The greatest breakthrough at the Montreal climate conference in 2005 was the launch of negotiations for a second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol after 2012.
The Ad-Hoc Working Group was established to spearhead discussions for future reduction commitments for developed countries under Annex I. This group, which met in Bonn a couple weeks ago, has made some progress, including establishing a work plan for countries to submit analyses of the emissions reduction potential, how those reductions can be achieved, and finally discussions for further commitments for Annex I countries.
The first deadline coming from this workplan, was February 23rd 2007.
Countries agreed that by this date they would submit a preliminary analysis of their national emissions reduction potential. Many Annex 1 countries have filed these submissions. Canada has not.
During the recent meeting in Bonn, the Ad-hoc working group met again to continue discussions on reduction potentials in each country. A more detailed schedule of work was established, unfortunately, in part due to Canada’s insistence on pushing back deadlines, work through this process is being delayed.
One glaring example was a clause in a draft decision that stipulated, “The AWG invited Annex I parties, in a position to do so, to submit to the secretariat, by 6 July 2007, information and data on the mitigation potential of policies, measures and technologies at their disposal…”.
Canada clearly stated that it would not be able to meet this deadline.
But this information should be readily available given that Canada made a similar commitment back in November 2006. Countries also agreed that by February 2008 they would submit information on the means for achieving greenhouse gas reductions. This date is inconvenient to say the least, given that the important climate negotiations are scheduled for December 2007. Discussions on targets have not yet been scheduled.
This August, the Ad-hoc Working Group will hold an exceptional meeting, in preparationg for COP13 (the 13th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol) in Bali, Indonesia.
Out of that meeting, Sierra Club of Canada would like to see a precise negotiating mandate for countries to undertake work towards their targets, with a final agreement in 2009. This would allow two years for countries to ratify the new agreement, ensuring that there is no gap between 2012 and the next commitment period.
Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, with the support of other G8 European leaders, wanted to use this week’s G8 meeting to give momentum to the negotiations in Bali, however, it looks like too much momentum on climate change was building, prompting George Bush to propose his own alternative forum for negotiations--potentially undermining the G8.
The challenge over the next few months will be to continue to apply pressure on the Canadian government and ensure that UN detractors such as Stephen Harper and George Bush are left with only one option: to join the European Union and take on emissions targets that would keep global warming well below 2 degrees. Otherwise they can move aside and make room for someone else who will.
Emilie Moorhouse is Sierra Club of Canada's Atmosphere and Energy Campaigner.