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Daily report for 3 November 2009

Barcelona Climate Change Talks - November 2009

Throughout the day, contact groups and informal consultations took place under the AWG-LCA on issues including a shared vision for long-term cooperative action, capacity building, mitigation and technology. In the evening, the AWG-KP plenary convened for a short meeting.


During an evening meeting of the AWG-KP plenary, Chair Ashe informed delegates on informal consultations following the African Group’s intervention during the opening plenary on Monday that they would not accept scheduling of other contact group meetings under the AWG-KP until the completion of work on Annex I emission reductions. Chair Ashe explained that consultations had continued late into the night on Monday and resumed on Tuesday morning, and that a solution had been found to allocate 60% of the remaining time to the contact group on Annex I emission reductions. He proposed, and parties agreed, to adopt this as a method of work in Barcelona.

The Gambia, for the AFRICAN GROUP, emphasized the Group’s desire for legally binding targets from the AWG-KP in Copenhagen. Stressing that the current level of ambition from developed countries is “unacceptable,” he emphasized the need for ambitious numbers in line with science. He warned that failure to achieve progress on this issue could lead to another suspension of the other contact groups. The African Group also stated that all pledges should include a breakdown of the respective contribution of domestic emission reductions, offsets and LULUCF. 

CHINA, SUDAN, INDIA, BOLIVIA, SAUDI ARABIA and Grenada, for AOSIS, supported the African Group’s statement and highlighted that the solution refers not only to time devoted to numbers, but also to the need for progress on concrete, specific and ambitious numbers. SAUDI ARABIA stressed that parties reserved the right to reevaluate progress on numbers at the end of each day. BRAZIL urged using the allocated time effectively, and with INDONESIA, stressed that the issue of “numbers” is the benchmark for success in Barcelona. Grenada, for AOSIS, called for a focused, urgent and meaningful response to the “numbers” issue.


SHARED VISION: During the contact group, parties started with paragraph 15 of non-paper No. 33, which contains six alternative paragraphs on a shared vision.

The US said text on a shared vision should be concise and decisional, derived from the building blocks, and include a long-term global goal for emission reductions. The EU identified the long-term goal as the core, and highlighted: a goal for emission reductions in 2050 relative to 1990; the 2°C target; peaking emissions; and reviewing the long-term goal as science evolves. He called for also specifying developed countries’ contribution and supported a reduction of 80-95% by 2050.  The EU identified the first alternative as the best departure point and stressed a shared vision as something that “guides” parties forward.

AUSTRALIA called for text on long-term cooperative action by all parties. With NORWAY, she said the first and second alternatives were the most attractive ones. The RUSSIAN FEDERATION stressed the importance of “common solidarity” of all countries. JAPAN outlined three core elements: necessity of action by all countries; necessity of realizing a low-carbon society; and importance of innovative technologies. He said these could be incorporated into the first alternative.

CHINA, INDIA, SAUDI ARABIA, SOUTH AFRICA, BANGLADESH and others expressed support for the third alternative, with INDIA stressing that it captures the essence of the Convention and the BAP. CHINA emphasized that a shared vision should be comprehensive, covering all building blocks and the Convention’s principles.

ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA expressed support for the second alternative, and noted the AOSIS position highlighting, inter alia, best available science, urgency and impacts on LDCs and SIDS as the benchmark. COLOMBIA called for also reflecting other vulnerable countries. PERU supported the third alternative with elements from the second one.

SUDAN stressed the Convention’s articles as a useful way of focusing the discussions and highlighted the need to consider the goals to be achieved in Copenhagen, namely targets for Annex I mitigation under the AWG-KP, as well as goals for finance, technology and adaptation. He said that a temperature goal can only be considered when the other goals and concrete figures are agreed. SAUDI ARABIA, supported by BOLIVIA, called for agreement on a subset of goals before agreement on temperature increase and stabilization, highlighting goals for technology and finance, and the need for clarity on how much financing developed countries will provide in the short- and medium-term. Drawing attention to economically vulnerable countries, he stressed the need for operational language indicating that developed countries will not resort to any unilateral trade measures and protectionism. BOLIVIA stated that concrete results, including numbers, on other building blocks would enable agreement on a global goal, based on ambitious results from the AWG-KP. INDIA urged mentioning per capita convergence of emissions and sharing global atmospheric resources in the text.

