The Ad Hoc Working Group on the Paris Agreement (APA) under the UNFCCC launched work at a contact group convened on 1 May at the ongoing talks taking place in Bonn from 30 April to 10 May and called on Parties to “significantly increase the pace of work and build textual narratives” in efforts to move towards a text that would be the basis for negotiations as regards the Paris Agreement Work Programme (PAWP).
(The PAWP deals with the modalities, procedures and guidelines [MPGs] necessary for the implementation of the PA).
Parties were divided on what are matters within the PAWP and what are not. While developing countries were of the view that there were additional matters especially those related to finance that needed to be addressed by the APA as part of the PAWP, the Umbrella Group clearly stated that these “additional matters” were not part of the PAWP. (See further details below).
The APA Co-chairs, Sara Baashan (Saudi Arabia) and Jo Tyndall (New Zealand), outlined the mode of work and suggested to Parties on how they should progress on the different agenda items, working in informal consultations, facilitated by two co-facilitators for each agenda item.
(The six agenda items of the APA are nationally determined contributions [NDCs], adaptation communications, transparency of action and support, global stocktake, committee to facilitate compliance and matters related to the implementation of the Paris Agreement [PA].)
According to the Co-Chairs, the aim of the APA session is to move towards an agreed basis of negotiations. She said that the co-facilitators of the informal consultations had been instructed to help Parties move towards a basis of negotiations by tidying up informal notes, by clustering elements in a logical way and clarifying options, without removing options from the table. The streamlined text would not supersede the informal notes, without the green light from Parties, she said.
Tyndall also stressed on the inter-linkages (between the issues under the APA as well as under the Subsidiary Bodies) and informed Parties that they would convene a meeting with the heads of delegations to hear their assessment of crosscutting issues and explore ways to move forward. She also said that the Co-Chairs would share information with Parties about the organisation of such work and the specific issues that should be addressed at the meeting.
The APA Co-chair stressed that there would be “no picking and choosing of issues” and that there would be progress on all the issues, saying that they work closely with the Chairs of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) and Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI) on the PAWP.
Outlining the mode of work in the informal consultations, Tyndall said that for the agenda item on NDCs, there existed divergent views among Parties on the scope of NDCs and on how to deal with differentiation in the guidance on information and accounting of NDCs.
On adaptation communications, Tyndall asked Parties to focus on identifying substantive elements and elaborating elements into textual proposals. She also said Parties should determine requests to develop common guidance applicable to any vehicle or develop vehicle-specific guidance where needed. (The ‘vehicles’ for the communications referred to include national communications, national adaptation plans or NDCs).
On the transparency framework for action and support, Tyndall suggested Parties refine and complete draft elements and streamline proposals and develop options as necessary. She also said Parties should discuss specific examples to develop flexibility for those developing countries that need it in the light of their capacities. She also said Parties should clarify understanding of what and how specific proposals are linked to other agenda items and other bodies.
On the issue of the global stocktake (GST), Tyndall proposed that Parties elaborate bullet points to prepare coherent text with the aim of forming a basis of negotiations and to develop text elements on equity. She also asked of Parties to identify common elements and clarify differences and express them as options. (The GST refers to the stocktaking of the implementation of the PA “to assess the collective progress towards achieving the purpose of the PA and its long-term goals.”)
As regards the compliance committee (responsible for the facilitation and promotion of compliance of the PA), Tyndall proposed that substantive text and options be reflected on the scope of the committee’s work. She also said that discussions on linkages of the compliance committee with the other items of the PAWP would be useful.
On the issue of the Adaptation Fund (AF), she said that Parties needed to address governance and institutional arrangements, safeguards and operating modalities of the AF serving the PA.
Tyndall said that on the issue of five possible additional matters for the implementation of the PA, they would be discussed in the following order:
- Initial guidance by the CMA (Conference of Parties to the Paris Agreement) to the operating entities of the Financial Mechanism (Green Climate Fund & Global Environment Facility) under Article 9 (8);
- Initial guidance by the CMA to the Least Developed Countries Fund (LDCF) and the Special Climate Change Fund (SCCF) in accordance with decision 1/CP.21, paragraph 58;
- Guidance by the CMA on adjustment of existing NDCs under Article 4 (11);
- Modalities for biennially communicating finance information on the provision of public financial resources to developing countries in accordance with Article 9 (5); and
- Setting a new collective quantified goal on finance in accordance with decision 1/CP.21, paragraph 53.
The sequence of the discussions was agreed to among Parties, and Gabon on behalf of the Africa Group, stressed on the importance of reaching agreement on the issues of crucial importance.
However, speaking for the Umbrella Group, Australia, emphasized that “these matters are not part of the PAWP” and that Parties should not lose sight of the mandate. It stressed that time allocation to issues should be determined by the complexity of each issue and called for additional time for discussions on the transparency framework.
Egypt for the Group of 77 and China stressed on balanced and comparable progress across the elements of the PAWP.
Gabon for the Africa Group also stressed on the need for a balanced approach in relation to all the elements of the PAWP across the agendas of the SBI, SBSTA and APA and asked of the APA Co-Chairs to coordinate closely with the Chairs of the Subsidiary Bodies.
It also said that capturing Parties’ views was essential to identifying options, and that Parties would need to have time to understand “political issues”. The African Group also said that the heads of delegation meeting would be a good opportunity to discuss the interlinkages and for Parties to keep the purpose of their work in mind, which was to enhance ambition. “This is why we are keen on ensuring balance between action and support. Without ex-ante information on finance, it will be difficult to unlock the potential of (actions by) developing countries,” said Gabon, adding that further time should be allocated to issues on finance, technology transfer and capacity building.
Speaking for the Arab Group, Saudi Arabia stressed the need for coherence and consistency in dealing with all the items of the APA, including in the allocation of time and progress of content. It did not want to see any item left behind and that all work in this regard must be completed by the end of the year. It expressed concerns over the different status of items within the APA and said that it could not accept arguments that some issues have matured and some have not. It viewed the outcome as one decision in one package and called for balanced and comparable progress across all items.
The Arab Group was very concerned about slow progress of items related to adaptation, and that the guidance on adaptation as a component of NDCs must be addressed with urgency and seriousness. It agreed on the approach to produce “textual narratives” in this session but made clear that streamlining the text must not remove Parties options and narrative.
Maldives for the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) also underscored the urgency of moving from concepts to textual narratives and stressed on adequate time for inter-linkages to be discussed. It also said that the group expects the APA to conclude work on the essentials required for the Adaptation Fund to serve the PA.
Timor Leste called for time allocation and space to discuss the issue of ‘Loss and Damage’ and suggested the matter be discussed under the APA. This is very important for a comprehensive and balanced outcome of work, it said. In response, Tyndall suggested to Timor Leste raise this during the informal consultations on the item.
The contact group will meet next on Friday, 4 May, to assess work and adjust guidance as necessary. Parties then proceeded to meet in informal consultations on various agenda items.