2 December 2015
COP 21 Starts Substantive Negotiations
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Governments began substantive negotiations on the second day of the Paris Climate Change Conference.

The Rio Conventions and Africa Pavilions also commenced, along with other events on the sidelines of the Conference.

cop21_1dec_iisdrs1 December 2015: Governments began substantive negotiations on the second day of the Paris Climate Change Conference. The Rio Conventions Pavilion and Africa Pavilion, among other organizers of side events, also convened panels on the themes of UNFCCC COP 21.

The 21st session of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC COP 21)/ 11th session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP 11) is taking place from 30 November-11 December 2015, in Paris, France.

COP 21 and CMP 11 adopted their agendas and organization of work, and heard opening statements in a joint plenary. The Umbrella Group (Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Kazakhstan, Norway, Russian Federation, Ukraine and US) said Paris must deliver an agreement that creates regular updates for ambition, and highlighted the role of civil society and business, especially the hundreds of initiatives under the Lima-Paris Action Agenda (LPAA). The Republic of Korea, for the Environmental Integrity Group, called for the adoption of an agreement that is applicable to all, includes a flexible approach to differentiation, and has common rules and a mechanism to increase ambition over time, while Brazil, China, India and South Africa emphasized conducting work in an open, transparent, inclusive and party-driven manner, and said that the Paris agreement should be in line with common but differentiated responsibilities (CBDR) and respective capabilities, and stressed that developed countries must meet their commitments and define a clear roadmap to achieving the US$100 billion goal.

The Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) and the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI) also held their opening plenaries on 1 December. In SBSTA, the Technology Executive Committee (TEC) reported enhanced access to climate technology finance and support for development of national systems of innovation; the Climate Technology Centre & Network (CTCN) announced that it has over 100 network members providing technical assistance in response to developing country requests; the Committee on Earth Observation Satellites highlighted progress on carbon observation from space; and the International Maritime Organization (IMO) reported agreement on a three-step approach to data collection. Argentina, for a number of developing countries, said measures should not constitute a disguised restriction on international trade, and urged further technical analysis of a market-based mechanism proposed under the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), which should be based on mutual and multilateral consent, which Argentina, with China, said should include CBDR. On the IMO, China expressed concern on the adoption of the European system to monitor carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from ships in its ports. Japan, Singapore and EU said IMO and ICAO are the suitable places to address these issues, and the Republic of Korea urged Parties to work toward agreement in these organizations.

During the SBI opening plenary, the least developed countries (LDCs) highlighted that the outcome of the Structured Expert Dialogue suggests the need to strengthen the global goal by lowering it to a global average temperature increase of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. The Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) emphasized that a review of the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) modalities would create greater confidence in the CDM as a mitigation tool. The Women and Gender group requested ADP negotiations to address the linkages between gender, technology and mitigation.

The Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP 2-12) Contact Group commenced its work, with spin-off groups and “informal informals” held throughout the day on: preamble, purpose and general; adaptation; mitigation; finance; technology development and transfer; capacity building; global stocktake; transparency; and workstream 2. Spin-off group co-facilitators reported back on the previous evening’s meetings, and noted that informal work will focus on the following clusters: on mitigation, the focus is on individual efforts, timing, cooperative approaches, features, information, long-term strategies, housing, and regional and economic organizations; on finance, the work focuses on predictability, institutional arrangements, and actions and commitments; on transparency, the focus is on support, scope and consideration, and a post-Paris work programme for 2016-2020; on capacity building, “issues” remained on differentiation, and informal-informals began discussing principles and public support; and on adaptation, the work is focused on global goal, vision, linkages between mitigation and adaptation, and principles for adaptation efforts. The co-facilitators noted little progress in the spin-off group on implementation, the CMA and final clauses, and said the cancellation of the Kyoto Protocol units and internationally transferred mitigation outcomes are further contentious issues. [IISD RS Coverage of COP 21]

The Rio Conventions Pavilion (RCP) commenced on 1 December under the theme ‘Biodiversity and Ecosystems: Meeting the Climate Challenge.’ The RCP is hosted by the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) Secretariat. It held seven sessions throughout the day, followed by a summary of key messages. Participants addressed: synergies among the Rio Conventions (CBD, UNFCCC, and the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD)) and how they can help address climate change; the Global Partnership on Forest and Landscape Restoration and achieving land degradation neutrality (LDN); mitigation through enhancing forest carbon stocks; the contribution of the Aichi Biodiversity Targets’ to land-based climate change mitigation; afforestation and agricultural conversion of naturally non-forest ecosystems; and experiences on the implementation of ecosystem-based approaches (EbA) to climate change. [IISD RS Coverage of Rio Conventions Pavilion]

