CURRENT SOCIETAL CONCERNS
Elpidio V. Peria
22 June 2013
One hundred ninety-three (193) countries of the world attending a United Nations body meeting in Bonn, Germany from 3 to 14 June 2013 fails to even start its meeting due to, of all reasons, disagreement on its work agenda.
Hohum, you would say, who cares ? But that meeting, of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Subsidiary Body on Implementation (SBI), is an important one, as the world just went past the 400ppm (parts per million) threshold on the daily average of carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere, breached sometime last 9 May, from atmospheric monitoring stations located near Mauna Lona volcano in Hawaii.
Scientists have long mentioned that 350ppm is the safe limit beyond which the earth could expect a death spiral towards more erratic weather patterns and other catastrophic climate-related impacts. Climate skeptics on the other hand, would say, there’s nothing new about these adverse climate impacts as they have happened before in earth’s earlier history.
The UNFCCC SBI meeting that failed to even agree on its work agenda, due to objections by Russia, Belarus and Ukraine because its proposal to include discussion of procedural and legal aspects of decision-making was not supported by other countries of the world, demonstrates how dysfunctional the decision-making process of the UNFCCC is at present.
But disinterested observers may not even care that the UNFCCC as a body does not even have an approved rules of procedure dating back from its first Conference of the Parties back in 1995, and yet it managed to achieve concensus and decide on many important matters that need international action relating to climate.
This time, however, the lack of an approved rules of procedure was exploited by Russia, Belarus and Ukraine, since its useful guidance cannot be invoked, and the rule of consensus was the only rule left to apply, and since there was no consensus to adopt even the work agenda of the SBI, and the SBI as a body and its Chair, attempted for eight (8) days to find a way out of the impasse, there was no meeting on the key issues of interest to developing countries like the Philippines.
The issues left out – approaches to address loss and damage, national adaptation plans, long-term finance, 2013-2015 review, nationally appropriate mitigation actions (NAMAs) , Global Environment Facility (GEF) report on Poznan Technology Transfer Program, matters relating to the Kyoto Protocol like eligibility of countries for the 2nd commitment period, and, among others, the Adaptation Fund of the Kyoto Protocol, impact of the implementation of response measures, program budget for the biennium 2014-2015 – are key issues, especially the budget, that will determine even the normal functioning of the UNFCCC as a body.
And all these issues will only be discussed come November, in Warsaw Poland.