From Lima to Paris: The Road Ahead to COP21/CMP11

This post was written by Vermont Law School COP20/CMP10 Observer Delegation members Archer Christian, Catherine Craig, Rebecca Davidson, Carla Santos, Cynthia Sirois, and Professor Tracy Bach.

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From left to right: Cynthia Sirois, Tracy Bach, Catherine Craig, Archer Christian, Rebecca Davidson, and Carla Santos.

As the action in Lima comes to a close, the question becomes: What has COP20/CMP10 set into play for the negotiations in Paris next year? This COP was styled as an action-oriented one that would build on the “nuts and bolts” program of COP19 in Warsaw. In Lima, the Warsaw mandate tasked parties with further defining the elements of the new international agreement that would be codified in the Paris Agreement at COP21 and then take effect in 2020, as the Kyoto Protocol sunsetted. In doing so, Lima would mark the significant transition from the 1997 Protocol’s “binary approach” of internationally imposed greenhouse gas (GHG) emission mitigation commitments on developed countries only, to an all-in, “bottom up” approach of nationally determined contributions that, when tallied, would achieve the internationally agreed climate stabilization goal set out in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in 1992.

The Vermont Law School COP20/CMP10 Observer Delegation chronicled four critical parts of the Lima discussions, namely the next steps under the Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage associated with Climate Change Impacts (WIM); preserving forest “sinks” by building on the Warsaw Framework for REDD+; refinements to the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), one of the Kyoto Protocol’s “flexible mechanisms” that allows developed countries to fund GHG reduction projects in developing countries and credit those reductions against their own mitigation caps; and decisions of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP), the fulcrum for pivoting from the existing treaty regime for mitigation targets to one that goes beyond mitigation goals and binds all Convention parties. Having blogged about our daily experiences at COP20/CMP10, this summary of these four, key components of the Lima talks reflects on the overall process and outcomes and what it means for la route à Paris and COP21/CMP11.

Beyond adaptation: Loss and Damage experienced now by the poorest countries

The Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage associated with Climate Change Impacts (WIM) was established at COP19 last year to recognize and begin to address the particular needs of those countries most vulnerable to loss and damage. Millions of people around the globe will experience the kind of certain and permanent losses that surpass their ability to adapt to climate change. Earlier this year, Kiribati bought land in Fiji for its anticipated climate refugees, the first nation to do so. At COP19, the UNFCCC Parties gave themselves a deadline for finalizing the Mechanism’s Executive Committee and two-year workplan in Lima.

At COP20/CMP10, the December 5th SBSTA/SBI combined recommendation to the COP contained approval of the two-year workplan submitted by the interim Executive Committee before the COP and three different proposals for the makeup of the permanent Executive Committee. In the end, the Parties agreed to an Executive Committee composition of 10 non-Annex I Party members and 10 Annex I Party members. Eight of the non-Annex I Party members are stipulated in the decision: two each from the African, Asia-Pacific, and the Latin American and Caribbean States, and one each from Small Island Developing Sates and Least Developed Country Parties. The two remaining non-Annex 1 slots are not designated.

Interestingly, the final Executive Committee composition looks like a new equation for a UNFCCC mechanism. The related Adaptation Committee is made up of 16 members, with representatives of the 5 UN regional groups (2 each), SIDS (1), LDCs (1), Non-Annex I (2) and Annex I Parties (2).) Some observers wished for greater explicit LDC and AOSIS representation on the permanent WIM Executive Committee, despite the fact that the two undesignated non-Annex I seats could potentially go to these groups. At least the WIM work can now begin.

The larger question asked repeatedly in the final 36 hours of COP20/CMP10 was how deeply anchored the concept of loss and damage generally, or the WIM specifically, would be in the ADP decision that lays the groundwork for COP21’s Paris agreement. The absence of both in the draft ADP decision text published early Saturday morning (Dec. 13) caused most developing countries’ refusal to agree to that document. Despite the fact that loss and damage can be found in the “Elements for a draft negotiating text” referenced in the draft decision’s Annex, the multiple options for how it might be addressed range from deeply anchored to not included at all. In the end, the final text accepted by consensus in the wee hours of Sunday morning referred to progress on the WIM in the preamble only. With this section’s language having no legal force, Parties’ comments made after acceptance and included in the meeting’s official record made it clear that a Paris agreement is expected to and would have to go further.

The nitty gritty of using REDD+ to “sink” carbon in the world’s forests

The Warsaw Framework for REDD+ adopted at COP19/CMP9 included seven decisions that build on the Cancun Agreement on REDD+ established at COP16/CMP6. The REDD+ Framework includes decisions on national forest monitoring systems; safeguards; forest reference emission levels; measuring, reporting and verification (MRV); results-based financing; drivers of deforestation and forest degradation; and an information hub on the UNFCCC web platform for publishing results information. Importantly for COP20/CMP10, the safeguards decision required developing country parties to start providing summary information in their national communication, including via the web platform of the UNFCCC, after implementation of REDD+ activities begins.

At COP20/CMP10, with the $10 billion Green Climate Fund 2014 goal met, REDD+ projects are already lining up around the block for funding. The question remains whether safeguards and methodological guidelines will be put in place in order to protect the rights of forest communities who will be impacted by these projects. At COP 20, SBSTA made no progress on the Warsaw REDD+ framework on safeguards.   During SBSTA negotiations, the Philippines, Sudan, the EU, Bolivia and the US advocated for developing further guidance on safeguards, but Panama, on behalf of the Coalition for Rainforest Nations, said that now is the time to implement REDD+, not to develop further guidelines.

Yet many side events at COP20/CMP10 highlighted the necessity of developing safeguards. During a side event, Looking Forward: REDD+ Post 2015,  Ms. Victoria Tauli Corpuz, the UN Special Rapporteur for Indigenous People, spoke of a dire need to create governance structures that would protect indigenous people during implementation of REDD+ projects. Notably, the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) reported that REDD+ can lead to reduced access to natural resources and land tenure insecurity for locals.  CIFOR presented evidence that in order for REDD+ to offer non-carbon benefits, and indeed for it to accomplish its goal of curbing both deforestation and emissions, public participation should be integrated into the REDD+ framework under SBSTA, pursuant to principles of free, prior and informed consent.

