CAN News

Unlock Ambition with the Keys to Success: 5-Year Cycles and Robust Ratchet Mechanism

With over 50 INDC submissions, representing more than 60% of global GHG emissions, it’s already clear that the ambition underpinning those contributions will be far from sufficient to keep warming below 1.5°C. Parties need to urgently address this huge ambition gap. To ECO, it is obvious that a robust and legally binding ambition mechanism with 5-year commitment periods should be at the heart of the future climate regime.

The first step is to agree a 5-year timeframe for commitments, as it will help secure stronger commitments, and this should be clearly established in the core agreement text. Countries also need to agree other key components of the mechanism, such as review cycles, timing of communication and inscription, and upward enhancement processes.

Consistent 5-year intervals for all country targets will also allow for better aggregate collective progress assessments, which will need to be supplemented by individual country assessments. These assessments will review existing ambition across all elements of the Paris agreement, including finance, and ensure that global ambition is revised upwards to meet the ultimate objective of the Convention.

A key element to the commitment mechanism is the combination of a “no backsliding” principle and a clause requiring new commitments to actually be more ambitious.  A review alone will not be sufficient, as it will not compel countries to develop new commitments.
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How Long-Term is a Game Changer

ECO has joyfully watched the birth of a new vision for the world’s economy – one where fossil fuel emissions are rapidly phased out, and clean, renewable sources of power are phased in. Millions of citizens from the global north and south, thousands of leading businesses, faith leaders and health professionals are now demanding this transition.

We all passionately believe in this vision — not least because science tells us that without it, and early deep cuts in GHG emissions, we will not be able to achieve the ultimate aim of the Convention: the stabilisation of GHG concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.

If our global energy systems are not fully decarbonised by 2050 there would be neither equity nor fairness. It would mean a world where hard-won development is lost to dangerous climate change. The transition must happen in a fair, just and sustainable manner. Those with greater responsibility and capability must act first and support others to get to a new energy future. That means insuring that we do not neglect the challenges of adapting to the climate change impacts happening already today.

In this spirit, ECO has some proposals:

  • A long-term goal on mitigation that reflects the need for differentiation.

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Afraid of Compliance?

ECO is happy to see that compliance is high on many priority lists, with many agreeing on the importance of enshrining a compliance mechanism in the core agreement. After all, Parties must want to comply with what they commit to when they commit to it, right? Sure.

While observing the deliberations on compliance, both by itself and in conjunction with differentiation, ECO has come up with a handful of thoughts on the inter-related issues of bindingness, accountability and effectiveness.

The Paris agreement’s effectiveness depends upon it being binding under international law, and also on adequate commitments, participation of major emitters and effective implementation. This prompts the question: how can the new regime ensure that nations respect and comply with these key commitments? ECO notes that compliance mechanisms should help to identify potential cases and causes of non-compliance at an early stage, and then formulate appropriate responses. As such, they promote enforcement across the board while fostering coherence in implementation.

The Kyoto Protocol has this type of compliance mechanism. It involves a facilitative branch to provide support to Parties in their implementation process, as well as an enforcement branch to deter non-compliance. By contrast, the Cancun Agreements disregarded enforcement and instead set up two parallel MRV systems for developed and developing countries.
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Finance: A Three Part Act

As negotiators prepare their last-minute assessments of the finance section, ECO doesn’t think that it’ll be too hard to guess which Parties will be rather happy with how the finance section of the Geneva text was distributed across the co-chairs’ tool.

Part One (to become the core agreement) contains useful language on some aspects. Yet, it fails to include any constructive proposals to organise the mechanics of future financial support. For some reason, these were thrown into Part Three. ECO is puzzled, because what would go into a treaty if not the mechanics? This needn’t frustrate delegates, since ECO has been assured many times, Part Three is not a dumping ground of any kind.

ECO will be looking out for suggestions to move some of the key ideas from Part Three into Part One. For example, the countless references to needs assessments to ensure climate finance is matching The needs would logically be placed in Part One. Also, counting the number of paragraphs that suggest setting (and regularly updating) some form of targets for the provision of financial support should also belong to the core mechanics of future support. For instance, by setting collective targets every five years, based on above-mentioned assessments of support requirements, with separate targets for adaptation.
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Technology: The Final Frontier

It’s heartening that many Parties (though by no means all!) are pushing hard to get the right amount of climate finance on the table in Paris. It should be clear to all that without it, there will be no intergenerational equity.

Equally important is how that money is spent. With growing angst that the Kyoto Protocol’s Joint Implementation mechanism has fallen far short in promised emissions reductions, we must likewise make sure that any technology deployment provisions in the new post-2020 agreement are held to a high standard. Let’s talk frankly about how we can make that happen.

The legal agreement must include a Global Technology Goal that ties Technology Transfer to success in meeting the pathway to the temperature goal accepted by the agreement. At present, this provision (paragraph 70) is relegated to Section III, where the Co-Chairs have placed text needing further clarity.

We need to reference the existing Technology Mechanism in the Paris agreement and keep open the opportunity to include other such efforts into the agreement as they come online; there is no time to reinvent the wheel. That said, we should also make the improvements needed to ensure excellent outcomes as part of COP decisions. These would include:

  • Strengthening of the Technology Mechanism to include special circumstances in Africa, the LDCs and SIDs, emphasising the most marginalised.

