TWN Info Service on Climate Change (May18/01)
22 May 2018
Third World Network

BASIC ministers call for “comprehensive, Party–driven negotiating text”

Penang, 22 May (TWN)- Ministers of BASIC (Brazil, South Africa, India and China) at their 26thministerial meeting held in Durban, South Africa, on 19-20 May, underscored the need for Parties to prepare a “comprehensive and Party-driven negotiating text covering all the matters and inter-linkages related to the implementation of the Paris Agreement (PA)” by the end of the additional negotiating session under the UNFCCC, planned in Bangkok in September 2018.

In a statement that was made available to Third World Network following the meeting, the ministers also stressed the importance of “reflecting all Parties’ options in a balanced manner” in the text. The ministers emphasized on achieving “comparable levels of specificity to operationalize all provisions of the Paris Agreement to achieve a balance.”

The BASIC meeting was chaired by Edna Molewa, Minister of Environmental Affairs of South Africa and attended by Xie Zhenhua, Special Representative for Climate Change of China, Harsh Vardhan, Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Earth Sciences, Science and Technology of India and Ambassador J. Antonio Marcondes, Undersecretary General for the Environment, Energy and Science and Technology of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Brazil. Michal Kurtyka, incoming COP President of the UNFCCC’s 24thsession of the Conference of Parteis (COP 24), attended the meeting as a special guest.

The ministers also underlined the importance of an “open, transparent, inclusive and Party-driven process towards the completion of the Paris Agreement Work Programme” (PAWP). The ministers said that the PAWP outcome should be based on the principle of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities (CBDR-RC), in the light of different national circumstances, and expressed their determination to complete the PAWP at COP 24 to enable the full implementation of the Paris Agreement (PA) from 2020 onwards.

Reiterating that the global effort against climate change is an “irreversible process, that cannot be postponed”, the ministers called for the “widest possible cooperation by all countries and other stakeholders to protect global climate for our present and future generations, with a view to building a community with a shared future for mankind, in terms of climate resilience and low greenhouse gas emissions development”.

In the statement, the ministers outlined their expectations as regards the elements of the PAWP as well as pre-2020 climate efforts of countries.

On the pre-2020 efforts of countries, the ministers expressed concern over the significant gaps in pre-2020 climate efforts in mitigation, adaptation and support to developing countries. Ministers stressed that these gaps should not be transferred to the post-2020 period and present an additional burden to developing countries. They urged developed countries to honour their existing commitments and enhance ambition, including through the enhanced provision of support to enable developing countries to achieve higher ambition in their actions. Ministers also called on those Parties that have not yet ratified the Doha Amendment to the Kyoto Protocol.

In relation to the PAWP, the ministers reiterated that “contributions to the global response to climate change are nationally-determined and that Parties’ efforts should cover mitigation, adaptation and support, taking into account differentiated responsibilities and obligations of developed and developing country Parties under the Convention and the PA.”

The guidance being developed under the PAWP should assist Parties in the “preparation and communication of their mitigation, adaptation and support contributions, including that such efforts will represent progression over time, and will also recognize the need to support developing country Parties for the effective implementation of this Agreement,” the statement read.

Ministers also stressed that adequate and continuous support should be provided to developing countries to increase their capacities in all relevant areas, including to prepare, communicate and implement their contributions and to participate in the enhanced transparency framework under the PA.

In a strongly worded statement, the ministers emphasized that the current work on guidance for mitigation components of national determined contributions (NDCs) should not in any way undermine the nationally determined nature of NDCs and that the “work should respect the understanding reached in Paris on differentiation between developed and developing countries and diversity of mitigation efforts by developing countries, including the consideration of issues related to the impact of response measures being addressed as part of the mitigation issues under the PAWP.”

The ministers reaffirmed that the PA was a “hard-won achievement by the international community” to enhance the implementation of the Convention in the post-2020 period. They also noted the “transformative impetus the Agreement brings to the global response to climate change, in the context of poverty eradication and sustainable development, whilst reflecting equity and CBDR-RC, in the light of different national circumstances.”

The Ministers took note of the emissions gap in both pre- and post- 2020 mitigation ambition and “urged developed countries to take the lead in emission reductions, achieve the peaking of their emissions as soon as possible if they have not already done so, and thereafter undertake rapid reductions in accordance with best available science.”

In relation to transparency, the statement reads that flexibility for developing countries must be “provided and built into the modalities, procedures and guidelines for the enhanced transparency framework, including in terms of frequency of reporting; relevant quantifiable references consistent with the nature of mitigation efforts agreed under Article 4.4; capacity-building for reporting based on nationally-determined needs; among others”.

(Article 4.4. of the PA states that developed countries should take the lead by undertaking economy-wide emission reduction targets, and developing countries should continue enhancing their mitigation efforts and encouraged to move over time to economy wide emission reduction or limitation targets in the light of different national circumstances.)

