With apologies to Justin Timberlake:
I’m bringin’ science back (yeah)
Some of the boys don’t know how to act (yeah)
I think it’s special, the IPCC and facts (yeah)
So workshops ho! the report we”ll unpack (yeah)
Last week, science got a rough ride in the SBSTA item on the IPCC SR1.5, with the Saudi assault on attempts to fulfill the COP instructions to engage with the content of the IPCC report.
This week, science has its mojo back, and defenders of science’s role in continuously informing policymaking appear to be on track to get substantive conclusions from this session and find a way to do justice to this momentous and ground-breaking report.
Most parties are now supporting a substantial package of draft conclusions to forward to the plenary, as well as additional time in the informal consultations to consider them.
Yesterday AOSIS, LDCs and AILAC presented a proposal to organize 4 workshops €“ 2 at SB51 and 2 at SB52, with a synthesis report for consideration at a high-level event at COP26. This process of unpacking the IPCC report can help inform the process of parties revising NDCs over the next year or so, and the synthesis report can inform the Second Periodic Review, which will likely start in 2020.
ECO supports the inclusion of pathways to meet the Paris long-term goals, in particular, pathways to limiting warming to 1.5°C, in the scope of the Second Periodic Review.
Science has been behind every major development in the creation of the climate regime, dating back to the IPCC’s First Assessment Report (FAR) that set the stage for the negotiation of the UNFCCC itself and enabled its signing in Rio in 1992. In other words, science drives policymaking. As Vanuatu reminded us in Katowice, you can’t negotiate away the science.
The UNSG Summit and the snowballing national efforts to revise NDCs by 2020 should bring us closer to the necessary pathways that climate science demands. Concurrent investigation of the implications of the IPCC report, including for mitigation, adaptation, loss and damage and financial and other support can only strengthen this effort.
Attempts to downplay, discredit and suppress science are not new in this process. But the “ungentlemanly” behavior from the Saudi negotiator last week was a new low for UNFCCC negotiations.
The Saudi game plan is clear: run down the clock on consideration of conclusions till the end of the session, and make it as difficult as possible to get a substantive outcome that does justice to the IPCC report.
The basis for the ill-considered “gentlemen’s agreement” €“ good faith attempts on all sides to get an acceptable outcome €“ has clearly not been met. So that agreement, and any other arrangements that seem to harken back to old-boy’s clubs and outdated traditions, should be consigned to the dustbin of history.
Science, equity and solidarity with the victims of past mistakes and outdated development pathways must be the basis for a just transition away from our fossil fuel driven economy and towards the clean and renewable zero-carbon climate-resilient economy of the future.