By Navam Niles and Senashia Ekanayake
The high level ministerial dialogue was mandated through decision 1/CP.19, which calls upon Parties to intensify their high level engagement on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action through an in session high level ministerial dialogue.
The main objectives of the dialogue are to:
The Marshall Island highlighted two tests facing policy makers: first, lose the ambition gaps and limit warming below 1.5 or 2C; second, bring an agreement that will lead to the full decarbonise economies by the middle of the century.
It noted many ways of accomplishing the outlined goals. These include championing and committing to bold new actions to close the ambition gaps, building on new policy actions and good practice lessons and Reflect new science and its implications on our global economy. In other words, everyone must commit to commit.
Moreover, it noted the importance of science driving political concern, which in turn mobilises political will.
Other important elements include the need to review of commitments every few years, and the need to get businesses and private sector to join the process.
In terms of adaptation, it argued that the agreement in 2015 needs to increase political profile of adaptation, usher a climate resilient world and build on common and universal agreement to adapt. It also noted the importance, of supporting national and local efforts concerning adaptations, especially in poor countries. Special focus also needs to go towards loss and damage recognition as some impacts are beyond adaptation.
China asserted that the Lima COP is an important link in the multilateral process. China will fully support the work of the presidency. Accordingly, key issues deserve focus including the need to build mutual political trust, encourage all parties to honour their existing commitments and expand their ambitions, and use the ADP process to first discuss how to implement paragraphs 3 and 4 of the Warsaw decision, to raise the pre-2020 ambition.
China also hoped that developed countries make a detailed roadmap with public financing playing a major role. Therefore, increasing financing progressively through to 2020. Once financing is resolved, it will set a good foundation for the new agreement.
It also argued that any agreement’s basis should be on that of the principles of the convention especially in terms of adaptation, mitigation, technology, capacity building, etc. Accordingly, it must involve both Common Responsibilities (CR) and Common But Differentiated Responsibilities (CBDR). Accordingly, the goal of limiting global temperature rise of 2C should guide the process but the future of the post-2015 agreement also deserves attention.
The agreement should also recognise the notion that the most fundamental way to close the gap between ambitions is to increase financing and improve technological innovation. This will help ensure low-carbon sustainable economies. Accordingly, developed countries have the capability and technology to help developing countries to enhance their actions.
Transparency also deserves attention. This includes transparency in action, assistance and support. Developing countries are insufficient in the reporting and monitoring capacity. Therefore, the international community should provide support for capacity building.
Concerning legal form suggestions, China urged parties to make it legally binding for developed countries to help with finance and technology transfer. Now it is important to work on the content of the legal agreement. China stressed that it will support the majority but stressed the need for a consensus-based final agreement.
China further noted that its current target for emission cuts include a 2020 per capita CO2 intensity reduction by 40% to 45% based on 2005 level.
As an LDC, Uganda believes it is important to strengthen the vision of mitigation ambition to minimise impacts, especially for the most vulnerable developing countries. However, emissions reductions and financial support are very important interlinked pledges for developing countries. The former cannot be achieved without the latter and yet there is little of the financial support that was promised. Therefore, it is important to stress the fact that developing countries need access to green climate technology/EST. This is the only way to ensure global temperatures are stabilised below 1.5 degrees.
In general, there is urgent need for actions in accordance with the recommendations of the IPCC. The most important thing is to ensure financial support for the post-2020 enhanced action. Moreover, the 2015 agreement should be legally binding, and must be a balanced package including mitigation, adaptation, loss and damage, finance, technology transfer, capacity building. In doing so, it must recognise the special circumstances of developing countries in accordance with article of 4.9 of the convention.
Other elements of the 2015 agreement must include risk-transfer and compensation mechanisms, and effective loss and damage regime.
In such a context, it is important that all the major greenhouse-emitting countries, must sign a pact committing themselves to drastically reducing their emissions in a short timeframe.
Japan noted the need for political guidance for the success of Lima and Paris. It also highlighted its own vulnerability to extreme weather events if the current projections hold steady. Accordingly, it is important to take into account the long-term implications and scientific findings in the 2015 agreement.
