SPECIAL COP21- Progress needed on pre-2020 action negotiations

Negotiations at Paris COP21 begun on Monday (Nov. 30) with the aim of finalizing the draft of the Parties’ Agreement by the end of the week. The Workstream 2, appointed to deal with pre-2020 action, gathered for the first spin-off meeting on Monday evening and focused on the revision of the text’s paragraph dealing with pre-2020 mitigation.

Early action ahead of the implementation of the national pledges stated in the INDCs (that  generally cover the period from 2020 to 2030) is an extremely important element to reach the goal of limiting climate change impacts and not exceeding the 2°C threshold.

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) recently reported that postponing rigorous action until 2020 would sharply increase future mitigation’s costs coming from greater lock-in of carbon-intensive infrastructure, greater risks of economic disruption and higher adaptation challenges and costs. At the same time, the UNFCCC highlighted that significant emission reduction potential by 2020 remains, and that ambition should come from G20 members, as these economies collectively generate around three quarters of current global GHG emissions.

The Agreement’s draft presented in October asked, in this regard, for the full implementation of the existing Cancun mitigation commitments and deemed as necessary the ratification and entry into force of the 2012 Doha Amendment to the Kyoto Protocol.

Under the 2010 Cancun Agreement developed countries committed to quantified, economy-wide emissions-reduction targets, while developing countries submitted a diverse range of nationally appropriate mitigation actions (NAMAs). With the Doha Amendment instead signatory Parties committed to a second period of action under the Kyoto Protocol, lasting from 2013 to 2020. In particular, some developed nations of the Annex I committed to reduce GHG emissions by at least 18 percent below 1990 levels. As of 20 November 2015, 54 countries have ratified the Amendment.

The CAIT Climate Data Explorer profiles a total of 71 country mitigation pledges made since Cancun’s COP and assesses the progress made towards full implementation.

The Workgroup 2 confirmed on Monday the provisions included in October’s draft, but maintained the possibility for a weaker request since in one option Dhoa’s ratification is asked only “[if they wish to do so]”.

The next spin-off meetings will have to deal with the other key issues of acceleration, adaptation and finance.

October’s draft included the option to accelerate ambition by requiring developed countries’ collective effort to reach at least 40% below 1990 levels by 2020 (paragraph 121). According to the UNEP, even if countries met their current 2020 pledges there would be a 8 to 10 gigatons gap from the pathway to keep global warming under the 2 °C target.  Including this provision can hence be an important action towards COP21’s goals.

This view is shared by the negotiating group of the G77 and China, that commented earlier this year that “developed countries must take the lead” to honor implementation and increase the ambition of their existing commitments.

As for adaptation, the Draft text included the launch of a technical examination process aiming to enhance action and support. A recent Pre-COP meeting also called for the strengthening of Adaptation Committee.

Furthermore, the Agreement’s effectiveness will strongly depend on the ability to close the finance gap as well as on increasing technological and capacity-building support to developing nations. In fact. the Pre-Cop meeting underscored how there is a need for clarity on the committment to mobilize 100 billion USD by 2020.

An option available on the table of the Workstream 2 is to include intermediate targets of 70 billion USD in 2016 and 85 billion USD in 2018. Some Parties also suggested a doubling of the current share of adaptation finance so as to reach 32 billion USD in 2020.

Encouraging signals come from a recent report by OECD, which calculated that the total amount of public and private finance mobilized globally between 2013 and 2014 averaged USD 57 billion. Furthermore, the Green Climate Fund, the instrument created to reach this goal, approved in November financing for its first eight projects.

Finally, negotiators this week might decide to set a high-level event to take place in 2017 or 2018. The event would enhance dialogue, take stock of current undertakings and explore the possibility of further action and support. Cooperations with non-State actors could play an important role within this framework, as the Lima Paris Action Agenda initiative uderscores.

The Workstream 2 met again for two separate sessions on Tuesday (Dec 1). Decision paragraphs are published at the end of each spin-off meeting. The final text will be up to the ministers and heads of delegation participating at the High-Level Segment beginning from next Monday, Dec. 7.

(Image: COP21, Le Bourget, Paris, Nov. 30, 2015. Photo credit: UNclimatechange on Flickr)