United Nations Framework
Convention on Climate Change
The Negotiations Process
Judith Ephraim
Ministry of Sustainable Development , Energy, Science and Technology,
Saint Lucia
CARICOM Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs)
Skills Workshop
28 May – 1 June 2012
Presentation Outline
 Science of Climate Change
 The UNFCCC Process
 The UNFCCC Bodies
 The Negotiating Process –The Unwritten Side
Climate Change: Definition
“…a change of climate which is
attributed directly or indirectly to
human activity that alters the
composition of the global atmosphere
and which is in addition to natural
climate variability observed over
comparable time periods.” United
Nations Framework Convention on
Climate Change (UNFCCC)
Simply: a long-term shift in average climate.
The Cause
Emissions of “greenhouse gases” (GHGs) into the atmosphere as a
result of human activities such as the burning of fossil fuels. GHGs
include, among others:
 Carbon dioxide (cars, wood fires, etc)
 Methane (landfills, agriculture, livestock)
 Nitrous Oxide (Industry)
 HCFCs (Refrigeration)
The CAUSE: Greenhouse Effect
The Evidence
Source: IPCC AR4
IPCC Fourth Assessment Report AR4
 Released in 2007 showed climate change was human-made, definitely
happening, and that the collective global effort so far to keep greenhouse
gases to a “safe” level was grossly insufficient.
Key points:
 The average temperature of the earth’s surface has risen by 0.74°C since
the late 1800s. It is expected to go up another 1.8°C to 4°C by the year
2100 if no action is taken
 About 20-30% of plant and animal species is likely at higher risk of
extinction if the global average temperature goes up by more than 1.5 to
 The average sea level rose by 10 to 20 cm over the 20th century. An
additional increase of 18 to 59 cm is expected by the year 2100
Notable Observations
 Decrease in Snow cover in both hemispheres.
 Changes in precipitation patters globally and increased
A hotter world. Over the past 50 years, cold days, cold nights
and frosts have become less frequent over most land areas, and hot
days and hot nights, more frequent.
Extreme weather. An increase in intense tropical cyclone
activity in the North Atlantic has been observed since about 1970.
Warm air is fuel for cyclones and hurricanes.
The seasons. Spring events come earlier and plants and animals
are moving upwards and polewards because of recent warming
Nature. Scientists have observed climate-induced changes in at
least 420 physical processes and biological species or communities
Worldwide Predictions
 Agricultural yields are expected to drop in most
tropical and sub-tropical regions (and in temperate regions,
too) if the temperature increase is more than a few degrees.
Diseases, especially those carried by vectors like mosquitoes,
could spread to new areas in the world.
Millions of people are expected to be exposed to
increasing water stress
More intense weather-related disasters combine with rising
sea levels and other climate-related stresses to make the lives of
those living on coastlines, particularly the world’s poor, misery.
Extinctions are expected from the current warming trends.
Who is Responsible?
• Small island states combined, contribute a fraction of 1%
to global GHG emissions.
• Industrialized countries historically responsible.
• Large, industrializing nations (China, India, Brazil) now
contributing significantly
• China largest emitter since 2007
Some Typical Characteristics of SIDS
 Small Size
 Geographic remoteness
 Exposure to extreme phenomena
 Open, vulnerable economies
 Limited human and financial resources
 Fragile ecosystems, often with high endemism
 Generally recognized as being among the most
vulnerable to climate change (UN, IPCC, others).
Effects of CC on SIDS: Projections for
the Caribbean
 Rainfall set to decrease for Southern Caribbean
 In general, fewer heavy showers, but;
 More intense showers during storms Caribbean sea levels are
projected to rise by up to 0.24 m by mid century
 Sea surface temperatures in the Caribbean are projected to warm,
perhaps up to 2oC by the end of the century.
 Hurricanes to become more intense (peak by c. 2025 with Cat. 4
and 5 to become more frequent (From1.4 per year at present to 3
or 4 per year)
Implications for SIDS (Vulnerable Sectors)
Coastal Zone and Fisheries
Human health
Human Settlements
Fresh Water Resources
Forestry and Terrestrial Resources
Financial sector
Adaptation versus Mitigation
 Adaptation
Adjustment in natural or human systems in response to actual
or expected climatic stimuli or their effects, which
moderates harm or exploits beneficial opportunities
 Mitigation
In the context of climate change, a human intervention to
reduce the sources or enhance the sinks of greenhouse gases
Complexity of Climate Change
 Almost all modern human endeavor produces carbon dioxide hence
climate change extremely complex and has strong nexus with difficult
issues such as poverty, economic development and population growth.
