ADP Workstream 2: The most pressing and immediate of needs shuffled to end of queue

Under the ADP, two ‘workstreams’ were created to meet climate change goals. Workstream 1 was created to identify Individual Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC) that will be signed at the Paris 2015 COP; Workstream 2 was created to fill the ‘gap’ between present and the 2020 date of implementation of the Paris 2015 agreement.

Since the experts agree with the urgency indicated by the IPCC, it is logical to think that the more quickly action is taken, the better the chances are for keeping climate change at bay. So why is the period between now and 2020 being neglected? It may be because the industrialized nations are not yet feeling the ‘heat’ or drowning in the effects of climate change yet. There has been very little talk of this “low hanging fruit” in negotiations this week.Exhibit in Lima, Peru

Talk has turned solely to the INDCs. This is worrisome to the developing nations where change is needed now.  One aspect of the ADP that is under fire from all sides right now is the timing of the 2020 agreement. The EU and other developed nations are pushing for a longer period than 5 years. In a press conference yesterday, the EU said that an 8-year or longer period would signal Parties’ commitments. Developing nations do not see it this way. Developing nations do not welcome the push for longer timeframes, inclusion of private sector funding and references to markets in the text.

With the conversations focused on the INDCs and the post-2020 period, it is likely that the second week will begin with nothing formally on the negotiating table for Workstream 2 and the most pressing issues that face the vulnerable Parties over the next five years. The EU stated that they do not envision anything binding on mitigation over the next 5 years, but perhaps this will be a sticking point for LCDs and AOSIS that have been feeling the effects of climate change for years now.

Bangladesh. Photo by G. Braasch

Bangladesh. Photo by G. Braasch

China suggested perambulatory text for the draft of the ADP decision that states “grave concern” over the gap between now and 2020 while the EU and the US struck text about adaptation and whole paragraphs aimed at pre-2020 ambition through finance and adaptation support. Party submissions are available online but sadly not much is being said about the interim period before the year 2020.

UNFCCC Elections Website for COP & CMP Bodies

The COP20 in Lima, Peru, has many moving parts – another one to watch is the nominations that are now open and listed on the UNFCCC website.  This site provides multiple documents which are up-to-date this week.  Listed are the positions up for nomination, any nominations which have already been made and the country or bloc with which the nominee is associated.  These bodies perform essential roles within the COP and CMP and all nominations must be submitted by Friday, Dec. 5th.  Chairs and coordinators continue to consult amongst their groups and constituencies about nominations.

Bodies for nomination include:  logo_images

  • The Bureau of the COP 20 and the CMP 10;
  • The Bureau of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA);
  • The Bureau of the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI);
  • The Bureau of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP);
  • The Adaptation Committee (AC);
  • The Adaptation Fund Board (AFB);
  • The Advisory Board of the Climate Technology Centre and Network (CTCN);
  • The Consultative Group of Experts on National Communications from Parties not included in Annex I to the Convention (CGE);
  • The Executive Board of the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM EB);
  • The Compliance Committee;
  • The Joint Implementation Supervisory Committee (JISC);
  • The Standing Committee on Finance (SCF);
  • The Technology Executive Committee (TEC).



Mind the [Ambition] Gap

mind the gap


When stepping onto the Underground in London, a voice rings out, “Mind the gap.” Perhaps this should also be echoing through the halls of the COP20 venue in Lima, Peru, this week. The pre-2020 ambition gap is often stated in terms of what must be done differently from business as usual to keep GHGs from warming the global temperature 2°C (relative to pre-industrial levels) before the year 2020.

The most recent IPCC Report (AR5) states with high confidence that there are opportunities through mitigation, adaptation and integrated responses to narrow this gap. The ADP meetings held in Lima during this session are ripe with discussions of interim measures to be taken prior to the next year’s Paris COP21. On Tuesday, the Parties discussed a draft text which is set to accelerate implementation of climate action. Over the next 10 days, Parties will negotiate which gap-closing measures they are willing to take.

Parties are looking to negotiate specific texts and elements, while in Lima, that can be solidified at the upcoming COP21 in Paris; without concrete commitments in place upon leaving Lima next week, it will be very difficult to give Congresses, Parliaments and other governing bodies time to ‘okay’ these commitments before COP21.  Many Parties have voiced that it is very late to still be negotiating texts for the Paris agreement – yet the negotiations must continue.andina

Any agreement signed in Paris next year will become effective in 2020.  This leaves a ‘gap’ of the next five years – many Parties are already suffering from climate change and are calling for a developed nations to make commitments now.  The opening session of the ADP on Tuesday allowed G77+China to lead the way in calling for accelerated action by developed countries through financing and technology transfer for developing countries.  Although it is early in the process, Parties seem to be mindful, at least, that there is gap.


