Thank you for this opportunity to provide an overview of the recent outcomes of the Nairobi climate negotiations.
I am the director of the Sage Climate Project at the Sage Centre. Sage is an operating charity carrying out a number of projects that are focused on conservation, education, leadership development, capacity building, and social sustainability.
I have worked on climate change since 1990, attending my first international negotiation on climate change in 1991 in the lead-up to the Rio Summit in 1992, where the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change was agreed on. The 1992 convention established an operating structure, and further structures were then created, with the agreement on the Kyoto Protocol in 1997.
All of this can be confusing, so I have tried to provide you with some visual charts to help you understand what the structure is. The first chart lays out the actual operating structure that we have today within the UN system. I'll explain it very quickly.
In the centre, you have the convention and the protocol, where we have annual meetings of ministers. This is where the terms “conference of the parties” and “meetings of the parties” come from. Each of these bodies is supported by something called the “subsidiary bodies”; one is on implementation and one is on science and technological advice. Those bodies support both the protocol and the convention and meet each year in Bonn, in May, in the lead-up to these sessions.
But we have also created some very important additional structures out of Montreal. The Montreal action plan created the ad hoc working group on article 3.9, which looks at future obligations for developed countries and the dialogue under the convention that allows non-Kyoto parties and developing countries to explore options for post-2012.
I wanted to make sure you also saw that in the context of Nairobi, we also began a process looking at what's called article 9, which is the entire operation of the Kyoto Protocol. I'll come back to that in a moment.
That gives you a little overview on what it all looks like and how it all fits together.
The convention was ratified by 189 countries, and 168 have ratified the protocol.
It's an important point to make that China, India, and Brazil do have obligations. Under article 10 of the protocol, it's “shall”. It's not maybe get to it when you think about it. It's a “shall” requirement that developing countries also develop action plans aimed at reducing emissions and report on those efforts.
In fact, key developing countries are making progress in that area and are reducing emissions, as has been noted. In particular, when we were in Nairobi, countries like China spoke quite explicitly to the fact that it's controlling greenhouse gas emissions in China, putting forward an objective of a 20% reduction per unit of GDP energy consumption over that of 2005 by 2010.
In his report, Nicholas Stern congratulates China for such an aggressive target. It's far in excess of what Canada is in fact achieving.
The Kyoto Protocol, through long negotiations, established a foundation not only for future developed country commitments but also for flexibility mechanisms like emissions and credit trading that will be important to any future agreement that broadens participation.
I think this is a critical point for the committee to understand. This foundation will be the basis for negotiating the next 2012 instrument, even if we don't know precisely how all those elements will formulate that new agreement.
Other venues, like the G-8 plus five climate change dialogue, Asia-Pacific 6, as well as a host of other partnerships through the World Bank, the OECD, and the International Energy Agency, are important and critical for consensus building and for implementation, but they are not the negotiating venue. In our view, that will take place within the UN.
As with any negotiation, and as is most certainly evident in Nairobi, a number of elements are now in play that will be critical to securing an agreement on the way forward post-2012.
It is the second chart that I've included in your package. This is very important, because if you actually keep this and we follow this over the course of the next few years, you will be able to see how all of this comes together.
I want to quickly review what is in fact in play here and how important it is. When I printed the chart, I eliminated some of the bars, but the blocks in the chart do in fact link and essentially form moving pieces in a unit under the convention and the protocol.
Let me just explain the elements that are in play there. Under the convention, you have, as I mentioned, the dialogue. It's simply workshops. No decisions are coming out of those, but two important discussions are happening under the convention with developing countries--one on how to reduce emissions from deforestation and one on how to improve our capacity with respect to technology transfer. These are critical discussions. It's critical that we achieve agreement in these areas if you are going to engage developing countries. We all agree that this is essential.
Under the protocol, though, you have the meat. Frankly, that's where the action really is and where it will continue to be. Canada needs to pay attention to that reality, that is, you have the ad hoc working group, as mentioned. In Nairobi we agreed to a work plan of activity for 2007 and beyond. We agreed, under article IX, the review of the protocol, to agree next year in Bali on a frame for a second review that will take place in 2008.
