From Population and Climate Change Blog (Center for Environment and Population)

Yale Teaching Fellow for the COP15 Course, Kasey Jacobs, also provides updates such as this one for the Center for Environment and Population. See

Ambassador Antonio Lima of Cape Verde (Vice-President of AOSIS)

Bill McKibben of, Ambassador Antonio Lima of Cape Verde (Vice-President of AOSIS), and Ricken Patel, Avaaz Executive Director

Friday, December 12, 2009               AOSIS Text Proposal Released Today

Plenary sessions were closed off to observers today and a Civil Society briefing with UNFCCC Executive Secretary Ivo de Boer was cancelled due to tough negotiation sessions. I acquired the new negotiating text proposal by the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) titled Proposal by the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) for the Survival of the Kyoto Protocol and a Copenhagen Protocol to Enhance the Implementation of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Big news at the Bella Center today. An impromptu press conference was held by the Chair of AOSIS, Prime Minister of Grenada, Madam Dessima Williams, in the corridor outside around 11:30. She had a large circle of reporters and observers surrounding her anxious to here components of the text since a copy was not released until the evening. As I received an advanced copy I was able to skim over the text so far and some interesting points included were instead of the usual four topics of interest for the Long-Term Cooperative Action of Mitigation, Adaptation, Finance, and Technology Transfer, the AOSIS proposal adds “Capacity Building” to the priorities. Additionally a new term and definition is used throughout the text – “Particularly Vulnerable Developing Countries” –  that “refers to least developed countries, small island developing states and countries in Africa affected by drought, desertification and floods.”

The plan lays out adaptation funding and requires financial, technological and capacity-building support for developing countries through a Multilateral Fund on Climate Change (MFCC) and creates regional centers for adaptation to strengthen implementation of adaptation action. Additionally the Adaptation Committee would be created to “support the work of the Conference of the Parties in assisting developing country Parties to implement adaptation actions, paying special attention to the needs of particularly vulnerable developing countries.”

In the past months and this week during informal talks there has been debate about whether or not when mentioning “vulnerable” countries it should be scaled down to the population level and specifically mention the types of vulnerable populations, as some of the options in the Ad-Hoc Working Group on Long-Term Cooperative Action do that were developed in the 2009 intersessional meetings in Bonn, Bangkok and Barcelona. The AOSIS proposal only mentions vulnerable developing countries.

For mitigation the text, if left as proposed, would commit developed countries to a collective reduction of emissions to “at least 45 percent below 1990 levels by 2020, while actions by developing countries should in aggregate aim to achieve significant deviations from baselines by 2020…” The beginning of the text also clearly spells out a long-term global goal for emission reductions. “The Parties shall be guided by a shared vision to limit global average temperatures to well below 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to long term stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere well below 350 parts per million of carbon dioxide equivalent in order to prevent additional dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system. To this end, the Parties agree that global emissions should peak by no later than 2015 and will need to be reduced by at least 85 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.”

The proposal does leave out portions of the Tuvalu proposal that sparked debate with China and internally in the G-77 earlier in the week (recall the debate over whether a contact group should be formed for the Tuvalu Proposal), particularly the Annex BI that would amend the Kyoto Protocol to include non-Annex I parties that opt into the annex to make commitments. These commitments would be different than those of Annex-I countries. AOSIS is most likely thinking of China and economies in transition, like China and India, for this new Annex.

Relevance to Population? Somewhat surprising the word “population” still does not appear in the text at all, but because of the many linkages inherent to the issue of global warming the issues of adaptation, mitigation, and capacity-building are directly related to global and country-specific population. As populations grow or urbanization and migration arises to a greater extent in hazard-prone areas the necessity for adaptation is exacerbated. Because global fossil fuel emissions desperately need to be reduced, actions that are taken need to take into account future population and development. Capacity-building is needed for local and national-level staff to institutionalize the mitigation and adaptation strategies of the Convention and Protocol. Large vulnerable populations can easily overwhelm government staff if they are not given proper capacity-building assistance. To deal with these issues proper funding is required and numbers are not being thrown around publicly just yet by most developed countries (the European Union being an exception). Most notably is the lack of funding amounts from the United States of America.

A more formal press conference on the new text was organized by, AOSIS, and Avaaz at 4:30. This press conference was open to civil society and therefore a sea of youth carrying signs that read “350” and “We Stand with AOSIS” inundated the press briefing room. In closing, Ambassador Antonio Lima of Cape Verde, Vice-President of AOSIS, stated in response to a financing question, “Is it possible to finance this? I think it is possible. But we have to have political will. If we don’t have political will we can’t do nothing. This political will is building amongst those who are going to help us.”

We will find out by December 18 if this political will builds enough for the vulnerable countries to get the assistance they need in terms of mitigation actions and adaptation support. If predictions and statements by Parties are correct we will have to wait until December 2010 in Mexico City. But I am not giving up hope just yet. Perhaps financial assistance will at least be worked out so these countries can start more rigorous adaptation measures. The next week will be gut-wrenching for all here, especially the small island states, to see how this new text and the others due to come out shortly will be combined, deleted, pulled, twisted, shredded, watered down and eventually made into international law that will govern current and future populations around the world.

More to come…