Science and equity demand urgent action on climate now, say developing countries

At Marrakech, developing countries were emphatic in their demand that, in the interests of climate justice, developed countries should honour their pre-2020 commitments to avert the impending disaster facing the vulnerable poor countries.

Zhenyan Zhu

DEVELOPING-COUNTRY delegates called on developed countries to enhance ambition in climate action now and provide the means of implementation to developing countries, as both science and equity demand acting with urgency, and not to put off actions till after 2020 as is the case under the Paris Agreement (PA).

This call was made during the second part of the Facilitative Dialogue on Enhancing Ambition and Support, which was held on 16 November at COP 22 in Marrakech.

Delegates from developed countries who spoke at the event focused mainly on post-2020 actions related to the nationally determined contributions (NDCs) of Parties under the PA, while developing countries called for enhancing efforts in the pre-2020 time frame, as both science and equity demand urgent action now.

The second part of the Facilitative Dialogue (FD) was held to enable the participation of ministers and senior officials who had arrived for the high-level segment in the second week of the Marrakech climate talks.

The second part of the FD was moderated by journalist Joydeep Gupta and consisted of discussions in two sessions on 'ambition' and on the 'means of implementation'.

In the panel discussion on 'ambition', panellists were expected to address the following questions: (1) What should Parties do with regard to mitigation ambition by 2020 and what would the factors of success be? (2) What immediate domestic steps should countries take to raise overall ambition and how can these be facilitated?

In response to the questions, Jos Delbeke, Director-General for Climate Action at the European Commission, and Louise Métivier, the Chief Negotiator for Climate Change of Canada, highlighted the importance of translating NDCs into action. (NDCs refer to climate actions under the PA from 2020 onwards.) Much of the focus of their presentations was on implementing the NDCs under the PA.

Developing-country delegates, on the other hand, focused on the pre-2020 commitments of developed countries.

Ravi S Prasad, the Joint Secretary on Climate Change of India, stressed at the outset that both science and equity demanded action now and expressed concerns that many delegates from developed countries were focusing on actions in the post-2020 time frame.

He said ambition could not be put off for another four years with talk only of post-2020 actions. The FD provided a platform to strengthen and streamline pre-2020 efforts and therefore focus should be on what needs to be done now rather than talk about NDCs and post-2020 action, stressed Prasad.

In addition to addressing the emissions gap, equal emphasis should be placed on the adaptation gap and the gap on the means of implementation, which would enable developing countries to enhance their levels of ambition, said Prasad further.

In relation to the early entry into force of the PA, he said similar urgency should be shown by countries with regard to entry into force of the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol by April 2017.

He said there is also a need for revisiting the ambition targets of developed countries, for their scaling-up, and removal of conditionalities for doing so under the Kyoto Protocol. He said this was needed by the May-June 2017 intersessional climate talks. He stressed further that based on the Convention's principles of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities (CBDRRC), developed-country Parties should be taking the lead in addressing climate change.

He also called for working towards climate justice in addressing poverty and the vulnerability of developing countries.

Furthermore, Prasad stressed that efforts for greater global collaboration need to be intensified for research and development on climate-related issues to enable less costly transition to low-emission development. He pointed out that barriers continue to impede the progress of renewable energy and energy efficiency deployment in developing countries; high patent costs of such technologies and non-facilitative intellectual property right (IPR) regimes are particular barriers which the Financial Mechanism of the Convention should address. He added that India was not asking for the IPR regime to be tampered with or dismantled but called for support for the quick dissemination of technologies.

As for finance, Prasad said that many existing funds have co-financing constraints, requiring developing countries to chip in their money first to get more money, which poses a challenge. To track finance, he said, a rigorous system needs to be in place to track the delivery of all funds promised and ensure that the financing is new and additional.

In this context, the 'Roadmap to US$100 billion' report presented by the UK and Australia has methodological flaws and double-counting issues, said Prasad further. 'Our estimates indicate that there is a mobilisation of $20-25 billion only [from developed to developing countries],' he said, adding that there is a need for new and additional funds over and above official development assistance (ODA). Prasad commented further that issues regarding scaled-up and predictable finance were also not evident in the 'Roadmap' report.

