Climate: Talks close with South calling for strong pre-2020 action

Opening of the Marrakech
Conference, 7 November 2016. (UN)

The Marrakech climate talks, which began on 7 November, closed on 19 November, with developing countries making a strong plea for pre-2020 climate action and for developed countries to fulfill their pre-2020 commitments.

This call was made at the joint closing plenary of the twenty-second session of the Conference of the Parties (COP22), the twelfth session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP 12) and the first part of the first session of the Conference of the Parties serving as meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement (CMA1).

The talks were supposed to end on 18 November, but dragged on due to wrangling over the final decisions that were adopted by the CMA and the COP. (See SUNS #8361 dated 23 November 2016).

Speaking for the Group of 77 and China, Thailand said that the challenge that faced Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was to turn the Paris Agreement (PA) into action. Early entry into force of the PA signals the importance and urgency of action.

"We are here to accelerate climate action, which has been underscored by the Marrakech proclamation for action on climate and sustainable development," added Thailand.

(The Marrakech proclamation for action on climate and sustainable development was issued on 17 November. See SUNS #8359 dated 21 November 2016.)

While the PA entered into force at an unprecedented speed, it is regrettable, said Thailand, that the same cannot be said about the Doha Amendment (to the Kyoto Protocol to secure the second commitment period for emissions reductions by Annex 1 Parties for the period 2013-2020).

"After nearly 4 years, only 73 Parties have deposited their instruments of acceptance. The Group reiterates that unfinished business of pre-2020 action and ambition, which are long overdue and must be urgently addressed. The Group believes that the Kyoto Protocol is a fundamental building block in our post-2020 efforts," said Thailand.

Thailand said that adaptation is a matter of urgency for developing countries and in implementing the PA, balance between mitigation and adaptation was critical.

It added that it was pleased that the Marrakech talks had got some clarity and agreed on next steps on some of the issues.

"This includes the initial work plan for the Paris Committee on Capacity Building (PCCB), the established linkages between the Technology and Financial Mechanisms, the indicative five year rolling work plan of the Executive Committee on the Warsaw International Mechanism on Loss and Damage, and the review of capacity building under the Convention and the Kyoto Protocol," said Thailand, adding that there remain outstanding issues from discussions in Marrakech.

Thailand stressed that the G77 places priority on finance, in particular on adaptation finance and said that there can be no enhanced action without enhanced support.

Thailand underscored that developing countries were bearing the brunt of climate change and the extent of their action would depend on the fulfilment of developed country obligations.

"Provision of scaled-up financial resources should cover all developing countries under the Convention. To this end, we adopted decisions on the guidance to the two operating entities of the Financial Mechanism, the Green Climate Fund and the Global Environment Facility as well as guidance to the Standing Committee on Finance," it added further.

It was pleased that much work has been done on finance.

"There has been good guidance to the operating entities, although much work remains for all issues on finance," said Thailand.

Noting the decision adopted on long-term finance, Thailand said that developing country Parties are yet to gain clarity and assurances on the mobilization and provision of scaled up financial resources for them. (Separate article on decisions taken on finance to follow.)

Thailand also underscored that the strong and united call for the Adaptation Fund serving the PA had not been fully heard.

"Despite our call, the conditions required to trigger this are still there in the decisions. Hence, the predictability and adequacy of adaptation financing remains to be resolved," said Thailand.

(Thailand was referring to the Adaptation Fund section of the CMA decision adopted, which reads: "Decides that the Adaptation Fund should serve the Paris Agreement, following and consistent with decisions to be taken at the third part of the first session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement, to be convened in conjunction with the twenty-fourth session of the Conference of the Parties, and by the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol that address the governance and institutional arrangements, safeguards and operating modalities of the Adaptation Fund".)

(During the Marrakech climate talks, a contentious issue was whether the Adaptation Fund should serve the Paris Agreement or not. Developed countries were against it. See SUNS #8354 dated 14 November 2016.)

Bolivia, for the Like-Minded Developing Countries (LMDC), said that 2016 had been the hottest in the history of the planet, and every year was getting hotter than the previous year.

Because of this, climate change is worsening hunger and poverty, with deeper impacts on developing countries.

Life in the planet is in danger because of climate change, said Bolivia. It added that the greatest goal of humanity in this century must be to eradicate unsustainable patterns of production and consumption, before they destroy the humanity and the planet.

"If we do not build another society as soon as possible, the goals of sustainable development will be replaced by the goals of sustainable death of all beings in the planet," said Bolivia.

"The PA under the Convention is not the structural solution to climate change but is an important step to reduce the impact of climate change in the world. There is much work to be done for implementing all provisions of this Agreement. The UNFCCC, with its principles and provisions, in particular the principle of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities (CBDR), continues to be the political and legal basis for Parties to enhance climate actions and strengthen international cooperation in the post-2020 period," said Bolivia.

Bolivia also said that the LMDC was moving forward stressing their commitment to enhancing implementation of the Convention in all aspects, especially the pre-2020 action under the Kyoto Protocol, and would continue working together to address climate change on the basis of the Convention's principles.

