So excited am I that Juliet chose to make a comment on the blog (the first in goodness knows how long) I've decided to celebrate by presenting two postings in one day. Another good reason for doing this is that I then don't have to justify, over and over, my ridiculous trip to a beachy paradise in the name of climate change.
So, what is the Bali Roadmap (I think it's now called the Bali Action Plan, to be precise)? Well, this is the Bali Action Plan.
Fine. What does that mean?
Historically this is a slow process. COP 1* met in Berlin in 1995. The Convention had already been signed by many countries but this COP recognised that, as it stood, the Convention alone could not solve the problem of Climate Change. It dealt with general principles rather than specific actions. "The Berlin Mandate" called for parties (i.e. countries) to find a way to deliver something under the Convention to solve (or at least start to solve) the problem.
2 years later, at Kyoto, the Kyoto Protocol was came into being. The Protocol set up a number of principles include specific targets for emissions reductions during the period 2008 - 2012. The Protocol was not designed to expire after this date but it did not specify what action would occur after this date. It is a commonly held misconception (spread by some, but by no means all, Americans, and by many others) that China and India do not have obligations under this Protocol. The do not have an emissions reduction target for 2008 - 2012. However they do have obligations to continue to do what they signed up for under the Convention (see Article 10 of the Protocol). Furthermore, since the Protocol only commits parties to quantified emissions reductions until the end of 2012, a second phase of Kyoto (i.e. action "post-2012") could include either more parties joining Annex I (the parties that take hard cuts) or additional/new/different commitments by non-Annex I parties.
It is my personal opinion that, had the US joined Kyoto, they would now be in a far stronger position to negotiate with non-Annex I countries, particularly big emitters like China, Mexico, Brazil and South Korea. I shall ignore India for the time being, because although are a large country, their per capita emissions are so low that it seems unlikely they will take an hard cuts any time soon.
Enough of personal opinion (for the time being).
The drafting of the Kyoto Protocol was not, in itself, significant. It required ratification by the parties. At COP 6, in 2000, in The Hague, negotiations on ratification broke down. By COP 6 bis
the following year President Bush had already indicated that he wasn't going to support US ratification (though to be fair, even if he had supported ratification it would likely have been impossible to persuade the US Senate to follow suit). The EU and Japan, as well as others, did ratify, but the Protocol could not come into force until sufficient numbers of parties, including a significant proportion on Annex I parties, ratified. In effect this meant that until Russia ratified, the Protocol was stalled.
Russia finally ratified in 2005 and the Protocol was then, for all intents and purposes, alive. So it only took 10 years from the text of the Berlin Mandate, to actually getting an emissions reductions treaty up and going. In that 10 years emissions globally increased significantly, and the world's largest emitter of GHGs decided not to join in.
That brings us, via 4 rather technical COPs, to Montreal in 2005. In Montreal the UK played a particularly significant role, in the role of President of both the EU and the G8. In essence Montreal started a discussion that could lead to a negotiation that could lead to future commitments. At Montreal parties eventually committed to looking not just at what Annex I (i.e. developed) parties can do, but also what all parties can do to enhance the Convention (code for talking about what non-Annex I (developing) countries can do.
Two years after Montreal (slow process, right) Bali gives us a mandate to negotiate over the next 2 years (!) in order to deliver a new, long-term goal for emissions reductions that will require contributions from both Annex I and non-Annex I countries. The principle of common but differentiated responsibilities is still enshrined in the text of this Action Plan, which means that non-Annex I countries will not (in the first instance, by which I mean 2013) have emissions reductions targets. What precisely this all means is up for negotiation. As I've written elsewhere
... in the short term what we are going to see is a growth in Chinese and Indian emissions, and hopefully a decrease in Annex I emissions.
The plan would be that
i) Annex I takes deep cuts from 2013 onwards.
ii) India and China (and all other developing countries, or at least significant ones) do more to improve energy efficiency, so that their emissions growth is significantly lower than predicted
iii) Annex I contribute to ii) with technical and financial support
iv) Eventually China, then later India, enter into full emissions reductions commitments
The devil is in the detail, of course, which is why the negotiations over the next two years are so important.
What level of cuts do we take in i)? And how is that cut divided up? What level of reductions will Japan sign up to, vs. US, vs. EU?
What will China and India (and Mexico, Korea, Brazil etc.) do in ii)? And how do we monitor it? And how do we hold them to doing it?
How do we support ii) through iii)? To what level? What level of support in iii) is tied to ii)? i.e. will we end up in a stupid argument where we say they aren't doing ii) and they say that's because we didn't give enough support under iii)?
On iv), when?
Don't forget that the average Chinese emits about 1/5th of what the average American emits. But also don't forget that there are 1.3 billion of them.
A lot of these issues would be easier to deal with had the USA stuck with Kyoto. Having made cuts it would now be in a stronger negotiating position. As it is, China (and particularly India, who have very low per capita emissions) are saying to the US "You caused this problem. You move first. Once we see you move we will consider moving"
So that's the reality.
There is a potential way forward, which is sectoral agreements. We could look at particular sectors, like manufacturing in China and India, and include them in a global reduction agreement, while letting the electricity consumption for, say, domestic purposes, increase. Sectoral agreements are complex, and I'm no expert, but I expect to see this sort of thing being talked about over the next two years.
Does that help?
* Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change