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Monday, January 24, 2011

cancun was a success: agriculture minister

Lyonpo Pema Gyamtsho says Bhutan must take proactive measures on climate change and cannot wait for any globally binding agreement. He says the glaciers are melting, snowfall and rainfall patterns are changing and they are not waiting for a global agreement.

While the recent 16th world climate change conference (COP16) held in Cancun, Mexico, has received critical reviews from developing countries, Bhutan see it as a success.
The agriculture minister, Lyonpo Pema Gyamtsho, who led the Bhutanese delegation at the summit, said it was a success with a special mention of the adoption of the Cancun Agreement, a set of decision that moves the UN Climate Change negotiations forward. Many see the Agreement as bringing the multilateral attempt of a global consensus back on track.
“The Cancun summit (COP16) has been successful compared to COP15. There were some positive outcomes which has high relevance for Bhutan and the Cancun agreement is substantive in terms of making progress and in restoring confidence in the multilateral process,” said Lyonpo Pema Gyamtsho.
The Agreement strengthened the multilateral nature of climate change negotiations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) despite differences between barious groups like the developed and the developing countries.
Lyonpo Pema Gyamtsho said that last year after COP15 there were various talks of the multilateral process not making progress. Some of the parties were not very keen to get into the process. However, Cancun has restored the confidence and showed that multilateral parties can reach a consensus.
“This in itself is a significant outcome of Cancun,” added Lyonpo.
This was also attributed to the strong efforts and handling of the Mexican Presidency of the Conference.
The Cancun Agreement included two sets of decisions, one under the Adhoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action (AWG-LCA) and the second on the Adhoc Working Group on further commitments under the Kyoto Protocol (AWG-KP).
“While there was no decision made as such at Cancun under the Kyoto Protocol negotiating track, there were a number of steps made,” said the head of Environment Monitoring Division under the National Environment Commission and the country’s UNFCCC focal person, Thinley Namgyel.
Some of the steps under the AWG-KP include reduction of emissions in the range of 25-40% below 1990 levels by 2020 by the developed countries and greater ambition in reducing greenhouse gases. The work of the AWG-KP should be concluded as early as possible to finalize the rules and targets to ensure that there is no gap between the first and second commitment period, and the parties also agreed that the Clean Development Mechanism (CDB) and Joint Implementation (JI) shall continue while carbon capture and storage has also been approved as an eligible project type under CDM.
Under the AWG-LCA, countries recognized the need to keep average global temperature at two degree celsius below pre-industrial levels.
Bhutan, along with other LDCs and small island countries, supported a 1.5 degree celsius target to be maintained below the pre-industrial levels.
Other agreements from Cancun were on mitigation, adaptation, finance technology, and capacity building.
One of the most successful outcomes for the LDCs was the ‘Fast Start Finance’ of up to US$ 30bn which will be provided between 2010-12 for most vulnerable least developed, small island and African countries.
There was a similar pledge made last year at COP15 by developed countries which did not materialize because the pledge was not formally signed. Thinley Namgyel said that it will not happen this year as the developed countries made the pledge formally by penning it down on paper. The developed countries will report on the delivery of their pledges annually to the UNFCCC.
In terms of financing, there has been a significant progress and there have been pledges from various quarters on mechanism which would enable the LDCs to access funds much more easily than the past. Bhutan, as a LDC, can tap into the Fast Start Finance till 2012.
“The mechanisms have been simplified and many parties and countries are willing to work bilaterally,” said Lyonpo Pema Gyamtsho.
However, the legal nature of the agreement was not resolved in Cancun. The AWG-LCA mandate has been extended for a year to work on the details contained in the agreement and also to continue discussions on the legal nature of an agreement by COP17, to be held in South Africa next year.
The concern is whether the final outcome of COP17 will be a legally binding treaty to complement the Kyoto Protocol or whether action will be through decisions of the Conference of Parties.
“We cannot afford to wait for any globally binding agreement to come into force. Our glaciers are melting very fast and they are not waiting for the agreement, the snowfall which is decreasing every year is not waiting for the agreement, the rainfall pattern which is changing is not waiting for the agreement, so we have to take proactive measures,” said Lyonpo Pema Gyamtsho.
“We hope there will be a legally binding document at COP17 in South Africa. There is a good chance of that happening as people left Cancun with positive feelings,” added Lyonpo.

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