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TWN Info Service on Climate Change (Oct20/05)
19 October 2020
Third World Network


UNFCCC’s Response Measures Committee holds virtual meeting

Kathmandu, 19 Oct (Prerna Bomzan): The third meeting of the UNFCCC’s Katowice Committee of Experts on the Impacts of the Implementation of Response Measures (KCI) met in its first virtual setting from 5-9 October, to address agenda issues relating to the workplan of the KCI for 2020-2025, as well as overall impact of COVID-19 on the workplan.

[The KCI was established in Katowice, Poland, in December 2018 to support the work programme of the forum on the impact of the implementation of response measures (forum). Response measures, arising from the implementation of mitigation policies, programmes and actions, could have both positive and negative impacts especially cross-border environmental, social and economic impacts].

The third meeting of the KCI (KCI 3) was originally mandated to take place in conjunction with the intersessional meetings of the subsidiary bodies (SBs) in June 2020 in Bonn, Germany. Given ongoing COVID-19 pandemic disruptions, the fifty-second session of the SBs (SB 52) has now been moved to next year 2021, without confirmation of the exact dates yet.

When opening the KCI 3 virtual meeting, Co-Chair Albara Tawfiq (Saudi Arabia) highlighted that due to the “complex nature of virtual settings”, in the event of losing quorum members (9 out of the 14 members), “discussions will continue but we will not be able to take any formal decisions”.

The KCI’s workplan for 2020-2025, also to be implemented by the forum, was agreed in Madrid in December 2019, and provides new mandates relevant to the work of the KCI. The workplan includes eleven activities to be implemented over the six-year period, including five additional activities mandated from other relevant decisions. Four activities specifically refer to just transition of work force and creation of decent work and quality jobs, while three refer to economic diversification and transformation.

Some of the key agenda issues related to the workplan included strategy for implementing activities to be delivered in 2020-2021; integrating gender considerations into the work of the KCI; integration of conflict of interest provision into the rules of procedure of the KCI and date and venue of the next meeting.

In relation to implementing activities to be delivered in 2020-2021, the first two mandated activities (originally planned at SB 52 in 2020) aimed to be delivered in the current KCI 3 session were to: (i) explore approaches to inform the development and implementation of climate change mitigation strategies, plans, policies and programs, including Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and/or long-term low greenhouse gas emission development strategies (LEDs) that maximize the positive and minimize the negative impacts of response measures; (ii) enhance capacity and understanding of Parties, through collaboration and input from stakeholders, on the assessment and analysis of the impacts of implementation of response measures to facilitate the undertaking of economic diversification and transformation and just transition.

Strategy for implementing activities in the KCI’s workplan (2020-2021)

Co-Chair Annela Anger-Kraavi (Estonia) presented the Co-Chairs’ proposal of the draft strategy for 2020-2021, which provided an outline for consideration to develop the strategy for implementing six mandated activities. It included “options” in relation to the “preparation of possible recommendations” of each of the activities, as well as exploring options to “establish ways to communicate outcomes to the forum”.

Key differences arose over the “possible recommendations”, contested by Stig Svenningsen (Norway) and Catherine Ann Goldberg (United States) as “prejudging” the discussion, while views expressed by Wael Farag (Egypt) and Ali Shareef (Maldives) reiterated that one of the “mandates” of the KCI is to make possible recommendations and it was already “agreed” language. The other issue was about ways of communicating or reporting the outcomes including its timing, to the forum.

The final “agreed” language was arrived at, after a “compromise” proposal by the Co-Chairs. It reads as “KCI 3 meeting report will be adopted in advance of the next forum meeting. The KCI meeting report will include recommendations and/or key findings, as applicable, for consideration by the forum”. This was agreed to be applied to the first two mandated activities to be implemented in the current KCI 3 session.

Following prolonged discussion, agreement was also reached on preparing the technical papers with timelines for the second and third activities as well as establishing an “open-ended working group” to develop the papers, with the support of the secretariat.

With regard to the KCI’s annual report for consideration by the forum, it was decided to prepare a “procedural” annual report for this year with an “annex” of the KCI 3 meeting report, carrying possible “recommendations and/or key findings, as applicable”.

Given drawn-out deliberations and with time constraints, discussion on the pending last two activities was finally decided to be brought back in the next KCI meeting with “informal exchange of ideas via emails” until the convening of the meeting.

Co-Chair Tawfiq (Saudi Arabia) remarked about “lengthy” discussions on “elements already agreed” and suggested to take the entire pending discussion into the next meeting for a “holistic” approach and to give “more justice and more time” to the related activities.

Highlights of the discussions on that took place are presented below.

Exploring approaches to inform the development and implementation of climate change mitigation strategies

This first mandated activity opened with the consideration of compiled inputs (received from observer organizations), followed by a focused discussion around two guiding questions: (i) As countries are preparing their revised NDCs and LEDS and preparing to recover from the global COVID-19 pandemic, how should climate mitigation policies and strategies be planned and implemented to allow countries to achieve the dual purpose of maximizing the positive and/or minimizing the negative impacts of these policies whilst at the same time contributing to broader national sustainable development benefits? and (ii) What approaches are valuable and should be the primary focus to inform the development of climate change mitigation policies?

The most crucial and evolving issue of “cross-border impacts” featured as a major controversial issue, with clear divergence between developing and developed countries to consider such “trade” impacts of response measures.

