It’s moving, but slowly
Parties need to take stock of progress towards the temperature goal of 1.5°C or 2°C – they need to do this in a regular time interval, beginning 2023 and they need the stocktake to inform them on how to improve their efforts in a nationally determined manner.
Of course, this is an oversimplified version of Article 14 of the Paris Agreement. In the past 5 days of the APA 1-4 session here in Bonn, Parties have continuously stated that the Global Stocktake needs to have an outcome that only informs countries and allows for each nation to act in a nationally determined manner. Honestly, I think repeating something that has already reached consensus in the Paris Agreement is counterproductive. The mandate is clear. The APA 1-4 session needs to be about bringing the GST to the next phase of operationalization and the design around it.
We have just concluded the 5th day at COP23 and there have been 3 informal consultations on GST so far. 6 hours of consultation have been allocated for this session of APA, 4 of which have already been spent mostly speaking about items finalized in the Paris Agreement. Tomorrow, 11 November, the Parties will meet again for the final informal consultation, this time for 2 hours, to discuss equity and how they see it in the context of the GST. Considering how equity is a contentious topic, on top of how discussions have gone this week, I don’t see how the co-facilitators of the informal consultations, Richard Muyungi of Tanzania and Outi Honkatukia of Finland, will be able to come to a conclusion before next week’s round of negotiations.
I say equity is a contentious issue, but it really shouldn’t be. The concept is simple. Based on historical and present contribution to greenhouse gas emissions and current capabilities, countries have differing levels of responsibility to act on climate change. For instance, Malaysia’s contribution to global greenhouse gas emissions in 2011 was 0.06%1 , while the United States’ share of emissions in 2010 was 14%2. The basis for the concept is sound; we just need to get past the incredible greed and lack of political will from developed nations.
In the most recent G77 and China coordination meeting, the consensus is clear – equity has to be a part of the GST. What’s still unclear is exactly how. Is equity considered in the process of the GST, or after the process – in the outcomes, or both? As Parties meet again for the last informal consultation tomorrow, I speculate there will be a substantial amount of politicking or pushback from the developed countries, as developing countries throw their support behind equity in the GST.
The building blocks
While the issue of equity is paramount, the informal consultations have mainly revolved around the so-called building blocks of the GST. These building blocks are in the form of a table, drafted by the co-facilitators with inputs coming by way of Parties’ submissions and interventions. The Parties have been mostly agreeable to using the building blocks as a framework to advance the discussion on the modalities and phases of the GST, with just a few Parties requiring reassurances that this building blocks document is by no means set in stone or will be the final text.
The task facing the co-facilitators is not a small one. They will have to find a way to keep the discussions going on the building blocks as well as navigate through the discussion on how to operationalize equity in the GST. I don’t know what tomorrow’s informal consultation will bring, but I foresee developed nations acting in their conventional manner of stalling the conversation on equity. Despite that, developing countries will continue to push for equity in the GST process, encompassing mitigation, adaptation, finance, capacity building, technology transfer, and even loss and damage.
I’m no expert but the compromise may lie somewhere in the concept of the GST outcome being taken in a nationally determined manner, instead of being prescriptive. But will that lead to increased ambition? I’m skeptical. As the negotiator from the Solomon Islands so passionately stated in his intervention, the GST has to lead to increased ambition, both equitably and directly translated in each Parties NDCs. Only then will we see progress.
- Malaysia’s Nationally Determined Contributions
- Global greenhouse gas emissions, New Zealand’s Environmental Reporting Series
Written by Mike
Edited by Varun