Developing countries call for measures to address pre-2020 gaps

Madrid, 12 December 2019 (Evelyn Teh)

Several key developing countries called for measures to address the pre-2020 gaps in ambition and climate finance caused by the developed countries failure to abide by the agreements reached under the UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol, and stressed that this was necessary in ensuring trust and confidence in the multilateral process.

Developing countries, led by India, China, and South Africa made these calls at the high-level segment of the ‘Stocktake on Pre-2020 Implementation and Ambition’ held on Dec 11.

They called for a 2-year work programme for developed countries to address and close the gaps in the post-2020 period, as a concrete outcome of COP 25. (See further details below).

The mandated event was opened by Carolina Schmidt, COP 25 President, who emphasised that the pre-2020 period is a “model of trust for the implementation of the Paris Agreement”. She added that over 8 years ago, “we agreed to deliver enhanced action, adaptation and mitigation, as well as enhanced support to enable developing countries to address the challenge of climate change”. “As a learning and trust building process, we must address the gaps in action and support that has emerged and take decisive actions to address it.”  The COP 25 President also highlighted the importance of developed countries showing leadership in increasing their ambition and in removing the conditionalities for revising their emission reduction targets and “by taking concerted effort on finance to support developing countries.”

She stated her commitment as the COP President is “to arrive at a solution that can be accepted by all and that the solution must represent progress towards the implementation of the Convention, the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement”, adding that developing countries are available for implementation of concrete actions, but “clarity is required on the means of implementation considering financing, capacity building and technology transfer.”

The stocktake was organised in two parts; the first part on ‘Mitigation efforts of Parties up to 2020’ to discuss the efforts of Parties to mitigate greenhouse gases up to 2020 and ways to enhance efforts, while the second part was on ‘Support for climate efforts up to 2020’, to discuss support for climate efforts up to 2020 and ways to enhance efforts.

The two-part session saw panellists sharing their perspectives, which was then followed by interventions from Parties and observers. Highlights from some of the speakers from the panel and the floor are provided below and does not follow the order in which the interventions were made.

Ravi Shankar Prasad, the Additional Secretary, from the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, India (who was a panel member in the second panel) commented that the Kyoto Protocol commitments and the pre-2020 ambition is at the heart of the climate change negotiations and is one of the yardsticks against which the success of this COP will be judged. The pre-2020 stocktake is to deliver real and tangible reserves to close the emission gap in light with equity, common-but- differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities (CBDR-RC) and historical responsibilities.

Prasad said that, Parties seemed “to ignore the elephant in the room”, which is the implementation gap from the pre-2020 period. When countries undertook the Kyoto Protocol and the Doha Amendment to the Protocol, the range of ambition in the 1st commitment period (2008-2012) was hardly 5% by the Kyoto Protocol Parties, and 18% on average in the 2nd commitment period (2013-2020), and “even these targets are not being met”. He continued by saying that “science had informed us that emissions gap that needs to be closed is in the range of 25-40%” (by 2020 based on 1990 levels) and expressed disappointment that not even one developed country had stepped-up to revise their targets in the Doha Amendment (for the 2nd commitment period). “The problem we face today is the large emissions gap that we need to close” and called on all Parties who have not ratified need to do it quickly so the Doha Amendment can enter into force. (Only 134 Parties have ratified the Amendment, short of  the10 needed for the 2nd commitment period to come into effect).

In terms of financial support, Prasad pointed out that independent studies have shown that the disbursement of the committed USD100 billion per year by 2020 by developed countries has been way below. Replenishment of the Green Climate Fund (GCF) this year was in USD 9.7 billion or so, which was about just as much as the first initial mobilisation of the Fund. He added that the flow of public funds for climate change from developed to developing countries is a small percentage than what was promised, and is nowhere near the climate finance needed for developing countries including for adaptation actions.

Prasad also raised another issue, on the commitments under the Kyoto Protocol regime which has not been honoured. “While we are urging the private sector to participate, which they did in the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), they now are told that the certified emission reduction credits (CERs) that they obtained “is worth nothing and will not carried forward to the post-2020 period”, expressing concerns “over the signal are we sending to the private sector on why their CERs would not be honoured.” This he said undermines that “confidence in the multilateral process”, stressing the importance of these agreements which must be carried forward to ensure trust and faith in the pre-2020 process.

