Accra Climate Change Talks 2008
The Accra Climate Change Talks 2008 are being convened by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and held in Accra, Ghana between August 21-27 as a preliminary meeting prior to the COP15 meeting in Copenhagen in November 2009. The official website states that the talks aim to develop further agreement on "a strengthened and effective international climate change deal under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, as well as work on emission reduction rules and tools under the Kyoto Protocol."
The talks are the third UNFCCC meeting this year, reflecting the complexity and difference of opinion over a myriad of issues that a future framework will need to address. The role of the talks has been to help lay the groundwork for the preparation of negotiating text by the December 2008 COP14 meeting in Poznan, Poland.
- 1 Issues under discussion
- 2 Responses to the Outcomes of the Accra Talks
- 3 Contact details and links to official agendas
- 4 UNFCCC and NGO media conferences
- 5 Side events at the talks
- 6 Daily reporting on the talks
- 7 Articles and resources
Issues under discussion
At the start of the Accra talks, the Earth Negotiations Bulletin (ENB) outlined the central issues under discussion by the two central UNFCCC working groups, the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action (AWG-LCA) and the Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex 1 Parties under the Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (AWG-KP).
The key issues canvassed by the AWG-LCA and expected to be raised at Accra were:
- a workshop on "approaches and incentives relating to Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD); and the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests, and enhancement of forest carbon stocks in developing countries. This workshop is expected to consider the drivers of deforestation and forest degradation, as well as how to build the capacity of developing countries to reduce emissions."
- a second workshop on "sectoral approaches and sector-specific actions." Japan has most assertively promoted "sectoral approaches" but has also encountered strong opposition from China, India and non-government organizations.
- discussion of a proposal to establish "a contact group on mitigation in the context of technology transfer and financing." This followed proposals advanced at the June meeting in Bonn by Mexico, Switzerland, Norway, China, and others. These discussions would address ways of funding adaptation strategies. Delegates had been requested by the UNFCCC to consider "institutional arrangements for delivering enhanced cooperation on technology and financing for adaptation and mitigation." The ENB noted that discussions would canvass "technical issues such as the structure and governance of any possible new funds or institutional frameworks under the Convention."
At Accra, the AWG-KP continued to analyze ways of reaching emission reduction targets by "the flexible mechanisms" of Emissions trading, Joint Implementation and the Clean Development Mechanism; land use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF); sectoral approaches; and greenhouse gases, sectors and source categories. ENB noted that in Accra, the working group "is scheduled to conclude its analysis, allowing parties to negotiate actual emission reduction ranges at the COP/MOP in Poznań, Poland in December 2008."
While ENB didn't flag any specific discussions slated for Accra, they noted that at the June meeting in Bonn and earlier meetings the key debates had been over:
- possible changes to the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) such as whether Carbon Capture and Storage should be included and whether the rules governing the scheme should be eased;
- the rules governing land use, land-use change and forestry projects with Brazil and the Alliance of Small Island States opposing major changes while Australia and Canada were promoting substantial changes;
- whether "sectoral approaches" should only apply to Annex I Parties and should be in addition to binding targets rather than an alternative to them; and
- whether the emissions from international aviation and maritime sources will be included in a future agreement. ENB noted that that "parties have expressed strong differences on inclusion of aviation and maritime emissions under the Protocol, with the EU, Norway and others supporting more discussions on this topic under the UNFCCC process, while others have noted that the issue is also being addressed under the International Civil Aviation Organization and International Maritime Organization." (See Greenhouse gas emissions from the international maritime industry and Greenhouse gas emissions from the international aviation industry for more details.)
Responses to the Outcomes of the Accra Talks
At the conclusion of the talks, the UNFCCC Executive Secretary Yvo de Boer, was upbeat about the discussions. "“We are still on track, the process has speeded up and governments are very serious about negotiating a result in Copenhagen,” he stated in a media release.
