Where in the Text is ‘Near-Term Mitigation’ and What on Earth Does in Mean?

Currently ‘near-term mitigation’, still bracketed, crops up at the end of paragraph 1 of an obscure LCA text on “Various Approaches, Including Opportunities for Using Markets, to Enhance the Cost-Effectiveness of, and to Promote Mitigation Actions”, proceeding under paragraph 1b5 of the Bali Action Plan. This language is the final result of a long and heated debate over a proposal, originally submitted by Micronesia, on fast-track mitigation options. This proposal drew attention to a number of mitigation opportunities not currently covered by the international climate regime, specifically biochar, *black carbon*, and HFC abatement. The idea is that these could result in for more rapid reductions in radiative forcing then “classic” mitigation efforts (such as reducing CO2 emissions). This paragraph would establish a work programme to explore voluntary implementation of these mitigation measures as well as ways of improving the cost-effectiveness of implementation.

The original, detailed proposal has been reduced to just a couple, somewhat obscure words (with the HFC reference removed into a separate paragraph) in a long and embittered negotiation. The reason it is so controversial is the reference to black carbon, which unlike CO2, is emitted largely from developing countries. Brazil, China and Saudi Arabia have been battling furiously to keep any reference out of the text. In the drafting group just finished, Micronesia, the Maldives (represented by yours truly), the EU and Norway worked to avoid having this reference removed. Following an intervention by China, it is likely the language will now be changed to “including actions with near-, medium-, and long-term effects”, though the establishment of the working group is now in doubt after Saudi Arabia pushed to change the beginning of the paragraph from “Agrees to establish a work programme” to “Invites Parties to consider a work programme”. Brackets remain after 1.5 hours of negotiations, and this is one of the least contentious issues in this text. If this progress is typical of the other drafting groups then little forward momentum will be made tonight.