As COP24 Approaches, Negotiators Attempt to Narrow Their Focus

GST at UNIn the months leading up to the COP, Parties are in constant discussion. On September 27th, the incoming COP24 Presidency organized an informal consultation in New York, on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly. The COP23 Presidency, UNFCCC Executive Secretary, and presiding officers all attended, along with thirty-three member states. The Parties’ lead negotiators met to discuss four elements of the potential COP24 outcome in Katowice, Poland: the NDCs process, adaptation, finance, and transparency. As the report of this meeting indicates, one of the issues addressed was “How do we manage the transition from the current transparency system to a future one, while ensuring flexibility for the countries in light of their capabilities?”

In Article 13 of the Paris Agreement, all Parties agreed to an enhanced transparency framework for action and support. This framework has built-in flexibility that accounts for Parties’ different capabilities and circumstances. Article 13.1 announces explicitly that “in order to build mutual trust and confidence and to promote effective implementation, an enhanced transparency framework for action and support, with built-in flexibility which takes into account Parties’ different capacities and builds upon collective experience is hereby established.”  Article 13.2 adds that “the transparency framework shall provide flexibility in the implementation of the provisions of this Article to those developing country Parties that need it in the light of their capacities. The modalities, procedures and guidelines referred to in paragraph 13 of this Article shall reflect such flexibility.” The Parties have been negotiating the exact content of these modalities, procedures, and guidelines (MPGs) since 2015 and have designated COP24 as the deadline for agreeing on them.

A key part of these negotiations is recognizing that some Parties require additional funding toCBIT achieve their reporting and transparency goals. To this end, the Capacity Building Initiative for Transparency (CBIT) was established. CBIT’s goal is to strengthen the institutional and technical capabilities of developing countries for collecting and reporting data on progress made on their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).  This data will then be used to inform the global stocktake (GST), which is a collective assessment of all Parties’ progress on their NDCs toward the Paris Agreement’s Article 2 objective of keeping atmospheric warming to “well below” 2C. The Paris Agreement requested that the Global Environment Facility (GEF) support the establishment of CBIT through voluntary contributions and build donor support. As of December 2017, $61 million had been pledged to the CBIT Trust Fund and $53 million of it had been dedicated to the first 41 projects in 39 countries in Africa, Asia, Eastern and Central Europe, and Latin America and the Caribbean.  Through this support, CBIT has established a Global Coordination Platform that helps and encourages Parties to engage in multilateral and bilateral capacity building initiatives. Parties agree that CBIT is necessary for ensuring a smooth transition to a new transparency system. However, not all Parties agreed on what form the new system should take.

While discussing the scope a new transparency system at the September 27th meeting, Parties suggested that all Parties have the same the submission date for the first biennial transparency report (BTR). Others proposed to have different submission dates for developed and developing Parties. This would reflect the timing each Party required under their CBDRRC. Additionally, while building flexibility into the system, the Parties split into two camps. One side suggested that flexibility be general in nature and by each Party’s national circumstances and capacities, while the other maintained that they be specific and limited to a small number of issues.

preCOPThe next discussion is on October 24th in Krakow at the close of the “pre-COP” meeting hosted by the COP24 Presidency. The suggestions made in New York will be explored and expanded upon by the Parties continuously until the COP. The enhanced transparency network covering mitigation, adaptation, and support is paramount within the PA to informing the GST and allowing parties to aggregate their efforts towards our global goal.


Most Vulnerable Nations Call for Financing Reforms

After a somewhat sleepy day yesterday, the discussions at COP15 are picking up in passion and intensity.  In this morning’s Plenary I (a meeting of the Subsidiary Body for Implementation or SBI), one of the main topics was the status of the Global Environment Facility, i.e., one of the most important mechanisms for financing climate-related projects in the developing world.  A representative from the GEF (pronounced “Jeff”), which is implemented by the World Bank, recited a litany of successes, touted the billions of dollars spent to date on climate-related projects, and identified the many tons of CO2 emissions reduced or avoided.  He also acknowledged the need for reforms in the GEF and outlined a number of key reforms that are already underway.  In response, delegates from numerous developing countries commended the managers of the GEF for their efforts at reform.  However, many of these delegates, particularly those from the least developed countries (known as “LDCs”) such as Sudan, Nicaragua, Benin, Iraq, Antiga & Barbuda, passionately and firmly called for more fundamental and extensive reforms.  Continue reading