By Adam D. Riedel
Associate Director, Columbia Center for Climate Change Law
International climate negotiators are meeting in Panama from October 1 -7 in a final round of talks prior to the next Conference of the Parties (“COP”) meeting in Durban, South Africa. The meeting, formally known as the third part of the 16th Session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol (AWG-KP 16) and the third part of the 14th Session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action under the Convention (AWG-LCA 14), will set the stage for the larger meeting in Durban. Negotiators in Panama are hoping to make progress on a variety of issues that they hope will pave the way for additional progress and formal agreements in Durban. In particular, negotiations in Panama are expected to focus on developing a second commitment period for the Kyoto Protocol, developing a framework for a tax on the use of bunker fuels in international shipping to finance adaptation costs in developing countries and enhancing measurement, reporting and verification (“MRV”) guidelines and procedures.
Reports from the opening days of the conference indicate that negotiators are focusing on “transitional arrangements” that would bridge the gap to a comprehensive climate regime to begin in the next 3-7 years. There appears to be a tacit recognition on the part of the negotiators that there are currently too many significant political and legal issues standing in the way of reaching a comprehensive agreement in Durban, and thus an interim agreement will be necessary to ensure further progress.
The UNFCCC’s official, daily guide to the meetings in Panama can be found at http://unfccc.int/conference_programme/items/6109.php.