Anette Engelund Friis from the Danish Agriculture and Food Council filed the following report:
The outcome of this years' COP is expected to be yet another set of agreements, or a Durban outcome that will build on last years' Cancun Agreements. This should bring us one step closer to a global agreement.
The Panama sessions did not on the surface move us closer to an agreement on agriculture. Negotiations on agriculture were blocked – not because of agriculture, but because a new framing text for the sectoral approaches chapter was presented by India on behalf of G77 at the first informal. The week was spent discussing the framing text and the mandate for discussing sectoral approaches. At the last informal, New Zealand tabled a new text on agriculture, based on the existing text but shortened primarily cutting out contentious bits. The text was supported by several Annex 1 countries. This means that there is now 3 options on agriculture: 1) the text from Cancun (updated in Bonn in June), 2) no text, 3) the New Zealand proposal. It is difficult to see how agreement on one text can be reached. There was agreement that the facilitator should prepare a note, as basis for negotiations in Durban. There is still hope that there will be an agreement on agriculture. COP 17 is an African COP which should put focus on agriculture. In the run up to Durban several initiatives on agriculture has taken place, among the most important are meetings between African ministers of agriculture, calling for an agreement on agriculture at COP 17. During COP 17 a high level meeting focusing on agriculture is planned. This gives reason for some hope that there will be an agreement on agriculture.
It is important that farmers' organizations make their voice heard in this process, and that we urge parties to reach agreement on agriculture.
Meetings with Annex 1 agriculture negotiators:
Negotiators called two meetings with NGO's to discuss prospects for reaching agreement on agriculture. The goal was to exchange views on agriculture in the UNFCCC process.
Meetings with Executive Secretary, LCA and KP Chairs:
The executive secretary, the LCA and KP Chairs were giving briefings during the session. The Executive Secretary and the LCA Chair saw agriculture as a deliverable for Durban.
Focus in the KP was on a second commitment period, after the first period expires at the end of 2012. Parties were concentrating on outstanding issues and further clarification of the options for mitigation targets, the possible nature and rules for a second commitment period.
There were extended procedural discussion in the LCA, based on Decision 1/CP.16 and the Bali Action Plan, and also discussions about observer participation in informals. It was decided to open the first and last informal of each session to observers. Informal groups were established on adaptation, finance, technology, capacity building, shared vision, review of the global long-term goal, legal options, and diverse issues related to mitigation. The outcome of most of these informal groups was text to be forwarded to Durban for further discussions. There was relatively modest progress and there will be a lot of work to be done in Durban.
Agriculture (in LCA):
A text on agriculture was ready for agreement in Copenhagen in December 2009. This text was moved forward to Cancun, where parties also did not succeed in agreeing on the text. This text requests SBSTA to establish a programme of work on agriculture, focusing on both mitigation and adaptation.
Agriculture was not on the UNFCCC agenda until April 2009, where SBSTA organized a work shop in Bonn, after which agriculture was formally put on the agenda. For reasons now unknown, agriculture was placed in the mitigation section, in the sectoral approaches chapter together with bunker fuels. Bunker fuels are much more contentious than agriculture, and are one of the reasons agriculture has been held back.
The period from 2008 to 2012 is known as the Kyoto Commitment Period, where Annex 1 countries have committed to reducing green house gas emissions with a given percentage rate. Overall, the Kyoto Proto-col reduces green house gas emissions by 5 percent compared to emissions in 1990.
COP 13 in Bali established two working groups to lead negotiations towards COP 15 and an agreement to follow the Kyoto Protocol. The two working groups are Kyoto Protocol (KP) and Long-term Cooperative Action (LCA), working on the basis of the Bali Action Plan. Both working groups were extended beyond Copenhagen.
In 2009 all Parties were working towards a binding agreement on COP 15 in Copenhagen in December 2009. They did not succeed in reaching a binding agreement. The result was the Copenhagen Accord, which constituted a basis for negotiations in Cancún, and has now been consolidated, in the agreed Cancún package.
The UNFCCC process has been revitalized with the agreement reached in Cancún, and there is now renewed hope of reaching agreement on substantial issues in South Africa later this year.