Curbside View: COP20 Stars Arrive

COP Photo_banner2It is amazing to be watching history-in-the-making at COP20 in Lima, Peru. Just two days ago, we were standing on the curb and watching the leadership arrive at the venue. One of the first experiences we had, as the Vermont Law School delegation, was seeing the leaders of the COP20 step out of black Mercedes just in front of us.


Manuel Pulgar Vidal and Christiana Figueres arriving Sunday evening

The first to arrive were COP20 President, Ministro Manuel Pulgar Vidal, along with the UNFCCC Executive Secretary, Christiana Figueres.  Smiling and laughing, these two stepped out like they were excited to tackle the next two weeks in style.  The opening remarks by each of them relayed a sense of hope and jubilation that we had seen reflected in their smiles as they approached the recently-constructed entrance to the COP20 site.


COP19 President, Marcin Korolec

Next, the COP19 President, Minister Marcin Korolec, made his debut at the site.  Our fearless leader, Tracy Bach, identified him as the man who had lead the negotiations at Warsaw last year.  It was nice to see continuity in leadership and the determined look on Korolec’s face as he approached what would be his workspace for the next two weeks.

green lantern

The green lantern arrives!

Our final, and perhaps most intriguing paparazzi moment, was the infamous ‘green lantern’ floating towards the entrance.  There are various meanings behind a green lantern, but here, it symbolizes a desire for hope and a commitment to change; this was a bright light in our night as the sun set over Lima while the stars rolled in at COP20…

Can social media offer a voice and a virtual seat at the climate change table?

It is estimated that one in four people worldwide use some form of social media. While this statistic may cause concern among some populations, should climate change advocates around the world rejoice in this? According to news about Instagram , the International Center of Photography  is working hard to bring climate change front and center for every social media user. This eight-year project aims to showcase beauty of untouched areas of the world and appeal to the senses of ‘what could be lost.’ Some of the photographs highlight climate catastrophes such as deforestation in Borneo and melting glacial fields. This is not, however, an overt cry for change.  The idea is to expose Instagram users to these images and spark conversation which would not happen when one walks solo through the ICP’s Midtown Manhattan gallery.  The onsite exhibition coordinator, Pauline Vermare, explains, “It’s not about art, it’s about changing the society.”

View of the junction of the Colorado and the Little Colorado from the Navajo territory. The Grand Canyon National Park begins after this junction. Click the image to enlarge. Copyright Sebastião Salgado/Amazonas Images

View of the junction of the Colorado and the Little Colorado from the Navajo territory. The Grand Canyon National Park begins after this junction.  This is one of the ICP images.
Click the image to enlarge. Copyright Sebastião Salgado/Amazonas Images

Using social media to raise climate change awareness is not novel: three years ago, Al Gore started “The Climate Reality Project,” created a FaceBook page and asked the public to commit to hosting view-parties for online climate change events. Today, this page has almost 321,000 ‘likes’ and still acts as a news source for climate-savvy FaceBookers. Others add climate change inspired ‘hashtags’ that cross social media boundaries from FaceBook to Twitter and Instagram. This was evident during People’s Climate march as over 400,000 participants gathered in the streets of New York City – most uploading photos with #peoplesclimatemarch.

While these social media campaigns may subconsciously expose us to issues or overtly alert us to climate news, do they really make a difference to the leaders on the road to Lima and Paris for upcoming UNFCCC and Kyoto negotiations? It seems as though, while a good way to stay informed, there is little evidence that party leaders actually take social media into account when devising negotiating plans. This doesn’t mean social media has no influence on policy; it may just mean that this is one channel for negotiators to monitor the thoughts of citizens and for constituencies to keep tabs on issues.  Since 2008, the UNFCCC secretariat and Information Services Coordinator have stated that virtual participation in convention sessions is a priority. Growing numbers of Convention delegates, lack of funding for some Parties/organizations to send delegates and a new host city each year make virtual participation a timely choice.  With increased virtual participation via social media, an active FaceBook page for UNFCCC and a plethora of citizen groups pushing climate change awareness, WE MAY ALL HAVE A VOICE and a front row seat (at least, in front of a laptop) at Paris COP21.  As for Lima, have confidence that the blogging, hashtagging and tweeting will keep the masses informed.