Looking ahead to COP 21 in Paris, it is clear that REDD+ will continue to be a debated issue between indigenous people and project developers. Perhaps, because REDD+ is a market-based solution to climate change, it will always fall short of what is socially just. Regardless, REDD+ is moving forward on a global scale, and human rights advocates will continue to call for close monitoring of its interactions with local communities.

Cleaning up the CDM with an eye toward life post Kyoto Protocol

ADP Parties came to Lima with an important agenda: ensure that the clean development mechanism (CDM, for short) modalities and procedures were improved. However, little progress was made in the SBI and SBSTA meetings held during the first week – in fact, most of the mandates and analysis were further postponed to both subsidiary bodies’ forty-second and subsequent sessions (FCCC/SBI/2014/L.35, FCCC/SBI/2014/L.31, and FCCC/SBSTA/2014/L.24). The second week started with the CMP negotiations for a CDM draft decision. Besides providing further rules to key CDM issues, the CMP decision also aimed to guide the CDM Executive Board for the coming year. The CMP negotiations lasted three days, with many hours of long debates and tireless disagreements. Countries were clearly divided in two groups, even though some members often shifted from one side to another. Brazil and the European Union, one of the biggest CDM host countries and the biggest CDM regional market, respectively, expressed opposite opinions about several of the key issues, including voluntary cancellation of emission reductions units (CERs) and double-counting concerns.

Yet the negotiations concluded on Wednesday night. After the Parties finished the third read of the draft text, the CMP convened again at 9 pm. At that point 20 paragraphs were already agreed, several were agreed to be deleted, but other 23 paragraphs, with several alternatives, were still under consideration. After a long debate about what procedure should be adopted to help the negotiations move on, several Parties remind the Chair that a fourth read of the proposed text was not feasible or desirable. The Parties decided to delete all the paragraphs that were not agreed upon, leading to a final CMP decision regarding CDM. The final decision compiled a number of mandates for the CDM Executive Board to comply within the next year. In particular, the Parties requested further analysis on issues such as the revision of CDM’s baseline and monitoring methodologies, and their streamlining, registration of project activities that qualify as automatically additional, and alternatives methodologies to ensure environmental integrity. Besides the CDM Executive Board mandates, the Parties were able to agree on two issues: the adoption of a voluntary procedure for deregistration, and the flexibility regarding the verification timing for afforestation and reforestation projects.

While the CDM negotiations were intense, the uncertainty regarding CDM’s future was a clear ghost in the room. The CDM negotiations happened under the CMP, but the Doha Amendment – which established the emission reduction commitments for the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol – continues to not be in force. And without an emission reduction market, CDM has no future.

But CDM can once again gain force if Parties agree to an ambitious post-2020 agreement. Looking ahead, Brazil has proposed an “Advanced CDM” or simply CDM+ to the ADP. The new mechanism is explained in three simple paragraphs, and contains one main element: the possibility of voluntarily cancelled CDM CERs to be used to account for countries ’ nationally determined contributions (NDC) financial targets and pledges. Despite the lack of information regarding the proposed CDM+, several countries are already criticizing it. The European Union, for instance, used the expression “double-counting” of CERs continuously during this week’s negotiations, showing great dissatisfaction with the Brazilian proposal. While the double-counting language was not included in the final CMP decision regarding CDM, the issue will continue to surface in future negotiations if a CDM+ is considered in the new agreement.

ADP: Shifting to global peer pressure to mitigate GHG emissions through INDCs 

As was the case in Warsaw last year, final ADP decision-making was pushed to the last minute, of the last hour, of the last day of the COP20 in Lima. The ADP was originally scheduled to close on Thursday afternoon. Not for the first time at this COP, negotiators worked into the wee hours of the night on Friday hoping to come together on issues addressing how Parties will communicate their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs), as was directed under paragraph 5 of Decision 1/CP.17 and how parties should contribute to closing the pre-2020 ambition gap. With a newly drafted decision in hand on Saturday morning (officially after the close of the COP), Parties still held clear differences on specific language and its implications.

The COP20 President, Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, had taken a very active and open stance during the last few weeks, and many have complimented his efforts to promote clarity and transparency for all Parties. As the close of the meeting neared, and with the draft decision still far from being adopted, his guidance became stronger and more determined. Recalling that Lima had been called a tipping point for the new agreement, he pled with the delegations to “help me . . . don’t leave me alone. We need to help ourselves. We are representing the world, and we are representing what the world is seeking.”

As Parties gave their final interventions, all agreed that the draft decision was not ideal for anyone. However, a dichotomy emerged with some parties endorsing adoption of the decision as it stood subject to more negotiation in Geneva this February, while others drew the red line and declared the draft unacceptable as is. Switzerland on behalf of EIG and Chile on behalf of AILAC were willing to move forward with the current draft, along with the EU, US, Japan, Russian Federation, and New Zealand. Surprising some, Singapore, Belize, and the Marshall Islands also urged Parties to move forward with the current text. Noting that his country is running out of time and its very existence is in danger from sea level rise, the delegate from the Marshall Islands made a very compelling plea: “We cannot leave Lima with empty hands on road to a successful Paris agreement.” Yet parties such as Sudan on behalf of the Africa Group, Malaysia for the LMDCs, India, China and Tuvalu were not willing to compromise the vulnerable people that they represent, and asked the COP President to reconsider the draft. The delegate from Tuvalu, in particular, noted that we should not let this COP be the one where the world’s poorest are denied.

With no consensus on this text, the meeting continued for 10 more hours, shifting to intense, behind-closed-doors negotiations with COP President Pulgar-Vidal and ministers of Singapore and Norway empowered by him to speak with parties on his behalf.  Finally, just before midnight, the COP20/CMP10 final plenary convened, a new final draft decision text was presented, and the gavel was banged. Nonetheless, despite the COP’s consensus position, Tuvalu asked for the floor and spoke intensely and purposefully to register concerns about the need for stronger loss and damage inclusion (besides the WIM progress recognition in the text’s preamble). Many other parties laid out their specific concerns about missing references to the Convention’s principles, notably equity and common but differentiated responsibility and respective capacity (CBDRRC).  Likewise concern was expressed about the changes in external review of the promised INDCs, from well before COP21 convenes in Paris on November 20, 2015 to just a month before.  Behind these specifics lies continued disagreement by developing countries over differentiation and eliminating the so-called binary system of responsibility.

