Saturday, April 16, 2016

Paris COP 21 outcome on finance, a diversion from the UN Convention – Civil Society

By Isaiah Esipisu

CAIRO, Egypt (PAMACC News) - Members of the African Civil Society attending the African Ministerial Conference Environment in Cairo, Egypt have observed that the outcome of the 21st Conference of Parties (COP 21) on finance evidently walks away from the original United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) developed country parties commitments.

Under the UNFCCC’s article 4.3, the convection clearly provides that developed county Parties and other developed Parties included in Annex II shall provide new and additional financial resources to meet the agreed full costs incurred by developing country parties in complying with their obligations with regard to steps taken to implement the convention.

However, the Paris Agreement, which was formed under UNFCCC, states that ‘Developed Country Parties shall provide financial resources to assist Developing Country Parties with respect to both mitigation and adaptation in continuation of their existing obligations under the convection.’

“The UNFCCC is clearly provides that the Developed Country Parties will meet the financial obligations of poor countries to address climate change, and yet, the Paris Agreement walks away from that fact, and states that rich countries will only assist poor countries,” said Robert Bakiika, the Conventions Contact Point & Deputy Executive Director for Environmental Management for Livelihood Improvement Bwaise Facility (EMLI) based in Uganda.

The UNFCCC is a legal framework (just like a constitution) that addresses climate change issues globally. It then means that similar agreements such as the Kyoto Protocol or the recent Paris Agreement must implement the provisions of the convention, and not to replace it.

The Paris Agreement further underscores that ‘the provision of the scale-up financial resources should aim to achieve a balance between adaptation and mitigation, taking into account country-driven strategies, and the priorities and the need of developing Country Parties, especially those that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change and have significant capacity constraints, such as the least developed countries and small island developing States considering the need  for public and grant-based resources for adaptation.’

This, as well, does not go down well with civil society organisations attending the AMCEN conference on Cairo. “It means that we should now start initiating the process of identification of needs and priorities of developing country Parties,” said Bakiika.

They further observed that the Paris Agreement has further replaced already known terminologies with some that do not have international definition.

For example, the Paris Agreement no longer refers to the Annexes of the Convention (Annex I and Annex II) but instead only refers to “developing country Parties” and “developed country Parties”, for which there is no internationally agreed definition.  

As well, the principle ofCommon But Differentiated Responsibilities (CBDR) under the Paris Agreement is now referenced with ‘respective capabilities.’”
According to Seth Osafo, the Legal Advisor for the African Group of Negotiators (AGN) the CBDR has actually been weakened with the addition of “in light of different national circumstances” to accommodate concerns of USA.

Osafo, as well noted that the Finance section under the Paris Agreement is disappointing. “Under this agreement, the developed countries pledge to mobilise resources, and not to provide,” he said.

It is in the view of the of the African Civil Society groups that such mishaps will delay implementation of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

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