As part of its package of actions, Japan imposed a tax of fossil fuels to invest in renewable energy and energy efficiency. The Japanese government also undertakes support for enhanced energy systems and low carbon buildings. Moreover, Japan will intensify diplomatic initiatives to enhance climate action. Japan has also provided finance through JCM and other mechanisms such as the Cool Earth Programme.
In the broader context, it noted that all parties should share the responsibilities. Hence, the 2015 agreement must encourage parties to integrate climate change action in adaptation and development plans.
The European Commission noted that the EU has tried to overachieve and quite successful. Accordingly, there is a 40% is the target proposed by the commission. This 40% will be through domestic efforts and offsetting will come on top that effort. The decision in this regard will be made by October
The EC pointed out that the EU accounts for 10% of global emissions. Therefore, everyone must make an effort to combat climate change in accordance with the goal of limiting temperature to below 2C. It also acknowledged the work of ADP WS 2, which identified options for closing the ambition gap by 2020. In general, energy efficiency and renewable energy is important. But, there is also need to develop pilot schemes for REDD+.
There is a general need to work on political guidance. Moreover, the 2015 agreement must be guided by the goal of reducing temperatures below 2C. To achieve, this all parties need to come forward with ambitious targets. When submitting such targets there is a need for INDCs that is accompanied with the appropriate information regarding fairness and appropriateness of action. National contributions may not be likely be enough. Therefore, 2015 agreement should add value to ensure the world stays on track to keeping temperatures below 2C.
Importantly, INDCs should accomplish variety goals including economy wide targets, provision for verifiable information, review periods, and legally binding instruments. The entire process should be measurable, reportable and verifiable.
In conclusion, it is important to make progress. There is an immediate priority to ensure upfront information requirements.
Germany noted that transforming economies is less costly than dealing with consequences of unchecked climate change. Thus, there is a need to send a signal that indicates future development will be low-carbon development. Any such action needs to work with multiple stakeholders.
To achieve the overall goal there is a requirement for funding through mechanism such as the Green Climate Fund, especially in developing countries.
Germany itself has overachieved and currently has the lowest carbon intensity of major economies. Germany has already set a high-ambitious target – 40% 2020 and 80-90% by 2050. Yet, further efforts are needed. By November, specific measures will be drawn up to set climate change action in motion. Germany also looking beyond 2015, and has a goal of creating a comprehensive program in 2016.
The Paris 2015 agreement must be ambitious and realistic. Paris will be a success if multiple stakeholders take part in the process. Thus, German expectations include a Paris protocol to be the centrepiece of the 2015 agreement, and a long term de-carbonisation process/target. Furthermore, ambitious energy-wide targets are needed or post 2050 period as well.
Saudi Arabia asserted that any agreement should address all elements of the mandate including adaptation and mitigation. The 2015 agreements should honour the principles of the convention. This should increase universal responsibilities but not uniformity – not shift the burden of responsibilities as highlighted in CBDR. Accordingly, developed countries should take the lead in the post-2020 period.
Pursuant to decision 24.CP/18, Saudi Arabia is taking steps in accordance with adaptation to increase the country’s resilience. These efforts include switching to gas from fossil fuels and R&D into climate change adaptation and mitigation.
The US reiterated its commitment in leading the effort in climate change action. Accordingly, it has set about to enhance vehicle efficiency, renewable energy, power plants, etc. In addition, there are new rules to reduce emissions from coal power plants. The government is also looking for other opportunities.
The USA also highlighted its work within the multilateral process. Such efforts include actions within the Montreal protocol to phase down the production of HFCs. Furthermore, it has taken efforts to stop subsidising investments in coal plants without carbon capture and storage except in the poorest countries. It also now supports low-emission development strategies.
The US outlined key aspects of priority for the 2015 agreement, arguing it should be ambitious and broadly inclusive, flexible, and transparent. Moreover, NDCs should be put forward before the Paris conference. In other words, parties must “Commit to submit.” Transparency is also an essential aspect to enhance mutual confidence and increasing ambitious. The US also highlighted its attitude towards differentiation. It noted that the CBDR is considered enduring but depends on how it is interpreted. In its view, the CBDR must be interpreted in a way that achieves the objectives of the convention. The agreement should be one where adaptation will be an important outcome of the agreement. Accordingly, there is a need to mobilise funding from other sectors including the private sector.
