Dear Ministers: Welcome to Paris. As you have no doubt already seen, negotiating texts have been prepared for you. A bit chaotic perhaps, but good enough, and all the options are on the table.
You also have probably realized that two very different deals could be assembled out of these options. The first deal might be called the no-regrets deal. That’s the deal that allows all of us to leave Paris with a fighting chance to keep warming to 1.5°C.
The other deal that could be pieced together out of these options is often referred to here in the hallways of Le Bourget as the ‘minimalist deal’. But it might be more accurately called the 3-degrees deal.
ECO wants to make sure you leave COP21 with zero regrets, content and with the knowledge that you have done your utmost to deliver an ambitious and equitable outcome that addresses the needs of the most vulnerable.
There are many tell-tales for recognizing the 3-degrees deal. The most telling point might be the proposal that we don’t return to the table to assess our progress and ramp up ambition until 2024. Under this deal, we accept the INDCs as the most we can get at this point, and we look to ramp up our efforts in 2030. Under that timeline, we’d be folding our cards and giving up on limiting warming to 1.5 (or even 2) degrees.
The mitigation ambition of the agreement, and the long-term direction of travel, needs to be anchored through a 1.5 degree target. 1.5°C as a direction of travel is pointless if we don’t have the vehicles to make the journey. The Paris agreement has to include provisions that enable a consistent increase in ambition towards achieving the long term goals embedded within the agreement.
To avoid travelling too far down the wrong path, we need to accelerate our effort to move off the 3-degree pathway. Provisions within the agreement should synchronise, assess and ratchet up Parties’ various commitments in 5-year cycles, including by matching conditional INDCs with means of implementation. All these provisions should build from the accelerated implementation within the pre-2020 period by revising and improving existing INDCs by 2018 at the latest. Taking stock of where we are every 5 years would provide the necessary flexibility in the regime to change course if needed. The stocktake should not just be oriented towards implementation. It should also inform future commitments. The scope of the stocktake needs to incorporate all elements of the agreement to get a truly holistic picture.
If we want to get onto the pathway that holds temperatures well below 2 degrees, we have to provide long term certainty on finance. This agreement can help provide that by setting collective targets for the provision of financial support that should be set and updated in 5-year cycles, with separate targets for mitigation and adaptation. The provisions must provide clarity on how developing country contributions are defined and progress to give the confidence to enhance ambition.
And speaking of adaptation, we must ensure we don’t leave anyone behind. Adaptation goals must be part of a Paris agreement to keep people and planet safe in the view of rising impacts. Adequate support is required to deal with them. This agreement must also increase adaptation finance with an improved balance between mitigation and adaptation finance, aiming to reach a 50:50 balance by 2020 under the US$100 billion pledge.
Loss and damage must be anchored as a stand alone issue in the agreement. A robust institution is vital to develop approaches to address permanent and irreversible impacts and also coordinate the increasing climate-induced displacement.
Finally, none of this works without provisions that enable greater transparency–of action as well as support. Support and capacity building on MRV is a necessity in this regard; methodologies must be scientifically credible and fair.
The two deals are clear. We can have the no-regrets deal or we can have the 3-degrees deal. The question now becomes: Who will bring us to the no-regrets deal?
Ministers, for all of us to be able to look our children in the eyes, we must be able to demonstrate that we are taking care of their future, not just getting through today.