Mr. de Boer said progress had been made in a few areas, but added that the "absolute highlight of the session had been the mandate given by governments to the Chair of the Working Group on Long-Term Cooperative Action [AWG-LCA] to compile proposals made so far and that may be made in the coming weeks."  He cited the achievement as "providing a basis for real negotiations to begin in Poznan." 
Other areas where progress was made included:
- a working group established by the AWG-LCA canvassed the need to "reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries." "Countries have made it very clear that issue of forests need to be part of a Copenhagen deal," de Boer stated in a media release. (See Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) for more information).
- another AWG-LCA workshop on sectoral approaches "emphasized that such approaches should not lead to binding commitments for developing countries and that is up to a country to decide if it want to put sectoral policies in place or not." (De Boer was diplomatically referring to the overwhelming objections by developing countries which feared that by proposals by Japan in particular were a way of undermining binding commitments on Annex 1 countries and shifting them onto developing countries.)
- discussions on financing and technology transfer to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to climate change;
- a working group formed by the Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex 1 Parties under the Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (AWG-KP) "made good progress in the talks on the tools and rules that developed countries will have at their disposal to meet ambitious reduction targets after 2012";
- the development of "a clear list of options to improve the efficiency of clean development mechanism (CDM) and emissions trading." 
Mr. de Boer was confident at the end of the Accra talks that the participants in COP 14 in Poznan would have "something pretty close to the first version of the negotiating text" to work with. 
Climate Action Network International Response
However, Bill Hare, Greenpeace International's Climate Policy Adviser and one of the authors of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's Fourth Assessment Report which was released in 2007, was not as optimistic as de Boer. Speaking at the conclusion of the talks in a Climate Action Network International media conference, Hare posed the rhetorical question: "Has it [the Accra talks] taken things forward enough so that we can see the Poznan meeting developing the agenda for the very intense negotiations that have to happen in 2009 once the United States rejoins the real world?".
"I would say that for Accra there have been some positives and negatives. Progress has not been enough. There needs to be a much greater acceleration of effort," Hare said.
In particular noted as some of the positives:
- a proposal from Norway that industrialised countries would auction or sell permits for part of their carbon emissions which would be used to fund international adaptation and technology transfer projects. Hare expressed disappointment, however, that the European Union didn't support the proposal. "We think the EU needs to go back and work on that"; and
- "We found progress on REDD heartening" and that "there is a greater level of agreement here in relation to that mechanism to deal with the very large problem with tropical deforestation." He noted, though, that "much remains to be done of a fundamental character."
Elaborating on his concerns, Hare explained that:
- "Canada and Russia last night insisted on deleting from some very important text on forestry under the Kyoto Protocol, reference to the fact that these activities should contribute to emissions reductions, as well they should. It is unbelievable that after 15 years of this business that these countries can still be removing fundamental provisions like that";
- "We have to look with disbelief at Japan -- one of the richest countries on the planet -- which still pushes its narrow "sectoral approaches", which would be at the expense of an effective way of reducing global emissions";
- "we wonder what is going on with Australia. Australia, under the Umbrella Group, klast week spent two days blocking the discussion of the formation of a very important contact group. Two wasted days. It managed to find ways of blocking or be unconstructive on many other things here";
The Umbrella Groups, Hare concluded, "haven't brought forward anything new to the negotiations. They are sitting there fat and happy and lazy now that the Bush administration is disengaged. They are not contributing to the solution to the problem at present. So we think that they have to go back and come forward with really constructive proposals to help solve the problem." 
Overall Hare believes that the "rate of progress remains far too slow. Parties have to accelerate progress or we are going to create a train wreck in Copenhagen. Otherwise we will not have had enough time to negotiate the very complex agreement that needs to come forward next year." Commenting on reports of recent increases in methane discharges from the Arctic, Hare stated that unless negotiations accelerated rapidly there was a risk that climate change would "accelerate out of our abaility to actively control it and that lies behind my sense of frustration personally at the foot dragging and blocking that has been going on" by the Umbrella Group countries.
