It was a windy Sunday morning. I arrived earlier at BAC (PJ Campus), found a nice place opposite KFC and went through hundreds of diluted WhatsApp messages to pick up important notes for the next MYD meeting. She arrived with Moon Moon and was looking for coffee. She seems down to earth and friendly. We eventually started chatting on climate negotiation matters before the training started.
The training was simply awesome. She set the scene by giving an overview of climate change negotiation history, starting from the cultivation of the idea of sustainability at Rio de Janeiro’s Earth Summit (1992), the initial formation of the UNFCCC, to a few notorious moments, for instance, Kyoto Protocol, Copenhagen Accord, and finally the hard fought Paris Agreement. The scientific recognition of climate change by anthropogenic activities has been highlighted to be particularly essential to bring together the objective of setting a limit of temperature increase in the Paris Agreement. She also briefed us on the 2 major civil society organisations that fight for climate justice, Climate Justice Network and Climate Action Network, which fell apart due to varied opinions.
The Kyoto Protocol was highlighted as a few developed countries such as the US, Japan etc. were reluctant to adopt the agreement. Although 3 market-based mechanisms (Clean Development Mechanism, Joint Implementation and Emission Trading) were introduced, they never entered into force until today. It is believed that the developed countries had since wanted to structure a new agreement that could offer more flexibility in terms of commitment which paved the way for the Paris Agreement. The struggle from switching economic models based on fossil fuel to other energy sources is also another underlying factor for the lack of interest in Kyoto Protocol.
Though many may opine that the Kyoto Protocol has been brought to end after the first commitment period completed in 2012, replaced by the Paris Agreement which will come into force on 4th of November 2016. She pointed out that the Kyoto Protocol is in fact not killed, but abandoned. The second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, which is also the pre-2020 period after the ratification of the Paris Agreement is indeed an important period where parties should increase their mitigation commitments. Plenty of efforts is needed to iron out the mechanism of loss and damage, climate finance, technology transfer and capacity building prior to 2020.
She also shed light on several heavily debated topics between developed and developing countries, for example, the principle of equity, common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, emission cut with support, greenhouse gas emission intensity of GDP etc.
She explained the tug of war between the developed countries and developing countries over the years, one side trying to shed responsibilities while the other demanding for equity and climate finance as well as technology transfer etc. Developed countries have always opined that carbon trading could provide a balance between carbon source and carbon sink while developing countries look beyond carbon offset, demanding to reduce carbon source and conservation as well as expand carbon sink. Technology transfer is also a frequent debating subject as developed countries favour technical cooperation than transfer. Intellectual property rights are also in the limelight for its economic potential.
In terms of climate finance, she enlightened us on the Green Climate Fund. It has been informed that the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (NRE) sits on the board, representing Malaysia while Third World Network is also one of the civil society organisations in the board. She revealed the debate of equity and burden sharing between developed and developing countries as well as the source of public finances and private sector finances.
The following diagram quickly drew our attention. It is about the comparison between pledged action and fair shares of both wealthier (developed) countries and poorer (developing) countries. It is illustrated that there is an ambition gap for wealthier countries to fill while the poorer countries, on the other hand, pledged more actions than their fair shares.
As she talked about the Paris Agreement which will take off in 2020, she also named a few working groups and subsidiary bodies which have an agenda for the upcoming COP22, including the Ad Hoc Working Group of the Paris Agreement (APA), Subsidiary Board of Implementation (SBI) and Subsidiary Board of Science and Technological Advice (SBSTA) etc.
With regards to COP22, she anticipates that the developed countries will most likely re-negotiate some of the Paris Agreement clauses in favour to their economic and political interest. Hence, developing countries would have to strategize themselves to defend the Paris Agreement, besides working on enhancing support for the financial and technology transfer aspects in the agreement. The mechanism of global stocktake is to be ironed out and the topic of capacity-building, education and public awareness, as well as transparency of action and support, may also grab attention, and developing countries would certainly like to maintain the momentum since the success of the Paris Agreement. She thinks that Malaysia may have to look into climate change adaptations, particularly the agriculture and forestry sector. For example, wetlands and mangroves forests.
Strings of questions were directed to her before the training dismissed at 1pm which was nearly an hour extended and she was delighted having to resolve our queries. She may have left us but she has already instilled the will and determination to fight for a better future in all of us.
It was a sunny Sunday afternoon. She is Ms Chee Yoke Ling from the Third World Network, and MYD would like to express our utmost gratitude for her generosity in sharing her invaluable insights with us at our fourth training series. Thank you.
Written by: Kelvin Diong Siong Loong