 Addressing climate change is not easy but it should happen now.
 Prediction of “tipping points”, where a gradual change suddenly moves
into a self-fueling spiral. How much methane is trapped in the melting
permafrost and in sea-beds in a warming ocean, and, if some or all of
that methane is released, what effect will it have on the global
temperature and climate? If the ice cover in the poles keeps shrinking so
that there is less bright white surface and more dark liquid sea surface,
how much more heat from the sun will the dark surface trap, and how
much less can the ice packs reflect back into space? Sea mass expands
when warm— how much will this add to sea level rise?
UNFCCC –The process
Milestones in Addressing Climate
 1979-The first World Climate Conference (WCC) takes
 1988 — The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is
set up.
 1990 -First assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel
on Climate Change
-reflected the views of 400 scientists
- primary message: global warming was happening and
something had to be done about it.
Milestones in Addressing Climate
 1992- At the Earth Summit in Rio, the UNFCCC is opened for
signature along with its sister Rio Conventions, UNCBD and
UNCCD. Negotiation of the Convention was fast— especially one
on such a vastly complex issue.
 1995 — The first Conference of the Parties (COP 1) takes place
in Berlin. Countries realized that emission reductions provisions in
the Convention were inadequate. They launched negotiations to
strengthen the global response to climate change.
 1997-Kyoto Protocol formally adopted in December at COP3
Milestones in Addressing Climate
 2001-Release of IPCC’s Third Assessment Report, Adoption
of Marrakesh Accords
2007 — IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report released, AWG
2009 — Copenhagen Accord drafted at COP15 in
2010 — Cancun Agreements drafted and largely accepted by
the COP
2011 — The Durban Platform for Enhanced Action drafted
and accepted by the COP
Article 2- The ultimate objective of the United Nations
Framework Convention on Climate Change is
“stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the
atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous
anthropogenic interference with the climate system. Such a
level should be achieved within a time-frame sufficient to
allow ecosystems to adapt naturally to climate change, to
ensure that food production is not threatened and to enable
economic development to proceed in a sustainable manner”.
In Summary:
 Recognized that there was a problem- From 1994 ,it bound
member states to act in the interests of human safety even in the face
of scientific uncertainty.
 Sets a lofty but specific goal- The ultimate objective of the
Convention is to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations "at a level
that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic (human induced)
interference with the climate system." What does this mean?
 Puts the onus on developed countries to lead the way-Annex
I countries were expected by the year 2000 to reduce emissions to
1990 levels.
 Directs new funds to climate change activities in developing countries-
Industrialized nations agree to providing financial support for action on climate
change-above and beyond any financial assistance they already provide to these
countries (managed by GEF).
 Keeps tabs on the problem and what's being done about it-requires
reporting for both developed and developing countries.
 Charts the beginnings of a path to strike a delicate balance-The
Convention takes the economic development of developing countries into
consideration by accepting that the share of greenhouse gas emissions produced by
developing nations will grow in the coming years.
 Kicks off formal consideration of adaptation to climate change-
acknowledges the vulnerability of all countries to the effects of climate change and
calls for special efforts to ease the consequences especially in developing countries
which lack the resources to do so on their own.
The Kyoto Protocol
 Adopted in Kyoto, Japan, on 11 December 1997 but Entered into force on 16 February 2005,
due to a complex ratification process.
Kyoto Protocol (KP) is what “operationalizes” the Convention. It commits industrialized
countries to stabilize greenhouse gas emissions based on the principles of the Convention. The
Convention itself only encourages countries to do so.
 KP, sets binding emission reduction targets for 37 industrialized countries and the European
community in its first commitment period.
 KP was structured on the principles of the Convention. It only binds developed countries
because it recognizes that they are largely responsible for the current high levels of GHG
emissions in the atmosphere, which are the result of more than 150 years of industrial activity.
KP places a heavier burden on developed nations under its central principle: that of “common
but differentiated responsibility”.
The Kyoto Protocol
KP has an essential architecture which allows:
 Reporting and verification procedures;
 Flexible market-based mechanisms- KP countries bound to
targets have to meet them largely through domestic action— that is, to
reduce their emissions onshore. But they can meet part of their targets
through three “market-based mechanisms” that ideally encourage GHG
abatement to start where it is most cost-effective; and
KP lead to the creation of the carbon market.
 A compliance system- designed to strengthen the Protocol’s
environmental integrity, support the carbon market’s credibility and
ensure transparency of accounting by Parties.
The Bali Road Map
 Adopted at COP13 and CMP3 in December 2007 in Bali.
