Policy-makers will be hoping to make significant progress on formalizing the role and scope of the Green Climate Fund.
COP17 is not exclusively about the extension of a globally binding deal.
Regardless of what happens with the Kyoto Protocol, there are other areas where some kind of progress is more likely. Other issues that are up for discussion at Durban include the Green Climate Fund (GCF), Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMA) and Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD+).
Hope for progress on the Green Climate Fund
The Green Climate Fund was proposed at Copenhagen (COP 15), and it was at Cancun (COP 16) that the parties agreed to establish the fund and a committee to design it. Its goal is to help with the long-term funding needed for emission cuts and adaptation in developing countries, estimated at US$100b a year by 2020.
Much about the GCF needs an agreement. How the GCF will raise the funds that it is intending to distribute, or how it will fit in to the existing architecture of development assistance and climate finance, are key issues. Policy-makers also have to determine how business will be engaged and how the funds will actually be delivered.
Some commentators remain skeptical about the likely effectiveness of the fund, particularly if the goal is to fund it through contributions from developed countries.
The GCF will be a key instrument of climate finance to achieve the $100b per year by 2020, although not the only one. Moreover, the private sector will have to contribute heavily to this amount.
Will NAMAs offer a new potential opportunity?
Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMAs) are voluntary emission reduction measures undertaken by developing countries that meet the needs of their specific national circumstances. They are expected to be one of the main vehicles for mitigation action in developing countries under a future climate agreement, and can take the form of policies or actions implemented at national, regional or local levels.
In essence, NAMAs involve developing countries submitting mitigation plans to the UNFCCC and then receiving funding and technology from developed countries to put the plans into action. Over the past three years, the number of NAMA submissions has increased. Early indications suggest that NAMAs are more varied than CDM projects, both in terms of the types of projects that have been proposed and the range of countries that have put forward proposals.
But despite this progress, NAMAs are still not in their implementation phase. Three years since agreeing on the concept of NAMAs, neither host countries nor financing ones know specifically how to move forward.
It is as yet unclear how funding and technology transfer from developed countries will take place. Developing countries will also need confidence that they will receive adequate support for implementing their plans.
There remains much to discuss at Durban over how NAMAs will work and how they will relate to other aspects of the UN climate process. A formal process needs to be put in place to enable the transfer of funds and technologies to projects and a credible and robust MRV process must be established to help smooth the flow of finance to developing countries.
Can REDD+ fulfill its potential?
REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) is a framework designed to provide incentives to developing countries to reduce the emission from deforested lands. An important point of discussion in Durban will be to determine how this can take place.
Although public financing will continue to play a role, more must be done to establish the role that the carbon markets will play in REDD+.
Another important issue that still needs to be clarified is the possibility to include monitoring and reporting standards to protect indigenous rights and loss of biodiversity.
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