Ambition: Don’t Leave Paris Without It

11 December 2015

As we move into the final hours of the climate negotiations here in Paris, the outcome could go one of two ways. We will either achieve a Paris agreement that accelerates the transition to a global economy based on 100% renewable energy, allows us to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, and helps vulnerable countries cope with the impacts they are already experiencing. Or we will leave Paris with a least common denominator agreement that sees important elements left on the cutting room floor. ECO insists that ministers overcome their differences and work together to craft the ambitious, effective, and balanced agreement that the world expects, needs and demands.

Such an agreement must include a reference to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees and a long-term goal that makes it clear to investors, businesses, and citizens that the fossil fuel age is over, and the transition to the age of renewables is unstoppable. It must include five-year cycles for review and revision of INDCS, with the first review by the end of this decade. With continued declines in the costs of renewable energy and efficiency technologies, all countries should be in position to increase the level of ambition of their initial INDCs before they are finalized in the new agreement. This will be facilitated by greater clarity and predictability of post-2020 developed country climate finance, supplemented by voluntary contributions from developing countries who wish to make them.

The Paris agreement must also address the needs of vulnerable communities already experiencing the impacts of climate change. It must increase the share of public climate finance going to adaptation activities and help countries deal with loss and damages such as the cost of dealing with sudden disasters like typhoons and slow-onset impacts like sea-level rise and drought.

Getting such an agreement over the next 24 hours requires some shifts in the negotiating positions of a number of countries. Eco wasn’t in the Indaba last night, but we have been informed that the United States, Japan and the EU took a very hard line on several aspects of climate finance, especially on short term collective goals. Leaders from these countries called for a strong Paris agreement; their ministers and negotiators must be more forthcoming on the climate finance issues if we’re going to achieve such a result.

ECO is told that a number of developing countries, including India and China, pushed back against some of the good language in the most recent text on issues including the long-term goal, five-year cycles, and independent verification of national reporting on emissions trends and actions. China and India are both taking impressive actions at home, and their leaders have acknowledged the urgency of acting on climate change. Both countries must work in the last hours in Paris to find acceptable compromises on these issues. They are essential elements of any agreement that strives to hold global temperature increases well below 2 degrees C. Turkey proposed deletion of language on developing countries providing climate finance on a voluntary complementary basis,” apparently because Turkey itself isn’t willing to do so. And Russia objected to the reference to 1.5 degrees C, calling it arbitrary.

We’re informed that Saudi Arabia played an especially unhelpful role in last night’s Indaba sessions by, amongst other things, trying to weaken the temperature goal, delete references to the need for global peaking of emissions, and drop the paragraph urging countries to reduce support for high-emission investments. This behavior must stop, or the Saudis must finally acknowledge that they are placing their short-term financial interests above the long-term survival of vulnerable communities and their own citizens.

In sharp contrast, ECO hears that a number of countries, including Angola, Brazil, Egypt (on behalf of the African Group), Mexico, Nigeria, and South Africa, played very constructive roles in last night’s negotiations, striving to find bridging solutions to some of the difficult issues. We thank these countries for operating in this spirit, and urge others to join them.

Last week, the more than 150 world leaders here in Paris projected a sense of urgency and a clear commitment to reach an ambitious and equitable agreement – one that will give the world hope that we can come to grips with the mounting climate crisis and leave our children and grandchildren a livable planet and a safer cleaner future. ECO calls on ministers and negotiators to operate with the same sense of urgency and commitment, and to bring a strong agreement to tomorrow’s closing plenary–one that addresses the well-documented ambition gap between the temperature limitation goals and aggregate emissions reduction commitments and that assures vulnerable countries that they will receive the help they need to cope with the increasingly serious impacts of climate change.

In the months and years to come, Paris will either be seen as a transformational moment, or as a tremendous missed opportunity. The outcome is in your hands; please choose wisely.

Ambition: Don’t Leave Paris Without It

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