Launching the ‘Ambition Work Programme’

 

We are hearing delegates are having sleepless nights because of the yawning gap between current mitigation pledges and what’s needed for a credible 2° C pathway. Perhaps not all of them are genuinely worried because of the implications for humanity.

Some may just feel uncomfortable to be reminded that they have not done the homework they gave themselves back in Cancun. Developed countries promised to look at options and ways to increase levels of ambition, and then actually increase them. It really isn’t a hard concept to grasp.

There may be some further relief in paras 36-38 and paras 48-51 of last night’s new texts. Both texts include a key line: the recognition of the existence of the ambition gap. Parties that attempt to block this recognition into a COP decision can expect to be in a bright spotlight on this matter.

The next logical step is contained in the new text on developed country ambition: to launch work to address (as in “close”) the gap.

The new UNEP report clearly identifies this possibility. But instead, we see some tendencies toward stalling rather than making progress towards the 2° C objective. Work needs to start now, as every year of further waffling and delaying tactics will make the task much harder.

Closing the ambition gap will require effort on all sides -- both developed and developing countries.

Developing countries have pledged more mitigation until 2020 than developed countries but can do more (and certainly must be provided sufficient and reliable support to do so). Not all developing countries have pledged their NAMAs yet, and some countries may well be able to increase ambition of already pledged NAMAs.

It would be really good for the work programme to have a deadline set for COP 18 in Qatar as well as a set of clearly articulated outcomes. Otherwise we could end up here forever (or at least until the world melts around us).

By COP18, Parties should have studied all possible options to close the ambition gap, and developed countries should have moved up their pledges in line with science, i.e. to more than 40% below 1990 levels by 2020.

As for inputs, why not ask parties to provide submissions on how to share out the 25-40% reductions, have the Secretariat compile a technical paper, and then negotiate the targets and how to square them with the existing pledges.

In turn, developing countries can register NAMAs that will result in emissions reductions well below business as usual (with sufficient support).

Much work remains to operationalise the NAMA Registry, to establish guidelines for NAMAs, and to register both NAMAs and support. Once these not insignificant tasks are completed (with substantial progress when we meet in Bonn in May 2012), the Secretariat will need to assess whether there is a shortfall in support, and how much this amounts to.

One element of the ambition work programme that Parties should launch here in Durban includes those low carbon strategies that developed countries should launch and implement to achieve near-zero decarbonisation by 2050.

And developing countries need to be encouraged (whilst receiving the support they need) to develop their own strategies. SBSTA should turn toward working out the guidelines for those strategies. All this would provide a significant first step in a more productive
direction.

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