of MRV and the main decisions facing negotiators in Durban. As negotiators for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) consider new MRV mechanisms, they may not need to reinvent the wheel.
This post was written with Angel Hsu and originally appeared on ChinaFAQs.org.
As its negotiators head to Durban, South Africa for the next round of the UNFCCC climate negotiations, China can point to significant progress in domestic climate policy since the Cancun negotiations a year ago. March, 2011 saw the adoption of China’s 12th Five-Year Plan, binding domestically China’s first phase of its Copenhagen and Cancun commitments to reduce its carbon intensity 40 to 45 percent by 2020. In this first year of the new Five Year Plan, China also adopted a number of specific climate-related implementation measures (For a more exhaustive list, see China’s just published White Paper on its climate change activities):
The world must brace for more extreme weather. That is the clear message from a new report that finds climate change is likely to bring more record-breaking temperatures, heat waves, and heavy downpours. The much anticipated Special Report on Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation (SREX) – the summary of which was released today by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) – provides new evidence that links extreme weather events and climate change.
This piece was written with Louise Brown, Research Analyst at WRI.
From November 28 to December 9, negotiators will gather in Durban, South Africa, for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) COP17 meeting. An outcome on climate finance – funds to support climate change mitigation and adaptation activities in developing countries – is a key part of the overall Durban agreement. This includes agreeing on how the Green Climate Fund (GCF) will be structured and governed, setting in motion a process to identify how developed countries will meet their long-term finance commitment of $100 billion by 2020, and agreeing on the role, composition and functions of the Standing Committee, a body that will monitor finance flows and enhance overall decision-making on climate finance.