- Official Website: http://unfccc.int/meetings/intersessional/accra/items/4437.php
- Official Daily Conference Agendas: http://unfccc.int/meetings/intersessional/accra/daily_programme/items/4469.php
UNFCCC and NGO media conferences
- Media broadcasts website: http://unfccc.int/meetings/intersessional/accra/press/items/4450.php
- Full schedule of media conferences by UNFCCC and others: http://unfccc.meta-fusion.com/kongresse/AWG_08_Ghana/templ/ovw_page.php?id_kongressmain=54
Side events at the talks
Daily reporting on the talks
- Earth Negotiations Bulletin: http://www.iisd.ca/climate/ccwg2/
- Third World Network: http://www.twnside.org.sg/climate.news.accra.htm
- Climate Action Network: http://www.climatenetwork.org/eco/accra-ecos (CAN only produced ECO's for the first three days of the talks and are less detailed than the Third World Network's updates.)
- Friends of the Earth reports from Ghana by Kate Horner: http://action.foe.org/t/3877/content.jsp?content_KEY=4526
Articles and resources
Related SourceWatch articles
UNFCC Bodies and Conferences
- Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action (AWG-LCA)
- Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex 1 Parties under the Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (AWG-KP)
Issues under discussion
- Clean Development Mechanism
- Clean Development Mechanism and Carbon Capture and Storage
- Clean Development Mechanism and Nuclear Power
- Greenhouse gases omitted from the Kyoto Protocol
- Greenhouse gas emissions from the international aviation industry
- Greenhouse gas emissions from the international maritime industry
- Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation
Other SourceWatch articles
- Africa Carbon Forum
- Accra Caucus on Forests and Climate Change
- Climate change
- Environmental and Development NGOs Attending Climate Change Negotiations
- "Accra Climate Change Talks 2008", UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, accessed August 2008.
- "Third session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action under the Convention (AWG-LCA 3) and the sixth session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol: Thursday, 21 August 2008", Earth Negotiations Bulletin, Volume 12 Number 377, August 22, 2008.
- "UN Climate Change Negotiations Speed up in Accra", Media Release, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, August 27, 2008.
- "Accra Talks Bode Well for Future Climate Change Negotiations", UN News Centre, August 27, 2008.
- "Press Conference Video Statement", Accra Climate Change Talks 2008, August 27, 2008.
- "Press Conference Video Statement", Accra Climate Change Talks 2008, August 27, 2008.
- Bill Hare, "Climate Action Network International Press Briefing", Accra Climate Change Talks 2008, August 27, 2008.
UNFCC Media Releases
- UNFCC, "Accra talks bode well for future climate change negotiations – UN official", Media Release, August 27, 2008.
- "Climate negotiators reconvene this week in Ghana", Associated Press, August 20, 2008.
- "Climate talks under way in Ghana", 24.com (South Africa), August 21, 2008.
- "REDD carbon markets: Proposals compared", Carbonpositive, August 22, 2008.
- Arthur Max, "UN climate talks make headway on emission limits", Associated Press, August 27, 2008.
- Alister Doyle, "UN climate talks split over deforestation funds", Reuters, August 22, 2008.
- Greenpeace International, "Greenpeace urges governments to speed up climate negotiations", Media Release, August 27, 2008.
- Alister Doyle, "Ghana climate talks advance on saving forests", Reuters, August 27, 2008.
- "UN climate talks make headway on emission limits", Associated Press, August 27, 2008.
- Brent Latham, "Developing Nations Discuss Ways to Fight Climate Change", Voice of America, August 28, 2008.
- Alister Doyle, "Rich or poor? New faultline in U.N. climate talks", Reuters, August 28, 2008.
- "Modest progress at Africa climate meeting", Euractiv.com, August 28, 2008.
- "UN climate chief reports progress in treaty talks", Associated Press, August 28, 2008.
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