Question: what happens when there is no longer a long- term? No, this is not a bleak pondering on where current emissions trajectories will lead us, although that is probably warranted.
Rather, we’re thinking about the long-term finance (LTF) work programme, which includes annual in-session workshops, biennial high-level ministerial dialogues on climate finance (mark your calendars: the next one is at COP 24!), and an annual COP decision where Parties have the opportunity to assess progress in climate financing, including issues of scaling up, balance, effectiveness and access.
ECO always found it somewhat bemusing that the long-term finance work program only runs until 2020. Elsewhere in the UNFCCC, and in general usage, there’s an understanding that long- term means at least mid-century, or beyond. But not in the weird and wonderful world of climate finance.
Anyway, here we are, two and a half years shy of the expiration of the LTF, and countries are understandably wondering: what comes next? This has particularly manifested itself in the negotiations on operationalizing Article 9.5. Developing countries are rightly wondering what will happen to the biennial, forward-looking communications on finance that contributor countries are required to submit by Article 9.5. Of course, 9.5 communications will be inputs to the Global Stocktake (GST ), but that only happens every five years, while these communications happen every two years. Beyond the timing mismatch, the world of finance is fast-moving. Hence, there is a need for a more frequent and hawk-eyed consideration of progress. That’s where the question of a post-LTF process comes into play.
To be clear, the LTF has not been a perfect process. Not every element has been the most productive use of negotiators” time. But the fact that there has been a dedicated, inclusive space for discussions on finance has been very useful for all stakeholders. Parties should take a clear look at which elements of the LTF are worth preserving, and shape these into a mandate for a post-2020 process on finance. Importantly, in the Paris era where there is a clear understanding of the need to ensure all finance flows are consistent with low-emissions and climate-resilient development, any post-2020 finance process must take a broad look at both climate finance in the traditional sense, but also how wider flows of finance, both public and private, are being aligned to support climate action in fulfilment of the Article 2.1c long-term goal. After all, a longer long-term finance process should be looking at the long haul future of finance. Try saying that after a few drinks.