Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Upcoming Copenhagen "Conference of the Parties" crucial for Asia

Xinhua, via China Daily: Asian countries have an important stake in this year's climate change negotiations and, as a result, a critical part to play in the negotiations. Climate change is hitting the Asian continent already and big global decisions will be made this year. An agreement to cut greenhouse gases emissions will hopefully exceed what the Kyoto agreement previously negotiated. The negotiations over the rest of the year will culminate in the new Copenhagen Agreement in Denmark in December 2009 at the 15th conference of the parties (COP 15) on the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

The main focus, agreed just over a year ago at the 13th conference of the parties in Bali, Indonesia, consist of four building blocks, of which two - "Mitigation" and "Adaptation" - are considered major. …The most immediate concern for Asia is the issue of Adaptation and funding for it. Estimates of global adaptation funding range from tens to hundreds of billions of dollars a year. These funds will need to come from "new and additional" sources not from previously rolled out development assistance.

A number of proposals to raise such significant sums for adaptation already exist, including a proposal by Bangladesh and formally adopted by the least developed countries (LDC) group at the Poznan meeting to charge an "adaptation levy" on all international air passengers. Estimates put the total figure at more than $10 billion a year. Even if the LDC proposal ultimately falls over, at least it gives the group a strong card to play against other countries. They will need to assure funding in the tens of billions of dollars for adaptation to be acceptable to the LDC group, as well as other vulnerable countries and Africa group.

Asian countries need to use their strong presence within the LDC Group to build bridges and establish a common negotiating position with these other groups of most vulnerable countries, and the African group. The focus on adaptation, however, should not distract us from also paying attention to the other major building block, mitigation, and formulating a clear strategy on the issue….

Sunset at Changi Beach Park, Changi Point, Republic of Singapore, shot by Calvin C Teo, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.5 License

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