In your country, does traffic drive on the left or the right? Imagine a road filled with large trucks, driving at uncontrollable speeds, on both sides of the road, and you’re in the middle of it all – on a bicycle. Exactly! When rules aren’t clear or don’t work properly, the most vulnerable that suffer most. That’s why ECO is a great fan of transparency and rules, especially on measuring, reporting and verification (MRV).
The Paris agreement should enable a transition towards a common and robust transparency framework for action, and for support by developed countries; with finance and capacity building for all developing countries who need it, to enable this transition. Clear rules will also support a strong Paris Ambition Mechanism. This transparency framework needs to be tiered and dynamic to recognise differing capabilities while progressing towards common accounting and MRV, and include clear criteria to prohibit double counting. The agreement should also elaborate the information requirements for future INDCs.
Traffic rules help you to know what to expect from others on the road. Clear rules also incentivise good behaviour because everyone can see if they aren’t followed. Or what else will stop a truck from pushing you and your bike off the road?
Transparency and accountability are vital to build trust between Parties. It is also needed to assess progress, account for action and make others accountable, and to ensure that climate actions implemented are the right ones for ecosystems and people. That obviously applies to mitigation, finance, adaptation and any other commitments too.
The current agreement text removes all substantive commitments found in the original Geneva text, in favour of vague statements in optional paragraphs 7.4 and 7.5. The proposed decision text focuses primarily on technology needs assessments (TNAs). Only in paragraph 50 does it include specific commitments by developed countries on intellectual property (IPRs) and financial support.
History suggests that:
1) Substantive commitments are likely to be limited to TNAs unless developing countries hold strong on demands for finance and policies and measures to be included in the decision text;
2) Developing country demands for technology support and policies will be traded for institutional changes and the development of the technology framework .
The largest amount of technology text is aimed at the establishment of a new technology framework, to be developed by the new Intergovernmental Preparatory Committee (IPC) and adopted by the CMA at its first session. What this framework will entail remains unclear, but references to the 4/CP.7 framework suggest it will address: technology needs assessment, technology information, enabling environments, capacity building and mechanisms for technology transfer.
History also shows that TNAs were the only elements of that framework properly implemented. Enabling environments in developed countries were never addressed and remain a subject of contention. The institution established by that framework, the Expert Group on Technology Transfer, was specifically prevented from engaging in implementation and was largely considered ineffective.
Given this history, ECO hopes that Paris will break with this history by producing real substantive commitments on technology development and transfer, rather than weak institutional outcomes.
Civil society has been left with little choice but to spend the last three days camping out in the basement of the conference centre. Despite the strong objections of the G77+China and Mexico—that’s 135 Parties out of a possible 195—the co-chairs have still barred observers from the negotiations. Rumours abound when all that can be done is wait for scraps of news, often delivered third- or fourth-hand.
The decision to exclude observers is troubling for three reasons. First, the co-chair’s justification rewrites history. They stated that this is the process we agreed to in Doha. Some Parties repeated this due process argument. In reality, the SBI in Doha did not consider the participation of observers. The only relevant decision of the SBI actually encourages public participation; it recommends, at a minimum, that where no contact group exists, observers attend the first and last meetings during informals. It provides a floor for observer participation, not a ceiling.
Second, excluding civil society runs counter to the international principles and norms surrounding public participation. The Convention itself provides that Parties: “shall … encourage the widest participation in this process, including that of non-governmental organisations.” The negotiations leading to the adoption of the Nagoya Protocol, a supplement to the UNFCCC’s sister convention, the CBD, involved stakeholders through the entire process.
Third, the decision ignores the vital role that civil society and indigenous peoples play in the negotiations. Contrary to Japan’s argument, the absence of stakeholders is what truly impedes effective negotiations, not their presence. We provide technical support, thought leadership, bridging solutions, and amplify the voices of the people who are most vulnerable to but least responsible for the climate crisis.
We have deep appreciation for the Parties that continue to advocate to #keepusintheroom
The EU seems to be resorting to silence worryingly often, ECO wonders if this is a new negotiations tactic.
ECO first noticed this practice on Tuesday, when the EU failed to offer support to the G77+China group’s call for observers to be allowed in the spin-off groups.
Later in the week, the EU again fell silent over the Umbrella Group’s proposal to remove loss and damage as a standalone article in the agreement, which would leave already vulnerable countries even more vulnerable.
In Latin, there’s a saying: “Qui tacet consentit.” And for those not fluent, that’s: “silence gives consent“. But it’s not too late to find your voice, EU! Clearly state your support for loss and damage and engage with Option 1. And say loudly and clearly, for all to hear, that observers should be allowed into the negotiations.
And remember, when you vocally stand up for what’s right, ECO won’t be silent in our praise.
September saw a relatively positive environment on loss and damage. It left ECO optimistic coming into this session that Parties would continue to work together constructively. Alas, this meeting has seen Parties move further apart with two diametrically opposite options, in the one text. Is this an all or nothing approach?
Option 1 offers comprehensive assurance to vulnerable countries that the world is taking this pressing issue seriously. Option 2, which deletes reference to L&D, is an absolutely unacceptable option to enter Paris with—and places the whole agreement at jeopardy. Parties should work today to remove option 2 and ensure the L&D is properly and adequately reflected in the agreement, so that it doesn’t damage the approach to Paris.