Call for raised ambition on climate needs ambition on finance – say developing countries

Madrid, 19 December 2019 (Evelyn Teh)

Developing countries at the closing plenary of COP 25 said that the call for raised ambition in emissions reductions must be matched by ambition on the provision of the means of implementation, especially on finance from developed countries.

This sentiment was expressed in a statement by the G77 and China on behalf of developing countries at the closing plenary session held afternoon of Sunday, Dec 15.

Other developing country groupings also called for called for real action from developed countries instead of just making empty promises and declarations of high-intent on ambition in response to the youth and the public demanding greater action on climate change, without actually implementing the commitments agreed to.

The closing plenary of COP25 was held jointly with the closing of the 15th session of Conference of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP 15) and the 2nd session of the Conference of the Parties to the Paris Agreement (CMA 2).

Given the lateness of the hour and with many delegates rushing to the airport, Parties were invited by the COP 25 President to make brief statements and to load their statements onto the UNFCCC website.

The State of Palestine on behalf of G77 and China said that “negotiated solutions can be found for even the most profound problems”, adding that the Group came to Madrid with “good will and we tried our best. We succeeded in certain fronts but we failed in others; and for that, we have to continue working.”

In its statement which was forwarded for posting on the website, the G77 and China stressed “the importance of the multilateral system for cooperation on climate change under the Convention and its Kyoto Protocol (KP) and Paris Agreement (PA). This is a system that was founded on equity and the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective circumstances (CBDR-RC), in order to reflect the essential fact that all countries have different national circumstances as a result of history, economics, culture, geography, and environmental conditions.” The Group stated that “the outcome of many of the issues in relation to transparency under the Convention and its PA has been disappointing, with many attempts to effectively renegotiate the rules and the implementation of these treaties.”

G77 and China also responded to the call for raised ambition, in that “it must be matched with ambition on finance,” and reiterated that during this COP25, Parties have dealt with numerous finance agenda items ranging from long term finance, the Standing Committee on Finance (SCF), the Adaptation Fund (AF) as well as guidance to the operating entities of the Financial Mechanism, namely the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and Green Climate Fund (GCF). It expressed concerns over the declining trend in replenishments of the GCF and GEF, while increasing demands of co-financing and the growing (amount of) loans and other non-grant instruments being offered to developing countries”.

The Group also underscored that “2020 represents a milestone year in relation to climate finance as it marks the year in which developed countries committed to achieve the goal of mobilizing jointly USD 100 billion a year to address the needs of developing countries. This milestone coupled with the urgency for enhanced action makes it imperative that we continue to discuss the issue of climate finance post 2020 both within the COP and the CMA.”

In addition to this, the Group also stated that fully realized technology development and transfer is of vital importance to improve resilience and mitigate climate change for developing countries. “We are deeply concerned with the slow progress made in climate technology transfer to developing countries and the challenges faced by the Climate Technology Centre and Network (CTCN) in securing stable and sustainable financial resources. We call on developed country Parties to enhance their efforts in technology transfer and enhance their support to the CTCN”.

It also urged developed countries “to bear in mind that while working to bring the Enhanced Transparency Framework (under the PA) to life, support must be provided all developing countries to build their capacity for reporting.” It was concerned that there was “no substantive conclusion was made on the work of the Consultative Group of Experts (CGE), despite the tireless efforts from our Group to be constructive” adding that “the CGE’s role is extremely important as they support the non-Annex I countries (developing countries) on enhancing their ability to report on their climate change actions under the Convention and PA”. The G77 said that they faced “constant attempts from developed countries to redesign the CGE’s composition and undermine its supporting role for developing countries.”

It saw the decision adopted on the Warsaw International Mechanism on Loss and Damage (WIM) “as a positive step forward in ensuring that enhanced action and support to developing countries in order to address loss and damage…. While G77 and China had actively put forward textual proposals, partners were also well engaged to help move the negotiations forward.” The Group stressed that it sees the WIM as being under the authority of the COP and the CMA.

Malaysia on behalf of the Like-Minded Developing Country (LMDC) took the floor briefly to commemorate the first year of the passing of Madame Bernarditas Mueller, (a veteran negotiator from the Philippines) on the 14th Dec 2018. Malaysia said that she was one of the Convention’s founders and its greatest stalwarts, and wished to remind the world of what she had said: “There is so much at stake. Get it right, and the world has the chance to both halt catastrophic climate change and find a better path to develop. Get it wrong and all the injustices and disadvantages that developing countries now face will be magnified 1000 times in the coming years.” The LMDC called on delegates to “honour her spirit and respect what she stood and fought for, her entire life – equity, fairness and justice. Let us live up to our commitments and negotiate in good faith here on.”