In this way, the route à Paris has been laid out as a bumpy one, littered with the potholes and frost heaves borne of unresolved applications of the major shift away from “top down” international climate change obligations (as embodied in the Kyoto Protocol) to nationally driven commitments.  This mistrust — often referred to as the ghost of Copenhagen —   lingered from the opening to the closing plenary statements. The barebones text adopted in the wee hours, now referred to as the Lima Accord, necessarily deferred detailed discussions to the regular meetings scheduled in 2015 leading up to the COP21 next December in Paris.


La Route a Paris

This post was co-written by Rebecca Davidson, Cynthia Sirois, and Tracy Bach

IMG_5456Just like in Warsaw last year, the final ADP decision came down to the last minute, of the last hour, of the last day of COP20/CMP10 in Lima. The ADP was originally scheduled to close in a Thursday afternoon plenary. Not for the first time at this COP, negotiators worked into the wee hours of the night on Friday hoping to come together on issues addressing how parties will communicate their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs), as was directed under paragraph 5 of Decision 1/CP.17 and how parties should contribute to closing the pre-2020 ambition gap. With a newly drafted decision in hand on Saturday morning (now 16 hours after the official close of the COP), Parties were still quite clearly apart on the inclusion of loss and damage, the balance of mitigation with adaptation and finance in the INDCs, and how to ground all of this work under the Convention principles like common but differentiated responsiblities and respective capacities (CBDRRC).

COP20 President, Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, has taken a very active role throughout the two-week meeting, and many have complimented his efforts to promote clarity and transparency for all Parties. As the close of the meetings neared, and with the draft decision still far from being “adoptable,” his guidance became even more determined. Having called Lima a tipping point for the new agreement, and recalling his plea to “help me…don’t leave me alone”, he officially took over the leadership of the ADP from its co-chairs. “Now”, he declared “we need to help ourselves. We are representing the world, and we are representing what the world is seeking.”

IMG_5469On Saturday morning, as parties gave their final Interventions, the singular point of accord was that the draft decision was not ideal for anyone. Nonetheless, a range of parties endorsed adopting the late Friday night draft decision with warts and all, as a basis for working toward more agreement in the upcoming Geneva ADP negotiations specially schedule for February 2015.

Negotiating blocs such as EIG (with Switzerland speaking) and AILAC (with Chile speaking) were willing to move forward with the current draft. Ditto EU, US, Japan the Russian Federation and New Zealand. Singapore, Belize and the Marshall Islands also urged Parties to move forward with the current text, despite its imperfections.

But as the Saturday morning ADP plenary continues, a dichotomy emerged. Whether labeled as red lines or red flags, the rift over how the decision refers to the tenants of the Convention, and its provisions and principles, surfaced again and again. Between developed and developing countries, major disagreement about how differentiation and the so-called binary system of responsibility falls out within the framework of the draft Decision, and what it implies for the agreement to be developed in Paris.

IMG_5490The Sudan, on behalf of the Africa Group, Malaysia for LMDCs, India, China and Tuvalu were not willing to compromise, asserting the needs of the vulnerable people that they represent.  Tuvalu, in particular, noted that we should not let this COP be the one where the world’s poorest were denied. They asked the COP President to reconsider the draft.

The delegate from the Marshall Islands made a very compelling plea. “We cannot leave Lima with empty hands on the road to a successful Paris agreement.” He noted that the world doesn’t have much time both at this conference and in terms of Climate Change. His country is running out of time and its very existence is in danger if the issues surrounding climate change are not resolved quickly.

After almost 10 more hours of intense, behind-closed-doors negotiations with COP President Pulgar-Vidal and ministers of Singapore and Norway empowered by him to speak with parties on his behalf, the COP20/CMP10 final plenary was held in the Lima hall.  Just minutes before midnight, a new, final draft text was presented to the room and the gavel was banged.  Nonetheless, despite the COP’s consensus position, Tuvalu asked for the floor as the gavel’s rapping and attendant applause echoed in the hall.  This small island nation, which speaks for the least developed countries negotiating group (LDCs), spoke intensely and purposefully toIMG_5474 register concerns about the need for stronger loss and damage inclusion (besides the WIM progress recognition in the text’s preamble).  Many other parties laid out their specific concerns about the divisive issues outlined from the start (see above).  In this way, the route a Paris has been laid out as a bumpy one, littered with the potholes and frost heaves borne of continued mistrust and unresolved applications of the major shift away from “top down” international climate change obligations (as embodied in the Kyoto Protocol) to nationally driven commitments.

Stay tuned for more detailed analysis of the final text and the path of negotiations to a new agreement.


Down to the Wire

This post co-written by Rebecca Davidson and Cynthia Siriois

The ADP train rolled on today. hella-lineWe began the morning waiting outside Paita, a 550 person capacity negotiation room. While waiting in the long observer line, I overheard a Party delegate from an African country complain to a UN security guard when he was denied access to the room because it was already over capacity. He demanded to speak to the Co-Chairs and it seems as though his and others’ voices were heard. The meeting was rescheduled for the much larger Cusco Plenary hall, which can seat over 1000. Even so, space was at a premium and parties and observers alike were packed into the pressure cooker.

A new draft text was released late last night that condensed the previous days 56 pages of alternative text into 7 pages of paragraphs with no more than three options each. Parties were given the opportunity to speak to which options they preferred and offer solutions if they were not satisfied with the specific language of a particular option.

