The critical issues that the conference needs to solve remain mitigation, adaptation, finance and legal form. These issues will be dealt with in two core texts (and several satellite decisions) – the main ones being the texts by the Chairs of the working groups on the Kyoto Protocol and Convention tracks.
Taking sufficient action on mitigation, with deeper commitments by developed countries and increased levels of action by developing countries. Both need to be verified, and the commitments need to have consequences for non-compliance. Overall, this needs to keep temperature increase below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels – or at least give us a good chance. That means global emissions will have to peak by 2020, or even earlier.
If not, the impacts are projected to be worse – there will already be non-trivial ones at 2°C, as the small islanders have made clear. That means both mitigation and adaptation are needed. A work plan or implementation programme on adaptation is critical, especially for Africa, the LDCs and small islanders.
All this will require finance. Signs are that the developed countries are will to provide ‘fast-start’ finance. Up to € 7 billion per year for 2010 to 2012. That is a good start, if it’s not all recycled development aid money. And what is needed is a clear path to the much greater levels of funding – in the order of hundreds of billions of dollars per year – that will be needed by 2020.
All of this need to be written down in legally binding instruments. The biggest question is one of process, and it is hard to explain how important this is. It’s very simple – one or two? Is there an amended Kyoto with a second commitment period starting 2013 plus another Protocol under the Convention (for the US commitment, new financial obligations by developed countries and reflecting actions by developing countries). Or is there one new Protocol, replacing Kyoto? Or is there some middle ground between one and two?