Brazil noted that it has begun a nationwide consultation on its NDC, and will present it before 2015.Such efforts should include but not be limited to mitigation. Adaptation deserves attention too. It also noted that contributions should be seen in a balance context in accordance with the principles of the convention. Accordingly, differentiation based on CBDR and equity is paramount. There cannot accept a situation where developed countries are asked to do more while developed countries backtrack.
Brazil also argued that all emissions related to the hosting of the world cup would be compensated. It also made special note for REDD+ based actions and noted that it prevented 800 million tonnes of Co2 through de-forestation.
Brazil argued that Annex 1 countries are not meeting higher commitments and not acting consistently. Thus, there is a need to monitor Annex 1 countries and their commitments. Furthermore, it is important to examine their USD 100 billion commitment.
In conclusion, it noted that the world cannot afford to waste any time in the decision-making process.
Grenada noted that the NDC is not very clear to yet. NDCs are at the level that each party will make to resolve the climate change problems. Accordingly, CBDR is an essential element in making decisions concerning targets and commitments.
Grenada argued that the 2015 agreement should include the issue of adaptation but must be addressed separately from NDCs. In addition, mitigation must be guided to keep temperatures below 1.5C. Any ambition targets must be fully compliant with science.
Furthermore, it noted that LDCs contribute little to the problem of climate change but are prepared to take action. In such a context, there is a need to agree on a minimum set of information to determine contributions and set up a review process to examine contributions to determine if they are sufficiently ambitious.
To achieve such goals international cooperation is necessary. One possible constraint is to domestic action concerns the lack of capacity to develop and implement NDCs. Therefore, the framework must provide for the necessary technical and financial support to developing countries.
In general, Grenada argued that the 2015 agreement must be sufficiently flexible to account for different types of problems and commitments. The agreement itself, must be legally binding. Hence, it must address issues including but not limited to governance, implementation, etc. It should also include elements such as finance, capacity building, etc. Lastly, it should have a clear mechanism for loss and damage, especially concerning the most vulnerable countries.
Bolivia: G77 + China
Bolivia spoke on behalf of the G77 and China. The group stressed that the agreement must involve a balance between both work streams. Importantly, the work under ADP should be under the convention and based on the principles and commitments of the convention including adaptation, mitigation and means of implementation. Thus, there must be no re-interpretation of existing principles. In particular, the ADP process should adhere to the norms of CBDR.
The ADP must also be transparent and reflect the inputs of parties. The group reiterated past decisions to this effect.
It also argued that developed countries should provide developing countries with adequate levels of funding, capacity building and technology transfer. Furthermore, there is a need for operationalising funding mechanism as soon as possible. It also expressed concern over the lack of ambition amongst Annex 1 parties for the pre-2020 period. Accordingly, it noted that Annex 1 parties must take the lead on mitigation efforts.
Tanzania: Africa Group
Tanzania addressed the proceedings on behalf of the African Group, arguing that current targets for mitigation need to increase for the period up to 2020. Africa has already has taken political actions to exploit mitigation potential. Higher density of forests contributes to the carbon sink, which accounts for 2.8 billion tonnes of CO2 stored each year in the developing countries.
However, the group stressed that Africa is constrained by financial requirements. Thus, there is a need to capitalise the GCF with at-least USD 10 billion. Furthermore, it called for political action to simulate support for the REDD+ initiatives. In this regard, international cooperation needs to support country driven operations.
There is also a need to improve transparency and facilitate comprehensive review processes. In particular, developed countries need to help developing countries to kick-start their NDC processes.
In terms of content, the group noted that the 2015 agreement is a further elaboration of the convention and must adhere to its principles. Moreover, agreements should abide by multilateral rules, requirements of developing countries, and science.
Important elements highlighted by the group include mechanisms to review, assessments of vulnerable groups, assessments of finance capabilities, initial action plans as the entry points for adaptation support, and measures to ensure adaptation support is a legally binding commitment.
