Delegates with long memories (and probably more than a few gray hairs) will recall the Article 9 review. Initiated, as the KP requires, at CMP2 in Nairobi, the review failed to achieve much of note. Its second iteration, in Poznan, failed to agree to any further substance. Does anyone even remember whether it led to a third review?
In contrast, the Article 3.9 review led to agreement of commitments for the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, inscribed in Annex B to the KP (as required by the article).
The mandates in both articles defined the “who” (Parties) and made the legal requirement strong (“shall”). “When” was defined clearly for both, but the key difference was in “what” each review was to achieve.
The Article 9 mandate did not define what exactly “what” was to be achieved, and what action would need to be taken as a result of the review. In contrast, Article 3.9 was clear that its requirement was to establish “commitments for subsequent periods” which would be included “in amendments to Annex B”.
Why is this relevant to what needs to be agreed in Lima?
Some Parties are still under the impression that a 10-year commitment period with a vaguely defined review in the middle can hope to raise ambition, forgetting that such reviews, like Article 9, have a poor record of achieving further action.
Only agreement in Lima that the Paris Agreement should operate in 5-year commitment periods can give confidence that Parties will indeed ratchet up their ambition fast enough in the post-2020 world. The US has been a welcome champion for this, and ECO hopes that this will become one of their top outreach priorities. The EU needs to express its openness to this, as a bare minimum, in the Council conclusions at the end of this week. Monday’s ECO already gave you a checklist for other reasons why 5 is the magic number.
So what is needed? A legally binding requirement in the Paris agreement to negotiate new commitments in common 5-year cycles going forward. The Article 3.9 mandate should serve as a template for that article.
If you love me, make it official
ECO fought alongside many of you to win a second commitment period for the Kyoto Protocol. Whilst it’s not all that we wanted and it’s a shadow of its former self, it still has some valuable elements worth keeping alive in the international climate system. The international rules-based system and its common MRV system, alongside its common land use accounting rules, common base year, common sectors and gases, common commitment period (of five years) all aid transparency and understanding.
But the second commitment period still languishes in legal limbo. Not enough Parties have signed on. In fact, only 18 countries so far have ratified the amendments, with only one of them being a developed country. Until at least three quarters of Parties have done so, KP CP2 will not be legally binding.
ECO hopes that others will follow the lead of these 18 Parties and ratify, showing their public support for the important rules-based system embodied within the KP.
Equity: a pathway to ambition and sustainable development
ECO has done some late night soul searching and come to the conclusion that the Paris agreement will have to be fair if it is to achieve the extremely high ambition that the science demands. Equity is not just the pathway to ambition; it is also the pathway to survival. As ECO has concluded, and as you know in your heart of hearts to be true, to be fair the new agreement will have to actively promote sustainable development, facilitate poverty eradication, protect livelihoods, and promote robust adaptation solutions even as it facilitates the rapid and more or less complete elimination of carbon emissions.
It will simply not do to say that equity is a matter of opinion. The pre-Paris assessment of the adequacy and equitability of INDCs needs to be based on the Convention’s equity principles of adequacy, CBDR+RC, and equitable access to sustainable development. In case Parties are wondering how to operationalise these high-level principles, ECO suggests these five core indicators that together can do the job quite nicely: adequacy, responsibility, capability, sustainable development need, and adaptation need.
Equity and adequacy reviews must be an integral part of the new agreement, so that in each commitment period contributions are finalised only after a robust, science-based Equity Review. Unfortunately, such a fair and straightforward process is out of our grasp to implement today, because, if ECO may be frank, the level of trust is far too low. Consider then, dear delegate, a few difficult questions:
Will an Equity Review shift responsibilities to the South?
ECO believes that developed countries’ failure to inscribe contributions in line with science and the Convention’s equity principles is effectively shifting responsibility onto developing countries. This situation is aggravated by the sad fact that support for developing country mitigation and adaptation remains entirely inadequate.
Would an Equity Review shift even more responsibilities onto the South? Not if it were a proper review, one based on the Convention’s equity principles and the indicators above. It would affirm and clarify that the larger efforts lies with developed nations on both domestic mitigation and support for developing countries. The adequacy of aggregate effort and of each country’s contribution could be assessed, thus preventing the transfer of responsibility from developed to developing countries. It would provide a sound basis for developed countries to finally take the lead.
A well designed Equity Review would show that significant increases in developed countries’ international support and domestic mitigation commitments are required to keep warming below 2°C and certainly 1.5°C. For the lowest-income countries, it would likely show that all mitigation below the baseline would remain conditional on international support.
What will it take to ensure equitable access to sustainable development?
In a fair, equitable and safe post-Paris world a strong review, and ratcheting-up mechanisms, could drive ambition and sustainable development for all. To do so, the Paris deal must support faster and more expansive low-carbon climate resilient development around the world, and provide the mitigation support necessary to empower developing countries to facilitate their own sustainable development strategies. Such a review would not only benefit the climate, but it would also allow developing countries to shape the transformation towards low-carbon societies, grow their economies and reduce global inequality.
Acknowledging our differences is crucial in order to build cooperation. All countries must do their equitable share(s) in the common global effort. A proper science-based Equity Review that builds on the Convention’s core equity principles would do just this, by prioritising the needs of the developing countries. This way, it would make real cooperation possible. Not inevitably, but possibly.
“You must try to get an education!”
You may have noticed that ECO loves a good homework metaphor, and this should give you insight into how we feel about education: we love it. This makes Article 6 a very close issue to our well-schooled heart. Imagine our delight in scrutinising over the latest batch of submissions to discover those from Dominican Republic and Belize, Benin, Burkina Faso, Chile, Costa Rica, Colombia, Fiji, Guatemala, Haiti, Jamaica, Malawi, Maldives, Marshall Islands, México, Palau, Panamá, Peru, Philippines, Saint Lucia, Trinidad and Tobago, Uganda, and Uruguay highlighting the importance of education, access to information and public participation.
These issues deserve to be in the preamble of the new agreement. A commitment to strengthen climate change education, access to information and public participation at home and internationally is worthy of all of our attention.
ECO also suggests that delegates look further afield to the UNESCO Global Work Programme on Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) for more suggestions.