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COP20 briefing #3

The Greens/EFA group’s Terhi Lehtonen, Advisor on Environmental Issues, gives her 3rd briefing from COP20, (briefing One & Two).  Read more blogs about the climate negotiations at: 
While the texts under negotiations for the outcomes here in Lima seem to be rather out of touch with reality of the climate emergency, there are some positives. The latest science and the IPCC 5th assessment report have begun to sink in, and while just two years ago even in the NGO community global phase out of carbon by 2050 was subject to debate, now the concept is discussed in the mainstream.

Global phase out of carbon is in the ADP draft elements text of the Paris 2015 agreement, supported by significant number of Parties, and no-one speaking out against. A lot of work and analysis has been published by some of the best think tanks – WRI, IIED, SEI, etc – on the concept. Even the Financial Times had a big article on zero carbon 2050 being negotiated for the Paris 2015 agreement, reporting also that the Bank of England is assessing the risks fossil fuel companies might pose to financial stability if the worlds proven coal, oil and gas reserves turned out to be “unburnable”.

The EP asked for global phase out of fossil emisisons as an aim for the Paris agreement already last year, and repeated the aim also in this year’s resolution. 

Below notes from OekoInstitut briefing for the Members of EP delegation, summary of NGO priorities for the second week, notes from Commission briefing, meeting with the Chair of IPCC, Dr Pachauri and part of ADP contact group meeting. 

* * *


Anke Herold / Oeko Institut briefing briefing

Anke Herold summarised the outcome of the first week of negotiations as extraordinarily good on the technical level. There were no large disputes and technical bodies closed early on most issues to be able to focus on the ADP.

From Lima the ADP process towards Paris agreement needs to have clarity on:

– scope contributions

– what type of information

– whether there will be an assessment process.

The discussions on the INDCs reflect the disagreement relating to differentiation of mitigation responsibilities and obligations related to support. Like-minded developing countries LMDC (China, Arab countries, Bolivia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Nicaragua, India= reject anything related to “evolving responsibilities or capabilities“ in all paragraphs.

Brazil has made a proposal on concentric circles, proposing that Parties with greatest responsibility and capacity should take on quantified emission reduction targets, and others should aspire to do so over time. It is interesting that this proposal comes from an important country in these negotiations at this time.

Apart from the EU, AILAC (alliance of progressive Latin American countries) strongly considers that mitigation should be in the center of commitments.

The assessment process on the INDCs is likewise opposed by lthe Like-minded group, while it is of key importance for nearly all other countries, including African group.

Another difficult question is financial support – will there be legally binding commitments on  finance, and who will be obliged to contribute? EU wants to open to all countries with evolving capabilities. [Korea, Mexico, Panama and Mongolia have also made pledges to the GCF.] There is an ongoing item on the COP agenda on long term finance, where developing countries want to get a clear trajectory to the 100 billion commitment. China is asking for 60-75 billion by 2016, which is extremely difficult to developed countries.

Herold also noted that the rules for Kyoto Protocol second commitment period implementation are also still not formally agreed. The last dispute related to Ukraine and the use of previous period surplus for compliance. A fair compromise has been found, but it seems that Ukraine is not ready to adopt the decision after all, and oddly enough there appears to be a link to Russian Federation on the issue. This lack of agreement is threatening the implementation of the KP second commitment period and also the EU ratification. 

Asked about the positions of other Parties, Herold highlighted that China is of key importance, and much will depend on how it plays the position on the differentiation of INDCs. Brazil is another key country, and according to Herold has been very constructive and come forward with genuine compromises on many issues, including carbon markets. India has been less vocal than China in putting forward the firewall. She stressed that we have often had worse situations that here in Lima, Parties are all eager to work on the text. When countries want to block, they do so from the very beginning, from the setting of the agenda etc.

When asked about the pre-2020 ambition, she agreed personally that it has not been the main attention, even if there is text in the decision. Although these techincal discussions and forums result in interesting conversation, it is hard to see how it would initiate something on top of what is already planned. 

As regards the initial idea of the assesment phase, to review the pledges made by Parties, she also agreed that it is quite unlikely that the INDCs will change. However she said there is a lot to clarify in the countries pledges, about land use accounting, carbon markets, etc., the assessment process would help in getting a picture about the real effort.

When questioned about whether EU is perceived still as a front runner, she said that  there are parties that do not see 40% as highly ambitoius. There were also a lot of critical questions about the 2020 targets as part of the multilateral assessment process.With a more ambitious targets EU would be in a better place. For 2030 countries note that the rate of reductions is higher in the US pledge, even if they come from a higher level.

Herold admitted that Paris will only be a succes for UN process, in as far as it will not close the gap to 2C. She said that this will have to be followed by a long term strategy and cycles of targets.

* * *

NGO reactions to the draft texts

As regards the draft COP decision, the NGOs point out that a decision on a 5 year commitment period, information requirements and a proper assessment phase need to be decided here. A 5 year period would avoid locking in to a low level of ambition, and allow for taking into account scientific findings and the reduction in price of mitigation technologies as they evolve. It is necessary that the INDCs provide appropriate information and that the UNFCCC provides technical assistance to assess aggregate adequacy. While the text is improved on the multilateral assessment, it does not provide for civil society the right to participate and question Parties INDCs.

