Climate talks close with developing countries calling for strong pre-2020 action

One disturbing feature at Marrakech was the tendency of the developed countries to focus the action to be taken on climate change almost exclusively on the period after 2020 and ignore their commitment with regard to the period prior to this date. T Ajit explains the motives behind this selectivity.

THE Marrakech climate talks closed around 2 am on 19 November, with developing countries making a strong plea for pre-2020 climate action and for developed countries to fulfil their pre-2020 commitments.

This call was made at the joint closing plenary of the 22nd session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 22), the 12th session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP 12), and the first part of the first session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement (CMA 1).

The talks were supposed to end on 18 November but dragged on due to wrangling over the final decisions that were adopted by the CMA and the COP. (See the article 'First meeting of Paris Agreement signatories ends in controversy' in this issue.)

Speaking for the developing-country Group of 77 (G77) and China, Thailand said the challenge that faced Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was to turn the Paris Agreement (PA) into action. Early entry into force of the PA signalled the importance and urgency of action. 'We are here to accelerate climate action, which has been underscored by the Marrakech proclamation for action on climate and sustainable development,' added Thailand.

(The Marrakech proclamation was issued on 17 November; see the article 'Marrakech proclamation affirms continuing fight against climate change and for sustainable development' in this issue.)

While the PA entered into force at an unprecedented speed, it was regrettable, said Thailand, that the same could not be said about the Doha Amendment to the Kyoto Protocol (to secure the second commitment period under the Protocol for emission reductions by Annex I Parties for 2013-20).

'After nearly four years, only 73 Parties have deposited their instruments of acceptance. The Group reiterates that unfinished business of pre-2020 action and ambition [is] long overdue and must be urgently addressed. The Group believes that the Kyoto Protocol is a fundamental building block in our post-2020 efforts,' said Thailand.

(Actions under the Paris Agreement will take effect only from 2020 onwards.)

Thailand stressed that the G77 placed priority on finance, in particular on adaptation finance, and said that there could be no enhanced action without enhanced support. Thailand underscored that developing countries were bearing the brunt of climate change and the extent of their action would depend on the fulfilment of developed-country obligations.

'Provision of scaled-up financial resources should cover all developing countries under the Convention. To this end, we adopted decisions on the guidance to the two operating entities of the Financial Mechanism, the Green Climate Fund and the Global Environment Facility, as well as guidance to the Standing Committee on Finance,' it added.

It was pleased that much work had been done on finance. 'There has been good guidance to the operating entities, although much work remains for all issues on finance,' said Thailand.

Noting the decision adopted on long-term finance (see the article 'After protracted negotiations, a key decision on long-term finance' in this issue), Thailand said that developing-country Parties were yet to gain clarity and assurances on the mobilisation and provision of scaled-up financial resources for them.

Thailand also underscored that the strong and united call for the Adaptation Fund to serve the PA had not been fully heard. 'Despite our call, the conditions required to trigger this are still there in the decisions. Hence, the predictability and adequacy of adaptation financing remains to be resolved,' said Thailand.

(Thailand was referring to the Adaptation Fund section of the CMA decision adopted, which reads: 'Decides that the Adaptation Fund should serve the Paris Agreement, following and consistent with decisions to be taken at the third part of the first session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement, to be convened in conjunction with the twenty-fourth session of the Conference of the Parties, and by the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol that address the governance and institutional arrangements, safeguards and operating modalities of the Adaptation Fund.'

(During the Marrakech climate talks, a contentious issue was whether the Adaptation Fund should serve the Paris Agreement or not. Developed countries were against it.)

(For more on Thailand's ststements on behalf of the G77 and China, see the article 'Developing nations seek acceleration of climate action' in this issue.)

Bolivia, speaking for the Like-Minded Developing Countries (LMDC) grouping, said that 2016 had been the hottest year in the history of the planet, and every year was getting hotter than the previous year. Because of this, climate change was worsening hunger and poverty, with deeper impacts on developing countries. Life in the planet was in danger because of climate change, said Bolivia.

It added that the greatest goal of humanity in this century must be to eradicate unsustainable patterns of production and consumption before they destroy the humanity and the planet. 'If we do not build another society as soon as possible, the goals of sustainable development will be replaced by the goals of sustainable death of all beings in the planet,' said Bolivia.

'The PA under the Convention is not the structural solution to climate change but is an important step to reduce the impact of climate change in the world. There is much work to be done for implementing all provisions of this Agreement. The UNFCCC, with its principles and provisions, in particular the principle of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities (CBDR), continues to be the political and legal basis for Parties to enhance climate actions and strengthen international cooperation in the post-2020 period,' said Bolivia.

Bolivia also said that the LMDC was moving forward stressing their commitment to enhancing implementation of the Convention in all aspects, especially the pre-2020 action under the Kyoto Protocol, and would continue working together to address climate change on the basis of the Convention's principles. 'The LMDC firmly considers that the pre-2020 action is the foundation for the post-2020 action,' said Bolivia. 