Venezuela spoke on behalf of ILAC, arguing that any agreement must be guided by the goal of limiting temperature to below 2C. Thus, there is a need to engage in substantial agreements under the ADP. In addition, relevant INDCs and information required to achieve the ultimate goals of the agreement. In general, the agreement should be comprehensive in terms of mitigation, adaptation and means of implementation. It must be sensitive to the requirements of countries.
The group also noted that adaptation has a local, regional and global co-benefit that must be taken into account. Therefore, there is a need to establish long-term goals for adaptation. In this regard, significant provisions of implementation required. There is also a need to stress the elements needed to enhance momentum under WS2.
The Netherlands noted that ambition should be stepped up significantly. There are many ways to increase this ambition: increasing participation, and agreeing on significant elements that are attractive to different countries.
Furthermore, non-state actors need to have a space in the 2015 agreement to cooperate and deliver. In this regard, the Netherlands pointed out that it has already brought together many organisations and different levels of government and non-governmental sectors together to work together on climate change issues and energy policies.
Venezuela argued that elements such as equity and justice are important elements of the convention. However, Kyoto demonstrated the lack of ambition and commitment of developed countries. Thus, currently there is a serious gap in ambition between developed countries and developing countries in terms of adaptation, mitigation and means of implementation, and loss and damage.
Venezuela also argued that some proposals feature market mechanisms, which are ethically questionable. Such mechanisms serve to enhance the hegemony of the dominant group.
However, justice must be the central element of any agreement. It also noted that some countries with the highest emissions have failed to sign the Kyoto agreement. Only one developed country has ratified the agreement.
It also expressed its concern that the GCF is a hollow shell and the US, one of the highest emitters, has refused to participate in the Kyoto protocol and its rules.
Lastly, it argued that there is a need for clear rules for comparison. Thus, developed countries need to meet their current commitments and not ignore previous commitments. Any such commitments should be MRV. Furthermore, adaptation and mitigation should be equally represented and it is important that states do not delegate state responsibilities to the private sector.
Norway argued that the world could slow down global climate change by reducing emissions. This is ambitious but states must contribute to the best of their abilities. Thus, the international community must ensure that all the measures of the targets for 2020 are only the first step, and more countries should set climate targets for 2020.
In general, Norway stressed the need for increased efforts on renewable energy and energy efficiency. It also noted that REDD+ cheapest and one of the most efficient ways to close the ambition gap. Thus, scaling up finance for REDD + before 2020 is important.
To achieve the goals, the world must deliver an ambitious and forward-looking agreement by next year built on green growth and climate resilience. By ambitious, it means that every country must be on-board. To be fair, differences must be taken into account. To achieve higher ambitions it is also important to focus on low emission development.
With regards to itself, Norway will develop a budget type commitment. The long-term goal is to ensure Norway is a low-emission society by 2020. Thus, there is a need for predictability and trust in the domestic arena for climate action possibilities.
Malta argued that there is an urgent need to send a clear signal that the international community is on track towards an agreement. There is clear momentum related to national or regional events. In addition, climate change action has become a centre of economic policy. However, while the EU has emerged as a leader on mitigation, EU action is not enough.
Malta stressed that it welcomes efforts by its partners to tackle carbon emissions. To ensure enhanced actions, it noted that a draft text must be available for the Lima COP, and agreement elements should be MRV. It also noted that enhanced action depends on close cooperation of all the parties.
Zambia argued Annex 1 countries need to continue scaling up their mitigation efforts and provide leadership in climate change mitigation in accordance with article 4.1 and 4.3 of the convention. Moreover, there is a need for a clear process to scale-up implementation (4.7) with technical and financial assistance. Countries should enhance their domestic commitments and communicate them before the COP21.
It also noted that Zambian INDC needs international support in terms of finance, technological transfer and capacity building process. In addition, Developing countries conduct their national assessments of relevant sectors.
It also noted that the 2015 agreement should have transparency and compliance mechanisms and enhance institutional mechanisms for implementation.
Indonesia argued there is a need to widen participation of all possible stakeholders. Human activities should be managed in a sustainable manner and this requires cooperation between developed and developing countries.
