Common Timeframes Melting in the Heat?

7 September 2018

We at ECO are wondering whether we should have a chat with the nice lawyers at the UNFCCC Secretariat.

We”ve spotted a problem with the agenda that is increasingly creating confusion. We think the ‘sBI informal consultation on common timeframes” (CTFs) might be better renamed as the’sBI informal consultation on multiple and differentiated timeframes”, as communicated by China on behalf of LMDCs, so Parties can really relax and kick back with the scope of the exercise at hand.

Let’s be clear – the LMDCs” proposal of introducing differentiationisnotnegotiatingingoodfaith.Differentiation and flexibility should be applied in other parts of the Paris Agreement Work Programme (PAWP), but for CTFs it would simply riddle the environmental integrity of the Paris Agreement. The multi-layered, almost Kafkaesque proposal was, can we agree, more than a little difficult to grasp.

With Japan, on the other hand, we are just disappointed. It seems they feel the need for some additional thinking space, gatecrashing in on what was almost a complete 5-year CTF consensus with the friendly offer of an extra 5 years. Maybe they”ll use the time to contemplate and brainstorm further creative solutions for inclusion to their NDC. No matter the rapid descent into planetary chaos before our very eyes. What’s the rush? Sake, anyone?

We at ECO would like to address more sobering concerns. We firmly believe that a single 5-year time frame for post-2030 NDCs is the way to go. Unless we all lock in to a 5-year cycle, any government of the day can push their obligations down the road. Five years, as opposed to 10, incentivises early action and compels governments to address ambition. It also sends a much needed signal to investors, financial institutions and technology-heavy companies that this is the future of the game. This lowers investment risks and provides signals of policy stability. Real world technical and economic opportunities are evolving fast, and without sufficient clarity for the private sector on the future that policy makers envision, a 10-year cycle risks locking in low ambition.

Parties who were present in Paris can testify to the logic of the 5-year rhythm; the Paris architecture, including the Global Stocktake, is formed around it.

We believe that the original name, common timeframes, conveys the truth at the heart of the matter. It’s not complicated. With all the difficult issues we negotiate at the UNFCCC, let’s not make this one of them.

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