The Text As It Needs To Be - Kennedy Graham COP21 blog 5 | Global Greens

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The Text As It Needs To Be - Kennedy Graham COP21 blog 5

This evening (Thursday), we are still awaiting the final text, essentially the 3rd text of the conference itself, for the ‘final’ day of negotiation (Friday).  This is crunch time, and the text is 10 hours overdue, from the initially expected time.  No surprise, this occurs at every COP.

This COP is, of course, different, though.  It is producing the Agreement that will govern the international community’s climate action for the next critical 15 years.  It is highly likely that it will produce a meaningful agreement, for States to sign.  In this, it will be credibly portrayed as a diplomatic success.  A diplomatic success is when you get 196 sovereign states (including the EU) to more or less agree.  They may water something important down to a meaningless substance, but it is still a diplomatic success.  

It is not, however, necessarily a political success. A political success is when a diplomatic success has political substance, in the sense of advancing the interests of humankind.  The UN Charter did that in 1945.  So did the Rome Statute in 1998, setting up the International Criminal Court.  You could argue, just, that the 1992 Climate Framework Convention did it, in setting up the basic structure for effective climate action.   

The 2015 Paris Agreement, however, a protocol to the ‘92 Framework Convention, will be a political success only if it enters provisions that make it certain that the international community, all States, will be undertaking action to avert dangerous climate change.

At present, the text fails in that regard.  A diplomatic success in producing a document.  A political failure in that the document does not guarantee attainment of the stated purpose.  

In what ways does it not, will it not, do that?  In two ways:

  1. The global emissions reductions are inadequate, both as to magnitude and speed;
  2. There is no meaningful exploration of national responsibility levels for sharing the Global Carbon Budget.  

Here is a re-draft of the critical mitigation articles, which could remedy these shortcomings, and make the Paris Agreement a political success – one in which humankind comes to terms with Nature.  The redraft concerns both the Agreement itself and the accompanying COP decision.

The time-frames are extremely tight, in the knowledge that we are in the middle of global ecological crisis, one in which Nature is not a negotiating Party.

The wording, and most of the conceptual structure of the current draft Agreement has been retained; only the quantity/timing of the global reductions, and the responsibilities of individual Parties, has been tightened.



The Paris Agreement

The Parties to this Agreement,

Being Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (1992), hereinafter referred to as ‘the Convention’.

Recognising that climate change represents an urgent and potentially irreversible threat to human society and the planet, including all other life-forms for which humankind, in accordance with the Biodiversity Convention (1992) carries custodial responsibility,

Recognising that climate change is one of a number of inter-related planetary boundaries that provide guidance for a safe operating space for humankind and other life-forms to live on Earth,

In pursuit of the objective of the Convention, namely, stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would avoid dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system, which hereby is also the objective of this Agreement, hereinafter referred to as ‘the objective’,

Recalling the decision of the Parties at the 16th Conference in Cancun in 2010, that the objective requires keeping the increase in global average temperature below 2.0°C above pre-industrial levels, and conscious of the need to stay under, or return to, an increase of 1.5°C in order to increase confidence in the achievement of climate stability, hereinafter referred to as ‘the temperature goal’,

Acknowledging the Global Carbon Budget advised by IPCC of 1,010 Gt-CO2-e and conscious that, on current annual emission trends, this may be fully utilised by around 2035,

Concerned that current Intended Nationally-Determined Contributions advised to the UNFCCC Secretariat are inadequate to achieve the temperature goal,

Noting that achievement of the objective will therefore require rapid and deep reductions in global greenhouse gas emissions,

Being guided by the principles of the Convention and interpreting the principles in cooperative manner to account for the changes in national and global circumstances since the Convention entered into force,

Have agreed as follows:

Article 2 (Purpose)

The purpose of this Agreement is to achieve the objective by:

  1. Achieving the temperature goal of staying under or returning to 1.5 °C,
  2. Increasing the ability of all Parties to adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change,
  3. Pursuing sustainable development  in a manner that fosters climate resilience,
  4. Making finance flows consistent with a pathway towards climate neutrality.

Article 2 bis (General)

  1. All Parties agree to take urgent action to achieve the objective.
  2. All Parties shall submit their first Intended Nationally-Determined Contribution no later than 31 January 2016.
  3. A Party’s successive Nationally-Determined Contribution (NDMC) will be informed by the result of the global stocktake as defined in article 10.  It will be communicated before the expiration of the previous Contribution.

Article 3 (Mitigation)

  1. Collective Long-term Goal

Parties collectively aim to achieve zero net global emissions, hereinafter referred to as ‘climate neutrality’, by 2050.  

To that end Parties shall seek to achieve a peaking of global emissions before 2025 and a 20 per cent reduction below 1990 levels by 2030.

  1. Individual Efforts

  • Each Party shall prepare and maintain appropriate domestic laws and policies to implement its NDMC.
  • Each Party will calculate, as part of it submission to the secretariat, the following figures in terms of quantified emissions in the year 2030;
    A)  Its National Responsibility Level, which is its share of the Global Carbon Budget,
    B)  Its Domestic Abatement Potential,

3. In the event that a Party’s National Responsibility Level is greater than its Domestic Abatement Potential, the Party will indicate how it intends to meet the differential, through either international trading in credits or climate financing.   

  1. Differentiated Efforts

  • Parties included in Annex I shall undertake quantified economy-wide absolute emissions reduction and limitation targets (QELROs) which are comparable, measurable, reportable and verifiable. These shall be communicated to the UNFCCC, in connection with their Nationally-Determined Mitigation Contribution, by 31 March 2016.
  • Developing countries should undertake diversified enhanced mitigation actions within the context of their NDMC.  They shall undertake QELROs from 1 January 2020 and thereafter.

Article 10 Global Stocktake

  1. The CMA shall undertake its first global stocktake in 2020, and every five years thereafter unless otherwise decided by the CMA.     

  2. The Stocktake will be informed by the annual reviews undertaken by each Party of its own NDMC, commencing in 2016.  

Draft Decision

The Conference of the Parties,

Decides to adopt the Paris Agreement under the framework Convention on Climate Change, contained in the Annex.

Notes with concern that the estimated aggregate emission levels resulting from the INDCs submitted to date do not fall within the least-cost emission 2°C scenarios, and that much greater emission reduction efforts will be required from Parties to achieve the temperature goal.

Requests the secretariat to make available by 2 May 2016 an updated synthesis report on the adequacy of the aggregate NDMCs submitted by the Parties in terms of the temperature goal,

Requests the secretariat, in the synthesis report to prepare, as a navigational guide, a list of the share by each Party of the Global Carbon Budget as identified by the IPCC in its 5th Assessment Report of 1,010 Gt, and the corresponding annual emission level for each Party in 2030, having regard to the work undertaken by the leading institutes in this area.

Invites the President of the COP to convene a facilitative dialogue among Parties, commencing in May 2016, to take stock, in light of the synthesis report, of the collective effort in relation to progress towards the temperature goal, and to report to COP-22 by 1 December 2016 on the adequacy of the collective effort.

Requests each Party to submit its second NDMC to the secretariat, in light of the synthesis report and the facilitative dialogue, no later than 30 September 2016.


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