It stressed that the 2015 agreement will ensure better life of following generations and an ambitious agreement will send a clear signal to lawmakers and others. It also argued that the 2015 agreement must be robust but flexible. In particular, it should be future-oriented in nature.
For its part, Indonesia will expand its potential regarding renewable energy and comprehensive emissions reductions. However, it noted the importance of Annex 1 countries to implement their commitments in the pre-2020 and post-2020 commitments.
In this regard, finance is key and there is a need to provide substantive progress in financing. Non-annex 1 countries should meet their voluntary contributions and REDD+ implementation is necessary. Overall, it is important to work on a timeline.
Nicaragua endorsing the proposition of G77 and China submitted by Bolivia and China stated that the proportion of people who believed that climate change not a priority was in fact a minority. The Minister from Nicaragua went on to say that it is essential for the 2015 Agreement to clearly specify the implementation mechanisms as adaptation to a 3.7-2.8 degree mark was going to far more costly in all aspects.
“We need funding from all sources. Nicaragua has moved from 25% to 52% of Renewable Energy based energy production in 2013 and we intend to reach 90% by 2020,” said the Government representative.
The Minister concluded his statement by pointing out that no organisation nor country was ever going to progress if the newer ‘negotiations’ and discussions constantly ignored the decisions taken during the previous climate talks.
Philippines in their statement reminded those gathered on why the high-level dialogue was conducted ahead of negotiations. Philippines went on to say that both the second and third Working Group reports were sufficient to information to prove the climate change is in fact happening right now and to use this as an opportunity to “correct ourselves”. Heeding to the warning of science, the Minister noted that while all countries gathered have heard pledges and commitments from the countries, it was time for Ambition and Pledges to go beyond being mere statements made at the floor.
Denmark began its presentation by stating that Mitigation was the core of global contribution and Adaptation and Finance as sub-elements and all countries should pledge to all these factors. The Minister went on to say that several EU member states were doing more on their own and Denmark alone had pledged to reduce its emission levels by 40% in 2020.
“The longer we take towards taking concrete action, the less likely the goal of two degrees would seem,” said the Danish Minister. Denmark has established a climate change act that would help towards climate change decision making that are more scientifically inclined.
The Minister also noted that if the US and China move forward with stronger contribution, more countries would be encouraged to move forward with stronger commitments and ambition. Denmark also remarked on its keenness to learn best practices of energy efficiency from other countries as well as share their knowledge through the Danish Low Carbon Transition Unit.
The Bolivian presentation began with its Minister stating on the climate not being a product of capitalism, now or never. The Minister reiterated on how all countries must contribute towards the reduction of climate change led by the developed countries that were responsible for approximately 75% of climate debt. The Government representative also marked the importance of the division of climate debt as per the CBDR stated in the IPCC findings.
“We must also incorporate a criterion of historic responsibility. While we are more concerned about what we are going to do after 2020, the more important question is, what are we going to do now?”
Other statements from the countries included New Zealand, whose Minister noted that there was no direct correlation between pledges and actions on the ground and that actions always had the capacity to work above and beyond the tabled pledges.
Noting its emission reductions since 2005, Canada stated on how their carbon emissions have decreased by 5% since 2005, while maintaining an economic growth of 10%. The Canadian Minister also pointed out that there should be a long-term focus when looking at climate change especially that of low carbon development strategies.
Bangladesh on behalf of the LDCs pointed out that IPCC findings were a clear indication of the unprecedented rise of GHGs and that industrialised countries must take the load when adapting towards the adverse impacts of climate change.
More from the Bonn Climate Talk can be found on the UNFCCC Website.
[Photo Credits: IISD]
Navam Niles works as a Research Associate at SLYCAN, focusing on energy security and the politics concerning global environmental problems. His core research interests also include Public International Law, International Development, Foreign Policy Analysis, and International Security. In addition, he is a lecturer at the Royal Institute of Colombo, teaching subjects pertaining to Politics, International Relations and Development Studies.
Senashia Ekanayake is a writer, an advocate of Arts, Education and climate change activist. She read for her degree in English, dabbled in the corporate world and is now involved with CANSA Communications.