Wednesday, December 30, 2009

For 2010, let's forgive, move on, and reform the UNFCCC

The article by Grist's Geoffrey Lean hyperlinked in the blog title covers the accusations and finger pointing following the mayhemic Copenhagen talks. Every seems to be playing the blame game, even before the impact of COP15 is still unknown.

The ultimate negotiations on climate change are probably yet to come. What is clear is that the UNFCCC process, with six separate "tracks" and more than 190 countries (not to mention the new escalated antics of everyone else) needing to find consensus on every single piece, is simply not going to work in the future. Things will get even hairier as the framework takes place (next year to two) and the bare bone technical details and rules have to get put in place to support any new framework.

It is worth noting that after the Kyoto Protocol was "built" in 1997, it took until 2002 before the rulebook started to crystalize. So if we fast forward to a broad deal in Mexico (maybe 50:50) then look for a frantic fight on every major detail to get filled in before the expiration of the KP on New Years day in 2013. The UNFCCC even with the best staff, simply won't be able to mange the accelerated process of rules and regulations in just two years (2011 and 2012). Whoops, I forgot. The world will also probably need several months or years to ratify any international agreement in domestic processes. Which means the pace of climate change negotiations is probably not going to slow down any time soon. Book your tickets now for Bonn and Mexico City!

Simply, time is running out. The Copenhagen accords are messy and no one is sure where they will go, but there is some new potential there as well as some blatant omissions. And for the community of nations to have a continual UN process for handling climate change, we need reform to the UNFCCC process no matter how you slice and dice the coming years. Beyond the text and the interpretations and the recriminations, COP15 will hopefully be remembered for starting to change the rules away from a binary world of rich and poor and for demanding the wonderful, incredibly competent UNFCCC must get a tune up. The sooner the better.

Happy New Year TFG blog readers!

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