ECO has noticed lots of talk about “houses” as nations work to construct a new climate agreement. Just as location is important in selecting a house, Parties will be carefully considering the location of key text to be agreed in Paris: what goes in the core agreement, decision text, and supplementary instruments or lists. ECO has some advice to ensure that the right house is built.
ECO believes that a package deal with careful placement of issues is critical to a Paris outcome that safeguards ambition, accountability, and equity, while taking into account national circumstances. Amongst other things, the core legal agreement should:
Establish key principles to guide implementation, including human rights for all.
Introduce strong, durable commitments for the post-2020 climate regime, including a commitment to phase out fossil fuel emissions and phase in 100% renewables for all by 2050; and global adaptation and technology goals.
Provide a means for Parties’ to anchor Nationally Determined Contributions as legal commitments, with an introduction of 5-year commitment and review cycles for both action and support.
And as for the COP decisions? They are necessary to create the operational foundations to ensure ratification and implementation of the core agreement. And they are particularly appropriate for elements that may need to be revised over time, for operationalising high-level principles from the core agreement, and for pre-2020 work programmes, including those needed to raise pre-2020 ambition and climate finance.
Annexes and/or supplementary instruments can play a critical role in enhancing transparency and accountability. The core agreement should establish a legal connection to one or more annexes, schedules, or lists detailing differentiated national mitigation targets and actions. Mitigation commitments should be additionally recorded in a document and database managed by the Secretariat, in a way that ensures transparency and enables unilateral ambition enhancement without requiring ratification.
And after you sign on the dotted line in Paris for your new home, you can make one or more political declarations to complement the agreement. But ECO reminds countries that political declarations are no substitute for legally binding instruments or COP decisions. ECO certainly wouldn’t feel comfortable moving into a new home on a handshake deal, and you wouldn’t either, would you, Parties?