No issue should be left behind in package of decisions – say developing countries

Katowice, 3 December 2018 (Prerna Bomzan and Meena Raman)

At the launch of the year-end climate talks on 2nd Dec. in Katowice, Poland, under the UNFCCC, the Kyoto Protocol (KP) and the Paris Agreement (PA), developing countries under the G77 and China called for a package of decisions that “leaves no issue behind”.

Ambassador Wael Aboulmagd of Egypt, speaking for the G77 and China said that the PA was crafted with a delicate balance in mind between action on the one hand, both in mitigation and adaptation, and support on the other. Expressing concern that there was “a lack of progress on many of the pivotal tracks in the negotiations, particularly on the support side,” he called for “reasonable comparability,” adding that “the only guarantee for complete buy-in by all Parties is a package (of decisions) which leaves no issue behind”.

He cautioned against the inflexibility of some Parties and reiterated that “a lop-sided or unbalanced outcome is not sustainable” and stressed that what is expected is “an outcome which can and will be embraced, and implemented in good faith by all”.

The G77 Chair made these remarks at the joint-plenary meeting of the 24th session of the Conference of Parties to the UNFCCC (COP 24), the Conference of Parties to the KP, the Conference of Parties to the PA, the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI), the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) and the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Paris Agreement (APA). 

The joint-plenary meeting was convened evening of Sunday, 2 Dec, following the official opening of the climate talks around noon, which saw the Michał Kurtyka, the Secretary of State for the Ministry of Environment of Poland, assume the role of helming the climate talks.

The convening of COP 24 was delayed due to informal consultations which were conducted between the COP Presidency and Parties, on how to adopt the provisional agenda following the request for inclusion of new agenda items. This included a proposal by Turkey to delete its name from the list of Annex 1 Parties to the Convention, a proposal by the African Group on the ‘Special needs and special circumstances of Africa under the PA’ and further proposals from the Latin American and Caribbean region, the Asia Pacific region and the Arab region to also consider their ‘special needs and circumstances.’ The COP 24 agenda was adopted without the inclusion of all these proposals, and on the understanding that consultations on the Turkey issue and the African Group proposal will continue, with no consultations on the other issues as they had only been received morning of 2 Dec.

At the joint-plenary session, the G77 and China called for the upholding of the “guiding principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities (CBDR_RC)” in the outcome of the work at Katowice.

Ambassador Aboulmagd, while stating that PA was “a historical milestone”, also said that without the successful completion of the task of operationalizing the Agreement in Poland, “the opportunity to turn the tide will be missed.”

He lamented that “despite the growing awareness of the perils caused by climate change and the rise of a supporting public opinion, we are regrettably witnessing increased challenges to the very science underlying this effort as well as rising hostility towards collective multilateral efforts, particularly with regard to climate change.”

The G77 Chair also stressed that as developing countries, “our pressing needs for development and the betterment of lives by lifting people out of poverty must be respected and safeguarded in this process. Herein lies the criticality of support. As developing countries, we committed to this most crucial cause of facing climate change collectively as we genuinely recognized that the existential threat it poses looms upon all of us. However, we also undertook it in light of a clear commitment laid out by Paris that the means of implementation would be readily available”.

He underscored that the G77 and China “has never wavered in its commitment to effectively combatting climate change and dealing with its adverse impacts already witnessed across the world. We have spared no effort to support the process and have approached the negotiations with an open mind and a full willingness to achieve success here in Katowice. We have made it a point to avoid entrenchment and maximalism, and we have done our utmost to build bridges and engage sincerely”.

The G77 and China spokesperson further stressed that “we must also respect the core tenets of undertaking the climate agenda in line with efforts to achieve sustainable development and poverty eradication. The parity clearly outlined in the PA between mitigation and adaptation efforts must also be safeguarded and upheld, recognizing the pressing and existential threats we are facing here and now, and subsequently the resources we are already spending on facing them”.

The Group believed that “Katowice provides us with an opportunity to deliver a balanced and robust outcome which would responsibly and adequately respond to the serious challenges of climate change, most recently highlighted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) special report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5 °C which underscored the urgent need for enhanced action”.

Ambassador Aboulmagd then highlighted the Group’s views on a number of the central issues in the negotiations.

On the finance side, the G77 noted with appreciation, the initiation of the first formal replenishment of the Green Climate Fund and would continue to seek a “substantial and ambitious” replenishment which must be informed by the “needs and priorities” of developing countries. 

“As for reporting and communication of finance in terms of Article 9 of the PA, key issues are yet to be resolved regarding the modalities and vehicles to be used, as well as of what is done with the information to be reported on as part of the obligation of developed country parties to provide finance and how it is assessed under the enhanced transparency regime”.

Further, it is critical for the Group that “we in Katowice reach agreement on the process for the establishment of a new global goal on finance which needs to be initiated now. As we have said before, we believe that the issues of finance are of utmost priority. Addressing them in a comprehensive, satisfactory manner will create in our view favorable conditions that could potentially unlock a broad array of related and linked issues under our negotiations”.

On adaptation, the G77 stressed that it will “continue to emphasize that the final outcome of this COP should give adaptation a key role commensurate with our challenges. To this end, support for adaptation actions in terms of the preparation of the adaptation communication, as well as the preparation and implementation of national strategies, plans and programs in accordance with the nationally determined needs of developing countries is a critical element of any acceptable outcome”.

On the enhanced transparency framework for action and support (ETF), the G77 Chair stressed that “there should no backsliding,” which means “that Parties should build on their current standard of transparency, and the ETF shall build on and enhance the existing transparency arrangements under the Convention.” He added further that it must be recognized that “developing country Parties have different starting points and therefore the modalities, procedures and guidelines should have built-in flexibility and allow developing country Parties to self-determine which flexibilities we will apply.” The framework should also “enable improvement over time” and that in the case of developing countries, “this will require support.” 

On nationally determined contributions (NDCs), the G77 stressed the importance of maintaining the comprehensive full scope of NDCs. It also underscored the importance of maintaining the nationally determined nature of NDCs in light of equity, CBDR-RC, in light of national circumstances. 

The G77 Chair, in conclusion said that in “recognizing our shared responsibility in advancing the PA Work Programme” it was important to remain “faithful to the Convention, its purpose and principles”.

Austraila on behalf of the Umbrella Group made a brief remark assuring to “work constructively as possible with others” towards a “comprehensive and robust guidance in keeping with the mandates”.

The European Union also assured to work constructively with all Parties and stressed on leaving Katowice with an “ambitious and comprehensive implementing rules” as well as “balancing” efforts towards mitigation and adaptation and to “support” developing countries to implement the PA.

Katowice News Updates 2

2 December - 14 December 2018, Katowice, Poland
by Prerna Bomzan and Meena Raman
Katowice, 3 December 2018