The eleventh Meeting at the Leaders’ Representative level of the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate was held in Washington, D.C., September 16 - 17, 2011. It was attended by ministers and officials from the seventeen major economies, as well as the United Nations, with Barbados, Colombia, New Zealand, Singapore, and Spain also participating in the session. Argentina, Bangladesh, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Egypt were also invited. Participants emphasized the importance of agreeing on a balanced package in Durban, and discussed in detail how to succeed in doing this.
UK Minister of State Greg Barker opened with a presentation on finance. Speaking of long-term finance, he emphasized the importance of public funding, not only in its own right but also to leverage private capital. He also noted the role of public policies in creating an enabling framework that can mobilize private finance at a scale sufficient to address climate change. There was general agreement on the need for funding to come from a variety of sources, with some noting that public funding will be more necessary for adaptation and in countries where climate finance has been limited. Some suggested that countries should focus on the details of how to invest funds in needed infrastructure in a wider range of developing countries, rather than on the narrow issue of whether finance is public or private. In this vein, participants discussed the need to reduce risk to make investments more attractive and thereby tap the large pools of available funding. There was also discussion of what makes funding "additional" in the private sector context and how to facilitate access to funding. With respect to fast start funding, participants underscored the importance of transparency in the disbursement of funds. Several raised a concern about a possible gap between fast start and long term finance. With respect to Durban, several finance-related issues are on the table; some noted the need for finance issues to move in parallel with other Durban issues, and there was a discussion of the appropriate timing, and purpose, of initial capitalization of the Green Climate Fund.
Participants had an extended, frank discussion about the Kyoto Protocol and the shape of future arrangements. Many commented on the utility of the open and detailed exchange of views afforded by the MEF. On the Kyoto Protocol, the discussion focused on whether certain Parties might take on a second period target and under what circumstances. In terms of future arrangements, there was a wide-ranging discussion about form (what do we mean by “legal,” what do we mean by “parallelism,” etc.), nature (top down, bottom up, etc.), ambition in relation to the two degree goal, evolution of the Annex I/Non-Annex I approach, and views on the existing legal framework, the Bali Action Plan, the Bali Road Map, etc. Some spoke of the next several years, for example up to 2020, as a “transitional” period.
Noting that countries are not expected to make new mitigation pledges in Durban, there was a discussion of how to build confidence in the mitigation pledges made in Copenhagen and anchored in Cancun. Some suggested that this was best accomplished by providing up front clarification of pledges in a structured manner, e.g., by specifying what gases and sectors are included, what methodologies are used to do inventories, and what assumptions and conditionalities apply. Some suggested that this clarification be applied to all Parties. Recognizing that current mitigation pledges will not of themselves constrain temperature rise to two degrees, some participants suggested the need for a future process to address the gap.
The discussion on transparency reflected suggestions that: the approach should build on existing systems and structures; that the first reports would not be perfect; and that guidelines would evolve over time. Some expressed the expectation that all major economies would submit their communications by 2014 as a key input to the 2013-15 review. There was a recognition of the utility of this exercise for improving domestic capacity for MRV, and for building confidence and gaining understanding of progress and gaps. There were different views on the extent to which the nature of transparency for developed and developing countries should differ, and on the relationship between transparency provisions under development with existing approaches in the UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol.
In closing, the Chair suggested that the Major Economies Forum should recall its dual-mandate of helping to advance the negotiations, and to facilitate concrete action to cut emissions among this group – such as the cooperation on clean technology that led to the Clean Energy Ministerial – and noted recent interest in short-lived climate forcers.