Consensus of preferred options crossed and bisected “typical” negotiating bloc lines. For example, the USA, Colombia, and South Africa all preferred the language of paragraph 9’s option 3 which relates to communication of INDCs, and that includes a much broader list of scope and specifics. Japan, Australia, and Switzerland all supported option 2, which limits the “laundry list” approach to elements included in INDCs. Pakistan, Nicaragua, and the EU all preferred option 1 of paragraph 13 which discusses accelerating the full implementation of the decisions and enhancing pre-2020 ambition, while China and Cuba like option 3, which again provides a more detailed description of how that will occur (including an “Accelerated Implementation Mechanism” which everyone is questioning). Despite the seemingly odd preference spread, most parties commented that they were willing to find “common ground” and continue working to meet the COP President’s goal of finishing this decision before leaving Lima by Saturday.

Some Parties’ statements were particularly compelling, and stood out like a bright ray of sun in an otherwise dark (and sweltering) room. The EU was surprisingly vocal about coming back together and finding convergence, essentially wanting to move from a positions-oriented negotiating stance to an interests-based dialogue. They noted that many Parties are simply repeating statements made previously, and not helping to finalize a decision – especially with only hours remaining. As a model of their proclaimed flexibility, the EU crossed the mitigation-INDC line and suggested their willingness to be flexible on adaptation on a voluntary basis. The Philippines also proclaimed their interest in compromise. And of particular note (and with a round of vibrant applause) suggested that the human rights of indigenous people and women be included in the decision in Paragraph 14. Mexico also received a rousing applause. Both for their support for gender and indigenous people, as well as for their very recent contribution to climate funds. This is a landmark move made by a developing country, showing their willingness to open climate-finance doors and acknowledge the importance of addressing the needs of developing nations.

CuscoFor the first time this week, the sense of urgency was visceral and real. Parties will be working into the wee hours this morning, as we just learned that the Closing Plenary is scheduled (possibly) at 2 am Saturday December 13th, at the conclusion of the Contact Group finalizing a decision text. Keep your eyes out for it!

As the representative of Uganda quipped earlier today, we are “dancing to the tune of Mr. Climate Change”. Time to make a decision, and start heading toward a substantive agreement in Paris, 2015.


Will the ADP meet its mandate in Lima?

The last few days of a two-week COP always include their fair share of drama.  After the workmanlike approach to the SBI and SBSTA agenda items during the first week, the late nights, constantly delayed and then conflicting meeting times, and inevitable sticking points between parties take their toll.

IMG_5419Today was no exception.  After finishing its review at 1am this morning of all 36 paragraphs (and 18 pages) of the draft COP decision reissued by the co-chairs on Monday, the weary delegates and co-chairs reconvened at about 10am.  While giving themselves a well-deserved pat on the back for having achieved this initial round of negotiation, reality struck when trying to decide how to move from review to reconciliation of the now 55-page text filled with dozens of alternative clauses.

Bolivia, on behalf of the G77+China, announced that China was working on a slimmed down version to propose to the group and asked for more time to complete it.  When the morning meeting finally reconvened at 4:30pm, Bolivia told assembled parties that it had a revised text only for Workstream 2 (pre-2020 ambition). This news sparked a debate for more than an hour over how to consider this new draft, whether in a full contact group or in a smaller “friends of the chair” meeting with participants selected by each negotiating bloc.

The session also produced some testy moments.  Malaysia complained that the starting draft text of the decision, produced by the chairs, was biased.  It proudly claimed “tremendous and immense progress”  during these two weeks toward better reflecting LMDC’s views.  When pushed by developed country Parties as to why there was still no consensus among developing countries, the Malaysian delegate retorted “have you got convergence amongst developed countries?” The answer at the time of this meeting was no. Malaysia did not want the G77 and LMDCs to shoulder the blame for the delay.

IMG_5418Switzerland responded that some parties had waited too long to make their suggestions and therefore the negotiations have been extremely slow and inefficient. Switzerland submitted their proposals in March 2014 and pointed out that all parties, developed and developing alike, were able to do so. However, it should be noted that the LMDCs also submitted their suggestions in March.  Switzerland reaffirmed that Parties need to develop a decision that is acceptable to all parties, not just 130 parties. This was a clear reference to the G77+China, some of whose members had developed the new draft text outside the contact group meeting and had not yet supplied it to all of its members, let alone the rest of the ADP.

With this, the ADP negotiators hit a road block. With no time remaining before the scheduled President’s Stocktaking, the session broke with no progress to show.

Thus after a week of lengthy negotiations over a draft COP decision on the implementation of all theIMG_5420 elements of decision 1/CP.17, Co-Chair Kishan Kumarsingh had to provide a disappointing update to COP20 President Manuel Pulgar-Vidal:  ultimately, some Parties could not recommend or agree upon how to move forward, which left Parties in a position where consensus could not be reached, and in fact appeared to drive Party agreement further apart rather than converging together.

In a very heartfelt and off-the-cuff response, the COP President implored ministers and negotiators to work together with his guidance and direction. He reminded negotiators that this is in fact a very crucial moment at Lima – with only one day remaining – and with that provided 4 observations for consideration.

First is timing. With only one day left to close the conference, it is the time to send a clear and strong message and move the process forward.

Second is to make sure we embrace the spirit of Lima, including the outcome of COP20, and to avoid the “we don’t want” phraseology. Instead proposals should be brought forward in a constructive and reasonable way to achieve the objectives of reaching a draft decision. “We will not accept leaving with empty hands; the spirit of Lima includes the outcome, not just the warm hospitality.”  Bottom line: If
we leave Lima with empty hands, we will not have a deal in Paris.IMG_5353

Third is the importance of maintaining a transparent and party driven process. Now is not the time to develop singular approaches. We need to work with open doors, and talk to all Parties and negotiating blocs.  Pulgar-Vidal exhorted delegates to “put in all your will, all your political support, to build the outcome together.”

Fourth, the President provided instruction and guidance to the Co-Chairs and parties to get back together and develop a reasonable text by 9pm tonight and then reconvene tomorrow morning at 9am. With his guidance and coordination, the text must reflect a position of all parties, and maintain the confidence of all via the text. He reminded parties, “It is not a linguistic discussion, it is a substantive discussion, and we need to show that we can advance in the discussion. Not in the words, not the commas, not in the dots, but in the substance.  It must focus on the key points.”  These include the draft decision providing clear and strong direction, including the upfront information required for all Parties to submit their INDCs in 2015 and to take ambitious pre-2020 action.  It also includes evolving the non-paper into the elements of a negotiating text.

