Risky Business

9 September 2018

ECO is worried about all the risky business we’re seeing as this session comes to a close! And we’re not talking fun Tom Cruise- slipping-around-in-socks risky business €“ we’re talking “oh god my tuk- tukisheadingstraightforthatothertuk-tuk”riskybusiness.Whilesome delegates may subscribe to the high risk, high reward approach to staking out their negotiating positions, we’re not so enthusiastic about this game of chicken that you may think you’re playing with each other €“ but you’re actually playing with the planet. As it’s also our planet on the line, here are what ECO sees as the greatest risks, and what can be done to avoid these possible collision courses:

If the Co-Chairs are given the mandate (which ECO strongly recommends €“ don’t get us wrong) to prepare a joint reflection note proposing text and ways forward, they will have a huge responsibility to be bold, as well as fair, in reflecting all parties” views. Anything less than an even-handed approach will go down like a dose of “Bangkok belly” on day 1 of Katowice, and would inevitably lead to disagreements on whether the text should be adopted as a basis for negotiations. To avoid that disaster, the Note must include all parties” proposals as options on the table €“ while also putting forward bridging proposals for possible landing zones on crunch issues.

Let’s be honest: The Co-Chairs and negotiators have brought us to this point. Now the incoming and current COP Presidencies need to shift into high gear and help to engage Heads of Delegations and Ministers at the UN General Assembly and Pre-COP on sticky points in the Paris rulebook as well as on other key parts of the Katowice package. Below a hint on which issues might need some high-level guidance.

Finance: Leaving the bumpy tuk-tuk roads of Bangkok, Parties have to put much more political will into finding landing zones on the sticky issue of finance. Your focus should be on enhancing the current accounting system, but also, when meeting at the political level, identifying the key options to achieve progress on the modalities that will make your ex-ante communication really useful and on the process to set a new collective post-2025 goal. Don’t forget the other parts of the package: demonstrated progress on the USD100 billion objective and signals towards an ambitious GCF replenishment are key, if you want to avoid sliding off the road in Katowice.

Mitigation/Guidance for NDCs: The negotiations on the guidance for NDCs have progressed as smoothly in Bangkok than a tuk- tuk ride through rush hour. ECO is quite disappointed that negotiations could not move forward on substance because one country was not willing to do so. But as NDCs play a central role in the Paris Agreement, Parties will need to work in good faith over the coming weeks to build bridges and ensure that these discussions guide Parties effectively. And honestly, ensuring that the guidance for NDCs embrace the full Paris spirit (that of people-centered climate policies) would be much easier than eating a full bowl of Gaeng Tai Pla.

Adaptation: The adaptation tuk-tuk moves forward steadily. But considering the time pressure, it feels so slow, pedestrians can over take it without breaking a sweat in the Bangkok afternoon sun. On adaptation communication Parties are getting closer at glacial speeds. Trust is being built only to be destroyed by procedural games. However, at least the options are now on the table. The adaptation registry is the bad joke in the room, you don’t know whether to laugh or cry about. Parties did not even bother to progress on the simple matter of hyperlinks. It’s even being showed up by YOUNGO.

Transparency:LiketheeveningBangkokrains,theamountof details to discuss in the transparency framework seems never ending. But transparency negotiators have been working hard all week long and have made good progress on the text in front of them. Negotiators will need to begin identifying those compromise options. Some of the remaining obstacles will be dealing with are inputs from other agenda items and figuring out how these will fit into the enhanced transparency framework. We also encourage all Parties to stop rejecting the evidence: there is no use in excluding expert input to the relevant stages of the transparency framework €“ on the contrary, interactions among Parties and with observers would only strengthen the framework.

Global Stocktake: Just as with transparency, global stocktake negotiators worked to turn the Co-Chairs” tool into something resembling text, which also helped to clarify some views. Without having engaged yet on which of the options to take off the table, there is a risk that we will end up with a GST that doesn’t fulfil its promise to crank the Paris ambition ratchet. For example, by not making it long enough to thoroughly do its work, or by precluding it from properly considering Loss and Damage. Failing to seriously look at how the principles of equity and CBDR-RC can inform how Parties can enhance action and support to close the ambition gaps is another such risk. And in the spirit of solidarity, we count on Parties to come to terms with the realization that the Global Stocktake will only benefit from the inclusion of the voices of stakeholders €“ rather than marginalizing them. Seriously.

Loss and Damage: Loss and damage is the issue waiting on the sidelines, with the potential to explode as you approach the Katowice finish line. There is a well-rounded set of options to include loss and damage in the relevant issues: finance, transparency, global stocktake, technology and communications €“ but all of these options are double bracketed, putting in double jeopardy a fair and balanced outcome. There is also the foreshadowing of a CMA agenda item to address the essential question: are we living up to our past promises and providing the support for the most vulnerable people on the frontline of extreme climate impacts? Especially in light of the IPCC 1.5°C Special Report, which will throw into stark contrast the impacts faced by vulnerable people and the recalcitrance of rich countries threatening to renege on promises made in Article 8 of the Paris Agreement. Developed countries have no option but to prepare their capitals to make progress on all articles of the Paris Agreement, including Article 8!

Ambition: Finally, we all know the rulebook is only one of the wheels of our tuk-tuk. To drive success at COP 24, finance and ambition are also needed. And we will only get far enough and make Katowice a success if we drive with all three forward. And guess what, Polish presidency, for ambition you have to squeeze yourself into one tuk- tuk with the Fijian presidency. You both need to lead this. The Talanoa Dialogue needs to send a clear and strong signal that the world expects countries to spare no effort to improve their NDCs by 2020 and close the emissions gap.

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