COP24: “A Swiss-cheese rulebook is unacceptable"

Katowice, 12 December 2018: Jean-Pascal van Ypersele, former IPCC Vice-Chair and climate physicist said: “The best way to recognize the work done by IPCC would be to stop arguing about whether to ‘note or to welcome’ the IPCC 1.5C Report, and start to take its numbers seriously. This must be done in a COP decision, the main outcome from Katowice. And with a clear reference, a logical reference, to the need for all countries to increase their ambition level in all three areas mentioned in Article 2 of the Paris Agreement: Mitigation, Adaptation, and Finance” said van Ypersele.  

“The Paris Rulebook is the cement of the entire international climate regime” said Li Shuo, Senior Climate and Energy Policy Officer at Greenpeace East Asia. Shuo outlined two forms of underlying politics that influence the future of the Paris Agreement. Firsty, the politics of differentiation: How is climate responsibility distributed among developing and developed countries? And secondly, the politics of vulnerability: Will key issues for the developing world such as Loss & Damage be incorporated in the Rulebook? Li Shuo called for strong leadership from the Polish Presidency to ensure a high-quality outcome on the Rulebook; however, “We want to make it very clear that a swiss-cheese Rulebook is unacceptable” he said.

Loss & Damage has been used as a bargaining chip by the developed world, but it has become a pillar for climate action and has to be recognized as an essential element in a COP decision. The global stocktake, transparency, and finance, must all include references to Loss & Damage to appropriately address the climate change impacts, particularly in the developing world. “When we assess the Paris Agreement periodically, whether we are able to deal with the impacts should become the litmus test of the success of the Paris Agreement itself,” said Harjeet Singh, Global Climate Lead, ActionAid International. Singh argued that people are already being displaced due to climate change and that high-level discussions must be translated into real world action. “We can not afford not to talk about impacts on the ground, be it people, be it ecosystems. This issue is very central, it’s an overall issue, and it must be recognized in the Paris Rulebook,” said Singh.

Vanessa Perez-Cirera, Global Deputy of WWF's Climate and Energy Practice, synergized the various key elements of the current negotiations into the COP Package on Ambition. The leadership of Sweden and Costa Rica in the Talanoa Dialogue are signs of hope for progress in the ambition space. Further climate change champions will need to emerge if we are to reach a comprehensive Rulebook and COP Decision. Perez-Cirera emphasized that “Politics must recognize the science. Politics must recognize the evidence. Politics must recognize the people, and that people will be more affected as time goes by”.

Hon. Ralph Regenvanu, Member of Parliament, Republic of Vanuatu, highlighted that Loss & Damage is key to Vanuatu’s desired outcome; however, on a technical level the negotiations have reached a deadlock. High-level bilaterals are the current approach towards achieving progress. Regenvanu stresses that the majority of countries are on the same page, but a vocal minority have hampered the negotiations and said the next days will be critical to get an outcome that seriously tackles climate change.

Singh  addressed the elephant in the room by highlighting how the United States is the key actor disrupting progress across the board. They have no stake in the Paris Agreement, but continue to enjoy their seat on the table, and are using every single opportunity to destroy the agreement. The US’ ally Australia has been hand in glove through the negotiations. Individual nations will need to stand up against these disruptive voices by bringing leadership and ambition to the table.

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