PRESSURE INTENSIFIES TO COMPLETE PARIS AGREEMENT IMPLEMENTATION RULES
The African CSOs under the auspices of PACJA are currently attending the UNFCCC’s 24th session of the Conference of Parties (COP 24) in Katowice, Poland. Today marks the end of week one of the conference which began on 3rd December and is scheduled to end on 14 December.
To start off, African CSOs under the auspices of PACJA released a high passed press statement at the beginning of the 24th session of the Conference of Parties that seems to have read into the on-goings at the negotiation tables across the conference.
Negotiations intensified on December 5, as delegates were under pressure to complete the Paris Agreement Work Programme (PAWP). This would enable the co-facilitators who are conducting informal consultations on the various issues, to produce a first draft of the negotiating texts as mandated by the Presiding Officers of the three subsidiary bodies: The Ad Hoc Working Group on Paris Agreement (APA), Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI) and Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA). This is important as it would enable ministers to make the final decisions needed for the implementation of PAWP before the talks end on 14 December. The first drafts of texts became available to Parties.
Many delegates seemed to be in a frenzy, with multiple negotiating sessions and conflicting schedules, especially those dealing with finance - Article 9.5 issue of the Paris Agreement (PA) and on the Adaptation Fund. Various bilateral meetings were undertaken with Parties, and meetings of heads of delegations (HODs) with the COP Presidency to give guidance to negotiators on matters, which are viewed as being politically sensitive.
The technical phase of the stock-take on pre-2020 implementation and ambition was conducted on 5th December; the political phase is scheduled to taking place next week when ministers arrive.
Article 9.5 (on ex ante information on public financial resources)
Some positive movement was seen on the issue, following the meeting among the HODs held on 4th December. After a year of stalemate, negotiators finally began discussing “procedural elements” in relation to Article 9.5 which mandates developed countries to biennially communicate ex-ante information on the projected levels of public financial resources to developing countries. Since last year, developed countries have refused to be drawn into a discussion on “modalities” for the communication of information on Article 9.5 which has been a key demand from developing countries led by the African Group, Like Minded Developing Countries (LMDC) and the Arab Group. The impasse seemed to have been somewhat resolved with developed countries agreeing to engage in considering “procedural elements” to make the article operational.
However, when informal consultations began, there remained several divergences among Parties especially regarding the scope of the procedural elements. These divergences emerged in discussions under the APA and the SBI. (The APA agenda item on Article 9.5 deals with ‘modalities’ for biennially communicating finance information, while the SBI agenda item deals with the ‘identification of the information to be provided by Parties.’)
During the APA 9.5 discussions, developed countries led by European Union (EU), Norway, United States (US) and Canada made it clear that they were not willing to engage in any discussion relating to the review of the information and they wanted discussions restricted to when the information would available and where it would be housed. This, they said, was the basis to move ahead, and that they would discuss these issues in the SBI agenda item.
In response, South Africa for the African Group suggested that the APA agenda item on 9.5 would only be “suspended temporarily” as they would like to see how the SBI progresses on it. Parties addressed both the procedural aspects to make Article 9.5 operational as well as the elements as contained in a textual proposal in the joint reflections note by the presiding officers of the APA, SBI and SBSTA. On the procedural aspects, the discussions proved contentious on a number of areas.
South Africa for the African Group took a strong stand saying that operationalizing Article 9.5 was an obligation of developed countries and they would not agree to notions of encouraging developing countries to provide information. South Africa also said that the information should be housed in a registry and not on the UNFCCC website and that a synthesis report be prepared, following the communication of the information. “This (the provisions under Paris Agreement for providing upfront information on climate finance) does not apply to developing countries. This deadline is not for us. This deadline is you. There is no going back on Paris agreement. This is a red line for us - we will not be party to any decision that lumps us together again. We are not going to renegotiate Paris Agreement.” Said South Africa which also demanded that a link to the review of information must remain. Ecuador for the LMDC, China and India supported the Africa Group’s intervention.
Brazil stressed the need for having a starting date for the provision of information and agreed with South Africa that 2020 would be a good starting date, adding that the information provision was linked to the issue of ambition from developing countries. “More ambition on finance means more ambition on climate action,” it said adding that a separate website to house the information would be helpful as the UNFCCC website was a “confusing hub of information”. Brazil also said that the information should be compiled and synthesized and it saw a role for the Standing Committee on Finance (SCF) in the synthesis of the information.
Switzerland and Australia said any review of the information was a “red line” for them and Peru for the Alliance of Latin America and the Caribbean (AILAC) said they did not see any link between ex ante communication of information and ex post review of that information.
The US said that discussion beyond the start date and location of information was not needed. The EU said that information should be submitted to the UNFCCC website and that their preference for the timing of the first reporting was 2020, but were open to discussing the date. It also said it did not see the role of the SCF in any form.