“Help us, help me” said President Pulgar-Vidal, in a visibly emotional way.  Drawing on his 28 years as an environmental lawyer, as a participant at the1992 Rio summit and a firm believer in the value of international environmental conventions, he reiterated his plea:  “We understand your domestic needs, your domestic agendas. Don’t leave me alone – work with me.  Let’s bring good hope to the world, sharing a common objective.” To which the room erupted into loud and sustained applause.  The COP20 President then IMG_5435charged the ADP to get back to work and report on its progress at a 9am stocktaking tomorrow morning.  AcknowIedging the ovation from his colleagues, he smiled when he said “I appreciate your applause, but I appreciate more the applause to you tomorrow at 6pm.”

With that, the evening stocktaking ended and negotiators milled around the room, seeking out conversations with one another before returning to formal negotiations.  Tonight, a 10:30pm revised decision draft was posted on the ADP site, clocking in at a slim 7 pages.  Stay tuned for tomorrow’s reactions to it.


Steering the ADP Decision Ship

You don’t turn a ship around quickly. A-U.S.-naval-ship-in-the--007Kishan Kumarsingh and Artur Runge-Metzger, Co-Chairs of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP) have had the Captain’s task of steering global negotiations on 1) defining Elements for a draft negotiating text for a 2015 Agreement and 2) drafting a COP Decision that is to be finalized in Lima to define the implementation of all the elements of Decision 1/CP.17.

Despite this slow-moving process, new draft texts were provided first thing this morning by the Co-Chairs – which were synthesized from last week’s negotiations – and were the focus of the morning discussion.

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Immediate reactions by Parties were mixed. Some developing countries, including Bolivia, Nicaragua, China and others were very concerned about the nature of the new text documents, and in particular the draft COP decision.

In addition, many felt the new title on the Elements document indicated a shift from a more neutral Non-Paper format as was previously provided, and questioned the legal status of this new version. They also felt there was a bias, where some concepts discussed last week were brought forward in the new text, and some were not adequately reflected. Nicaragua stated that the new approach appears to be a “very well refined Copenhagen.” The bottom line was that all parties should be privy to drafting text, with opportunities provided for a line-by-line negotiating approach.

Norway, taking a bit of a different view, proposed in order to have a “fruitful discussion on a textual basis, it would be impossible to start with a compilation document.” Instead they proposed working with the current draft to identify where convergence lies. Japan also strongly relayed reservations with the new texts. But realizing that there is only a very short time left in this COP Japan suggested that steps must be taken on the basis of the new text presented.

Addressing the obvious wake of reactions by Parties to the new ADP texts, the Co-Chairs affirmed that there is NO legal status to these documents, and it is the Parties that must decide on the legal principles. The drafts presented by the Co-Chairs were self-described as a “synthesis in the true sense”. As Captains of the ship, they brought together different proposals presented from last week, to “let cook and boil”, but understanding that it does not necessarily reflect consensus by all. This is instead the challenge ahead for Parties to navigate.


Three Reflections a Day Keeps the Teacher Away

At today’s meeting of the ADP on Section K (Time Frames and Process Related to Commitments/Contributions) of the Co-Chairs’ Non-paper on Elements for a Draft Negotiating Text, the Chinese delegation took the floor for a particularly lengthy period and put forth many suggested changes, additions, and deletions to the Non-paper.  In general, China has been quite vocal at all the meetings I have attended at the COP and its comments have received the endorsements of many Parties, indicating China’s ongoing ascendancy to the status of a responsible global leader.

One particular comment made by the Chinese delegation today caught my attention. Paragraphs 64-70 of the Non-paper set out the potential elements for a mechanism to review implementation of the Convention.  The opening paragraph of this section states that “[t]he governing body shall regularly conduct a strategic review of the aggregate effect of implementation in order to asses progress towards operationalizing the ultimate objective as set out in Article 2 of the Convention pursuant to paragraph 3.”  After the governing body does so, under Article 67 it “shall recommend action to harness unrealized opportunities to mitigate and adapt to climate change and to mobilize the necessary financial support.”

The Chinese delegation stated that it wanted to offer some improvements on Article 47.  Specifically, they proposed inserting a requirement for Parties to conduct a “domestic reflection” in order to identify ways they could improve their mitigation and adaptation efforts.  They likened the idea to the “reflection note” issued by the ADP Co-Chairs after each session of the ADP.  According to the delegation, the concept chairman maoof self reflection is deeply rooted in Chinese cultural traditions.  There’s a Chinese saying – “three reflections a day keeps the teacher away.”  They argued that in the climate change context it would be a very good way to promote “self learning” and to increase domestic ambition.  After all, the delegation stated that Chairman Mao Zedong often promoted self reflection (or, perhaps more accurately described as self criticism) as a good way to increase one’s performance and ambition.

It was certainly one of the most unique comments I heard here at the COP. It will be interesting to see whether this element of Chinese culture makes it into the next iteration of the elements


Undermining the Prospects for a Ambitious U.N. Climate Deal

At the close of the first week of the United Nation’s (UN) climate negotiations, the Green Climate Fund (GCF) reached $9.95 billion with Norway’s most recent pledge.  At the same time, the Oil Change International and Overseas Development Institute (OCI) released a new report. The report calls for a short stopped applaud on the GCF announcement, as the analysis shines a new light on the disparity between finance pledged and support for the exploration of new fossil fuel extraction.