 All Parties to the Convention were involved in crafting the Bali Road Map - a set of a
forward-looking decisions that represent the work that needs to be done under various
negotiating “tracks” that is essential to reaching a secure climate future.
The Bali Road Map includes the Bali Action Plan, which charts the course for a new
negotiating process designed to tackle climate change.
 The Bali Action Plan is “a comprehensive process to enable the full, effective
and sustained implementation of the Convention through long-term
cooperative action, now, up to and beyond 2012”, in order to reach an agreed
outcome and adopt a decision.
 The COP decided that the process would be conducted under a subsidiary body under
the Convention, the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action (AWGLCA)
The Bali Road Map
 The Bali Action Plan and the work of the AWG-LCA is divided into 5 main categories:
Shared vision( a long-term vision for action on climate change, including a long-term goal for
emission reductions)
 The Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto
Protocol (AWG –KP) negotiations, would work in parallel to the AWG-LCA
 The Bali Action Plan was highly ambitious- time lines it spelled out overly optimistic, and
underestimation of the complexity both of climate change as a problem and of crafting a global
response to it.
COP 15 Copenhagen
High expectations that were not realised for COP 15 in Copenhagen in 2010
Key Outcomes:
 COP extended the AWG-LCA’s mandate, enabling it to continue its work with the
aim of presenting the outcome of this work at COP 16 in Cancun in 2010.
 COP15 advanced many key issues.
-It raised climate change policy to the highest political level;
-It advanced the negotiations on the infrastructure needed for well-functioning, global
climate change cooperation;
-It produced the Copenhagen Accord. It was not adopted by all governments, but it
advanced a number of key issues; and
-It committed developed countries to $30 billion fast-start financing (in 2010-2012) for
adaptation and mitigation in developing countries, with priority given to the least
developed countries.
The Cancun Agreements
 On the heels of Copenhagen, formed the basis for the largest collective effort
the world has ever seen to reduce emissions, in a mutually accountable way, with
national plans captured formally at international level under the banner of the
 Represented the most comprehensive package ever agreed by Governments to
help developing nations deal with climate change including finance, technology
and capacity-building support.
 Included a timely schedule to review the progress made towards expressed
objective of keeping the average global temperature rise below two degrees
 Included an agreement to review whether the objective needs to be strengthened
in future, on the basis of the best scientific knowledge available.
Durban Outcomes
 COP 17-With Cancun Agreements and Bali Road Map as their foundations, and the Convention
and KP as their guides parties reached agreement on a second commitment period on the Kyoto
Protocol and on a pathway and deadlines to drawing up and committing to a new, post-2020
mitigation framework under the Convention .
 Established the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action which spelled out a path to negotiate a
new legal and universal emission reduction agreement by 2015, to be adopted by 2020.
 This accounts for the mitigation efforts of all countries under one agreement. (historic)
 A work programme on raising collective mitigation ambition was launched.
Kyoto Protocol would move into a second commitment period in 2013, in a seamless transition
from the end of the second commitment period in 2012.
Durban Outcomes
 Amendments to Kyoto Protocol including the range of greenhouse gases covered.
 In the interim, all developed country governments and 48 developing countries affirmed their
emission reduction pledges up to 2020.
Developing countries will receive institutional, capacity and technological support to act on
climate change, while ensuring that, in the bigger picture, climate change policies do not lead
to unintended economic and social consequences.
 Ensured better coordination and planning of the urgent need to adapt to climate change,
especially in developing countries.
 Climate finance has become more concrete in terms of both infrastructure and coordination
e.g. launch of Green Climate Fund.
Analysis of Durban Outcomes
 Until COP17 in Durban, the main focus of the negotiations under the
KP had been to decide what to do when its first commitment period
expired in 2012.
 At Durban, at decision was taken to move into a second commitment
period in 2013, with Annex I parties submitting their quantified
emission reduction targets in May 2012, to be adopted at COP18 in
Qatar in December 2012.
 Pre Durban –negotiations focused on getting a new framework to
replace the Kyoto Protocol
 Durban agreed to decide on a new framework by 2015 and then to put
this fully in place by 2020
Analysis of Durban Outcomes
Challenges Arising:
 How to address the gap between the KP and the new framework.
 How to raise the levels of ambition for emissions reduction so far
expressed by developing countries.
 How to effectively get developing countries (especially the large ones,
such as China-the world’s largest emitter-, India and Brazil) to
contribute meaningfully in the new emissions reduction framework;
 Ensuring that countries such as the US, Canada, Japan and Russia are
part of any new framework.
 Speeding up the flow of financial resources to developing countries to
address climate issues.