Prasad also added that this pre-2020 stocktake should enable a future process to fulfil the emissions gap and proposed that this has to be taken up in a 2-year work programme in the post 2020 period for the gap to be bridged. He expressed hope that the developed country Parties would also deliver their gaps in climate finance and address them and enable a new climate finance goal before 2023, before the global stocktake under the Paris Agreement, “so that there is predictability for new finance for developing countries which enables them to prepare better nationally determined contributions (NDCs). He also suggested that “the work programme should have mechanism to facilitate transfer of technology, because until and unless it is available, affordable and scalable, it is hard for developing countries to plan rapid and meaningful transition” adding that “collectively, we must ensure these actions and make sure that the multilateral succeeds and reaches the goals of the Paris Agreement.

China spoke from the floor and stated that the pre-2020 stocktake at this juncture was of critical importance in order to “find clear answers on where are we now, what is the gap and how to fill the gap,” adding that this was vital for ensuring “mutual trust among Parties” and “the seriousness of the multilateral process” for climate actions after 2020. It also said that “an effective conclusion and a clear arrangement on how to fill the gaps is necessary to ensure that these gaps will not be carried over to post-2020 period, adding extra burdens onto developing countries”. It also called on all Parties who have not done so, to accelerate the ratification of the Doha Amendment, as this “was the primary cause of the gap” in emission reductions. “In order to achieve the global goal set by the Paris Agreement after 2020, we must earnestly fill the pre-2020 gap and developed countries should take the lead in taking enhanced actions and achieve carbon neutrality significantly ahead of the schedule, blazing a policy pathway which is feasible, both technically and economically; thus setting an example for the developing countries”. It also added further that developed countries should provide “new and additional support of public finance” commensurate with the needs of developing countries. China hoped that the pre-2020 stocktake will effectively facilitate and guide implementation of commitments taken by Parties.

South Africa also spoke from the floor and said that “there are three gaps”, first being “the implementation gap where we need to know on what was actually done and by whom”, adding that “it is not good enough to just have individual countries saying that they did x and y, as it is not really about that. It is about the collective aggregate roles to the global responsibility,” stressed South Africa.

“The second gap is on ambition”, it said further, with “science telling us that there is a big gap.” Referring to the pledges made in at previous COPs in Doha or Cancun, South Africa said that “the pledges that were made were never raised and the progression element was not there, which had affected the work in this multilateral process”. It emphasised that “trust matters in this multilateral process, as it is a mutual confidence arrangement where you need the assurance that others are going to act and honour their commitments of the Convention and its core principles”.

“The third type of gap is on support, in that what support has been provided to the developing countries which is the basis and the enabler for our action,” it said further, adding that “we should allow some sort of mechanism to take stock on what actually happened and be able to use the information and it should be a multilateral product in this process.” South Africa stressed that it was not sufficient to reports from outside the UNFCCC process to say that the USD100 billion target was met which has not verified, nor discussed. “When we speak about equity, we cannot just assume that the burden will be transferred to other actors, whether they be developing countries, private sector or anybody else. The starting point has to be the honouring of the commitments. The question therefore to the developed partners, why not an evidence-based assessment of what actually happened in pre-2020?,” asked South Africa.

Malaysia also spoke from the floor to state that the key to unlocking this level of ambition lay squarely on respect for Article 4.7 of the Convention which hinges on the notion of equity and the principle of CBDR-RC. It stressed that Convention obliges developed country Parties to lead in mitigation actions and urged for developed countries to fulfil their reporting obligations as well as in enhancing actions to fill the gaps in emissions reductions and in the means of implementation in the pre-2020 period. 

Dr. Gale T. C. Rigobert, Minister for Sustainable Development, St. Lucia (who spoke in the second panel) expressed her hope that “this event would not be used as a basis for delaying work on the implementation of the Paris Agreement.”  She said that the Caribbean Community (Caricom) “see this pre-2020 stocktake as an opportunity to emphasize the ambition action and support on climate change and not to design programme and efforts on looking backwards”. “The key messages from the 1.5°C Special Report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change should be highlighted to ensure that the outcome of this session is focusing on the imperative for urgent and ambition climate change action moving forward”. She also lamented that “the emissions in a number of developed countries continues to rise, and they need to make greater efforts. There is a need to provide finance and technology transfer to developing countries for their actions in pre-2020. As for adaptation, and loss and damage, they are still grossly underfunded”, said the Minister further.