The Maldives, speaking for the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), underscored the need for climate action in view of climate change impacts and said the success of the PA would be determined by the action taken by Parties. It said that there was still a shortfall in developed countries meeting their $100 billion commitment and insufficient financing for developing countries to meet their adaptation needs. It said that the fundamental question of what constitutes climate finance remained unclear and called upon developed countries to ratify the Doha Amendment to the Kyoto Protocol.

The Democratic Republic of Congo, speaking for the least developed countries (LDCs), said that it was time to get down to work and underscored the need to channel public financing for adaptation. It urged developed countries to support the LDC Fund, which it said was 'under-resourced'. It underlined the urgent need for developed countries to enhance their pre-2020 ambition, including ratification of the Doha Amendment.

Speaking for the Central American Integration System, Nicaragua said it was very important to continue working to enhance climate action on the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities. It said that the Central American region was inherently vulnerable and required a systematic and coherent approach to funding.

It underscored that the Convention and the PA should not be replaced or rewritten, and called on Annex I Parties to not shirk their commitments. Any negotiations on finance, technology and capacity-building should not impair, exclude or erode the rights of Parties which have not signed or ratified the PA, said Nicaragua. It hoped for access to necessary financial flows to deal with the pre-2020 gap.

India said that the Marrakech proclamation for action on climate and sustainable development reflected the collective will of all. 'We have a long journey ahead of all of us and the fight against climate change has to be accelerated. The adoption and ratification of the PA is as important as its successful implementation. Unfinished pre-2020 action needs urgent attention,' it added.

India also said that it remained hopeful that matters related to implementation of the PA would be undertaken in an inclusive manner and would be considered in COP 24 in 2018. 'In this spirit, we would like to state that the UNFCCC with its principles and provisions, in particular the principle of equity and CBDR, continue to be the political and legal basis for Parties to continue to enhance and strengthen climate action and international cooperation in the post-2020 period,' said India.

India added that the process should enable all Parties to fully participate regardless of the status of the PA at the present juncture and give them time to complete their domestic processes. 'We have to ensure that our work reflects and promotes the right to development of developing countries and the achievement of sustainable development goals and aspirations of our peoples with climate justice and equity.

'Sustainability has been a way of life in India for centuries. Rightly, the PA recognises that sustainable lifestyles and sustainable patterns of consumption and production with developed-country Parties taking the lead play an important role in addressing climate change,' said India.

India also said that the road towards building the Paris rulebook and guidelines towards it must be inclusive and balanced, with progress on all pillars - adaptation, means of implementation, technology transfer, capacity-building, and loss and damage.

China said that while there had been success at the Marrakech climate conference, there were still some issues awaiting consolidation and perfection. China also said that the pre-2020 issues and finance and capacity-building issues should be given due attention and resolved in 2017 and in future processes. 'Climate change is a serious challenge. Green and low-carbon development is an opportunity for all of us. China is willing to join efforts of all Parties to respond and go along this trend. We have the responsibility of sharing our common destiny. We will be guided by the principle of sustainable and inclusive development and will join efforts to abide by the principles of the PA and contribute to PA implementation to contribute to fair and just global system,' said China.

The European Union was of the view that there was considerable progress on finance in Marrakech, especially towards increasing predictability of climate finance flows to developing countries. It said that it had pledged $81 million for the Adaptation Fund and expressed pleasure on the outcome of work on capacity-building.

Speaking for the Umbrella Group, the US said 111 Parties representing over three-quarters of global emissions had joined the PA and that momentum behind the PA would not be stopped. The US said that markets were responding, financial flows were transforming and business leaders were near-unanimous on shifting to a low-carbon economy.

The US said it was critical to give the Paris rulebook integrity and ambition and underscored the importance of an enhanced transparency framework, guidance for mitigation contribution and the importance of markets. Developed countries had shown they remained committed to deliver. Countries were ready to work together and with other institutions, including development banks and the finance community, said the US. It added that effective climate action was not limited to Parties and that the private sector, businesses, civil society and indigenous peoples would have to drive the shift. 

Speaking at the joint plenary session, the COP 22 President Salaheddine Mezouar said that the Marrakech proclamation for action on climate and sustainable development was a sign of commitment of the Parties. Mezouar added that strengthening pre-2020 action was not a choice but the duty of Parties. Mezouar also said that 2017 should be a year for large-scale financial mobilisation and large-scale financing, including for adaptation.

UNFCCC Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa, who spoke after the COP 22 President, said that great progress had been made at the Marrakech conference on the implementation work of the PA and that she saw greater financial support flowing to developing countries. She said that the Marrakech conference had lined up  processes to make the Paris machinery fully operational by 2018. She added that the Marrakech proclamation for action on climate and sustainable development reflected the renewed momentum of action. 'We all need to do more.  Countries need to increase ambition and enhance action pre-2020. Companies need to invest in developing countries. Each one has to adjust our lifestyle and consumption pattern,' said Espinosa. 

*Third World Resurgence No. 316, Dec 2016, pp 15-17