In conclusion, Prasad said that in the future, the FD needs to be structured and held in multiple sessions and in parallel on issues of technology, finance, capacity-building support for developing-country Parties, and commitments in the pre-2020 period. He suggested that these discussions be held on a recurring basis at each COP until the commitments of countries are fulfilled.

'The discussions now and in 2017 should feed into the 2018 Facilitative Dialogue with clear outputs, roadmaps and achievements, and we request the subsidiary bodies to assess, track and report progress made in implementing these commitments,' said Prasad.

(The 2018 Facilitative Dialogue, which is mandated under the decision from COP 21 in Paris, is to take stock of the collective efforts of Parties in relation to progress towards the long-term goal in the PA regarding the global peaking of greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible, recognising that peaking will take longer in developing countries, and to inform the preparation of NDCs.)

In the same session, Siti Nurbaya, the Indonesian Minister of Environment and Forestry, stressed that, with regard to mitigation ambition by 2020, Parties to the Kyoto Protocol should implement their commitments and ratify the Doha Amendment for the second commitment period. Other developed-country Parties (a reference to the United States, which is not a Party to the Kyoto Protocol) and developing countries should implement their actions under the Bali Action Plan, she added. 

In the session on the means of implementation (MOI), speakers were asked to address the following: (1) What actions are required to further scale up support for accelerating technology development and transfer and strengthen the capacities of developing countries?; (2) How can access to financial support be enhanced and simplified to support climate actions in developing countries, particularly those most vulnerable?; (3) What role should the Convention and the established architecture for the MOI have to enhance the provision and mobilisation of support?

Xie Zhenhua, China's Special Representative on Climate Change, said the FD is to help Parties achieve the objectives of the PA and the Convention and establish mutual political trust. In this context, he said Parties must honour the commitments they have pledged for the pre-2020 period. The developed-country Parties should honour all of their pre-2020 commitments, including on the provision of finance, technology transfer and development and in meeting their emission reduction pledges.

Developing countries very much hope that developed countries will meet their obligations and provide the $100 billion per year by 2020, said Xie. He pointed out that developing countries still have many doubts over the 'Roadmap' report in relation to its accounting methodologies. He also emphasised that the main conduit for funding to developing countries should be through government channels.

Developing countries need to also increase their adaptation capacity to cope with extreme climate events, Xie further said, adding that this requires large amounts of grant financing.

He also underscored the importance of increasing the capacities of developing countries so that they can meet the transparency requirements and are able to take part in future facilitative dialogues and the global stocktake. He said that the capacity of developing countries is very underdeveloped and this needs to be addressed.

To achieve the long-term goal of limiting temperature rise, Xie said, developing countries need technological innovation. He said developing countries need to be able to use the technology that is available and the Green Climate Fund could have a window for technology transfer and cooperation.

Xie also informed the meeting that China has set aside 20 billion yuan for the South-South Cooperation Fund on Climate Change and has disbursed about 100 million yuan to carry out some projects. He added that there will be 10 green low-carbon demonstration projects, 100 capacity-building training programmes and workshops for 1,000 persons to improve their ability in management and fundraising activities. He concluded that developed countries can do much to help developing countries.

Everton Lucero, Brazilian Secretary for Climate Change and Environmental Quality, echoed the Chinese minister's views. He said mobilising $100 billion from developed countries is the essential action. In this regard, there is a need to improve the transparency framework to track the support provided by developed countries to developing countries.

Naoko Ishii, the CEO of the Global Environment Facility (GEF), announced the launch of the Capacity-Building Initiative for Transparency (CBIT) and said that the first set of projects has been approved.

(Parties had agreed in Paris to establish the CBIT, which aims to strengthen the institutional and technical capacities of developing countries to meet the enhanced transparency requirements under the PA leading up to 2020 and beyond.)

Ishii said that the CBIT Trust Fund has been approved by the GEF Council and is now operationalised. Sweden, the Netherlands, the UK, the US, Canada, Germany, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Switzerland and Australia have all pledged more than $50 million to the CBIT. The first set of projects has been approved by the GEF for implementation in Costa Rica, Kenya and South Africa. 

*Third World Resurgence No. 316, Dec 2016, pp 38-40