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Wheels Up, Emissions Down

Did you have a safe flight into Bonn? Even if there were no complaints and your flight was uneventful, ECO doesn’t doubt that delegates would have preferred a plane that emits less GHG, uses the best energy saving technologies and generates funds to support the most vulnerable among us. Delegates, you’re in luck—this could be made possible this week through supporting the text that asks the International Civil Aviation Organisation and the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) to have shipping and aviation do their fair share on climate action. The sector could also contribute to climate action by having ICAO’s new Market Based Mechanism designate a share of the proceeds towards efforts on adaptation and loss and damage. No sector can be left out, as the LDCs and the EU have noted in their support for action on international transport emissions. Now it is up to the Parties here to call on the aviation and shipping industry to do their part.

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Welcome back to Bonn!

We’re moving into the final lap in the drive towards a global agreement in Paris. With just 10 days of negotiations left before we arrive in Paris, governments have their work cut out for them if they are to reach key political decisions as well as ensure the necessary level of precision within the text. The ADP co-chairs’ tool segregates the various issues and elements within the Geneva Negotiating Text (GNT) into three sections: Section I contains text pertaining to the core agreement; Section II has elements to be addressed via COP decisions; and Section III contains text where there is disagreement as to whether it belongs in the legal agreement, or an accompanying COP decision.

ECO believes that Section III contains numerous key elements that are necessary for an ambitious Paris agreement, and need to be moved to either Section I or II. Some elements in Section II need to be carefully considered for placement in the core legal agreement, as they will play a key role in the ambition and fairness of the Paris agreement.

Negotiators must build on progress achieved in the previous Bonn session, working to overcome differences on key issues and move towards convergence, rather than continuing to negotiate a text where every country continues to insist on preservation of its own proposals.
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Location, location, location!

ECO has noticed lots of talk about “houses” as nations work to construct a new climate agreement. Just as location is important in selecting a house, Parties will be carefully considering the location of key text to be agreed in Paris: what goes in the core agreement, decision text, and supplementary instruments or lists. ECO has some advice to ensure that the right house is built.

ECO believes that a package deal with careful placement of issues is critical to a Paris outcome that safeguards ambition, accountability, and equity, while taking into account national circumstances. Amongst other things, the core legal agreement should:

Establish key principles to guide implementation, including human rights for all.

Introduce strong, durable commitments for the post-2020 climate regime, including a commitment to phase out fossil fuel emissions and phase in 100% renewables for all by 2050; and global adaptation and technology goals.

Provide a means for Parties’ to anchor Nationally Determined Contributions as legal commitments, with an introduction of 5-year commitment and review cycles for both action and support.

And as for the COP decisions? They are necessary to create the operational foundations to ensure ratification and implementation of the core agreement. And they are particularly appropriate for elements that may need to be revised over time, for operationalising high-level principles from the core agreement, and for pre-2020 work programmes, including those needed to raise pre-2020 ambition and climate finance.
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[Never mind the gap]

ECO understands the need for brevity but the 15 paragraphs on elements for the Workstream 2 decision seems to have missed the point. Surely the brief didn’t read “never mind the ambition gap” or “maintain status quo”.

The COP decision must reiterate, in the strongest possible language, that developed countries have a responsibility to raise their 2020 targets to at least 40% compared to 1990 levels, in order to meet their fair share of the collective effort to stay below 2°/1.5°C.

It must also move the Technical Examination Process (TEP) from being an exercise to facilitating action. Opportunities have been identified, and now the TEP needs to facilitate urgent implementation of climate action alongside the creation of a system that can continue to unlock additional emission reductions over time.

Let’s use this week to draft text which actually does this, including:

  • ​Explicit language on closing the pre-2020 emissions gap and avoiding insufficient INDCs that would leave us with yet another gap post-2020. Closing the gap is why WS2 was established in the first place.
  • ​A technical process enabling the matching of mitigation opportunities with technology, finance, implementation expertise and decision-making power, particularly with respect to renewable energy and energy efficiency.
  • ​Direction and encouragement to the financial and technical bodies to prioritise action with high mitigation potential, especially renewables and energy efficiency.

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Loss and damage provisions: Don’t leave Paris without them

Dear Developed Countries: Newsflash — Loss and damage must be in the Paris Agreement. We keep hearing some really lame arguments as to why you’re keeping it out.

Lame argument 1: We don’t need L&D in the Paris Agreement as we have the Warsaw International Mechanism for L&D and its review in 2016.

ECO responds: Despite being agreed nearly 2 years ago, the WIM has yet to make progress. Its mandate is heavily contested and some developed countries have sought to undermine the only clear mandate in the agreement, the one that deals with finance. Some vulnerable countries are concerned that the 2016 review is a thinly disguised attempt to review the WIM out of existence.  By embedding the important functions of the WIM into the Paris agreement, we can alleviate these concerns. There should be no argument against this by those who genuinely want to see the WIM succeed.

Lame argument 2: L&D is just adaptation, and that’s already in there.

ECO responds:  Adaptation to having your home, community, places of worship and livelihood destroyed in super storm Cyclone Pam or Typhoon Haiyan is not possible. These are not impacts that can be adapted to — and given inadequate mitigation, they will likely increase further in the coming years.
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