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.
Hundreds of miles from Bonn, climate impacts are capturing the attention of the World Humanitarian Summit, another meeting in Istanbul of decision makers and stakeholders deciding the future of our people and planet. It is tasked with the mammoth challenge of reforming the humanitarian system so it is fit for purpose in our changing world—more interconnected, urban, politically tense and rife with numerous emergencies.
Climate and conflict are topping the bill there. ECO is pleased to see the world outside of the UNFCCC taking climate seriously. But it’s also a sad reality that climate impacts are now on par with conflict.
All is not lost, with communities, countries and stakeholders across the humanitarian spectrum putting forward actions to further build resilience. Multilateral agencies such as the FAO and World Food Programme (WFP) are working to increase the resilience of food security to climate change, for example. Or the array of organisations that now recognise climate action as a prerequisite to peace, or have committed to integrating climate risk into their programming.
Initiatives to build resilience also extend out to the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, the Sustainable Development Goals and, of course, the Paris Agreement. It is clear that the UNFCCC is not the only place where climate is being addressed. In the coming months and years, the torch for climate action must be carried across the UN system and in countries and communities worldwide.
As people celebrated Bob Dylan’s birthday yesterday, negotiations in Bonn were ‘tangled up in blue’. ECO would like to inspire negotiators in answering the questions posed by the APA Co-Chairs.
Should the features and information on Nationally Determined Contributions be tailored to the type of NDCs or should they be tailored on some other basis? If so what? What lessons can be drawn in this respect from the INDCs already submitted?
‘ The times they are a-changin’
Yes, features of NDCs and supplementary information should be tailored but in a manner that facilitates comparability and provides further clarity in relation to what the countries intends to do nationally.
- Explain Fairness: the Lima guidance on information requirement should be enhanced. Parties ought to explain why they consider their contribution to be “fair and ambitious”. Parties should be clear and specific about which baseline, indicators, global mitigation pathways and/or temperature limits they used and how they utilised them to make their determination of fairness and ambition.
- Respect the preamble of the Paris Agreement: new guidance should call on Parties to clarify how they will protect human rights, the rights of indigenous peoples, gender equity, food security, ecosystem integrity and just transition when taking climate action.
- Common five year timeframes: convergence on a single common five year timeframe for future NDCs would enhance comparability of Parties’ actions and avoid future inconsistency of end dates.
- Conditional component feature of NDCs: many developing countries have formulated their current INDCs with a conditional component. This should be an official feature of NDC guidance and needs to specify the precise nature and scale of the support required to implement these conditional activities.
- Not everyone is the same: LDCs and SIDS should be supported in their application of the guidance on the features and information in NDCs and should be allowed to exercise discretion with regards to how they use this guidance when developing their NDCs.
- Nothing to hide: if countries are using market mechanisms (Article 6) to deliver their contribution that should be explicit within the NDC.
Can the existing guidance on accounting under the Convention be taken into account, and if so how? How detailed or general should the guidance be and what should it address
‘ I want you’
- Apply the guidance ASAP: as the APA develops and finalises these accounting rules, Parties should aim to not just apply them in the next round of NDCs but should apply them retrospectively to their current NDCs.
- No one should feel left out: guidance on accounting should apply to all Parties though applicability should be contingent on capacity levels within countries.
- The details are important, the guidance should ensure that countries:
- Account for anthropogenic emissions and removals, in accordance with methodologies and common metrics assessed by the IPCC and adopted by the COP.
- Ensure methodological consistency and transparency, including historical baseline, such that the metrics are comparable historically and between countries.
- Include all categories of anthropogenic emissions or removals as well as explain exclusion of any category.
What are adaptation communications seeking to achieve, especially in light of linkages with other issues, for e.g. with the global stocktake? What does that mean for the scope of the guidance needed?
‘Don’t think twice it’s alright’
- Understanding need: adaptation communications should enhance understanding of the finance needs for adaptation in the short and longer term. This should be reflected in the guidance and should help the global stocktake to identify gaps in adaptation finance.
- Connecting the dots: adaptation guidance would help countries design better adaptation contributions as well as help provide the necessary information to track progress towards the global goal for adaptation and identify gaps, which needs to be filled, including through significantly scaled-up finance.
How can a balance be achieved between the need for guidance for adaptation communications with the need for flexibility?
‘Shelter from the storm’
- Don’t increase the burden: Art. 7.10 already provides initial guidance on important elements. In order to reflect countries’ circumstances, the guidance should not create additional burden for developing countries. Support such as capacity building and readiness programs should be delivered for developing countries to meet these reporting obligations.
