The time has come for a Science-Based Equity Review

6 December 2014

The ADP decision on INDCs will be the key to the Lima outcome. If Parties agree to solid information requirements and meaningful review mechanisms, then we’ll be on the road to success in Paris. But if Parties are not given the tools and guidance that they need to define strong, transparent, and equitable commitments, we’ll be on another road altogether, and ECO will not even speculate about its likely destination.

We need INDCs that are based on the three core equity principles of the Convention:

Adequacy: INDCs must be specified precisely, and expressible as an ambitious number of tons of mitigation. If this bottom-line information is not available, then it will be next to impossible to do even the most basic assessment of the INDCs. Including assessing if we’re on a pathway that will prevent dangerous climate change and limit global temperature increase to below 2°C that keeps the door to 1.5°C open.

CBDR+RC: INDCs must represent a level of effort that corresponds, at least roughly, to the national “fair share” of the country that tables it. This fair share is to be understood in terms of differentiated responsibility and respective capability, and every country should explain, in just these terms, why it considers its INDCs to meet the requirements of Article 3 of the Convention.

Equitable Access to Sustainable Development: Each INDC must, similarly, be scaled to support a future in which the right to sustainable development becomes a real and living right, one in which all countries can not only lift their people out of poverty, but also provide their citizens with sustainable living standards that can be applied to all (Article 3.4).

These strong, well-founded principles can support a strong, well-founded treaty that will endure the challenges ahead. To that end, transparency is all too important.

Several Parties mentioned the need to include equity in the Upfront Information Requirements (UIRs) in yesterday’s ADP discussion. ECO believes that these three core equity principles need to be explicitly included in the UIRs, so that Parties can reflect on them when preparing their INDCs, which will ensure that they prepare them in a manner that meets their national fair shares, as they understand them. Parties that table INDCs that are consistent with these principles will have nothing to fear when other Parties, and Observers all around the world, examine their INDCs for adequacy and equity. As they will certainly do.

Unlike dangerous climate change, the clean energy transition ahead is nothing to fear. We just heard in the Structured Expert Dialogue that, according to the IEA, 80% of the mitigation that is needed before 2020, if we’re to get on a path that actually leads to a 2°C future, can be met without any net costs. If we’re brave enough to launch immediately on a global campaign to rapidly increase efficiency, cut fossil subsidies, and tighten gas and coal standards. As for the other 20%, and the larger costs ahead – on the adaptation side as well as the mitigation side – we’re going to have to bear them equitably. And we’re going to have to be able to review and assess ourselves to ensure that we do.

The time has come for a Science-Based Equity Review

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