Delegates at the ongoing UN climate change summit (COP24) in Katowice, Poland unpacked the various elements of the rulebook that are currently being negotiated to give an overview of the state of progress, or lack thereof, that must be resolved before ministers arrive next week to take on more political issues.
A focus was given to several technicalities including: the level of flexibility given to developing countries, the scope of the rulebook, and reaching consensus on climate finance.
Yamide Dagnet, Senior Associate, World Resources Institute, called on ministers to provide signals on ambition, which would result in a COP decision with commitments to enhanced NDCs by 2020. She noted that we need to make sure that the Paris rulebook does not backslide and is compatible with the ambition we need to see for a 1.5C pathway.
Dagnet said: “We call to the leaders and to the negotiators not to stay in the negotiator bubbles. We need to salvage the multilateral regime, but also connect with the real world. Therefore, we need both a strong rulebook and strong signals for ambition.”
Common Timeframes are the heartbeat of the Paris regime and refer to the duration of future NDCs. Through properly defined time frames, the ambition of different countries can more accurately be compared. A prevailing risk, according to observers, is that the existing guidelines allow for low ambition to be locked in for long periods of time. They feel that the negotiations have, so far, failed to make significant progress towards the implementation of recurring five-year periods.
“Instead of reaching a conclusive and substantive decision that would launch five-year NDCs in the future, we are only going to reach a procedural decision,” said Li Shuo, Senior Climate & Energy Policy Officer, Greenpeace East Asia Office.
The slow-moving negotiations may indicate fears that this addition to the rulebook would allow for increased accountability of commitments, Shuo added.
Sven Harmeling, Global Policy Lead on Climate Change and Resilience, CARE International, recognised the importance of further developments on the Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage because, according to him, its acknowledgement and implementation would provide a foundation for which vulnerable countries could build upon to address climate change impacts.
“Loss and damage caused by climate disruption threatens the livelihoods of millions of people, particularly in developing countries. Loss and damage was highlighted in the Paris Agreement and developing countries are asked to integrate measures to avert and address loss and damage in their own national planning. Thus, it is essential to anchor the issue in Paris Rulebook here at COP24.
We do not yet have all the answers on how to address loss and damage and how to finance the needs of poor countries, but we must start acting now. Developed countries who are committed to the Paris Agreement, like the EU, New Zealand and Canada, must work proactively with vulnerable, developing countries to jointly push for a strong rulebook, rather than hide behind the inaction of the USA,” said Harmeling.
As the week’s negotiations come to an end, key developments on finance in the rulebook appear to unfold. The recently released biennial assessment gives a signal that climate finance is being mobilised, noted Harmeling, adding that the assessment outlines the current opportunity to enhance and ensure balance between mitigation and adaptation support.
“We need to leave Katowice with a clear and strong understanding that developed countries are committing to scale up! . . . Next week we should set high expectations in relation to the Green Climate Fund replenishment. Germany has committed to double their commitments and others must do it,” said Eddy Perez, International Policy Analyst, CAN Canada.
He emphasised that a process must be agreed to adopt post-2025 finance goals. Better clarity and predictability on finance can unlock ambition and instil trust among countries, he added.