Time For a Timetable

3 May 2013

The scope, structure, and design of the 2015 agreement must keep the global temperature increase below 1.5ºC. It must contain national, legally binding targets and actions on mitigation, adaptation and finance to achieve this goal within an overall framework of ambition, accountability and equity. 

There has been a lot of discussion here in Bonn on the process and timetable for developing such an agreement by COP21 in 2015. ECO suggests the following:


First, countries should agree at COP19 that mitigation action and finance will be evaluated in light of both the collective level of ambition needed to achieve the temperature limitation goal, and on the basis of a set of equity principles that helps assure the overall fairness of country efforts in relation to each other. 

The Science Review starting at the next Bonn session will help guide the first part of this evaluation. At COP 19 in Warsaw, Parties need to launch a parallel process to develop an equity reference framework. See the box on page 2 for the details. The key is that equity must become an enabler of increased trust and ambition. It is also critical that, when Parties pledge their targets, they should be aware that their pledges will be reviewed both against the science as well as equity criteria.
Ban Ki-moon’s Leaders Summit offers a timely opportunity for countries’ mitigation and finance action to be placed on the table in accordance with the requirements of ambition and equity. Submitting actions at this point will allow adequate time for a full review and subsequent submission of revised proposals before COP21 in Paris. Such a full review should evaluate the collective adequacy of these proposals in satisfying the agreed global temperature goal. Each individual proposal should also be evaluated in terms of its adequacy with regard to ambition and equity.
Turning to the other ADP Workstream, ECO fears that short-term ambition is in danger of becoming the poor cousin of the 2015 agreement – when in fact it is an essential precursor. Sufficient political will to reach a 2015 agreement cannot be built without clear evidence that countries have made progress on the short-term ambition front. If it’s apparent that developed countries are not meeting their obligations to increase their ambition, then there won’t be appetite amongst their developing country partners for a 2015 agreement with an updated interpretation of equity.
So what needs to happen in Workstream two?  First and foremost, developed countries must increase their current, weak targets.  Despite a constant flow of new evidence of increasing climate change impacts on vulnerable countries and people, not a single developed country has shown any intention to actually increase its target. The KP review process in 2014 is the opportunity to change that, as long as a parallel process for non-KP developed Parties is established, and ministers bring ample quantities of political will with them to the negotiating table.
Some developing countries can increase their ambition too.  The wealthy countries of the Persian Gulf, and other advanced developing countries that currently have no pledges, should be prepared to announce them in Warsaw.
We also suggest that Parties engage in discussion about how to create an upward spiral of increasing ambition in developing countries, facilitated by increasing means of implementation. Parties could explore practical ideas about how this could work, e.g. through a dedicated workshop and submissions by Parties. Perhaps the registry could play a role in this process.
Finally, ECO welcomes the proposal tabled yesterday by AOSIS calling for an accelerated ADP process to provide incentives for, and address barriers and disincentives to, more rapid deployment of energy efficiency and renewable energy technology. This should culminate in a ministerial roundtable and COP decision in Warsaw.
So there you have it – a road map to success in both Workstreams, at no charge from your friends at ECO. But let’s be clear about what’s really needed. The main barrier to adequately addressing the climate crisis isn’t lack of knowledge about the problem, nor is it the lack of cost-effective solutions. It’s the lack of political will to confront the special interests that have worked long and hard to block the path to a sustainable, low-carbon future. In this regard, the sustained engagement of national leaders in providing strong political guidance is critical to achieving a successful outcome in Paris. And as we all learned in Copenhagen, this engagement cannot wait until the final moments of these negotiations.

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