Daily Update #5 COP18 UNFCCC Doha

Vanuatu’s engagement in the international climate change conference is heating up.  The battle lines are being clearly drawn around the major issues of the Kyoto protocol and raising pre-2020 ambitions.  Interestingly, there are parties of both developed and developing countries that are lagging behind, and parties from developed and developing countries that are pushing ahead.  Vanuatu is of course part of the ‘coalition of the willing’, alongside AOSIS, the African Group, the LDCs, the Environmental Integrity Group and the G77.  Vanuatu and its partners are working hard to ensure that outcomes from Doha do not compromise our survival as a highly vulnerable, least developed and small island country.

On the specific issue of mitigation, Vanuatu has been negotiating for a very clear workplan for 2013 to immediately begin to identify CO2 emission reductions.  Vanuatu would like to see regional workshops for each sector, like agriculture, forestry, waste management, energy, and transportation.  The reason our country is pushing so hard in this issue is largely due to a newly launched report by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) which shows that we are emitting 50% more CO2 than we did in 1990, and that our current emissions pathways will surely lead us to a world that is above 2C. 

In terms of Finance, Vanuatu is moving forward in the negotiations in terms of direct access to finance mechanisms.  There are multiple international funds available for climate finance, but often Vanuatu cannot access them because funds the money has to go through accredited agencies like UNDP, UNESCO, UNICEF etc.  Vanuatu delegates have held good bilaterial discussions with the boards of global funds like the Adaptation Funds, the Least Developed Country Fund, the Special Climate Change Fund and the Green Climate Fund.

Loss and damage continues to be a huge issue with Vanuatu and its partners, as we continually see that adaptation can only go so far, and that often climate impacts will inflict serious damage EVEN when adaptation is underway.  Vanuatu’s lead negotiator, Mr Brian Phillips, spent 26 straight hours in the negotiating room to draft overnight text that would see the establishment of an international mechanism to look at risk reduction, an insurance facility and a compensation funds for countries hit hard by climate-related hazards.

The Kyoto protocol is turning into the biggest battle Vanuatu and its partners have at the moment.  The Kyoto Protocol is currently the only international agreement among parties to limit CO2 emissions in the atmosphere.   This year countries like Russia, Japan and New Zealand have decided not to join the 2ncd commitment period of this protocol, basically sending a signal that they don’t think a global agreement is important.  Vanuatu feels strongly that all countries should commit to emissions reductions, and put single number targets on the table immediately.  For those that choose not to join the protocol, Vanuatu feels that they should also be subjected to clear emissions accounting rules, and dot get any special benefits of Kyoto parties (like access to CDM projects).   Another big issue of concern to Vanuatu is the issue of surplus Carbon emissions allowances.  Some countries, like Poland, have huge amounts of emissions credits that they were ‘given’ but did not use.  These parties claim that they should be allowed to keep these surplus credits and sell them to other countries that are over emitting. But Vanuatu and other consider these credits just ‘hot air’, emissions that don’t belong to anyone, and certainly shouldn’t be put into the atmosphere.  We would like to see these credits disregarded in the 2nd commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol.

Now that Minister’s from all countries have arrived, many of the technical matters must be sorted out at the high political level.  Vanuatu will continue to push for these critically important agreements at Doha.