In relation to the information, disagreements arose when developed countries said they were opposed to providing detailed information on the channels of funding, including that for ‘loss and damage’ in the elaboration of purposes and types of sectors to be supported and information on baseline reference to facilitate an overview of trends over time. The co-facilitators aimed to capture the views expressed by Parties and an iteration of the text is expected to be out.
New collective goal on finance
Developing countries have been calling for the initiation of a process of setting a new collective quantified goal on finance, that takes into account their needs and priorities from a floor of USD 100 billion per year, as mandated by a decision agreed to by Parties in Paris in 2015. Developed countries led by US, Canada, EU, Japan, Norway, Switzerland and Australia refused to determine a process for setting a new collective goal on finance, claiming that it was too early in the process to deal with this.
(Under paragraph 53 of the Paris decision 1/CP.21, Parties agreed that “…in accordance with Article 9.3 of the Agreement… prior to 2025 the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the PA [CMA] shall set a new collective quantified goal from a floor of USD 100 billion per year, taking into account the needs and priorities of developing countries”).
Developed countries further said that they did not see the issue as being part of the PAWP package to be agreed to in COP 24. In response, Egypt for the G77 and China clarified that they were not discussing the goal itself but a process to discuss the goal and that it was rather surprised that the developed countries did not think it was part of the PAWP package. “Implementation of the PAWP and the new goal go hand in hand. We would like to know what is the signal we are sending to the global community when we are saying that we are serious about climate change but we are not even serious about a process to set a goal,” stressed Egypt.
China suggested that the issue be dealt with at the HOD level since Parties had already spent a lot of time on the issue but were still miles away from reaching any agreement.
The Developing countries are very clear on what they want from their counterparts in the North and that is new, additional scaled-up financing for climate Action that is grant-based.
In negotiations on the Technology Transfer, developed countries led by the Umbrella Group of countries seemed to be diluting provisions of the PA by removing references to the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities (CBDR) and bracketing provisions related to the issue of the provision of support in the draft text.
According to an African negotiator familiar with the issue, developed countries are also saying “the PA does not assign support responsibility to developed countries.” The negotiator lamented that developed countries had a different view of Article 10.6 of the PA which reads: “Support, including financial support, shall be provided to developing country Parties for the implementation of this Article…,” by suggesting that the article did not specify who is to provide the support. This position by the developed countries is being countered by the developing countries, led by the G77 and China.
Nationally Determined contributions (NDCs)
A nine-page first draft was issued and delegations during the informal consultations began giving their preliminary reflections on the draft, with a number of countries expressing their interest in using the document as a starting point for discussions, but also noted various concerns. Parties continue to provide their views on the document.
Several Parties including Egypt, Brazil and the EU have begun to raise their concerns around paragraph 6 of the proposed text which relates to how developed and developing countries are to be treated in the provision of information related to their NDCs. The proposal now has options that says that developed countries shall provide information related to their NDCs and the same appears to be the case for developing countries.
Egypt in its preliminary comments said that this was a departure from the mandate provided in Article 4.4 of the PA, which makes clear that developed and developing countries are treated differently (on the type of mitigation actions to be undertaken). It was concerned that having the same treatment for developed and developing countries was a departure from the mandate.
Similar concerns were raised by Brazil speaking also for Argentina and Uruguay and said that the differentiation between Parties in relation to their NDCs is “in the implementation of their NDCs” and therefore, there was no need for a differentiated approach in the provision of information as each Party should provide the information needed that is applicable to its NDC.
The EU supported Brazil and said that the NDC itself decides what information should be provided and this cannot be discretionary (and left to Parties to decide what information they want to communicate).
Global Stock-take (GST)
In the informal consultations on the GST, developing country negotiators continued to express frustration that developed countries do not want to discuss how equity is to be operationalized in the conduct of the stock-take. (The PA stipulates that the GST, which is an assessment of the collective progress of Parties towards achieving the purpose of the PA and its long-term goals), has to be carried out in light science and equity and will take place in 2023.)
Developing countries led by the G77 and China have made proposals for equity to be reflected, by proposing several indicators to measure equity, such as historical responsibility, equitable access to sustainable development and carbon space, among others.
Developed countries especially from the Umbrella Group of countries which includes the US, are deeply opposed to this approach and according to one developing country negotiator, they have expressed that “they do not understand what equity means, despite all the explanation provided and are refusing to allow the operationalisation of equity in the GST process.”
While the above has been happening in the mainstream of the meetings, PACJA’s representatives continued to engage both in formal side events as well in informal discussions contributing not only to the major decisions but also to the PACJA agenda of advancing climate justice for the African continent. The conference continues into the second week.