There’s an elephant in the room at COP22. While the Paris Agreement sets ambitions, goals and a common cause for the planet, there is major concern with respect to the level of ambition in the NDCs. Ramping up ambition of the current NDCs is something everyone knows we have to address. So, let’s talk about it, shall we?
Last year, we agreed to a facilitative dialogue to ratchet up ambition in 2018. We have to get this right, otherwise we will not just have elephants but an entire savannah of weighty issues unaddressed. If NDCs are not increased around 2018, we will be stuck with inadequate targets until 2030, seriously jeopardising our ability to achieve Paris’s essential temperature goals. If the main outcome of the dialogue is just another recognition of the huge gap between current commitments and what must be done to cut emissions to stay below 1.5°C, we will have failed. We have to face the elephant and deal with the issue directly.
However, there isn’t a clear agenda item at COP22 to discuss this 2018 moment. The Paris decisions rightly recognise the importance of scaling up climate change efforts, but fail to provide direction on how country efforts should be increased over time. Critical questions that remain unanswered include: What will the format for discussion be? Who will participate? Who will be represented? And, what factors will influence the tone of the talks? For example, we know the IPCC 1.5°C special report will have a major impact, but what else?.
ECO believes the issue deserves a proper place for discussion. Parties should be creative about creating a slot for this topic. As a first step, the COP22 President should host transparent and inclusive consultations with Parties and observer organisations. Most importantly, we need clarity on the expected outputs of the dialogue. What actions will result from this process to close the ambition gap? Without concrete outcomes, this process will represent a huge missed opportunity. In two weeks’ time, we expect to at least have a decision that calls for Parties and observers’ views on how FD2018 should be conducted.