 Addressing and managing the application of such measures as Land Use
and Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) in thrust to mitigate climate
Analysis of Durban Outcomes
 Durban’s ‘decisions’ note, that 2020 GHG mitigation pledges fall far short of
emission pathways likely to hold temperature increases below 2 °C above preindustrial levels.
 Geopolitics prevented Durban from (a) improving pledges to reduce GHG
emissions; and (b) mobilizing money for the Green Climate Fund.
 Instead Durban focused on and achieved (a) good progress on operationalising
the institutions needed to combat climate change; and, (b) establishing an
outline roadmap for all countries committing to reducing GHG emission
pathways to levels which science estimates to be safe.
 Future progress, however, will depend the politics of major countries.
Key Issues of concerns for SIDS
 A <1.5 degree target;
 Consideration of the extreme vulnerability of SIDS;
 The need for new and additional financial resources to
support climate change adaptation and mitigation in SIDS;
 The involvement of all Parties, in keeping with “common but
differentiated responsibilities”, as enshrined in the
Status Report from Bonn Negotiations
 Produced options to enable a smooth transition between the two
commitment periods of the protocol.
 Decisions scheduled to be taken in Doha include whether the
second commitment period will be for 5 or 8 years and on the
precise emission reduction commitments of industrialised
countries that have obligations under the Protocol.
 A draft adaptation decision text for Doha was agreed on ways to
implement National Adaptation Plans for least developed
countries, including linking funding and other support.
 Draft of agreements relating to technology, finance and capacitybuilding which are set to be adopted in Doha.
Next Stop
 What will happen at COP 18?
 The Conference of Parties, COP, is the supreme decision making
body of the Convention.
Parties review and promote the implementation of the
Convention and any other legal instruments that the COP adopts,
including institutional and administrative arrangements
Key function of COP is to review the national communications
and emission inventories submitted by Parties to assess the effects
of the measures taken by Parties and the progress made in
achieving the ultimate objective of the Convention
Rotation of COP presidency among 5 UN Regions
COP1-Berlin, March 1995
 Conference of Parties Serving as Meeting to the Parties of
the Kyoto Protocol
All governments that are party to the Kyoto Protocol are
represented, while governments that are not party are
The CMP reviews the implementation of the Kyoto Protocol
and takes decision to promote its effective implementation
CMP1 was held in Montreal Canada in December 2005
“Marrakesh Accords “ –rulebook” of the KP and sets the
framework for implementation
 Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice –
permanent subsidiary body which provides timely information
and advice on technological matters
 Key areas of work include: impacts, vulnerability and adaptation to
climate change, emissions for deforestation and forest degradation,
technology transfer, guidelines for greenhouse gas inventories for
Annex I Parties, Research and Observation
 Serves as link between the scientific information from experts and
the policy-oriented needs of the COP
 Works closely with IPCC
 Subsidiary Body for Implementation is a permanent
subsidiary body which assesses and reviews the effective
implementation of the convention
 Key task is the examination of information in the national
communications and emission inventories submitted by
 Reviews the financial assistance given to Non Annex I parties
to meet convention commitments
 Provides advice of financial mechanism, administrative and
budgetary matters
 Work together on cross-cutting issues e.g. capacity building,
vulnerability of developing countries to climate change
response measures and KP measures
 SUBSTA and SBI meet in parallel
 Meet at least twice a year
The Ad Hoc Working Groups AWGs
 The Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action under the
Convention (AWG-LCA) is a subsidiary body under the Convention established
to conduct a comprehensive process to enable the full, effective and sustained
implementation of the Convention through long-term cooperative action, now,
up to and beyond 2012, in order to reach an agreed outcome to be presented to
the Conference of the Parties (COP) for adoption.
 The Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties
under the Kyoto Protocol (AWG-KP) established to discuss future
commitments for industrialized countries under the Kyoto Protocol.
 The AWG-KP reports to the CMP. The AWG-KP is to complete its work and
have its results adopted by the CMP as early as possible and in time to ensure
that there is no gap between the first and second commitment periods.
 The Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for
Enhanced Action (ADP) is a subsidiary body that was
established by decision 1/CP.17 to develop a protocol,
another legal instrument or an agreed outcome with legal
force under the Convention applicable to all Parties.
 The ADP is to complete its work as early as possible but no
later than 2015 in order to adopt this protocol, legal
instrument or agreed outcome with legal force at the
twenty-first session of the Conference of the Parties and for
it to come into effect and be implemented from 2020.
 The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is a scientific
body that reviews and assesses the most recent scientific, technical
and socio-economic information produced worldwide relevant to
the understanding of climate change.