The briefing finds that while these “climate finance pledges have been met with some enthusiasm” developed countries are still providing nearly three times more money for fossil fuel exploration alone. Supporting the search for more oil, gas, and coal, then they have pledged for the GCF. As the most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) synthesis report reiterates that the majority of the proven fossil fuel reserves need to stay in the ground, G-20 governments’ are spending tens of billions of tax dollars each year on subsidies for fossil fuel exploration and development.

ff financingThe report shows support for fossil fuel exploration by Annex II governments totals $26.6 billion per year, nearly three times the current amount that these countries have pledged in climate finance to the GCF. For example, the United States (U.S.), whose $3 billion pledge is the largest commitment of the GCF thus far, provides more than twice the amount—$6.5 billion—in annual government support for fossil fuel exploration. A 45 percent increase in U.S. fossil subsidies since 2009, with President Obama’s “All the Above” energy policy alone.

Recognizing this deficiency, Parties are contemplating a firm decision to scale down fossil fuel subsidies and high-carbon investments. The option appears in the finance section Article 34.1(d) of the draft text complied by the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action. “So it’s in there, but it’s [only] an option—we need to make it a decision. Unless we defend it very strongly, there’s a high chance it may be left out,” said Climate Action International policy officer Alix Mazounie.

A provision to phase out fossil fuel subsides and investments should form a key part of the Paris agreement, Mozounie said. Especially, given that fossil fuel subsidies completely undermine climate action and contradict the UN climate negotiations aims, said Mozounie.


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.


A Debate Brewing with Regard to Accounting and Transparency of Mitigation Commitments

Today the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Advancement of the Durban Platform (ADP) had a meeting to discuss the ADP cochairsproposals for mitigation commitments contained in the ADP Co-Chairs’ November 11, 2014 Non-Paper on Elements for a Draft Negotiating Text.  In somewhat typical fashion, the meeting finally got off to a start about an hour behind schedule.  Given the widespread interest in the shape that mitigation commitments will take in the “protocol, legal instrument or agreed outcome with legal force” that is supposed to be adopted at the COP in Paris next year, the room was packed to capacity and people were overflowing into the hallway.

Some predictable patterns emerged once things got off to a start.  India emphasized that the Parties are not negotiating a new Convention and made oft-repeated calls for the draft text to contain references to the Convention’s principles of “common but differentiated responsibilities” and equity.  Several other Parties, including Bolivia, Jordan, Venezuela, Argentina, and Cuba supported this view.  On the other hand, Parties including Japan, the United States, Switzerland, and Canada stated in various ways that they did not support the binary approach of the Convention.

accountingOne interesting divergence that emerged during the course of today’s negotiations concerned scheduling and accounting methods for mitigation actions and, by extension, transparency.  The United States said that the mitigation section of the draft text should require each party joining the agreement to submit a schedule for its INDCs that it intends to implement.  Initially, each Party’s mitigation contribution should relate to a common timeframe of 2025.  Each party should also accompany its mitigation contribution with clarifying information and should report periodically, in accordance with an agreed timeline, on its progress toward implementing the contribution.  The United States also stated that the Parties should agree in Paris on procedures for reviewing Parties’ implementation of their mitigation contributions.  Australia supported this position, adding that there should be accounting in the land sector as well.  Switzerland also joined in, emphasizing the importance of transparency, and stated that the Parties should elaborate on the requirements and procedures for transparency in Paris in 2015.  However, Brazil and some other countries opposed these suggestions, stating that the Non-paper already contained many provisions regarding transparency and there was therefore no need to add it in to the mitigation section.

As stated by the World Resources Institute, transparency is key to an effective climate regime because it enables Parties and other stakeholders to assess how their emissions reductions compare with other Parties, which may build trust and contribute to the implementation of the agreement.  Additionally, it can build confidence in the agreement and strengthen its credibility.  Whether the United States’ proposal regarding accounting and transparency would strengthen or improve the the draft text over the transparency provisions already there is an open question.


The Fossils of the Day

photo 1Today Australia and the European Union (EU) took home the Fossil of the Day Award presented by Climate Action Network (CAN). Australia received the gold medal after stating in an Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP) session that loss and damage should be an element of adaptation, not a stand alone part of the Paris Agreement.  This stands in direct contrast to the positions of the countries most vulnerable to climate impacts. Developing countries, including those from Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), the Least Developed Countries (LDCs), the Africa Group, and Independent Association of Latin America and the Caribbean (AILAC), want to see the agreement feature loss and damage as a separate issue, not bundled into adaptation. Developing countries argue that it is not possible to adapt to losing your land due to rising sea levels, nor is it possible to adapt to farmland lost to desertification.

The EU won the silver Fossil of the Day Award, calling for a ten-year commitment period. Critics claim this is a sure fire way to lock in low ambition in the future climate deal. The length of the current five-year commitment period for climate action is key to an effective 2015 climate agreement in Paris. Proponents of a five-year commitment period say a shorter commitment period avoids locking in low ambition, incentivizes early action, avoids delay tactics, and maintains political accountability. Those calling for progressive climate action urge Parties to decide on a common five-year period here and now in Lima.


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.

 


Spotlight on India at COP20

“We have forgotten to live with nature,”  India’s new prime minister, Narendra Modi, told a group of school india modikids in September.  Urging them to conserve electricity by switching off fans and lights when not in use and turning off tap water when brushing teeth, he connected energy use with climate change impacts.  Modi wrote a 2011 e-book, Convenient Action (a play on words on Gore’s more well known An Inconvenient Truth), which chronicled his climate change mitigation work as chief minister of the western state of Gujarat.

As the world’s fourth largest emitter of greenhouse gases after China and the U.S., India’s approach to the climate change negotiations that will start next Monday at COP20/CMP10  is under a particularly glaring spotlight after the US-China climate change announcement two weeks ago.  In India, coal use is rising,India nationa-emissions-and-projected leading to a carbon dioxide emissions increase last year (5.1%) that surpassed China’s (4.2%) and the United States’ (2.9%).

Yet India has a very large number of poor people, with national income levels several times lower than those of China.  According to World Bank, 25% of India’s population lived at the poverty level of $1.25 a day or less in 2011, compared to 6% of China’s population.  Unsurprisingly, Prime Minister Modi faces huge pressure to develop economically; he already promised on the campaign trail to provide around-the-clock electricity for all citizens by 2022, given the current prevalence of power blackouts.

