Ministers: Your Guide to Success with the Text

9 December 2014

The Christmas stores are open all over Lima and the trees and decorations are going up. Early yesterday morning, ECO got a taste of the Noche Buena feeling when the co-chairs delivered not one but two new texts.

So here we are, ready to check out the highlights on display and note some missing ornaments. While there is both candy and coal in ECO’s stocking, overall the new texts provide for cautious optimism.

The draft COP decision text zooms in on the INDCs and pre-2020 ambition (a more evocative phrase than “WS2”). On the latter point, the sentence urging developed countries to scale up their commitments to 2020 seems to have got lost. ECO thinks it rolled under the couch and can easily be retrieved and put back on the tree.

The text is also rather quiet on spelling out how to deliver the funds that we need to move pre-2020 ambition to action – the roadmap to scale up finance to $100 billion. That one may be stuck under an armchair cushion, but it’s within easy reach. Something nice on the tree, though, is that finance being included as part of the INDCs.

On the matter of countries doing their fair share, that is referenced but it’s not detailed enough. We’ve kept the idea of assessing our commitments, but how we do it has been watered down.

For example, the ability for observer organizations to be involved with the assessment does not go far enough and should be extended to involvement in the dialogue. Let’s not overlook that proper and complete assessment depends on sufficient accompanying information from Parties with their contributions, and some level of commonality to how that information is presented. A common base year and time-frame (2025 targets for all!) – surely that’s not too much to hope for in this convivial season?

And here’s another thought. It would not be good to bring on holiday headaches by putting the call for robust information on the scope and content of INDCs into an annex. Let’s just say that this process doesn’t always have a good memory for where it puts its annexes. Countries are due to table their INDCs early next year – so it seems a good idea to decide first what should be in them and how to present them. Just like getting the right string of lights for your holiday tree.

Now on to the festive occasion of the week – the High Level Segment. Ministers should use their time here to discuss four key issues within the draft decision text – differentiation, finance, assessment and upfront information. Strategic direction on these could even result in us going home on time for the holidays. That’s a present we can all look forward to!

Now we turn to the other package under the tree – the new elements text on the 2015 agreement. In many ways stronger than
before, the co-chairs streamlined the text, pulling together much of the input from Parties in the first week. The question, of course, is which of the options will remain. Some are good, some are weak and some are just plain ugly – but at least the text does set them out as clear options.

On the positive side, under mitigation, the text retains a number of options for ensuring that the ultimate goal of the Paris agreement is to get to zero carbon. It invites countries to consider what this would mean for their climate action plans over the long term. It also contains several hooks to push investments away from fossil fuels, ranging from divestment to ending fossil fuel subsidies. Note to Parties: keep these but also consider the transformative change of phasing in 100% RE – that’s the other side of the goal.

Next, to put this long-term goal into action we need to do more sooner and ensure that enough resources are mobilized. But there’s a pretty mixed picture on finance within the text. There are options to include collective global finance targets for both adaptation and mitigation, but the role of public finance needs to be strengthened, particularly the establishment of quantified public finance goals.

The co-chairs are presenting weak text on the adaptation goal and have failed to link
adaptation to rising temperatures and the scale of finance. Developing countries are asking for loss and damage and this needs to be distinct from the treatment of adaptation within the text.

So that’s our list, and yes indeed, we checked it twice. To all the arriving ministers, a fond welcome. We know Lima takes the Christmas season seriously, and with ECO as your shopping guide there are ways to secure all our wishes and get us on the right road to Paris.


Ministers: Your Guide to Success with the Text

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