The discussions on finance are failing. There is no clarity and certainty on finance due to the intransingeant positions of US and EU, who want all references removed both for pre-2020 roadmap and post 2020 Paris Agreeement. Kelly Dent from Oxfam said at the CAN press conference, this is effectively like putting a blindfold on the developing countries and saying “trust us”. Climate finance is critical for developing countries, they need to embark on development, but on a climate compatible path, and they need to adapt to climate change that they experience already now.

NGOs call on the EU and US to stop holding finance as hostage and treating it as a bargaining chip, or the well is poisoned before Paris.

In general the NGO community consider that the draft elements text could be the basis for Paris 2015 agreement, good elements include the phase out of fossil emissions by 2050 and language on removing fossil fuel subsidies and shifting to RES. 100% RES economy would be the positive side of the same coin.

What is still missing is a link to the temperature limit and aggregate ambition as regards adaptation. Adaptation and loss and damage need to be considered separately.

Sven Harmeling from CARE international quoted a recent analysis, according to which even taking into account the EU, US, and China announcements, the world is still heading to + 3C warming, with disasterous consequences in terms of adaptation and loss and damage.

* * *

COM briefing 17: 10

Commissioner Arias Canete said that he was less optimistic than yesterday.

He explained that the discussions on the draft COP decision yesterday night got bogged down on the preambules, and at the time of the briefing still had not arrived at paragraph 7 and the issue of INDCs.

Arias Canete said that the result of EU coordination was that EU will keep supporting INDCs for mitigation only. He said there is lots of concern on the finacial provision of 14 a and b from many Member States [separately we heard from somebody that had been in the room that only Spain mentioned paragraph 14 specifically] .

He said that EU was going to talk to the Cartagena dialogue countries aftre African group, deploring that while “those countries far from us are speaking loud, the progressives are keeping silent”.

Arias Canete said that if we do not find agreemnet here there will be those that say we should seek it in the context of G20, which can weaken multilateralism. “We do our best,” he said.

He said the draft decision text has gotten worse, “every intervention introduce things we do not like, Americans like even less”.

We do not want to be deprived of process, imperfect better than nothing. “Everybody will make comparisons anyway.”

On the Brazilian proposal, Commissioner said EU is waiting to meet with them, to have clarification. Concentric cirles is not something to be rejected, but if you choose where you place yourself, it could add up to the same thing as Annex I. [The Brazilian proposal includes quantifiable mitigation commitments from all Parties, also the second circle, just not necessarily economy wide absolute caps. The proposal attached.]

* * *

EP delegation meeting with Dr Rajendra Pachauri, Chair of IPCC

Mr. Pachauri said he feels there is an air of optimism in Lima, a desire to get to an agreement in Paris.

He wanted to highlight the need to bring the science to the attention of the negotiators. On impacts, we know that they become progressively more difficult, not only physicallly but in terms of security and stability of our societies. Agriculture and food security will be affected.

Pachauri pointed to the attractiveness of action being so great that it should not need to be argued!

The benefits are not only avoiding worst impacts, but in terms of air quality.stable agriculture secure ecosystems..

He said that in the drafting excercises Parties should not loose sight of the need of agreement. He also said that while he would not hold up negotiations here, we should not loose sight of carbon budgets, compared to the collective efforts and commitments.

He agreed that the delays implied in US and China intended pledges we are moving to difficulties in staying below 2C and said the Agreeement should provide a review every three or five years.

As a first priority however Pachauri said we should absolutely get agreemnet, iand f it is inadequate, we must make sure it is reviewed.

Pachauri also said that it will soon become more and more clear that 2C is not good enough. The IPCC 2.6 RCP pathway still implies sea level rise of 0,26 – 0,55 m by end century, continuing thereafter. It will be difficult to accept a world with that level sea rise.

* * *

ADP contact group

The group pursued the row by row examination of the Co-chairs text, inserting options and alternative text proposals by the Parties, exploding the text. After more than 7 hours of negotiations, they have managed to note down Parties proposals until paragraph 12. The Co-chairs proposed thattomorrow the work continue in two parallel groups, one on the INDC related paragraphs 13-23 and another one on the rest.

China submitted alternative text to the paragraph 11 a replacing the quantifiable mitigation commitmets to all by a differentiation based on Annex I and developing countries. AILAC among others proposed 5 year commitment period and mitigation commitments to all Parties, Japan put forward10 year commitment period. Brazil strongly objected Canada implying backsliding on commitments, saying this would be against the Convention.

EU supported Marshall Island text clarifying no backsliding and opposed proposals to refer to Annexes however said that EU can accept reference to Convention principles.

AILAC and African group very strongly insist on adaptation as part of INDCs, where as Norway, Australia, US, EU, Turkey, Switzerland are against. Tuvalu proposed to simplify the provision.

Brazil supports the aims of African groups and others but considers that Co-chairs’ text is sufficient, only the adaptation actions should not be limited to only those with mitigation co-benefits.


Terhi Lehtonen


12/11/2014 – 06:45


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