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Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments

a.k.a. What will Kyoto look like post-2012?

Sierra Club of Canada's Atmosphere and Energy campaigner, Emilie Moorhouse, is in Bonn for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change meetings.

The meetings are the twenty-sixth sessions of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) and the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI) and the third session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol (AWG).

The outcomes of the Ad Hoc working group will be particularly important as they determine what the Kyoto Protocol looks like, and what reductions will be committed to, post-2012.

Read Emilie's - Bonn notebook - May 16th, May 19th and the Conference Wrap-Up

Read the press release from May 16th, "Canada misleads the world."

Read the Climate Action Network's ECO. The daily newsletter produced by the non-governmental delegates at the meetings.

The May 14th issue, the opening day of the AWG, contains the article:

Two Sides of the Canadian Coin

As the third session of the AWG opens today in Bonn, Canada’snumber one priority is tackling climate change head on.

Recent polls show that Canadians think fighting climate change is more important than any other issue. Despite the fact that Canada’s emissions have risen significantly since 1990, 61% of Canadians still want their government to meet its Kyoto targets. Furthermore, a large majority of Parliamentarians support the two bills mandating Kyoto compliance that are currently working their way through the Canadian Parliament. Canada’s newest environment minister John Baird has even proclaimed that Canada “now has one of the most aggressive plans to tackle climate change.”

Under these circumstances, Canada playing a leadership role in the AWG process would be guaranteed apart from one small problem - the minority government’s position to not support action on climate change. Prime Minister Harper has changed his tune from his days in opposition when he sent out fundraising letters saying Kyoto was a socialist plot to send billions of dollars to developing countries. In fact, Harper’s government is now bending over backwards to seem Kyoto-compatible, even with some wink-wink, nudge-nudge allusions to its “absolute” commitments to reductions. It is also finding new and creative ways to repeat the same old Rona Ambrose message that Canada is fulfilling all its Kyoto commitments… except the targets.

The latest version of its shifting climate change policy contains no absolute targets. Instead, the plan speculates that Canada will meet its Kyoto goal through intensity targets…by 2025! The “new” government also loves to generate headlines about how it will reduce its emissions by 20% – BUT from a 2006 baseline.

Perhaps Canada will play a constructive role in this process. Miracles do happen. However, at a minimum, ECO hopes Canada won’t contaminate other delegations.

The following day, May 15, continues to follow the Canadian delegation and reports:

Scraps from the Roundtable

At the AWG roundtable yesterday, ECO was pleased to see the IPCC get it right as it and a few others re-iterated the strong evidence that aggressive mitigation is both feasible and cost-effective. These realities should clearly inform further work of the AWG. The progress made here in considering mitigation potentials allows for a more informed discussion in Vienna on ranges of emission reductions. This is necessary if the AWG is to contribute meaningfully to a Bali mandate.

But where were the other parties? ECO couldn’t help but notice the sparse crowd of delegates in attendance. With all the empty seats it was much easier to notice the less than helpful interventions of several delegations.

Perhaps encouraged by our article yesterday morning, Canada proclaimed that its new regulations were very much in line with IPCC recommendations that, to stabilise concentrations in the lowest range, emissions should peak by 2015. Ignoring the reference to global emissions, Canada proudly announced that their emissions are intended to peak by 2012. This is only guesswork under the intensitybased targets, but what is certain is that Canada does not intend to reach its Kyoto target until 2025. While they are so selectively enamoured with IPCC findings, perhaps they would like to commit to a 2°C target.

ECO was surprised to see Australia so interested in the process all of a sudden, being one of the roundtable’s most active participants yesterday. We suggest that perhaps this newfound energy would be more effectively dedicated to ratifying the Kyoto Protocol.

ECO also feels that Saudi Arabia’s worries about economic impacts are perhaps misguided given the current price of oil. Other, more farsighted fossil-rich countries who are beginning to diversify their economies do not seem to be voicing the same objections.

Let’s hope that these few poor examples did not distract others from the urgency which the IPCC has shown us is so desperately needed. For too many, this issue will mean life or death. For a billion people it may mean the loss of their homes and livelihoods. ECO requests all delegates act accordingly and stop playing games.


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