THE POST-COPENHAGEN ROAD
A fair, ambitious and binding deal is needed more urgently than ever. Climate science is more compelling by the day. Impacts are coming harder and faster. Disastrous flooding in Pakistan, heat waves and forest fires in Russia and hottest recorded temperatures around the globe, amongst other devastating climate-related events, all point to the need for urgent action. Levels of warming once thought to be safe, may well not be, 1.5˚C is the new 2˚C.
Copenhagen was a watershed moment for public interest and support for climate action – and people have not lost interest. More people in more countries than ever have put their governments on notice that they expect a fair,
ambitious and binding global deal to be agreed urgently. Trust-building is essential after the disappointment of Copenhagen. Developed country leadership must be at the core of trust building efforts. Countries must show
their commitment to the UNFCCC process by driving it forward with political will and flexible positions, rather than endless rounds of repetitive negotiations. Many countries are troublingly pessimistic for Cancun, and are working to lower expectations. While others, including countries most vulnerable to climate change, maintain high expectations.
Challenges ahead of Cancun
There are many challenges to getting a full fair, ambitious and binding deal at Cancun, including:
- Lack of a shared vision for the ultimate objective of the agreement, and the equitable allocation of the remaining carbon budget and emissions reduction/limitation commitments;
- Sharp divisions on the legal form of an eventual outcome;
- Failure of the US Senate to pass comprehensive legislation this year; and
- Current economic difficulties facing many countries, which make it difficult to mobilize the substantial commitments to long-term climate finance needed as part of any ambitious agreement.
Positive moves afoot
However, more and more countries, both developing and developed, are stepping up their efforts to pursue low-carbon development and adaptation, despite the absence of an international agreement. This can be seen in a variety of ways:
- Investments in renewable energies have continued their exponential growth, increasing to 19% of global energy consumed;
- Progressive countries are working to move the negotiations forward;
- There is a growing perception that low-carbon and climate-resilient development is the only option to sustainably ensure the right to development and progress in poverty reduction.
So, what does a pathway forward look like?
Firstly we must learn the lessons of Copenhagen. The “nothing’s agreed until everything’s agreed” dynamic from Copenhagen could mean that nothing would be agreed in Cancun. An agreement in Cancun should instead be a balanced and significant step toward reaching a full fair, ambitious & binding deal at COP 17 in South Africa. This will require parties to work together in good faith to create sufficient gains at Cancun, and a clear roadmap to South Africa. This paper outlines how that could be achieved.
Parties chose to land in the ‘well below 2°C’ zone, while still pursuing a 1.5°C warming limit. This is, however, not compatible with GHG emission neutrality somewhere in the second half of this century. Full decarbonisation, with no tricks (like non-permanent offsetting and geoengineering), is needed and should be what those who claim to be ambitious fight for!
The endless variations in the new text trying to reframe the Convention’s preambular ‘common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities and their social and economic conditions,’ [ECO’s emphasis] are a reflection of a genuine global struggle to come to terms with new realities. ECO does not romanticise the past, nor ignore historical responsibilities. The Paris Agreement can only deliver on its goal if all respect the Convention in full.
Which brings us to means of implementation. The floor of US$100 billion seems to now be established. But the agreement does not enough to ‘shift the trillions.’ ECO believes the Paris Agreement sends a signal to investors about the long-term direction. It pays lip service to setting a carbon price. Yet, Parties are about to fail in their duty of care, which would make them commit to finally end all fossil fuel subsidies, stop financing carbon-intensive investments or indeed commit to divestment.
That the current INDCs, many of which are conditional on adequate international support, are not enough to limit warming to well below 2°C, let alone 1.5°C, is acknowledged and shockingly taken for granted. For now, there is no plan to close the resulting gap. We do not need to wait until 2018 for the IPCC to tell us that the pathway we are on forecloses limiting warming to 1.5°C. Independent assessments have already shown that developed countries in particular are lagging behind. The facilitated dialogue in 2019 merely opens the door for countries to rethink their lack of ambition. In 2025, ECO does not want to be looking back on the Paris Agreement, and with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight judge that this was a grave error. The five-year cycles of updating and enhancing #### (shall we just call them NDCs?) can start immediately upon entry into force.