"The LMDC firmly considers that the pre-2020 action is the foundation for the post-2020 action," said Bolivia.

Maldives, for the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), underscored the need for climate action in the view of climate change impacts and said the success of the PA would be determined by the action taken by Parties.

It said that there was still a shortfall in developed countries meeting their USD 100 billion commitment and insufficient financing for developing countries to meet their adaptation needs.

It said that the fundamental question of what constitutes climate finance remained unclear and called upon developed countries to ratify the Doha Amendment to the Kyoto Protocol.

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), for the Least Developed Countries (LDCs), said that it was time to get down to work and underscored the need to channel public financing for adaptation.

It urged developed countries to support the LDC Fund, which it said was "under-resourced".

DRC underscored the urgent need for developed countries to enhance their pre-2020 ambition, including ratification of the Doha Amendment.

Speaking for the Central American Integration System, Nicaragua said it was very important to continue working to enhance climate action on the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capacities.

It said the Central American region was inherently vulnerable and required systematic and coherent approach to funding.

It underscored that the Convention and the PA should not be replaced or re-written, and called on Annex I Parties to not shirk their commitments.

Any negotiations on finance, technology and capacity building should not impair, exclude or erode the rights of Parties who have not signed or ratified the PA, said Nicaragua.

It hoped for access to necessary finance flows to deal with the pre-2020 gap.

India said that the Marrakech proclamation for action on climate and sustainable development reflected the collective will of all.

"We have a long journey ahead of all of us and the fight against climate change has to be accelerated. The adoption and ratification of the PA is as important as its successful implementation. Unfinished pre-2020 action needs urgent attention," it added.

India also said that it remains hopeful that matters related to implementation of the PA would be undertaken in an inclusive manner and would be considered in COP24 in 2018.

"In this spirit, we would like to state that the UNFCCC with its principles and provisions, in particular the principle of equity and CBDR, continue to be the political and legal basis for Parties to continue to enhance and strengthen climate action and international cooperation in the post-2020 period," said India.

India added that the process should enable all Parties to fully participate regardless of the status of the PA at the present juncture and give them time to complete their domestic processes.

"We have to ensure that our work reflects and promotes the right to development of developing countries and the achievement of sustainable development goals and aspirations of our peoples with climate justice and equity.

"Sustainability has been a way of life in India for centuries. Rightly, the PA recognizes that sustainable lifestyles and sustainable patterns of consumption and production with developed country Parties taking the lead play an important role in addressing climate change," said India.

India also said that the road towards building the Paris rulebook and guidelines towards it must be inclusive and balanced with progress on all pillars - adaptation, means of implementation, technology transfer, capacity building and loss and damage.

China said that while there had been success at the Marrakech climate conference, there were still some issues waiting consolidation and perfection.

China also said that due attention should be paid to the pre-2020 issues and finance and capacity building issues, and resolved next year and in future processes.

"Climate change is a serious challenge. Green and low carbon development is an opportunity for all of us. China is willing to join efforts of all Parties to respond and go along this trend. We have the responsibility of sharing our common destiny. We will be guided by principle of sustainable and inclusive development and will join efforts to abide by the principles of the PA and contribute to PA implementation to contribute to fair and just global system," said China.

The European Union (EU) was of the view that there was considerable progress on finance in Marrakech, especially towards increasing predictability of climate finance flows to developing countries.

It said that the EU had pledged USD 81 million for the Adaptation Fund and expressed pleasure on the outcome of work on capacity building.

Speaking for the Umbrella Group, the US said 111 Parties representing over three quarters of global emissions had joined the PA and that momentum behind the PA would not be stopped.

The US said that markets were responding, finance flows were transforming and that business leaders were near unanimous to shift to a low carbon economy.

The US said that it is critical to give the Paris rulebook integrity and ambition and underscored the importance of enhanced transparency framework, guidance for mitigation contribution and the importance of markets.

Developed countries have shown they remain committed to deliver. Countries are ready to work together and with other institutions, including development banks and the finance community, said the US.

It added that effective climate action was not limited to Parties and that the private sector, businesses, civil society, indigenous peoples would have to drive the shift.

Speaking at the joint plenary session, the COP22 President Salaheddine Mezouar said that the Marrakech proclamation for action on climate and sustainable development was a sign of commitment of the Parties.

Mezouar added that strengthening pre-2020 action was not a choice but duty of Parties.

Mezouar also said that 2017 should be a year for large-scale financial mobilization and large-scale financing, including for adaptation.

UNFCCC Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa who spoke after the COP 22 President said that great progress had been made at the Marrakech conference on the implementation work of the PA and that she saw greater financial support flowing to developing countries.

She said that the Marrakech conference had lined up processes to make the Paris machinery fully operational by 2018.

She added that the Marrakech proclamation for action on climate and sustainable development reflected the renewed momentum of action.

We all need to do more. Countries need to increase ambition and enhance action pre-2020. Companies need to invest in developing countries. Each one has to adjust our lifestyle and consumption pattern," said Espinosa.

By T. Ajit.

Source: South-North Development Monitor - SUNS #8362 - Thursday 24 November 2016