Parties discuss transparency related to climate change impacts and adaptation

Bonn, 29 May 2017 (T. Ajit)

Penang- Parties to the UNFCCC’s Ad hoc Working Group on the Paris Agreement (APA) discussed information related to climate change impacts and adaptation in relation to the transparency framework during the two weeks of the recently held climate talks in Bonn from 8-18 May.

These discussion was in the context of Article 13.8 of the Paris Agreement (PA) which provides as follows: “Each Party should also provide information related to climate change impacts and adaptation under Article 7, as appropriate.” Article 7 of the PA deals with adaptation.

Ahead of the discussions, the co-facilitators of the transparency framework, Xiang Gao (China) and Andrew Rakestraw (United States) presented to Parties, “under their own responsibility”, a slide on the screen containing possible headings and sub-headings to focus the discussions. They referred to the slide as a tool to guide discussions and that the contents were drawn from the submissions of Parties. The slide contained the following headings for discussion on information related to climate change impacts and adaptation:  

“1. Objectives and principles;

2. National circumstances;

3. Vulnerability, risks and impacts, including scope and methodologies used for the assessment;

4. Policy, legal and governance frameworks and institutional arrangements relevant to implementation of adaptation;

5. Adaptation policies, strategies, plans and actions, and related domestic resources;

6. Information related to loss and damage;

7. Adaptation priorities, needs and costs;

8. Progress on implementation of adaptation, including on adaptation components of NDCs;

9. Monitoring and evaluation of adaptation actions and processes, including relevant methodologies;

10. Cooperation on adaptation, including sharing good practices, experiences, and lessons learned

The co-facilitators also indicated that the list was not exhaustive and further headings and sub-headings could be added in subsequent sessions.

During the discussion, information related to loss and damage proved particularly contentious.  Developed countries said that loss and damage was outside the scope of the discussions they were having since it was not included in Article 7.

To assuage the developed countries’ concerns on scope, China made a proposal to accommodate the linking of loss and damage to adaptation, but even that was not accepted by several developed countries including the European Union (EU), New Zealand and Canada.

Canada insisted that loss and damage was under Article 8 of the PA and could not be taken up under the discussion on climate change impacts and adaptation.

Developing countries in their interventions said that discussions under information on impacts and adaptation was closely linked to discussions on adaptation communications, also happening under APA (under another agenda item.)

They also reiterated that adaptation reporting was not mandatory referring to Article 13.8.

They also said that Parties should be able to choose their own vehicles for communication regarding adaptation and that reporting on adaptation must not be an additional burden. They also said that the information on climate change impacts and adaptation should not be subject to any review.

China also suggested that barriers in relation to the means of implementation should be added to point 7 on adaptation priorities, needs and costs. The United States (US) disagreed, saying that the point China raised did not belong here and should be discussed under the theme of support needed and received.

After the discussions, the co-facilitators updated their slide in an informal note, where they reflected the discussions. In the note, the Co-facilitators left the point on information on loss and damage as is and included ‘barriers’ in adaptation priorities, needs and costs, besides making other changes to reflect the discussions.

Some highlights of exchanges

South Africa spoke for the African Group and said that the information is relevant for those Parties who choose to provide it. It also said that the list of the information elements would be informed by progress of work on the adaptation communications and proposed the additional heading called, ‘recognition of adaptation efforts’ besides seeking clarity on some of the headings in the tool.

Uruguay spoke for Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay (ABU) and said that their understanding is Article 7.11(in relation to adaptation communication) allows Parties to decide how they wished to communicate the information and this was a matter for national determination. It emphasized that information on impacts and adaptation should not be subject to any review.

China said that there is a difference between Article 7 (on adaptation) and Article 13 (on transparency). Under Article 7, the channel of adaptation communication and action is an ex-ante communication of the intention of the plans on adaptation by Parties, while Article 13 touches upon the implementation of adaptation actions. “So, there is a slight difference in the nature of adaptation communications under Article 7,” it added further.

China also suggested as regards information related to adaptation priorities, needs and costs, the barriers encountered including as regards the means of implementation should be included, and called for a placeholder in this regard.

On including information on loss and damage China in response to Parties who had concerns that it was not under the Paris mandate, the issue could be phrased to relate to issues under adaptation in Article 7 of the PA.

Jamaica spoke for the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) and said it supported China’s proposal on reflecting loss and damage. It also said that the list of information should address concerns such as no additional burden on developing countries.

Bhutan for the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) also supported China’s proposal as regards loss and damage.

India said it was ready to work on the list provided by the co-facilitators with certain basic principles included, adding that there should be no additional burden on developing countries. It also said that reporting on impacts and adaptation could be covered under existing mechanisms such as the national communications. It also added that loss and damage is an important issue and ways could be figured out to reflect it.

Brazil said the provision of flexibility applies to the whole of Article 13 and would like to see where flexibility applies under each of the headings in the “tool”. It also called for a consistent approach to be followed for discussions under the transparency framework with the discussions on adaptation communications. It added that there are different channels for the information that Parties provide for adaptation communication, such as national communications or biennial reports. It also said that while it could consider the list proposed, a lot would change depending on the discussions on adaptation communications.

Costa Rica said national communications should be the main vehicle for adaptation communication and if Parties wished to use other vehicles, there should be the possibility to do that.  It shared concerns that adaptation actions should not be subject to review.

The European Union, New Zealand, Japan and Canada were against reflecting information on loss and damage.

New Zealand underscored the “should” in Article 13.8 and said that Parties could have flexibility on what the reporting elements might be on climate impacts and adaptation. It said that Article 13.8 would not be subject to a technical expert review, so the discussion is of an entirely different nature.

The United States said that in reference to Article 13.8, this was a “should” provision and that Parties did not need to discuss further flexibility under impacts and adaptation. It also said that there was no need to review information, and Parties should report information where they see fit. It said that point 7 of the tool did not belong here as it would be discussed under the theme of support needed and received; and point 10 on ‘cooperation on adaptation’ would be under support provided. It also said that mainstreaming of adaptation into national policies could be added as a heading or sub-heading.

Edited by Meena Raman

Bonn News Updates 18

UNFCCC / APA 1-3
8 May - 18 May 2017, Bonn, Germany
by T. Ajit
Bonn, 29 May 2017