Modi’s approach domestically is called “Development Without Destruction,” with an emphasis on windIndia RE energy (doubling capacity over the next five years) and energy efficiency of cars, appliances, and buildings. His government has also recently called for a fivefold increase in solar power usage, targeting total renewable energy use at 100 gigawatts by 2022.  This internal stance is in line with its voluntary pledge at COP15 in Copenhagen in 2009 to cut the “intensity” of its carbon emissions and thereby reducing CO2 emissions from economic output by 20-25% from 2005 levels by 2020.  Nonetheless, coal now accounts for 59% of India’s electric capacity and the country seeks to lower coal imports and double domestic production to one billion tons during the next five years.

According to Alyssa Ayres, senior fellow and India expert at the Council on Foreign Relations, “India’s willing to make commitments to its own people” but not to the world. “I would not expect any big shift in India’s climate policy in the next year or two … It’s not ready to make binding international commitments.”

Perhaps India’s growing miindia killer airddle class, suffering under the same degree of illness-inducing air pollution as its Chinese peers, will provide a new internal push for clean energy production and energy efficiency? The  World Health Organization (WHO) reports that 13 of the top 20 cities worldwide with the dirtiest air are in India – not China, as many believe.

 


China: Cause for Despair? Or Cause for Hope?

China FlagAs the nations of the world wrapped up last week’s ADP negotiations on the key elements of the 2015 Paris agreement, many observers remained focused on China.  Simply put, the actions that China takes (or doesn’t take) in the next decade or so could very well determine whether humanity can successfully avoid a full-blown climate catastrophe.  Even though China is still considered a developing country under the UNFCCC, the world, and China’s position in it, has changed dramatically in the more than two decades since that treaty was negotiated.  China has been the world’s single largest source of greenhouse gas emissions since 2006, it consumes nearly as much coal as the rest of the world combined, and its energy demand is expected to double by 2030.  According to an excellent recent Rolling Stone article on US-China climate discussions, China now emits 10 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every year, which is expected to increase to over 15 billion tons by 2030.  The article quotes Kevin Anderson, deputy director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, expressing his opinion that if this increase happens, the world’s chances of avoiding catastrophic climate disturbance are “virtually zero.”

As such, some may become discouraged by China’s insistence that “developed” countries bear responsibility for mitigating climate change based on their historical emissions.  For example, with regard to ADP workstream 2, the ENB’s summary of ADP2-6 noted that a Conference Room Paper submitted by China on behalf of the LMDC’s called for “unconditional commitments by Annex I parties to reduce emissions by 40% below 1990 levels by 2020.” With regard to workstream 1, the closing statement submitted by the G77+China expressed concern that the ADP Co-Chairs’ draft text on information on INDC’s in the context of the 2015 agreement lacks “central elements” such as the principles of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities.  In short, China has shown resistance to international pressure to commit to curbing its greenhouse gas emissions based on its belief that the current climate crisis is largely the industrialized West’s fault.  Its position: Developing nations such as China should not have to bear the burden of solving a problem they didn’t create.  While there is a lot of truth to this argument, it seems to fall short of the reality of the climate challenges the world faces today and into the future.

Nevertheless, China’s recent actions indicate that China’s leaders take the threats associated with climate change seriously and are doing something about it.  For one thing, China’s leaders fully recognize that the environmental degradation caused by its breakneck economic growth over the last several decades, most of which was supported by the burning of coal, is not sustainable.  This heavy reliance on coal has resulted in untold amounts of damage to the country’s air, surface and groundwater, and soils.  Public health has taken a heavy hit as well – a report published last year found that outdoor air pollution contributed to 1.2 million premature deaths in China in 2010.  Accordingly, earlier this year Premier Li Keqiang announced a “war on pollution.”  Among other things, this war will consist of shutting down outdated small coal-fired power plants and industrial plants, reforms in energy pricing to boost renewables, and increases in government spending on measures to address water and soil degradation.  China is outperforming the United Stateswind_power_464 on renewable energy, which now makes up about 20% of China’s energy mix.  China produces more wind and solar power than any other country on the planet, and in 2013 over 50% of new generation was renewable.  There are also indications that China’s coal use may peak as early as this year.

China is also a step ahead of the United States with regards to regulating carbon emissions.  It has introduced pilot cap-and-trade programs in five cities and two provinces that are designed to be replicated and implemented at the national level sometime between 2016 and 2020.  According to a recent study by Resources for the Future, these pilot programs increase the coverage of global emissions by carbon markets from less than 8% to more than 11%.  While the study notes that the pilot cap-and-trade programs are not perfect and could use some improvements, they nevertheless indicate that addressing climate change is in fact high on China’s list of priorities.

China is therefore, somewhat paradoxically, the source of both hope and despair when it comes to confronting the challenges presented by climate change.  It will certainly be very interesting to see how this paradox plays out in the upcoming climate negotiations on Lima and in Paris.


Why do the LDCs seek mitigation-focused INDCs?

MitigationDuring the ADP 2-6 meetings in Bonn last week, the Party negotiating groups seemed to be fragmenting, or perhaps undergoing realignment. (See our October 27 reflections on the overall meeting.) An interesting example is what appears to be a difference between the Least Developed Countries (LDC) group and the rest of the developing country groups on the scope of the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs). The INDCs are expected to be a fundamental component of the new international agreement the UNFCCC has committed to produce by the end of COP21 in December 2015. Contrary to other developing country groups, the LDCs stated in the opening plenary that, “INDC’s should primarily focus on mitigation,” with adaptation and means of implementation (MOI) (i.e., finance, technology transfer, and capacity building) addressed elsewhere in the 2015 Agreement. One might wonder why the LDCs took this position, which actually aligns with that of the industrialized countries.

The 48 couadaptation-mitigationntries that make up the LDCs are those “last among countries in terms of many indices of development, but [] first in terms of vulnerability to the adverse impacts of climate change.” Wouldn’t these countries want to make sure that adaptation (and loss and damage, for that matter) along with the means of implementation are equally embedded in those INDCs? What better way to ensure some degree of developed countries’ accountability for helping least developed countries reduce their vulnerability than make adaptation and its attendant elements part of what individual countries promise they’ll do on climate change?