What are some of the experiences and lessons learnt from existing MRV arrangements, and how could they provide a basis for an enhanced transparency framework on action and support?
‘Things have changed’
- Learning from existing practices:
- It is important to build on the existing MRV system, especially the ICA process of Facilitative Sharing of Views, as this could be a helpful platform to match conditional NAMAs to finance and technology needs. It could provide a strong basis for future linkage developing country NDCs with necessary finance, from the GCF or elsewhere.
- Existing MRV arrangements, such as biennial reports, show a lot of inconsistencies because it is currently left to contributing countries, which tend to overestimate the climate relevance of bilateral finance. They allow countries to inflate the amount of actual support provided to developing countries by, for instance, counting loans at face value rather than only counting grants and grant-equivalent funding. They do not allow a proper assessment of the degree to which financial support is new and additional.
- Bolster institutional capacity: countries will need to do more to support the UNFCCC Roster of Experts as there will likely be insufficient capacity for the scaling up required by the enhanced transparency system.
What constitutes flexibility for developing countries and how could it be applied through modalities, procedures and guidelines in a way that supports full and effective participation in the transparency framework?
‘I shall be released’
- Little by little: there could be flexibility in terms of scope, economic sectors / gases covered, methodological tiers/granularity for estimating emissions and removals and reporting frequency though the IPCC guidance for estimating emissions and removals should be common.
- Progression: there should be a “best efforts” starting point, and those who have previously reported to a certain standard / frequency etc. should do at least that in the new system. Progression to better reporting and estimation over time is critical. It must however be recognised that it has taken many years for developed countries to build and improve their systems so developing countries will also need time to improve their systems.
What input is needed for conducting the global stocktake, by when and from whom? What mechanism/channels could be used to feed this input into the global stocktake?
‘ Blowin’ in the wind’
- The following inputs should feed into the stocktake:
- The results from the Second Periodical Review (SPR) of the Convention, which has the Sixth Assessment Report of IPCC and its three Special Reports as main sources, is supposed to consider the adequacy of the long term goal and it should be the main scientific input to the global stocktake in 2023.
- Assessment of support provided and received: Review of assessment and reports from the SCF, Financial Mechanism, Technology Mechanism, and annual reporting of capacity building activities, in addition to the technical expert review under Article 13 of the PA.
- National reports under the Transparency Framework for Action and Support (mitigation and adaption).
- Other inputs from relevant UNFCCC thematic bodies including lessons learned from the Technical Expert Meetings and technical examination.
- A proper assessment of fulfilment of Article 9 of the Paris Agreement as well as 4.3 and 4.4 of the Convention, drawing on existing work for instance by the SCF.
- Assessing Equity: Considering that the global stocktake is mandated to be conducted “in light of equity”, Parties will need to identify relevant sources of information and expertise to guide their taking stock of equity matters. In addition to relevant information contained in IPCC assessment reports, inputs from academia and broader civil society should be invited.
How will the global stocktake be conducted, keeping in mind the need for simplicity and relevance, ownership and inclusiveness?
- Open and Participatory: The global stocktake should be conducted in an open, participatory manner that ensures voices from stakeholders other than parties are taken into consideration.
- Political Momentum: The global stocktake should be conducted at ministerial level to formulate an effective COP decision resulting from the work of the SPR. With the SPR and the associated Joint Contact Group of SBSTA and SBI the same process and body will interact with the 2018 facilitative dialogue and the global stocktake in 2023.
- Science at the heart: The IPCC should be a key participant in the stocktake. Among other functions, it should inform parties on predicted impacts. For example, if Parties’ aggregate mitigation efforts are projected to lead to 3°C of warming, the associated impacts must be clearly communicated and juxtaposed to scenarios with 2 and 1.5°C of warming. It is crucial to have this ready for 2018, based on IPCC AR5.
What is the relationship, if any, between the global stocktake and the facilitative dialogue to be conducted in 2018?
‘Knockin’ on heaven’s doors’
- Trial: Parties should use the opportunity of the 2018 stocktake (the “facilitative dialogue” pursuant to para 20 1/CP.21) to trial the modalities for the 2023 stocktake as much as possible. This would mean that modalities for the 2023 stocktake would have to be near final by COP23 in 2017, or SB48 in 2018 the latest, in time for testing at the 2018 facilitative dialogue.
- Learning: there will be an opportunity to learn from the 2018 experience and to improve the modalities for the 2023 global stocktake thereafter in accordance with the lessons learned.