Loss and Damage
The fight for loss and damage continues in dark corners of Le Bourget. To the most vulnerable, we say: Stay strong! To the blockers: You let the genie of liability and compensation out of the bottle. Please put it back in, as nobody is calling for it in this agreement.
Transparency, MRV and Compliance
After a decade of building confidence and trust through these talks, the Paris Agreement still reflects the fear that transparency on implementation and meaningful review of outcomes could be punitive. Shining a light is something ECO has done since 1972. In light of the bottom up character of the INDCs and the facilitative nature of the proposed review we urge all to lighten up and embrace transparency.
On a related note, ECO always understood the Durban mandate was ‘to develop a protocol, another legal instrument or an agreed outcome with legal force under the Convention applicable to all Parties,’ to mean an international agreement would have some teeth. Simply put: the bracketed wording on ‘compliance’ needs to be included in the Paris Agreement.
ECO is shocked that countries have surgically removed human rights from the core climate change agreement.
A broad coalition of civil society organisations and indigenous peoples have come together to collectively support joint text for Article 2, the heart of the agreement. All attempts were made to keep it simple for Parties. Instead, civil society’s voices are being ignored. You forgot that you represent us. You forgot that your job is to speak for us.
President Hollande: When you said that ‘COP21 would be a new step for human rights’, what exactly did you mean?
ECO praises Mexico and other champions for their work in promoting human rights in the operative text of the agreement. We owe it to the world’s vulnerable—those least responsible for and most impacted by climate change.
Today, Friday, a new moon will rise over Paris. ECO still has hope it will mark a new era. The change that is needed takes all of you. Soit brave!
ECO was excited to see emerging convergence among Parties on five-year cycles in the new text. But ECO has one simple, but very important, question: when does it start? We are not on track to stay below even 2°C. We also know that without increasing the ambition of INDCs before implementation in 2020, the 1.5°C door will rapidly close.
We need a review of INDCs in 2018 and a re-submission pre-2020. Yet paragraphs 24 and 25 set the date for submitting or updating INDCs at 2020 or 2021. These paragraphs only do half the job. Those with 2030 targets are invited to ‘confirm or update’ them, but those with 2025 targets seem to be off the hook. Their 2020-25 efforts get no mention and instead they are invited to put forward a new (2030) target.
The first round of review would have to happen before 2020, so we can update insufficient INDCs that currently lock us into a 3°C pathway. The current weak ‘facilitative dialogue’ in the decision text has to be strengthened. To allow for this first round in 2018, we should also look back and assess how well developed countries have implemented their pre-2020 commitments through a process of accelerated implementation. If we want to make the 5-year cycle more effective, it should consider not only INDCs but also means of implementation.
Another important question: does the stocktake influence individual countries’ targets? From that perspective, we are very sad to see ‘ex ante’ review disappear from the text. ECO hopes that delegates are not planning too long a holiday. You all deserve nice holidays after this hectic conference. But get the world back on track first.
As negotiations gain speed, ECO is not at the operating table, but would like to share some thoughts on key remaining topics. ECO is happy to see that some brackets were removed before the text was sent to the ministers, but many vital issues remain. ECO believes in the value of a global adaptation goal that includes the vision of protecting people, livelihoods and ecosystems.
The Paris Agreement should also build up a meaningful link between mitigation efforts and required adaptation actions. ECO is concerned that the relevant language is bracketed. It’s a common sense relationship: less mitigation equals more climate change and higher adaptation needs.
ECO is impressed that many countries have submitted an INDC component on adaptation. Building on this, Parties should agree that every country needs to submit some form of adaptation communication, with flexibility on the ‘how’. ECO’s view is that there is a benefit in a regular communication of planned adaptation actions, in conjunction with mitigation cycles, as is one option in the text.
Every country should promote the integration of climate risks into policies and planning, based on the agreement in the SDGs. This does not undermine the entitlement for financial support for vulnerable countries. Oh, and not to forget, for adaptation appropriate to the challenge, financial support must be scaled-up massively, based on the existing and continued Convention obligation for developed countries. But as a matter of solidarity, other capable countries’ support will increasingly help to close the adaptation gap.
