Optimism at halfway stage in negotiations for future climate change regime

By Xinhua

Bali, Indonesia : As negotiations on shaping an agreement on a future climate deal reached the halfway stage in Bali, there was optimism that progress was being made on the main building blocks which will shape the agreement.

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After what he described as a busy week of talks, Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), on Saturday spoke of a “strong willingness” by Parties for an outcome at the conference, which has attracted more than 10,000 participants, including delegates, NGOs, international organizations and the media.

Yvo de Boer explained at a daily press briefing that the two-week conference needs to deliver on ongoing issues of particular importance to developing countries. This means moving forward on adaptation, transfer of technology and deforestation, as well as strengthening capacity-building.

What the conference also needs to do is to launch a process on action beyond 2012, when the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol ends. Yvo de Boer reiterated that no final deal on a future climate regime will be concluded at Bali, and that the goal is to launch negotiations, set an agenda on the main building blocks of a future agreement and set an end date for conclusion of the negotiations.

On the issue of emission reduction targets, he said that the range of 25-40 percent for industrialized countries by 2020, agreed by Kyoto Parties earlier this year, would also be “an important reference frame for these discussions.”

He went on to explain three diverging views among Parties on the issue of targets. While some countries are calling for legally binding targets for developing countries, others are calling for developing nations to limit growth in emissions if incentives are put in place. The third discussion revolves around whether industrialized countries should take on internationally legally binding targets, or targets at the national level.

Yvo de Boer expressed the hope that this whole discussion would be taken up only at the end of the two-year debate, since countries needed to be clear first on the instruments they will have at their disposal to act on mitigation of climate change and adaptation. Only then would the foundations be laid for adopting ambitious targets that “make sense.”

The first negotiating text that captures the different proposals which have been made to date was tabled Saturday and will be discussed on Monday, prior to the arrival of ministers attending the High-Level segment.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will deliver a statement at the opening of the High-Level segment which begins on Wednesday and ends on Friday. During these last three days of the conference, Environment Ministers will seek to reach agreement on the shape of a future international climate pact.

Yvo de Boer spoke of the significant political momentum on the issue of climate change which has built up throughout the year, following the release of the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), as a result of which, he said, “the heyday of the climate skeptics is ended.”

The latest findings of the report were presented to delegates at the conference Friday by IPCC Chairman Rajenda Pachauri, thus bringing the IPCC’s findings formally into the negotiating process. The clear message to the climate change process, said Yvo de Boer, is “act now.”

His question to the Ministers arriving on Wednesday, he added, will be “what is your political answer to what the scientists are telling you?”