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June 6, 2010

Saturday devoted mostly to technical issues. No session Sunday.

The AWG/LCA discussed adaptation; institutional arrangements; addressing loss and damage; and how to match adaptation actions with support. There was general agreement that adaptation efforts should be focused on the least developed countries and the small island states.  There was a robust debate,  with China and Bolivia stating that funding  should be direct, feeling that market instruments were too uncertain and subject to manipulation, while most of the rest of the countries   having both public and private funding, indicating that the need far exceeded the capacity for public funding and that with proper regulation the private sector has a lot to offer  in expertise as well as funding.  Singapore made the sound observation that maximizing the potential of private finance will allow public financing to be directed towards countries and projects that would otherwise not receive attention and underscored that the use of markets should result in real and permanent emission reductions.

 There also was a discussion on whether developing countries should be compensated from adaptation funds for loss and damage they experience from climate-related causes – hurricanes, flooding, loss of agricultural production, losses from flooding, etc. It was the general feeling that it was too difficult to tie particular losses to climate change and that adaptation funding should be focused on reducing the risks of losses – e.g. moving  people from flood-prone areas, planting mangroves and grasses and creating barriers to prevent flooding,  providing communication systems to provide storm warnings, help in selecting salt water-resistant crops, stockpiling medical and food supplies, etc

There was sentiment for establishing an adaptation facility to coordinate these activities, and the need for capacity building, education and training.  The developing countries emphasized that adaptation funding needs to be additional and long term. Insurance was thought not to be feasible. A great need for adaptation planning and implementation assistance was indicated.

Believe  it or not, Saudi Arabia has been pushing for adaptation funding to compensate it for lost oil production due to any climate change measures adopted!

Last a legal session was convened to consider how to prevent a gap in application of the Kyoto Protocol in the event that amendments extending the Protocol were not adopted before the expiration of the Protocol in 2012.  Approval of a new agreement requires deposit with the UNFCCC Secretary of formal ratification by 2/3 of the signatories before the expiration date and this is a very lengthy procedure in many of the member countries.  This determination involves very difficult legal issues.

Three measures were suggested for avoiding this quandary: accelerating negotiations; amending the Protocol to revise the provisions on the entry into force of amendments making them less onerous; and provisional application of amendments.  Neither acceleration of negotiations nor amending the Protocol would pose  legal problems but are likely to be unachievable judged by the negation meetings to date. Several parties indicated legal, even constitutional problems in their jurisdictions with provisional application of amendments.

Then a $64 question was  raised as to what the consequences would be of failure to obtain ratification of a new agreement or any of these measures before the expiration date.  Of particular concern was that the financing mechanisms of the Protocol not expire.  The Chair of the Session punted, saying that the legal team would have to research these questions and come back with answers next week..