Guess who’s coming to dinner?

3 June 2015

When you go out with friends for dinner, do you pay the full bill or do you just put a few coins on the table and run off? In Paris, we’ll see how negotiators answer this question. The way it looks now, ECO wouldn’t want to own a restaurant in Paris.

Just yesterday, the SED 2013-15 review put the bill on the table in big letters and numbers that everyone can read. Meanwhile, countries are offering INDCs—some of which may look politically ambitious at home—but it is obvious to everyone that they won’t add up to what we need. And remember: we haven’t yet paid the full bill from Copenhagen.

This truth is starting to dawn on many. Some media stories already say that Paris has failed before it starts—failed to deliver a path to 2°C or 1.5°C. But they forget that there is a secret (though underused) weapon within these talks: Workstream 2 (WS2). Thus far, WS2 has produced positive learning and brought in much needed momentum from outside experts. To prove the naysayers wrong, the Paris outcome must include a much stronger combination of processes to tackle the gigatonne gap.

1) We can’t tackle the gap unless we know how big it is. A Paris outcome must include a regular assessment of the gigatonne gap, which the Parties own together.

2) To be fair, some Parties owe a lot more than others. They need to pay more of the bill. This means stronger domestic targets by developed countries and concrete offers of finance and support.

3) We need an annual high-level platform to celebrate and hold accountable major new international cooperative initiatives that take a quantified bite from the gap.

4) Of the countless new initiatives being announced, some are good, and some (let’s face it) are greenwashing.  We need a way to record, aggregate and track these initiatives to see how much they collectively help close the gap.

5) The Technical Expert Meetings (TEMs) are one of the few things everyone likes in this process. They should focus on measurable actions and policy options while making connections with other mechanisms like the GCF and the Technical Executive Committee.

6) Finally, we can’t pretend that the gigatonne gap will be closed in 2020. This combination of processes needs to be anchored in the post-2020 architecture — it needs a new home when the ADP closes, and it can’t end until the gap is closed.

But some will say: there’s so much to do already. Why not just leave it to a future COP in 5 or 10 years? ECO says: You’re forgetting who is left holding the bill! Small farmers in Kenya, coastal villagers in the Marshall Islands, and sometimes we forget Miami, New Orleans and New York. In consideration of a;; these people, we must not forget the other half of the Paris deal.

Guess who’s coming to dinner?

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