Today, at the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI) second informal meeting related to the development of modalities and procedures for the operation and use of a Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) public registry referred to in Article 4, paragraph 12, of the Paris Agreement (PA), the discussion took an interesting turn of events when the Co-Facilitators, Ms. Madeleine Diouf (Senegal) and Ms. Traude Wollansky (Austria), presented the Parties a draft on the possible elements for draft conclusions regarding this agenda item.
By conducting negotiations under this agenda item, the SBI is complying with its mandate proposed at COP21. Also, at COP21 the UNFCCC Secretariat was requested to make available an NDCs interim registry, in the first half of 2016, pending until the modalities and procedures regarding a final public registry are adopted by the CMA.
At the SBI’s first informal meeting, held on Tuesday, Parties expressed their views on the agenda item, especially emphasizing that there is a difference to be struck and understood by the Parties between the SBI and Ad Hoc Working Group on the Paris Agreement (APA) agendas. The APA is currently holding informal meetings on NDCs features, information and accounting. The Parties stated that while the APA will discuss the NDCs from a more political and substantive manner, the SBI should limit its discussion and draft conclusions/decisions on the technical issues raised by the utilization of the NDCs Public Registry. Most Parties agreed on Tuesday that the NDCs Public Registry should be accessible, user-friendly, contain a record for each Party’s NDCs, including historical records and keeping track of any amendments made by the Parties to their NDCs. Also, some Parties were in favor of continuing and building upon the work that has already been done with the NDCs interim registry. The Co-Facilitators even stated at the beginning of the first informal meeting that after the first meeting is over they will start drafting conclusions and bring them at the second informal meeting for Parties consideration.
At the second informal meeting, some Parties were surprised by the Co-Facilitators action to draft and present the respective draft to the Parties. Further, some Parties considered the Co-Facilitators expectation that Parties will start discussion on the draft as highly inappropriate, especially when not all Parties have expressed their views on the agenda item. The strongest voice in this regard was China’s, that took the floor more than five times, talking on behalf of the LMDC. He vehemently called for the suspension of the informal discussion until an outcome is reached on the APA’s NDCs agenda item. Pakistan, India, Saudi Arabia echoed China’s statement, considering the Co-Facilitators decision to present a draft on the possible elements as premature. Tuvalu discussed China’s point, stating that from a procedural point of view the Co-Facilitators have acted correctly and within their mandate and the Parties have to discuss the draft conclusions. Also, Tuvalu did not understand China’s point on why the SBI should wait for the APA to complete its work on the NDCs agenda item. Canada was torned on the subject, as although recognizing the Co-facilitators authority to propose the draft conclusions it also sympathized with China’s position, as the ADP discussions are very delicate.
The Parties frustration and fear with this agenda item comes from the slow motion of ongoing discussion and statements at the APA’s informal meeting on NDCs features, information and accounting. After three APA’s informal meetings, the Parties were able to reach consensus on few items such as: the principal characteristic of the NDCs is their national character and this should be included as a feature; the features are rooted in the PA; and the work under this agenda item should respect the PA.
Confusion and slow actions are reigning over the negotiation sessions of the APA and the SBI with respect to NDCs. We can only wait and see what the next days of COP22 have in store for these agenda items.