APA Co-Chairs Take Stock of Progress in Marrakech, Map Road Ahead
Photo by IISD/ENB | Kiara Worth
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The APA Co-Chairs publish their reflections note, capturing past progress and ways to move forward on all the APA's agenda items.

The note highlights the busy period before the May session, including several calls for Parties' submissions and workshops.

8 February 2017: The Co-Chairs of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Paris Agreement (APA) have published their reflections note on work of the APA in Marrakech. In their outline of the work achieved and their map of the work to come, it is clear that the APA has much to do in order to complete its work in 2018.

APA Co-Chairs Jo Tyndall (New Zealand) and Sarah Baashan (Saudi Arabia) reflect on progress achieved and pose questions for APA delegates for each agenda item on the APA agenda. The APA is tasked to write the operational rule book of the Paris Agreement, which goes to the heart of SDG 13 (climate action). These reflection notes are a common practice to help delegates prepare for an upcoming session, and often require careful wording to show that the Co-Chairs understand all Parties’ positions and can echo these views in a balanced manner.

To begin, the Co-Chairs outline what will be a busy period before the May session. Parties are invited to submit their views on five of the APA’s eight agenda items, in addition to participating in an intersessional workshop on the modalities, procedures, and guidelines for the transparency framework for action and support. Just before the May session, as the note reminds Parties, a workshop on adaptation communications and a roundtable on further guidance in relation to the mitigation section of decision 1/CP.21 (the Paris outcome) will take place.

On this latter item, the Co-Chairs summarize the discussions thus far on the features of nationally determined contributions (NDCs), the information provided in NDCs and accounting modalities. In particular, they note divergent views on the scope of NDCs and differentiation and encourage Parties to consult among themselves to find common understanding on the scope of this agenda item, and to consider how guidance might reflect different levels of development. This agenda item is key to achieving the carefully-balanced package regarding mitigation enshrined in the Paris Agreement, as the Co-Chairs observe: “it will be essential for the work on [this] agenda item to develop guidance in a way that helps build consistency, trust and confidence, without de facto turning the content of NDCs into legally binding commitments.”

On adaptation communications, the Co-Chairs reflect “solid progress” on this item at the Marrakech session. They challenge Parties to consider an overarching question for this work, namely, how to ensure the evolving system of adaptation communications works coherently, in a way that aligns with and takes full account of the range of possible vehicles for communications, including as a component of NDCs.

On the modalities, procedures and guidelines for the transparency framework for action and support, the Co-Chairs underline the importance of this work to the success of the Paris Agreement, noting that the transparency framework can build mutual trust and promote effective implementation. The note maps out various concepts in the Paris Agreement Article 13 (transparency), highlighting reporting, technical expert review, and multilateral facilitative consideration as concepts where all Parties have actions to undertake in the Agreement, with some differences among developed and developing countries. Moving forward, the Co-Chairs suggest Parties consider how to build upon and possibly enhance the current transparency system, and to think on ways to operationalize the flexibility for developing countries may need to meet their obligations under the transparency framework.

On the Global Stocktake, the Co-Chairs note a general preference for a Global Stocktake that facilitates governments’ efforts, rather than judges individual actions. To that end, the Co-Chairs suggest that Parties consider how to ensure the Global Stocktake is manageable and genuinely informative. Questions moving forward include how to manage and determine which inputs to use, and the structure and duration of the Global Stocktake. The Co-Chairs acknowledge the advice of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technical Advice (SBSTA) on how the assessments of the IPCC can inform the global stocktake and that the APA will need to consider this advice in its subsequent work on this agenda item.

The informal note implies that progress on modalities and procedures for the effective operation of the committee to facilitate implementation and promote compliance has so far proved more difficult than other issues. Co-Chairs observe that “much still remains to be clarified and further elaborated” on this item. In Marrakech, as the note outlines, Parties highlighted several possible elements of a mechanism, each of which the Co-Chairs suggested requires elaboration to transform into the desired modalities and procedures.

The last item on the APA’s agenda holds many, rather differing issues. Of particular note is new work tasked to the APA by COP 22 on how the Adaptation Fund should best serve the Paris Agreement. In Marrakech, the role of the Adaptation Fund was a particularly thorny issue. The APA now takes on this contentious issue, to undertake preparatory work on the governance and institutional arrangements, safeguards and operating modalities of the Fund. Given the decision of the first meeting of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement (CMA 1) that the Adaptation Fund should serve the Paris Agreement, it is now up to the APA to recommend arrangements to make the Fund fit for purpose for the Adaptation Fund.

Tasked with continuing to consider any other additional matters, the APA will be asked to consider any other additional matters, the scope of work required, the appropriate body to handle that work and the timeline for completion. The “complex, closely interlinked” work of the APA resumes from 8-18 May 2017, in Bonn, Germany. [APA Co-Chairs Reflections Note] [Bonn Climate Change Conference May 2017]

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