Peter Govindasamy (Singapore) stressed that economic development is essential especially, amid the COVID-19 downturn and the need to keep an “open and supportive economic system”. He said while enacting response measures, it is important that Parties ensure they do not create “negative cross-border effects” (in reference to the European Union’s proposal for carbon border adjustment [CBA] mechanisms), underlining the principle of maximizing positive and minimizing negative impacts of these policies.

Farag (Egypt), Shareef (Maldives) and Balisi Gopolang (Botswana) echoed similar sentiments over the cross-border impacts and trade implications of such CBA measures, while Goldberg (US) vehemently opposed this, stating that the issue is “not” within the scope of the KCI work areas, and that trade matters are being covered under the World Trade Organization (WTO). There was no agreement on the issue.

The other disputed area of discussion was on the need for “enhanced finance” especially given pandemic crisis.

Farag (Egypt) pointed out that climate support was already lagging and not meeting expectations before the pandemic, and with current crisis, climate action required “enhanced finance and other means of support”. Svenningsen (Norway) and Goldberg (US) stated that the issue of climate finance is addressed within a separate mechanism under the UNFCCC and cautioned against the duplication of work at the KCI.

In concluding the activity, it was decided that the “Co-Chairs” will draft the “possible recommendations and/or key findings”, drawing from the discussions and in representing all the views of members.

Enhancing the capacity and understanding of Parties on impacts of response measures

This second mandated activity opened with the consideration of compiled inputs (received from observer organizations), followed by a focused discussion around two guiding questions: (i) From your experience at country level, what kind of programs are or can be effective in enhancing the capacities and understanding of the impacts of implementation of response measures? In this respect, what role can the KCI play in enhancing the capacity of Parties in the assessment and analysis of impacts of implementation of response measures?; and (ii) There are many organizations which already undertake activities in related areas e.g. development of tools, development of guidelines, undertaking assessment, offering training programs, etc. In your view, which type of stakeholders should KCI engage with to enhance the capacity and understanding of Parties on the assessment and analysis of the impacts of the implementation of response measures to facilitate the undertaking of economic diversification and transformation and just transition?

Farag (Egypt) expressed one possible recommendation, as a role for the KCI, viz. to recommend to the Conference of Parties (COP), the Conference of Parties to the Paris Agreement (CMA) and the Conference of Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP), to “request the Green Climate Fund (GCF) and the Global Environment Facility (GEF) to support analysis” of mitigation policies, programmes and actions. Moustapha Gueye representing the International Labour Organization ( ILO), as a KCI member, also agreed on the KCI’s role in requesting the GCF and the GEF to support such assessments as “part of climate action”. However, Goldberg (US) contested this, saying that the role of the KCI is to “serve the forum” and “not provide recommendations to the COP, CMA and CMP.

Farag (Egypt) highlighted the need to build on “agreed” language from previous KCI meetings, and this was also supported by Shareef (Maldives) and Gopolang (Botswana). In response, Goldberg (US) said that sending such recommendations to the forum are “unclear and confusing”, with Svenningsen (Norway) stating that the KCI as a technical body, “cannot give guidance” to the GEF and the GCF, stressing the need for “proper channels” for any guidance to the COP, CMA and CMP.

The role of the KCI in bringing the elements of response measures to the COP was also supported by Shareef (Maldives) and Gopolang (Botswana). Shareef (Maldives) additionally stressed on the need for conducting assessments in the first place which is lacking especially in his country and other small island developing states (SIDS).

Govindasamy (Singapore) said that it is pertinent to have an “inventory” of response measures “categorised” according to different “domestic” and “cross-border” impacts, including “impacts on non-economic variables” for any effective assessment. He also reiterated that on the “trade implications”, there will be “no choice” but to also get the views of the “WTO and other think-tanks” related to trade.

In concluding the activity, it was decided to follow the process of Co-Chairs drafting the “possible recommendations and/or key findings”, as was agreed in the case of the previous first activity. The discussion also agreed on the draft outline for the technical paper of this activity, which was prepared by the Co-Chairs with help from the secretariat.

Integrating gender considerations into the work of the KCI

The discussion came up with concrete proposals, for instance, to look at already existing resources like the concept paper of the UNFCCC’s Technology Executive Committee (TEC). The secretariat would further provide guidance as well as review the technical papers of respective activities factoring in gender aspects. It was decided that this agenda issue would be up for “continuous consideration”, including with a view for a concept paper at the next KCI meeting.

Integration of conflict of interest provision into the rules of procedure of the KCI

Members expressed concerns with the proposed language on the conflict of interest provision especially in relation to “clarity” of interpretation. After request from Goldberg (US) for “observers to leave the meeting”, the discussion was continued only among KCI members which decided to consult with the legal team as well as with the secretariat until the next KCI meeting.

Date and venue of next KCI meeting

It was decided, following disputed deliberations, that the Co-Chairs will come back to members with “possible dates by 21 December 2020” to reach an agreement on the next meeting of the KCI.

In closing, Co-Chair Tawfiq (Saudi Arabia) announced his resignation and nominated Govindasamy (Singapore) to take over as the new Co-Chair.

Co-Chair Anger-Kraavi (Estonia) confirmed that the KCI 3 meeting report to the forum will be prepared with new Co-Chair Govindasamy (Singapore) with inputs from outgoing Co-Chair Tawfiq (Saudi Arabia) and shared with members for amendments.

 


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