With over 50 INDC submissions, representing more than 60% of global GHG emissions, it’s already clear that the ambition underpinning those contributions will be far from sufficient to keep warming below 1.5°C. Parties need to urgently address this huge ambition gap. To ECO, it is obvious that a robust and legally binding ambition mechanism with 5-year commitment periods should be at the heart of the future climate regime.
The first step is to agree a 5-year timeframe for commitments, as it will help secure stronger commitments, and this should be clearly established in the core agreement text. Countries also need to agree other key components of the mechanism, such as review cycles, timing of communication and inscription, and upward enhancement processes.
Consistent 5-year intervals for all country targets will also allow for better aggregate collective progress assessments, which will need to be supplemented by individual country assessments. These assessments will review existing ambition across all elements of the Paris agreement, including finance, and ensure that global ambition is revised upwards to meet the ultimate objective of the Convention.
A key element to the commitment mechanism is the combination of a “no backsliding” principle and a clause requiring new commitments to actually be more ambitious. A review alone will not be sufficient, as it will not compel countries to develop new commitments.
The INDCs submitted to date do not necessarily lock us in for 10-year cycles, as Parties could agree in Paris to harmonise the different timelines of the INDCs closer to 2020. An agreement now on 5-year cycles will also inform the contributions of countries that have not yet submitted their INDCs.
The current lack of agreement on commitment cycles is causing negotiations on the issue to sink towards a lowest common denominator outcome. ECO is concerned that we may be moving in the direction of a weak, non-binding system of review—an unacceptable outcome in Paris.