12 Years Left: What Have You Done to Respond to the SR1.5?

3 December 2018

The IPCC Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C is a game-changer. Scientists have found that 2°C of warming is much more dangerous than they thought it was a few years ago as it brings us closer to a number of critical tipping points. 1.5°C of warming is far from safe, but the half degree significantly reduces the risks many will face. The speed and scale of the transformation necessary to achieve 1.5°C cannot be overstated: the world needs to halve CO2 emissions in little more than a decade and achieve net- zero emissions by mid-century. The report does offer hope: a 1.5°C emissions pathway is not only feasible, it will make eradicating poverty easier and development more sustainable overall.

The SR1.5 has changed the game in Katowice. This meeting cannot be, if it ever was, just about getting a solid rulebook for the Paris Agreement. Make no mistake: ECO thinks the rulebook is very important. But to focus on it alone would be like fixing a leaking tap in your bathroom, while the basement is flooding.

The Talanoa Dialogue was tasked with taking stock of the collective effort in progress towards the long-term goal and informing new or updated NDCs. The SR1.5 makes clear that the world is not on track to limit warming anywhere near 1.5°C. The only conclusion that can be drawn from this exercise is that the current level of ambition is woefully inadequate and that parties must revise and strengthen their NDCs accordingly.

ECO has heard rumblings about a non-negotiated Presidency Declaration as the main or only outcome of the Talanoa Dialogue. Has ECO come to the wrong place? Is this not the international climate negotiations? Of course, the modalities of new and stronger NDCs will be determined nationally, however the outcome of the Talanoa Dialogue must be to establish a process to shepherd parties through this national determining. The only way to do that is through a COP decision. ECO has assigned much homework to Parties over the years and your track record is abysmal: international pressure and oversight is needed to ensure that you actually deliver this time. There are no second chances.

In this COP decision, Parties must commit to revising and strengthening their NDCs by 2020 and developing mid- century GHG emission phase out development strategies that are compatible with a 1.5°C emissions pathway. The decision also must lay out a calendar of follow-up events, including space at the June session for countries to report back on progress and initiate a process to agree on the post-2025 finance goal. After all, how are the poor and most vulnerable countries supposed to strengthen their 2030 NDCs by 2020 without knowing the level of support available or even when discussions of post-2025 finance commitments will start?

The majority of parties to the Paris Agreement have said loud and clear they want a COP decision on the Talanoa Dialogue and enhancing ambition of NDCs. Despite this, it is far from clear that the incoming Polish Presidency is prepared to give ambition the attention it deserves. The Polish Presidency needs to clarify how it plans to facilitate agreement on an outcome along the lines described above, and soon.

Last week, the most vulnerable reiterated their resolve to never surrender to an irreparably harmful fate, but rather to fight for their right to survive and thrive. ECO too is steadfast in its determination to secure emission cuts on the scale necessary for 1.5°C. To maintain the focus on increased ambition, ECO will ask the same question each and every day of this conference: How are you responding to the SR1.5? There are many ways to answer this question, as there are many pieces to a 1.5°C emissions pathway. Yet, as the outcome from this conference, there can be only one: the initiation of a process to achieve 1.5°C compatible NDCs by COP26.

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