 Its findings reflect global scientific consensus and are apolitical in
character, providing a crucial counterbalance to the often highly
charged political debate over how to respond to climate change.
Its assessment reports now reflect the work and observations of
thousands of scientists.
 It does not conduct any research nor does it monitor climate
related data or parameters.
 It reviews worldwide research, issues regular assessment
reports, and compiles special reports and technical papers.
 IPCC reports are frequently used as the basis for decisions
made under the Convention. They played a major role in
negotiations leading to the Kyoto Protocol.
Selected UNFCCC Bodies
 Bureau of the COP
 Executive board of the Clean Development Mechanism
 Adaptation Fund Board
 Transitional Committee of Green Climate Fund
 Compliance Committee
 Technology Executive Committee
 Consultative Group of Experts on National Communications
from Parties not included in Annex I of the Convention
Negotiating Groups
 Environmental Integrity Group( Switzerland, Mexico , south
Umbrella Group (Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand,
Norway, the Russian Federation, Ukraine and the US)
Least Developed Countries
The European Union
Group of 77 and China
Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS)
Other Groups
 ALBA-Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our
 America
 GRULAC-Group of Latin American and Caribbean States
 Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries- OPEC
 BASIC Countries- Brazil, South Africa, India and China, this
group includes the world’s major emerging economies and
some of its largest emitters; together, the group accounts for
28.5% of global GHG emissions
 SICA- Central American Integration System
 Coalition for Rainforest Countries
UNFCCC Negotiations
The Unwritten Side
Useful Observations
 Science is not sole basis for negotiations and alliances and
politics have important roles
It may be necessary to co-opt certain experts e.g scientists,
lawyers etc
Informal meetings can be useful to move the process forward
especially for drafting and open and frank discussion of issues
Alliances can be troublesome but very useful, friendships
struck with other groups can be useful as long as
confidentiality of group positions is held when necessary
Articulation of a position more than once by different parties
is important.
Useful Observations
 Positions held in the COP can have influence over process both perceived and
real-elections are important
 Need to understand the associations and groupings: Who is who in G77? Who
is the Umbrella Group? What do they want out of this? Where do our needs
converge? Where do they diverge?
 Need to understand the role of prominent people like Bill Clinton and others
with some "clout“ outside of the process.
 Need to reference the work of respected science and include the role of the
IPCC's work in guiding the process. Attendance at IPCC meetings is also
Useful Observations
 Media coverage has highlighted the case of SIDS and well
crafted press releases are a useful tool.
NGO’s can often help the cause of groups like AOSIS e.g
media attention, moral persuasion
Difficult decisions may be taken in smaller groups or at
higher levels but transparency must be maintained.
Deals can be struck in unconventional areas-social gatherings,
Social gatherings can be opportunity to gain momentum or
move forward on a stubborn issue; or a pitfall- easing out
valuable information from an unsuspecting delegate
Useful Observations
 Need for constant and continual contact during negotiations
as process very dynamic, cell phones, emails, coordination
 When there are no group position but there is concern trying
stalling by stating need for guidance from capital or group,
or give individual country position not group position
 Similar texts or issues can be negotiated in different meetings
at the same time-need for sharing across themes
Useful Observations
 Attendance at technical workshops on difficult issues should
be encouraged to enhance participation
 Presentations at side events help promote positions and
generate better understanding of complex issues
 Need for constant sharing of information among fellow
national and group delegates
 Rumours of bribery and “divide and conquer” tactics
Useful Tips
 Consistency on issues followed may allow institutional
memory and enhanced participation but sharing within
national delegation is vital
 Good idea to pair up with more experienced negotiator who
can explain process and provide history
 Pairing or group representation on an item allows one person
to speak while others take notes, check other version on
notes, does coordination with other parties etc
 Whenever possible try to speculate on possible scenarios and
prepare for suitable responses
Useful Tips
 Pay attention to language , that which appears benign may
not be , check history and inferred obligations/implications
e.g can, shall, will, should, must?
Document translation may take time
Familiarity with convention text is a good practice, ( keep
copy close)
Pay attention to order of speaking when making
interventions especially when associating with other groups
Be alert ,progress made over days can be lost easily
Useful Tips
 Time for coordination can be very tight especially for
thematic groups within the larger negotiating blocks , items
that needing urgent guidance should be flagged early
Keep checking for updated version of texts and update
Small delegations, try shifts
During free periods lend support to fellow negotiators in
Remember this is a diplomatic arena and try to remain cool
and collected when under pressure
Be prepared for heavy security checks
Thank you
Negotiating the UNFCCC is an art designed for a
science, it takes time, be patient.