The Africa Pavilion held a ‘High Level Event on African Climate Solutions in the New Climate Change Agreement,’ which launched the African Renewable Energy Initiative and the African Initiative on Adaptation and Loss and Damage. Another event, ‘Africa’s Journey in the Global Climate Negotiations: Key Findings of Stocktaking Studies,’ was organized around the theme of a forthcoming publication on the history, milestones and path of African countries and climate governance, titled ‘Africa’s Journey in the Global Climate,’ which will be available in 2016. During the event ‘Incentives for pro-poor climate financing’ participants discussed: what is meant by “local” in the Green Climate Fund (GCF) direct access modality; how other funds and nations can use the same direct access modality; the split between government and donor funding for projects in Kenya and Nepal; and community participation. At the event ‘REDD+ in Central Africa: Lessons Learned, Issues and Challenges,’ participants exchanged views on: civil society involvement in REDD+, communication between national ministries, the need to utilize national experts, and finding more national financing. [IISD RS Coverage of Africa Pavilion]

Many other events took place around the COP 21 venue on 1 December. At the event ‘The Importance of Social Science Research for Understanding Climate Change Induced Migration,’ panelists presented research findings from the EU Cost Action IS1101 publication, ‘Climate Change and Migration.’ During the event ‘Strengthening Indigenous Peoples’ Adaptation Strategies and Food Security through Direct Access to the Green Climate Fund (GCF),’ participants raised concerns about forced displacement of indigenous communities and the negative impacts funding can have on fueling intracommunity conflict, noting that pre-assessments can help expose underlying vulnerabilities and power dynamics. At the event ‘Market Mechanisms in the 2015 Agreement – What Might the Outcome Mean,’ participants discussed concerns about the “politically correct language” on market based mechanisms in the negotiating text, the need to ensure that ambition levels are increased if transfers are used, and determining the cost of carbon.

During an event on ‘Low-carbon Electricity: Energy for Life, Energy for the Earth,’ participants addressed the competition between fossil fuels and renewable energy, missing factors for a wider uptake of mini-grid solutions, ways to involve individuals in energy efficiency, and energy consumption and efficiency in urban populations. At the event ‘It’s Time for Next Generation Standards Collaboration for Climate Neutrality and Resilience,’ which discussed the development of next generation international standards, participants considered where demand for international standards comes from, and whether the voluntary nature of intended national determined contributions (INDCs) poses a challenge for international standards. During an event on ‘Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS): Achievements and Opportunities for Developing Country Involvement,’ participants addressed: whether carbon policies are a prerequisite for CCS; policy mechanisms such as a carbon tax, the EU ETS, grant schemes, and emissions performance standards; and implications for Europe of the UK’s recent CCS policy change.

At an event on ‘Mitigation Contributions from Developing Countries: Innovation, Technology and Scenario Analysis,’ participants discussed: the composition of the SBSTA Technology Executive Committee; knowledge gaps in adaptation and in pro-poor and non-market-savvy technologies; the role of intellectual property in technology transfer; and local innovation systems in developing countries. The event ‘Sustainable Agriculture, Land Management, Food Security and Rural Development’ discussed the path toward sustainable agriculture to ensure the production, distribution and consumption of sufficient nutritious products, environmental sustainability and economic opportunities. During the event ‘Managing Unintended Impact of Mitigation Policies,’ participants addressed how impacts can and should be managed, including through domestic tools that include cost alleviation, domestic safety nets, timing, and planning and management. At a gathering of African leaders, the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stressed that their continent has an enormous stake in COP 21’s success and reminded leaders that sustainable energy offers important economic opportunities. He explained that, with the plummeting price of solar and other renewables, many African countries are moving to embrace a greener pathway that still enables them to meet growing energy demand.[IISD RS Coverage of Side Events] [IISD RS Coverage of Paris Climate Change Conference] [IISD RS Story on Day 1][UN Press Release – African Leaders Meeting]

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