Mitigation Update: New Resources Support Early Climate Action
UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe
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Globally averaged concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2) levels in the atmosphere reached 400 parts per million (ppm) for the first time in 2015.

With the Paris Agreement to enter into force on 4 November 2016, and the urgency of climate action becoming ever clearer, Parties to the UNFCCC have also committed to scaling pre-2020 action.

A Summary for Policy Makers (SPM) on adaptation and mitigation policies, technologies and initiatives, and a Quick-Start Guide on nationally-determined contributions (NDCs) are now available.

24 October 2016: According to the annual Greenhouse Gas Bulletin released by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the globally averaged concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2) levels in the atmosphere reached 400 parts per million (ppm) for the first time in 2015. With the WMO predicting that CO2 concentrations will remain that high “for the whole of 2016 and not dip below that level for many generations,” this Mitigation Update reviews the latest efforts from, and resources for, Parties to the UNFCCC to curb their emissions.

Referring to the Paris Agreement, WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas said the year 2015 “ushered in a new era of optimism and climate action,” but will also “make history as marking a new era of climate change reality with record high greenhouse gas concentrations.” [WMO Press Release] [WMO Greenhouse Gas Bulletin] [WMO Press Release on January – September 2016 Hottest on Record]

Resources for Pre-2020 and Early Paris Agreement Action

With the Paris Agreement to enter into force on 4 November 2016, and the urgency of climate action becoming ever clearer, Parties to the UNFCCC have also committed to scaling pre-2020 action. In a Summary for Policy Makers (SPM) published by the UNFCCC Secretariat, the policies, technologies and initiatives covered in the 2016 technical expert meetings (TEMs) of the technical examination processes (TEPs) on mitigation and adaptation are captured. The TEPs, which comprise one part of Parties’ pre-2020 efforts, help Parties identify options and opportunities for beginning the work necessary to reach the objectives of the Paris Agreement. [UNFCCC Press Release] [Pre-2020 Action Website] [Climate Action Now: SPM 2016]

Parties’ efforts toward the common goals of the Paris Agreement are framed by their nationally determined contributions (NDCs), many of which have 2025 or 2030 timeframes. However, all will benefit from early action toward their goals. Another guide just published by the Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN) and Ricardo Energy & Environment is designed to support planning for NDC implementation. The Quick-Start Guide takes Parties through a three-step process: preparatory work; developing the NDC implementation plan; and delivering the plan. [Planning for NDC Implementation: Quick-Start Guide]

The World Bank has also recently launched an NDC resource: the NDC Platform, which aims to identify the needs, priorities and resource gaps for countries as they turn their targets into action. Based on a comprehensive mapping exercise, the NDC Platform provides a full picture of the detailed targets, implementation plans, and, where available, self-reported cost estimates from countries that have submitted NDCs. [NDC Platform] [World Bank Press Release]

Enhancements to Mitigation Mechanisms

At the Marrakech Climate Change Conference, which will take place from 7-18 November 2016, ongoing discussions about two mitigation mechanisms established under the Kyoto Protocol will continue: Joint Implementation (JI), under agenda item 5 of the Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP); and the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), under agenda item 7 of the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI).

In its recently released report (FCCC/KP/CMP/2016/5) to the CMP, the JI Supervisory Committee (JISC) relays its work completed from 1 October 2015 – 21 September 2016, including the preparation of mandated recommendations on the implementation of the draft JI modalities and procedures, reflections and analysis on JI lessons learned, and the adopted change to JI accreditation allowing CDM designated operational entities to serve as accredited independent entities under JI. [Annual Report of the JISC to the CMP]

At the request of SBI 44, the UNFCCC Secretariat has prepared, based on the existing rules adopted by the CDM Executive Board, draft provisions (FCCC/SBI/2016/INF.16) with definitions and/or requirements on programmes of activities and the roles of designated national authorities (DNAs) to supplement the current CDM modalities and procedures, for SBI 45’s consideration. [Draft Provisions on Programmes of Activities and Roles of Designated National Authorities to Supplement the CDM Modalities and Procedures]

The EU’s own market mechanism, the Emissions Trading System (ETS) set up in 2005 to mitigate emissions, has seen its surplus of emissions permits start to decline in 2015 for the first time since the surplus started accumulating in 2008. The European Environment Agency (EEA) published its annual report on the ETS on 17 October, stating that, despite the decline, the surplus still remains significant. The report also shows that “EU ETS emissions decreased by 24% between 2005 and 2015 and are now below the cap set for 2020.” [EEA Press Release] [EEA Publication Webpage] [Trends and Projections in the EU ETS in 2016 – The Emissions Trading System in Numbers]

Another important economic bloc, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), while not planning for an ETS, has signaled its interest in reducing emissions through “economic diversification,” which it views as an avenue for “economic resilience” as well. This is according to a press release issued on the occasion of an 18 October meeting of OPEC Secretary General Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo and UNFCCC Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa. The leaders agreed their two organizations would increase cooperation, and Barkindo stressed that successful implementation of the Paris Agreement is a priority for OPEC. [OPEC Press Release]

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