Chair de Wet said placeholders would be kept for incorporating elements from other building blocks. She explained that a new non-paper would be prepared based on the morning’s discussions, and that the next meeting would focus on review of shared vision.

MITIGATION (sub-paragraph 1(b)(i) of the BAP): Informal consultations took place on mitigation by developed countries. In the morning, parties considered several suggested areas of focus, such as how to define the collective goal for developed countries, the nature of individual emission reductions, comparability of efforts, application of the Kyoto Protocol’s provisions mutatis mutandis and the nature of a MRV system.

Many parties supported focusing on these areas in further discussions, noting that they address some of the key concerns. Several parties, however, expressed concern with some of the issues included on the list and identified issues they felt should be addressed in other mitigation sub-groups. Developing countries underlined that the focus of discussions should be on Protocol non-parties and that comparability of efforts should be ensured.

MITIGATION (sub-paragraph 1(b)(ii) of the BAP): Informal consultations took place on mitigation by developing countries, starting with a discussion on the scope of NAMAs. Developing countries highlighted that NAMAs should be country-driven, voluntary and supported through technology, financing and capacity building. Several parties also highlighted the distinct nature of NAMAs from commitments by developed countries under sub-paragraph 1(b)(i) of the BAP. Many countries also suggested that NAMAs include unilateral actions already being undertaken by developing countries.

Discussion also took place on the role of low-carbon development strategies and plans, with developed countries noting their importance, and several developing countries stating that they should not be a pre-condition for support or recognition of NAMAs. Several countries also suggested that NAMAs should be quantifiable.

MITIGATION (sub-paragraph 1(b)(iv) of the BAP): During an informal meeting on sectoral approaches, parties considered how to organize work.

On bunker fuels, parties discussed duplication of efforts in other groups, particularly on technology transfer. Some parties suggested that bunker fuels should be considered under the AWG-KP. On agriculture, some parties cautioned against setting global standards on agriculture. Parties postponed the decision to convene informal drafting groups on either agriculture or bunker fuels to Wednesday.

MITIGATION (sub-paragraph 1(b)(v) of the BAP): Informal consultations focused on non-market-based approaches. Some parties questioned the proposed treatment of black carbon and biosequestration, stating that the science on these issues is still uncertain. Some parties also expressed reservation with the proposal for the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer to adopt measures to control hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). Informal consultations will continue, focused on market-based approaches.

TECHNOLOGY: Informal consultations took place throughout the day on technology, focusing on a new non-paper No. 36. Several parties expressed willingness to accept the non-paper as a starting point for negotiations while expressing reservation with some aspects of the document. A group of countries said the non-paper could not be accepted as a basis for negotiations. Parties then commenced a paragraph-by-paragraph consideration of the non-paper, identifying issues for further clarification and proposing language to be included. Informal consultations will continue.

CAPACITY BUILDING: During the morning contact group, Co-Chair Børsting proposed continuing discussions on institutional arrangements and a section-by-section consideration of non-paper No.29. He asked parties to consider: whether the existing arrangements for delivery of capacity-building support would be sufficient; whether new arrangements, institutions or a mechanism would be necessary; and what the mandate, functions and accountability of new institutional arrangements would be. He also said that it would be important to address how new institutional arrangements would be linked to the financial mechanism under the COP.