The Earth Negotiations Bulletin summary of the March ADP 2-4 meeting noted that all-inclusive INDCs would “require targets for adaptation, finance and other elements to be subject to measurement, reporting and verification, and assessed within the context of the goal of maintaining a global temperature increase below 2°C.” It also reported that developing countries were strongly pushing for this broader approach. Apparently, though, the LDCs were not completely on board, though they insisted on adaptation and means of implementation becoming strong elements of the 2015 agreement.

prakash_mathema

Prakash Mathema, Chair of the LDCs at the UN Climate Change Negotiations.© IISD.

In August, an email Q&A with LDC Chair Prakash Mathema conducted by Responding to Climate Change (RTCC) indicated again a clear choice for INDCs focused on mitigation, though he didn’t elaborate on why.

On October 20, the LDCs offered a document containing elements it feels should form the basis of the legal agreement to be concluded at COP21, in which mitigation, adaptation and loss and damage are addressed in separate sections.

Then, in the October 23 session last week, an interesting wrinkle emerged. As reported by the Third World Network, the LDCs expressed seeming openness to adaptation being a part of INDCs, or to adaptation INDCs as a possible companion to mitigation INDCs, with the proviso that these be limited to “how Parties will contribute to help other countries meet their adaptation needs.” Is this a shift? Maybe, though not yet a clear alignment with other developing country groups.

There are perhaps three drivers for mitigation-focused INDCs:

1. Plain and simple – mitigation is the single path to limiting adaptation needs and loss and damage. So, remaining targeted, and not diluting that focus, might seem a “must” for countries most vulnerable to climate change impacts.MekongVietnam

2. Mitigation-focused INDCs can serve as an additional point of pressure, beyond the growing cacophony of voices insisting on serious efforts to enhance ambition in the pre-2020 period, and on ratification of the second period of the Kyoto Protocol (which includes further mitigation commitments on the part of developed country Parties) . Decision 1/CP.19 in Warsaw last December (COP19/CMP9) reiterated these goals.

3. There is quite enough to clarify and decide upon on the mitigation front alone for the INDCs between now and the close of COP20 in December, so why make that harder and possibly delay agreement? This would be especially true when considering the LDC’s quite comprehensive criteria for the INDCs:
• Type of commitment/contribution
• Base year or period
• Baseline emissions trajectory
• Peaking year
• Coverage in terms of GHGs and sectors
• Geographical boundaries
• Percentage of total or national emissions
• Expected emission reductions to be achieved
• Approach to accounting for the land-use sector
• Additional specific information depending on type of commitment/contribution,
• Indicators relating to fairness and ambition

Still, it is interesting that the LDCs seem to be the single developing country group sitting somewhat near the US and other industrialized countries on this matter. We’ll be watching this further at COP20 in Lima, and likely beyond. The ADP 2-6 meeting last week wrapped up with agreement to meet again in 2015 – twice!


Would you like a balcony seat for COP20?

William Ury, a recognized expert on negotiation and mediation, has the secret to negotiating difficult world conflicts. He calls it the “third side”. He reminds us that in most conflicts there are two sides angling against each other to determine who is right. But there may also be another angle to consider – a third side “balcony view” that can imbue a broader perspective. classic theatre balcony

The fundamental role of the third side is to remind parties of what is at stake and to move beyond positions, recognizing the underlying interests of the stakeholders, and in this way moving toward reconciliation for the greater good.

So is there a “third side” for ongoing global climate negotiations?

Perhaps. A recently created negotiating group known as the Independent Association of Latin America and the Caribbean (AILAC), representing six countries – Colombia, Costa Rica, Chile, Peru, Guatemala and Panama – have come together and carved a niche that many believe may bridge the North-South gap in U.N. climate negotiations. Notably, AILAC has stepped away from the powerful Group of 77 + China, and is now pursuing its own ambitious interests for low-carbon development; it is setting an example by putting up its own money and financing projects that reduce GHG emissions domestically.

By creating this space for ambition, AILAC is becoming a recognized leader in climate negotiations. AILAC logoTimmons Roberts, a professor of environmental studies at Brown University, referenced AILAC’s approaches as “a third way in Latin America.” AILAC has bridged negotiating bloc divides and formed important alliances with the EU and developing nation groups, which in turn has helped catalyze movement toward a legally binding agreement in 2015.

And at last week’s ADP2-6 meetings, while there was a recognized divergence in Party positioning about how to form the foundation, content and legal framework for a 2015 Agreement, AILAC referred to its own “ambitious yet pragmatic” approaches as “solution oriented and flexible”. The group specifically referred to itself as “bridge building engineers,” favoring a consensus approach, and urging bold actions in Lima that recognize top-down elements as necessary for delivery on objectives. Indeed, AILAC was recognized as a potential “bridge builder” through its more concrete proposal addressing short- and longer-term goals for finance.

Ury proposes that the “third side” perspective can help remind parties of what is at stake.

Ury TED

Last week AILAC provided its vision of this broader perspective for reaching a carbon neutral global economy, stating “We want a planet that is resilient to the impacts of climate change and where all investments are directed towards low carbon and climate resilient development. This will provide the required longer-term guidance that will support a global transformation.”

Even while some Parties acknowledge disappointment at the outcome of last week’s meetings, and lament the significant work yet to be accomplished in Lima, AILAC asks that we “keep the focus” on defining a long-term system to operationalize an effective and meaningful 2015 agreement: one with a balanced outcome that reflects all the elements of the ADP and not just mitigation. Lastly, it urges that work under ADP Workstream 2 address the necessary pre-2020 enhanced mitigation ambition in the short term by all Parties.

Instead of traditional conflict negotiation regimes that aim at recognizing who is right, AILAC may provide a fresh perspective aimed at identifying interests with a view toward commitment, action and results. Currently, Parties are divided on what a new agreement will encompass. Perhaps AILAC can help bring some heightened perspective beyond labelling differences as the “one-size-fits-all”or “bifurcated” approaches.

It will be interesting to see how bridges are engineered, and if AILAC can provide the third side balcony view. I will be up there watching.

Bonn ADP