In its uploaded full statement, the LMDC emphasised the importance of implementation. “We stand at a crucial juncture where we need to step up our responses to climate change. We need to focus on implementing what we have agreed to in the past and what we are agreeing to here. Implementation is key. There is no substitute for implementation.” “Unfortunately, there remain unfulfilled commitments,” it added.

The LMDC emphasized “according to the science that we rely on, those unfulfilled commitments have already caused an increase of average global temperature increase of 1°C. Science has also established that warming from anthropogenic emissions from the pre-industrial period onwards will persist for centuries to millennia and will continue to cause further long-term changes,” adding that “the unmet commitments therefore will have to be fulfilled. The gap, both in mitigation and means of implementation, cannot be overlooked. We must therefore not talk just of ambition in mitigation, without talking about implementation and its means”.

Said the LMDC further, “declaration of high intent cannot alone be a benchmark of championship for global climate action. If we want to respond honestly to the youth, to the public outside demanding climate action, we need to fulfil our commitments and undertake ambitious action on climate change. Will and ambition without implementation are meaningless.”

The LMDC said further that “at this COP, we have seen that developing countries have risen to the occasion by taking concrete steps over the years to enhance their ambition to address climate change. This is clear from the national statements made during the high-level segment of COP25. Developing countries have demonstrated that they have taken numerous actions in accordance with their national circumstances to address climate change.”

“We stand for progressive enhancement of nationally determined contributions (NDCs), as is provided for in the PA, but this must come with enhanced provision of means of implementation, also provided for in the PA”, said the LMDC statement further.  “The resistance we have seen by our partners on issues of finance, be it to support for adaptation, long-term finance, financing for loss and damage, or taking stock of the USD 100 billion goal (per year by 2020) of developed countries, has left us dismayed,” said the LMDC.

The LMDC further stated that “We have about a year to operationalize the Enhanced Transparency Framework (under the PA). In this regard, we must make up for the lack of progress here and make up for the lack of meaningful engagement on issues around transparency of support. We faced resistance from developed countries in the CGE’ role in supporting developing countries to enhance their ability to report on their climate change actions.”

Egypt on behalf of the Africa Group said that while “it was a difficult COP and we all had very difficult meetings, Parties have also achieved a lot”. “People might think that the small progress that we achieved here might be a negative signal to the outside world” but Egypt said that it did not think so. “The discussions that we have had reflects the challenges that we have, and also reflects the commitment to the multilateral process”, said Egypt.

The Africa Group hoped that “all of us have heard each other on the importance of raising ambition, the importance of finance, technology and capacity building, the importance of working together through a multilateral process”. It was “proud that we are still in a very strong multilateral process, taking us all forward in an inclusive manner”.  “If we overlook the small elements and small differences on the issues of different agenda items…we are up to the challenge, and it is our responsibility to have a better future; it is our responsibility that our new generations will live in a better world and a world that will take them forward, not a world that would be suffering from impacts from something that they have not done,” said the Africa Group.

China on behalf of Brazil, South Africa, India and China (BASIC) said that despite tremendous efforts of Parties, the COP25 the outcome fell short of expectations, particularly on the core target of the conference, that is the conclusion of the rules for Article 6 of the PA. “Climate change is increasingly urgent and to respond to existing challenges, we need concrete actions instead of empty slogans,” said China. “The PA is a symbolic outcome of multilateralism” and there should be “an effective response to climate change” with a “focus on the implementation of the PA, respect the history (in relation to previous decisions adopted) and proceed from national circumstances, fully considering the different starting points of developed and developing countries,” stressed China.

It also said that “we need to observe the principle of CBDR-RC and NDC arrangements. We need to fully understand and enhance ambitions in mitigation, adaptation and support – and ensure that the ambition of support by developed countries match the ambition of actions by developing countries.” With regard to the lack of response by developed countries on the need of developing countries for funds, China expressed disappointment and regret at the outcome on pre-2020 implementation and ambition. It urged developed countries to take actions to fill the gap in emission reductions and to provide the needed support to developing countries for their climate actions.

Saudi Arab on behalf of the Arab Group emphasised the principle of CBDR-RC and called for a balanced process on all items under the PA, adding that these items should be dealt with equal importance under the two UNFCCC Subsidiary Bodies with no discrimination.

Australia on behalf of the Umbrella Group recognised some of the achievements in COP25, particularly on the action plan on oceans, and loss and damage. Noting also that they have not gotten all the outcomes they wanted, it looked forward to establishing markets with environmental integrity, and a stronger, effective and enhanced transparency framework in the coming period.

Madrid News Update 20

UNFCCC / COP 25, CMA 2, CMP 15
2 December - 13 December 2019, Madrid, Spain
by Evelyn Teh
Madrid, 19 December 2019