Ministers also reiterated that the transparency arrangements under the Convention shall form part of the experience drawn upon for the development of the modalities, procedures and guidelines for transparency. In this regard, the ministers underlined the significance of the extension of the mandate of the Consultative Group of Experts on national communications from developing country Parties (CGE) to continue its support for developing countries in implementing transparency-related provisions and enhancing their relevant capacities under the Convention and its PA.

(The term of the CGE, which provides technical advice and support to developing countries for fulfilling their reporting obligations under the Convention, ends in 2018. At the recently held climate talks in Bonn from 30 April to 10 May, the G77 and China registered its concern that no substantive conclusions were made on the work of the CGE and called for a concrete decision on CGE by the end of the year. For more, see TWN Update 13.)

On adaptation and loss and damage, the ministers expressed their concern on the limited progress in the negotiations and affirmed that these were integral parts of the PA. Reiterating the importance of global goal on adaptation and the adaptation communications in achieving the purpose of the PA, the ministers emphasized the “importance of consistent information under each of the common elements for adaptation communications, so as to clearly understand progress towards the global goal on adaptation, whilst cognizant of the different vehicles that Parties may use in communicating this information”. The ministers also recognized the importance of reporting on impacts and adaptation in the enhanced transparency framework, since the “relevant aggregated information on both ex-ante adaptation communications and ex-post adaptation actions” were necessary inputs for a comprehensive global stocktake.

On the global stocktake, the ministers affirmed that equity was a fundamental aspect that must be considered in the aggregation of the overall progress and collective efforts on mitigation, adaptation and provision of support, and both the process and outcome of the global stocktake should be in the light of equity.

Ministers noted that the enhanced provision of “sustained, predictable and adequate finance, technology development and transfer and capacity-building support by developed countries to developing countries will enable developing countries to achieve higher ambition in their actions.”

Ministers emphasized that effective implementation of developed countries’ legal obligations regarding provision of support “will be paramount for trust-building among Parties in order to create an international enabling environment for the successful implementation of the PA”. In this regard, ministers urged developed countries to honour their commitments to reach the goal of USD100 billion per annum in climate finance by 2020. The USD 100 billion is a starting point and developed countries should “progressively and substantially” increase their financial support in the post-2020 period. Ministers also emphasized the importance of the “development of robust guidelines and methodologies to track and account for the provision of finance by developed countries in line with their obligations, as well as the development of technical expert review guidelines to ensure the robustness of reported information on provision of support.”

They further highlighted the importance of discussing modalities for communicating indicative information on the support to be provided by developed countries referred to in Article 9.5 of the PA.

(Modalities for Article 9.5 of the PA were highly contentious at the Bonn Climate Talks which concluded on 10 May. Developed countries refused to engage in the debate and said there was no mandate to discuss modalities for 9.5. See related TWN Update 6.)

Expressing their “deepest concerns” over attempts by some developed countries to “unilaterally apply new eligibility criteria for developing countries’ access to funding under the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) and the Green Climate Fund (GCF),” the ministers said that such criteria were “not compatible with guidance from the Conference of the Parties and are a departure from the letter and the spirit of the Convention and its PA.”

In another strongly worded paragraph, the ministers indicated that “such attempts violate the terms of the ‘Instrument for the Establishment of the Restructured GEF,’ as well as the Governing Instrument of the GCF, falling outside the mandate of the GEF Council and of the GCF Board on eligibility criteria.”

They stressed the view that such attempts were “tantamount to renegotiating the PA and potentially undermine the level of ambition of developing countries in the global effort against climate change”.

Ministers also noted with concern the lack of adequacy of financial resources provided by developed countries to the GCF and GEF to assist developing countries in their climate actions.

Technology development and transfer and capacity-building were described as “indispensable parts” of the PA and the ministers called for progress to be made on the periodical assessment of the effectiveness and adequacy of the technology support under the Technology Mechanism, the elaboration of the technology framework and the enhancement of the Paris Committee on Capacity-building.

Noting the work of the International Maritime Organization and the International Civil Avialtion Organization, ministers underlined that such efforts must complement the UNFCCC, its Kyoto Protocol and its PA, and conform to their key principles, in particular equity and common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capacities, in the light of different national circumstances.

On the facilitative Talanoa Dialogue that was convened in Bonn (held in May 2018), the ministers conveyed that the BASIC countries said that pre-2020 action and support were crucial elements of the Talanoa dialogue. The Ministers expressed confidence that the narratives to be presented would be captured in a balanced manner, “reflecting the full diversity of experiences of the international community, and highlighting practical solutions and best practices on how to enhance ambition for both pre- 2020 and post-2020 action and support.”

Ministers also agreed that BASIC countries would promote South-South cooperation on climate change in various thematic areas, in the context of sustainable development, with the priorities of eradicating poverty and achieving food security.