She also stressed that the Global Commission of Adaptation estimated that USD 1trillion is needed for adaptation actions. The Minister called for “renewed efforts to meet that commitment, by having more investments in mitigation, and shifting from fossil fuel into renewable energy. There is a need to use lessons learned from pre-2020, and Parties need to present very ambitious, new and updated NDC to reach the goals of the Paris Agreement”.

Dr. Nur Masripatin, Senior Advisor to the Minister on Climate Change of Indonesia spoke at the first panel and encouraged Parties to ratify the Doha Amendment as soon as possible for it to enter into force, and to fulfil their commitments to meeting the finance goal of USD100billion annually by 2020.

Lord Ian Duncan, Minister for Climate Change, of the United Kingdom (who spoke in the first panel) stated that UK has committed in law to go net zero by 2050, and has now doubled their international climate fund and more money must come from more donors; as there are serious challenges faced by those with the least funds and are least able to address these matters themselves. He added that “we need more money inside the international community which can be used to both address adaptation and mitigation where it is most needed.”

The Minister of Environment and Climate Change, of Finland, Ms. Krista Mikkonen (who spoke in the second panel) said that “fighting climate change is to take our historical emissions seriously, both in cutting emissions and in providing support.” She stated that the European Union (EU) is committed to this task in meeting the USD100 billion pledge in climate funding and has mobilised climate finance for developing countries which has doubled within the 5 years. She recognised that many countries are already facing consequences of a warming planet and therefore, and aimed to allocate funding equally to mitigation and adaptation activities. The Minister also said that among some of the ways was to explore innovative funding mechanisms is to mobilize private sector financing to meet climate goals, and steer private funding to be more aligned to our Paris Agreement goals. She also stated that we need to look at access to funding to address barriers associated to financing especially for the poorest and particularly most vulnerable.

Alexandra Bonnet, Deputy Director of the European and International Affairs of the French Ministry for Ecological and Solidary Transition (who spoke in the second panel) said that the French government’s goal was to reach carbon neutrality by 2050. To reach that goal, she said that finance is key in ramping up their efforts and get to a low carbon economy.  Acknowledging that the USD100 billion per year target must be reached, she said that France has mobilized more than 5 billion Euros so far.  schedule. In adaptation, she said President Macron had said that he would double France’s contribution to the GCF, as it is key to build trust and achieve targets. “To engage in transition, she added that it is key to mobilize all stakeholders as public efforts is not sufficient and we need to rely on all stakeholders to play a part. France is supporting multi-stakeholder initiatives including the International Solar Alliance with 38 projects implemented in 23 countries, are among some”, she added further.

Some observers also intervened.

Nathan Thanki, speaking as a member of Climate Justice Now made an impassioned intervention, saying that “For the umpteenth time, we have heard yet again that we have an extremely limited amount of time to completely transform our economy and society”. He said that we have caught a glimpse on what are the consequences if we do not heed the call, “a world on fire, battered by storms, an even less equitable world, less able to adapt properly to this climate emergency.”  He said that yet, they have not seen serious responses. The developed countries who is supposed to lead has done next to nothing since 1990, he added further, stating that the UN Environment Programme talks about a lost decade, but “we should probably talk about 3 lost decades”, adding that “it is very hard to build trust on broken promises”.

Thanki also lamented that “Parties have not ratified Doha Amendment” despite agreeing to do so in 2012, but the Paris Agreement was ratified in under a year. “We enter into the Paris Agreement carrying the failures of the recent past and present where both mitigation and finance has been wholly inadequate.” This therefore sets the world up for a post-2020 action that will be much more challenging and less fair, he said further.

“How can we expect anything from the Paris Agreement if the pre-2020 agreements have been cast aside? And what’s the point of distant, loophole- ridden, false zero 2050 targets such as the UK’s when pre-2020 and its action has been forgotten?” he added.

He echoed the proposal by the developing countries “for COP25 to at least mandate a work programme on closing these pre-2020 implementation gaps on mitigation, adaptation, finance, technology and capacity. “We need more ideas like that, what we don’t need any more of are circular conversations and reflections. Just do your fair share,” appealed Thanki to the delegates.

Following the conclusion of the pre-2020 event, outside the plenary halls, hundreds of activists gathered and held an action, calling on the rich developed world to act urgently “to reduce their emissions and provide support for impacted communities” They said in a statement that “the ones that bear the historical and current responsibility must act”.+ 

Madrid News Update 15

UNFCCC / COP 25
2 December - 13 December 2019, Madrid, Spain
by Evelyn Teh
Madrid, 12 December 2019