On the adaptation fund, we agreed on principles for how this fund would operate and how it would be governed. It's a very important fund that is paid for by levies through the clean development mechanism that many countries now agree would be expanded over time by having levies associated with all the flexibility mechanisms.
Then we have our proposal from Russia, which relates to creating a process to facilitate taking on voluntary commitments to join annex B in this case. It could be future annexes and so on. All of those pieces are in play, are active, and will form, over time, the elements of an agreement.
With respect to what happened in Nairobi, I want to focus in on targets, timelines, and money. Those, really, in the end, will be what constitutes our agreement. As I mentioned, the adaptation fund and the technology fund are the money issues. In Nairobi, Canada was clearly under instructions to commit nothing with respect to money, as were many other countries. The time for discussing money is not now. It was not in Nairobi. It will be as we get closer to finalizing a deal. Money will be on the table and it will be a factor. In that respect, Canada was essentially not exposed, if you will, at this time, and that's appropriate.
With respect to targets, the position of Canada as well as other countries was that there would be no discussion at this meeting of targets with respect to developed countries. Developed countries clearly wanted to advance discussion around developing country targets. We were therefore unable to secure an end date for the work of the ad hoc working group, which would have been an important signal to developing countries. We did, however, get agreement that the review of the entire protocol would come back in 2008, and that's particularly important.
With respect to developing countries, I just point to the fact that a number of important gestures are being made that I think, if we're smart negotiators, we will begin to recognize in the context of these discussions, particularly from countries like China, which stated very clearly in its high-level intervention that it is committed to targets and indicated the kinds of targets it would be prepared to take on--things like renewable energy targets and per unit of GDP reductions in emissions intensity. Those kinds of targets are definitely in play. Brazil is very active in proposing options for reducing emissions from deforestation. We need to be open to and welcoming of these gestures.
With respect to timelines, the most important issue from our perspective is the point that Matthew raised, and that is a serious lack of a sense of urgency. I hope you all have read carefully at least the executive summary from the Stern report, which clearly points out that if we are to avoid dangerous climate change, we need to have global emissions peaking in the next ten years or so. This is serious.
We need a mandate to negotiate, and that mandate to negotiate must happen at next year's meeting in Bali. It should be within a two-year timeframe that allows for parties to agree on a new instrument for post-2012 no later than 2008-09, to allow for ratification that meets the objective we set in Montreal, that stands behind this country's name--that's a Montreal action plan, not a global plan. We promised the world there would be no gap between commitment periods. We need to make sure that we put our efforts into making sure that occurs.
Finally, just a couple of words on, obviously, the change in the U.S. in terms of the congressional elections. It was very welcome. We're not clear yet, of course, how that will play. The point simply to be made here is that the aim is to negotiate an instrument that's flexible, that allows countries to join the regime as and when they are ready, rather than wait for the U.S. administration to be able to come formally into the negotiations, which would lead to a gap between commitment periods.
Finally, I'll say a word on Canada. I would like the committee to be aware and to fully appreciate that despite the rhetoric in terms of Canada's position and how we essentially performed in Nairobi, we are alone in our approach to our target. All parties, whether they are off the mark at the moment, close to their target, or have beaten their target, are indicating strongly that they intend to put further measures on the table to meet their target. It is important for this committee and for Canadians to realize that Canada stands alone in its approach.
There are also I think important changes in how Canada was perceived in Nairobi. An important concern you should have is that in fact Canada is no longer trusted in the negotiations. It's not clear what we're saying anymore and what our interventions mean. This is an important aspect.
In closing, I would say that in order for Canada to properly prepare for post-2012, it's important that this committee seek a commitment from the government to engage something like the Academies of Science in doing a Stern-like analysis in Canada, for Canada, to help us understand the cost of the impact so we can relate that to the target we take on.