Calling for a focus on LDCs, SIDS and the most vulnerable countries, BANGLADESH said existing arrangements for delivery were insufficient. IRAN highlighted the need for financial resources for national communications, which would help build capacity. The EU said a new institution or mechanism could only be defined when new functions or emerging needs are identified as not being met by existing institutions. JAPAN said the non-paper should be “strengthened” and requested more clarity on how different proposals would work. The US requested clarifications on certain aspects of the non-paper. SOUTH AFRICA, GHANA and others said that a question-and-answer session had already taken place in Bangkok and urged faster progress under the group. Co-Chair Børsting encouraged parties to consult bilaterally.


Throughout Tuesday, all meetings under the AWG-KP were suspended, pending consultations on the African Group’s request that AWG-KP groups not convene until “the numbers group” completes its work. Many AWG-KP delegates were therefore seen wandering around the corridors, checking their mobiles for messages and the CCTV, and waiting for news on how the situation might be resolved. By evening, a solution had been found and the AWG-KP plenary convened to clear the way for meetings to resume on Wednesday.

After the plenary, delegates' views were mixed. A LULUCF negotiator explained that she had come to the meeting expecting the good progress achieved in Bangkok to continue and had therefore been disappointed with the suspension - and expressed relief that work could now begin. A developing country delegate analyzed: “This gave this crucial issue more visibility, which is obviously a good thing.” He added: “In terms of the time lost, however, I’m not sure it was worth it.” A developing country delegate expressed hope that this situation would not have to be repeated.

For those following the AWG-LCA, the day was packed with informal consultations. One delegate coming out of an informal meeting on overarching mitigation issues commented that he felt the discussions had not moved forward and that developed and developing countries appeared to still hold opposing views on whether common mitigation frameworks should be discussed at all.

The AWG-LCA Chair also convened consultations on the organization of work. Parties emerging from the room described the meeting as focusing on the outcome of the Barcelona session with two options on the table: either having a draft negotiating text comprising all the non-papers or a report with the non-papers annexed to it.

Discussions were also reportedly held on documentary form of a Copenhagen outcome. One veteran explained afterwards: “A legally-binding agreement at COP 15 is now looking almost impossible, given the lack of consensus and limited time remaining.” Many, including concerned observers, were overheard wondering about the alternatives. One delegate speculated that the outcome could be “a decision with a political commitment to take action that does not rule out further discussions on a legally-binding instrument,” while a developing country delegate seemed visibly frustrated with low expectations for Copenhagen, stressing that “political commitments do not necessarily lead to actions.”

This issue of the Earth Negotiations Bulletin © <> is written and edited by Tomilola “Tomi” Akanle, Asheline Appleton, Kati Kulovesi, Ph.D., Matthew Sommerville, and Yulia Yamineva. The Digital Editor is Leila Mead. The Editor is Pamela S. Chasek, Ph.D. <>. The Director of IISD Reporting Services is Langston James “Kimo” Goree VI <>. The Sustaining Donors of the Bulletin are the United Kingdom (through the Department for International Development – DFID), the Government of the United States of America (through the Department of State Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs), the Government of Canada (through CIDA), the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU), the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the European Commission (DG-ENV), and the Italian Ministry for the Environment, Land and Sea. General Support for the Bulletin during 2009 is provided by the Government of Australia, the Austrian Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management, the Ministry of Environment of Sweden, the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, SWAN International, Swiss Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN), the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs, the Japanese Ministry of Environment (through the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies - IGES), the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (through the Global Industrial and Social Progress Research Institute - GISPRI), the Government of Iceland, and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). Funding for translation of the Bulletin into French at this meeting has been provided by the International Organization of the Francophonie (IOF). The opinions expressed in the Bulletin are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of IISD or other donors. Excerpts from the Bulletin may be used in non-commercial publications with appropriate academic citation. For information on the Bulletin, including requests to provide reporting services, contact the Director of IISD Reporting Services at <>, +1-646-536-7556 or 300 East 56th St., 11A, New York, New York 10022, United States of America. The ENB Team at the Barcelona Climate Change Talks 2009 can be contacted by e-mail at <>.