Greenhouse Development Rights


GDRs and the way forward from Bali

GDRs is a very nice and somehow ‘balanced’ concept, because there is an inconvenient truth in it for both sides of the North-South divide:

For the North: The inconvenient truth is that even the more ambitious of the actually discussed reduction commitments for the North (-25-40% until 2020) are insufficient if they are meant as a measure of the total effort of the North, partly to be fulfilled through emissions trading abroad. We need these ambitious domestic reductions plus strong support for mitigation in the South.

For the South: The inconvenient truth is, that there need to be obligations for some parts of the South as well in the upcoming commitment period (yes, they are small, because they correspond to the Southern countries share of responsibility and capacity). In addition, strong reductions in the South financed by the North are necessary.

The GDRs framework made it clear:

If we want to keep global temperature rise below 2C, emission reductions both in developed and developing countries need to happen. But if we want the associated effort to be shared equitably, a large part of the emission reductions in the South need to be financed by the North.

An echo of these inconvenient truths is contained in the outcomes of the Bali Action Plan. There it was agreed to start negotiations on:

Enhanced national/international action on mitigation of climate change, including, inter alia, consideration of:

(i) Measurable, reportable and verifiable nationally appropriate mitigation commitments or actions, including quantified emission limitation and reduction objectives, by all developed country Parties, while ensuring the comparability of efforts among them, taking into account differences in their national circumstances;

ii) Nationally appropriate mitigation actions by developing country Parties in the context of sustainable development, supported and enabled by technology, financing and capacity-building, in a measurable, reportable and verifiable manner;

The dramatic very last hours of the Bali negotiations made it clear, that there is clearly a link between the level of the “mitigation actions” to be undertaken by developing countries, and the level of support they are going to get for this. This corresponds quite nicely to the logic of the GDRs concept.

After Bali, we saw efforts from the Bush administration to backpedal on these decisions. Unsurprisingly.

But also an important voice from developing countries seems to strive backwards to the times before Bali, rather than forward from Bali toward Copenhagen. In a column for the Malaysian “Star”, Martin Khor from Third World Network reported from the discussions on climate change in the UN General Assembly. He quotes himself:

The Kyoto Protocol must be supported, and the first task is to correct the misconception that it expires in 2012 and must be replaced.

What is expiring is the first commitment period (for emission cuts) of the developed countries, and this is to be followed by a second commitment period for which negotiations are already taking place.

The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Kyoto Protocol should be defended, as they contain good principles such as that developed countries must take the lead, and developing countries will act to the extent that the developed countries meet their finance and technology commitments.

The post-Bali process should firstly focus on implementation of existing commitments, as the performance is poor.

The developed countries have to meet their emission targets and their technology and finance obligations (which have not been fulfilled), if developing countries are to have confidence that they will be assisted.

While I agree with many of Martin’s views, I disagree with the assertion that we can content ourselves with focusing on the implementation of existing commitments under Kyoto and the negotiation of further commitments under a second commitment period. This would amount to backpedal from the Bali Action Plan. But we need to move forward from Bali, and work towards clear and binding linkages between measurable, reportable and verifiable mitigation actions by developing countries and equally measurable, reportable and verifiable support by developed countries for that purpose. We need to use our creativity to find ways how this can happen.

There is no time to loose. Let us focus our energy on demanding much more agressive binding reduction commitments by developed countries, and adequate levels of funding both for adaptation and mitigation in the South. Delaying tactics are not on the order of the day.

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One Response to 'GDRs and the way forward from Bali'

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  1. Peter Quinn said,

    I found your site on technorati and read a few of your other posts. Keep up the good work. I just added your RSS feed to my Google News Reader. Looking forward to reading more from you.

    Peter Quinn


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