Durban Platform negotiations: A long way to go

Discussions on the Durban Platform get underway in Bonn (© UNclimatechange/Flickr)

By Tierney Smith
RTCC in Bonn

Those of you who are familiar with the Durban Platform will know that it is roughly two sides of A4 paper detailing the main agreements from the Durban conference last December.

It sets the basis for what will become a global treaty on climate change, but it has a long way to go.

As we explained at the beginning of the week, the Durban Platform’s future was always going to be central to the discussions taking place in Bonn.

It was the first time all the states involved have had a chance to re-visit what is, for now, a basic but still ambitious pledge.

As the working group got underway yesterday, the parties involved had still not been able to agree on a chair, so COP17 President Maite Mashabane had to take charge of the group to prevent any delayes.

Current candidates including those from India, Norway and Trinidad and Tobago.

Opening the sessions Mashabane called on all countries ‘not to fall back on old, unhelpful negotiating practices’ – after all the Durban Platform is supposed to be all about raising the ambition.

Old divides

As many would have expected the same old lines over equity and ‘common but differentiated responsibility’ (CBDR) were drawn as the groups set out their positions.

UNFCCC Chief Christiana Figueres told RTCC she is not suprised that these problems have yet to be solved as equity is the ‘heart and soul of the new agreement.’

The Umbrella group, consisting of the USA, Russia, Japan and Canada, emphasised that climate action could not be about sacrificing economic growth and called on the private sector to play a role – with no mention of equity or CBDR.

Meanwhile Gambia for the Least Developed Countries said the new discussion should not be used as an excuse to postpone action to 2015 and Nauru, on behalf of the small island states, reminded delegates that they are already losing parts of their country to sea level rise.

And echoing the sentiment shared in Durban, India and the BASIC group called for historic emissions and poverty eradication to be taken into account while the EU called for the emissions gap to be addressed and countries to begin to make pledges at this conference.

Opening the statements was Swiss delegate Franz Perrez on behalf of the Environmental Integrity Group (EIG).

The rather unique grouping of countries – including Switzerland, Mexico, South Korea, Lichtenstein and Monaco – the EIG emphasised equity, capabilities and CBDR as central to any new deal, and called for a solid work plan to be decided in Bonn.

Speaking to RTCC after the session, Perrez said he was confident that countries were committed to working on the Durban platform, but that many of the divides witnessed at Durban are still present this week in Bonn.

No one expects the Durban Platform to be agreed at Bonn, or even later this year in Doha at the 18th annual centre-piece summit. The process is likely to take some years yet. But with the deadline of 2015 set for the agreement (to be ratified and implemented by 2020) serious work needs to begin on understanding and negotiating these different positions.

So far we have only seen countries’ opening statements. As the second session of the working group continues today, and intense discussion going on across the next week, delegates will soon be getting down to the nitty gritty of the debate.

For now, all we can do is watch.

Related articles:

E3G’s Liz Gallagher rounds-up the first week of the talks

Negotiators must marry climate and politics, say youth groups

Equity workshop ends in north/south divides


Read more on: Climate politics | | |