Non, Rien de rien
(No, nothing of nothing)
Non, Je ne regrette rien
(No, I regret nothing)
You also have probably realized that two very different deals could be assembled out of these options. The first deal might be called the no-regrets deal. That’s the deal that allows all of us to leave Paris with a fighting chance to keep warming to 1.5°C.
The other deal that could be pieced together out of these options is often referred to here in the hallways of Le Bourget as the ‘minimalist deal’. But it might be more accurately called the 3-degrees deal.
ECO wants to make sure you leave COP21 with zero regrets, content and with the knowledge that you have done your utmost to deliver an ambitious and equitable outcome that addresses the needs of the most vulnerable.
There are many tell-tales for recognizing the 3-degrees deal. The most telling point might be the proposal that we don’t return to the table to assess our progress and ramp up ambition until 2024. Under this deal, we accept the INDCs as the most we can get at this point, and we look to ramp up our efforts in 2030. Under that timeline, we’d be folding our cards and giving up on limiting warming to 1.5 (or even 2) degrees.
The mitigation ambition of the agreement, and the long-term direction of travel, needs to be anchored through a 1.5 degree target. 1.5°C as a direction of travel is pointless if we don’t have the vehicles to make the journey. The Paris agreement has to include provisions that enable a consistent increase in ambition towards achieving the long term goals embedded within the agreement.
To avoid travelling too far down the wrong path, we need to accelerate our effort to move off the 3-degree pathway. Provisions within the agreement should synchronise, assess and ratchet up Parties’ various commitments in 5-year cycles, including by matching conditional INDCs with means of implementation. All these provisions should build from the accelerated implementation within the pre-2020 period by revising and improving existing INDCs by 2018 at the latest. Taking stock of where we are every 5 years would provide the necessary flexibility in the regime to change course if needed. The stocktake should not just be oriented towards implementation. It should also inform future commitments. The scope of the stocktake needs to incorporate all elements of the agreement to get a truly holistic picture.
If we want to get onto the pathway that holds temperatures well below 2 degrees, we have to provide long term certainty on finance. This agreement can help provide that by setting collective targets for the provision of financial support that should be set and updated in 5-year cycles, with separate targets for mitigation and adaptation. The provisions must provide clarity on how developing country contributions are defined and progress to give the confidence to enhance ambition.
And speaking of adaptation, we must ensure we don’t leave anyone behind. Adaptation goals must be part of a Paris agreement to keep people and planet safe in the view of rising impacts. Adequate support is required to deal with them. This agreement must also increase adaptation finance with an improved balance between mitigation and adaptation finance, aiming to reach a 50:50 balance by 2020 under the US$100 billion pledge.
Loss and damage must be anchored as a stand alone issue in the agreement. A robust institution is vital to develop approaches to address permanent and irreversible impacts and also coordinate the increasing climate-induced displacement.
Finally, none of this works without provisions that enable greater transparency–of action as well as support. Support and capacity building on MRV is a necessity in this regard; methodologies must be scientifically credible and fair.
The two deals are clear. We can have the no-regrets deal or we can have the 3-degrees deal. The question now becomes: Who will bring us to the no-regrets deal?
Ministers, for all of us to be able to look our children in the eyes, we must be able to demonstrate that we are taking care of their future, not just getting through today.
Car ma vie, car mes joies
(Because my life, my joys)
Aujourd’hui, ça commence avec toi
(Today, it begins with you)
These numbers are real, even if they do not appear in any text. Without a strong process to address these gaps, the Paris outcome will be little more than an agreement to leave the leaders of 2030 with an insurmountable challenge. Instead, the Paris outcome could ensure that the gaps are filled:
1) Parties should agree to a five-year cycle where intended targets (for finance and mitigation) and contributions (for adaptation) are submitted well in advance of each commitment period. These intended targets should then be collectively reviewed against equity and climate science with ample time to improve their efforts.
2) More important, we cannot wait for the next round of INDCs to be developed to increase ambition. Parties must agree that they will revisit their INDCs, from the perspective of science and equity through a facilitative dialogue in 2017 or 2018 so that they can work together to increase these pledges before implementation begins. For such a review to succeed, finance commitments and adaptation contributions need to be part of the consideration.