Hero Background

UN Climate Change Newsroom


These pages and sections capture news of climate change and stories about the groundswell of climate action by governments, companies, cities, the UN and civil society around the globe. To provide feedback, email us at press@unfccc.int Photo©Naziha Mestaoui

8th Informal Meeting on Further Action against Climate Change

Tokyo, 1-2 March 2010


Address by Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change



Good morning and thank you for the opportunity to briefly address you.


This meeting provides an excellent opportunity to take stock of Copenhagen and to lay a firm foundation to advance negotiations in 2010.


Copenhagen concluded with an outcome that responded only partially to the high expectations for the conference. While disappointing to some, Copenhagen was nonetheless a crucial event in the negotiating process because:


  1. It raised climate change policy to where it belongs: the highest political level;


  1. It significantly advanced the negotiations on the infrastructure needed for well-functioning, global climate change cooperation, including improvements to the Kyoto Protocol’s CDM;


  1. Significant progress was made in narrowing down options and clarifying choices that need to be made on key issues in the negotiations;


  1. Lastly, COP15 produced the Copenhagen Accord, which is a clear letter of political intent to constrain carbon and respond to climate change, both in the short and in the long term.


As of February 18, 40 developed countries have submitted their 2020 targets with various base years. These Parties represent around 90 percent of emissions from this group of Parties.


Thirty developing countries have communicated information on their mitigation plans, either in economy-wide terms or in specific actions.


More than 100 Parties have stated that they wish to be associated with the Accord.


These are clear signals that Parties want global climate change action under the UNFCCC to move forward.


The priority for 2010 will be to reach consensus on as many of the outstanding issues as possible to allow for the adoption of an agreed outcome in Cancun.


The issues which were not resolved in Copenhage can broadly be classified in three broad categories:


  1. Issues which came close to being concluded in the context of the AWG-LCA and the AWG-KP in Copenhagen;


  1. Unresolved political issues, on which the Copenhagen Accord provides useful points of convergence to unlock negotiations;


  1. Remaining crunch issues, on which the Copenhagen Accord did not add much.


Following Copenhagen, it will be important to get the negotiations off to a good start. It is paramount to rebuild confidence in the process. Parties need to agree on effective, transparent and inclusive working methods to take the work forward in a focused manner in 2010.


The first negotiating session has been scheduled for 9-11 April in Bonn. It is likely that two additional sessions will be scheduled between June and Cancun.


In Mexico, the international community will have another opportunity to unify around a set of achievable collective actions that could boost green growth and climate resilience.


To achieve this, expectations and objectives for Mexico need to be realistic and take account of current political realities. This needs to focus on three key areas:


  1. Clarity on the future of the Kyoto Protocol;


  1. Clear leadership by Annex I Parties;


  1. Putting in place a fully operational architecture that makes it possible for developing countries to act on climate change.


Under the Convention, it is important to come to a common understanding of what an outcome in Mexico can consist of.


Possibly, a set of decisions in Mexico could put in place the implementation architecture that will trigger accelerated action without further delay.


For example, Copenhagen made progress on institutional arrangements to further operationalize the Financial Mechanism. Agreement was almost reached on the establishment of a Finance Board of the Financial Mechanism of the Convention. This could be made operational by a decision.


The Board would operate under the guidance of, and be directly accountable to the COP. It would also have equitable and balanced representation of all Parties.


Negotiations under the Bali Road Map need to be concluded in Mexico. Where applicable, the points of convergence in the Copenhagen Accord could be utilized for this purpose.


Points of convergence in the Copenhagen Accord include the following:


There was convergence on the long-term goal of limiting temperature increases to no more than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, subject to a review in 2015. But ways need to be found to make that a reality.


Parties did not come to an agreement on how to translate the long-term goal into the required emission reductions, neither in global terms, nor for groups of countries.


Firm commitments by developed countries to continue taking the lead in emission reductions, including in the context of a 2 degrees Celsius limit, will be indispensable in the run-up to Mexico.


The overall level of ambition needs to be raised and agreement reached on a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, coupled with appropriate arrangements under the Convention to capture commitments of non-Kyoto Parties.


There seems to be convergence that the MRV framework for developed country targets would be based on the existing reporting and accounting framework developed for the purposes of the Kyoto Protocol.


The MRV arrangements for developing countries is a key policy issue on which the Copenhagen Accord could provide some fundamental guidance.


Ways to reach the goal of mobilizing USD 100 billion by 2020 pledged by developed countries remains a key unresolved issue.


Developed countries pledged up to USD 30 billion for the period 2010 to 2012, with a balanced allocation between adaptation and mitigation.


It is essential that these funds start flowing immediately. Given the amount of time needed to create and set up new funding channels, it will be necessary to channel short-term funds through existing structures. This includes channels under the Convention, Protocol and bi-lateral or multilateral channels.


Yet overall, Parties need to know and plan for what they are working towards


Many Parties have called for a legally binding instrument to be ready for adoption in Cancun, while other Parties have made it clear that they are not ready for such a step.


But “legally binding” means different things to different people. There is a need to unravel the concept and to define it clearly.


One starting point for this may be to clearly assess which issues need a legal or regulatory foundation, and what that foundation might constitute.


Another starting point for this may be to turn the debate on “legally binding” into a debate on “compliance”.


In this way, issues that could be enforced by compliance arrangements could be identified.


Such an approach would lead to a more focused discussion on the need for either a new legal instrument, or strong compliance arrangements attached to specific issues.


In this way, consensus could be reached to turn the outcome in Mexico into a legal treaty by a specific date.


Copenhagen brought many issues to the advanced stage of negotiations. But at the same time, the process has been overly focused on difficult political issues. In a way, the negotiations would benefit from being somewhat depoliticized. More than ever, there is a need to focus on substantive issues in order to make long-term climate change cooperation work.


I am confident that this can be done in view of a successful outcome in Mexico.


Thank you


- - - - -

Subscribe to our newsletter