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Mitigation: Enabling the Full, Effective and Sustained Implementation of the Convention Through Long-Term Cooperative Action Now, up to and Beyond 2012

Harlan Watson, Senior Climate Negotiator and Special Representative and Head of United States Delegation
Remarks to the Contact Group of the Ad Hoc Working Group Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action under the Convention on Agenda Item 3
Bonn, Germany
June 9, 2008

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. The United States favors ambitious mitigation action that is environmentally effective and economically sustainable. We believe an outcome on mitigation should be simple, effective, and attractive to all Parties.

We recognize that countries have a diversity of capabilities and different opportunities to act, reflecting their unique circumstances, and that these differences will be reflected in each country’s mix of national actions. This to us is inherent in the concept of "nationally appropriate mitigation actions." An effective outcome will be one in which all countries are acting effectively in accordance with their diverse national circumstances and capabilities.

We share the view with Parties here that efforts to mitigate climate change will need to support sustainable development efforts and particularly economic development in both developed and developing countries, consistent with paragraph 3.4 of the Convention. And, as noted in subparagraph 1(b)(vi) of the Bali Action Plan, we will need to take into account the economic and social consequences of response measures on both developed and developing countries, as well as the impact of implementation of response measures on developing countries elaborated in paragraph 4.8 of the Convention. An outcome that does not reflect this reality will not be attractive to Parties.

We look forward to beginning discussions in detail on this element of the Bali Action Plan with workshops on deforestation, forest degradation, and the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks in developing countries, and cooperative sectoral approaches and sector-specific actions in Accra, Ghana. Both of these workshops deal with aspects of the mitigation effort that are important in and of themselves, but that will contribute to the consideration of national actions reflected in paragraph 1(b).

With respect to paragraph 1(b), we would note that the two subparagraphs 1(b)(i) and 1(b)(ii) have a number of common elements. We recall the lengthy discussion in Bangkok, and we do not need to repeat it. But we see these elements as linked, and that this is a new framework within which we need to think about our future actions.

The basic element of the outcome of the Bali Action Plan with respect to mitigation will be encompassed in actions or commitments that are "measurable, reportable and verifiable" or MRV—both for the mitigation actions themselves and for supporting and enabling technology, financing, and capacity building.

In our view, it will be essential that Parties, whether developed or developing, have a common basis for understanding the nature of Party contributions and gauging progress toward achieving them. In this regard, the Convention has a good deal of experience with measurement, reporting and verification as they relate to specific mitigation actions. We should look more closely at this experience and consider how it might be strengthened so as to provide accurate and timely information. We would be interested in information from the Secretariat on how Parties have measured their actions — both individually and in the aggregate — in National Communications, how they have projected the growth of their emissions, and the experience we have had with verification of this information under the Convention.

In addition, Mr. Chairman, as our colleague from New Zealand mentioned in plenary, we lack basic information on greenhouse gas emissions. Presently, even the most advanced non-Annex 1 countries will report data that are ten years old in their next National Communications. Annex 1 countries that are currently less wealthy than many non-Annex 1 countries have been reporting their emissions yearly since 1992. It is time to bring the Convention up to date in this regard.

Finally, Mr. Chairman, in addition to our suggestions for initiating work on MRV, we would also envision three areas of future work:

  1. First, we look forward to intensive discussions on subparagraphs 1(b)(iii) and 1(b)(iv) in Ghana, and would expect that many Parties will be making their view known through submissions made prior to then. In particular, with respect to work on avoided deforestation and forest degradation, we look forward to hearing a variety of options and understanding their benefits and limitations. We hope that countries that have recently established significant REDD efforts will provide an overview of their efforts to date.
  2. For the Ghana workshop on subparagraph 1(b)(iv) — "Cooperative sectoral approaches and sector-specific actions, in order to enhance implementation of Article 4, paragraph 1(c), of the Convention"— we note that the coverage includes both cooperative and sector-specific actions, which we read to include domestic as well as international actions. Although we realize that time is short, we believe it would be useful, if possible, to have a technical paper on the mitigation potential of the sectors referred to in Article 4.1(c) in various regions, to inform our discussion there.
  3. With respect to subparagraphs 1(b)(i) and 1(b)(ii), we note that there are both common elements and elements that are specific to one subparagraph. For this reason, as we discussed in Bangkok, we believe that these issues should be considered in an integrated manner, looking both at the common elements and discussing how differentiation would occur, both between and among developed and developing countries. These discussions should commence at the first meeting in 2009.

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