A leading Indian advocacy group said Tuesday it is clear that the climate negotiators in Poland were progressing towards a weak and incomplete rulebook for the landmark Paris Agreement as negotiations entered the second week at the 24th meeting of the Conference of Parties (CoP24) of the UN Climate Conference here.
The rulebook of the Paris Agreement will be the guidelines that will define how climate action is implemented, and accounted for, Post 2020.
Noting that the Paris Agreement is already a weak regime, New Delhi-based Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), an avid and consistent CoP-watcher and analyst body, said a weaker rulebook will make it inconsequential.
"Instead of framing a weak rulebook at Katowice, it is better that negotiations are extended next year to develop a robust and meaningful rulebook," it said.
The CSE said it believes that the 24th Conference of Parties is heading towards a weak outcome and urged the countries to work for another year to develop a consensus on a robust and meaningful rulebook and then finalise it by 2019.
In a statement, the CSE analysts attending the global negotiations said that there are major disagreements between Parties on a wide range of issues (including minor issues) and there is little time left to bridge those disagreements.
"Considering that the Paris Agreement itself is a weak regime, having a weaker rulebook will make it inconsequential. This is something that the world cannot afford. It would a better choice to have no rulebook here at Katowice than have a weak, ineffectual rulebook," said Chandra Bhushan, deputy director general, CSE. Bhushan is heading the CSE delegation at the 24th CoP.
The disagreements at Katowice run across the entire rulebook, it said.
Major points of contest relate to the issue of differentiation between developed and developing countries.
According to Bhushan, there are a few elements under the Paris Agreement where equity between the countries has to get operationalised.
These include communication on NDCs, ex-ante provision and review of financial commitments, and global stocktake on collective progress to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement.
"The process of operationalising equity has become a serious bone of contention between developed and developing countries. Developed countries are opposing an ex-ante review of their financial commitments and operationalisation of equity in the GST. In fact, there is not even a consensus on what 'finance' should mean," Bhushan said.
The CSE said how would flexibility (less stringent reporting requirements) be reflected in the transparency framework is another issue of concern.
While the US and the EU have pushed for selective flexibility meant only for least-developed countries and island states, India and China are demanding flexibility for all developing countries, it said.
"The current set of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) are heterogenous. There is a need for clarity and guidance on standards to make the NDCs standardised for easier assessment and comparability. However, there has been no agreement on common time frames, baselines, scope or technical duration of NDCs," it said.
The CSE said that the discussions on other issues including the new market mechanisms are likely to be pushed down to the next year owing to greater technicalities and complexities in different countries' stances.
The IPCC Special Report on 1.5oC makes it clear that the 2oC threshold referred to in the Paris Agreement is more dangerous than previously thought, and that unprecedented economic transformations are needed in the next decade to keep warming under the 1.5oC benchmark.
"This requires a rapid phase-out of fossil fuels and drastic curtailment of wasteful consumption. According to the recently released UN Emission Gap Report, the level of ambition needs to be multiplied five-fold to stay under 1.5oC. Even then, at Katowice, countries like US and Saudi Arabia are fighting over whether to welcome the IPCC Report or just take note of it under SBSTA. Further, there is not even a discussion happening on how to raise ambition," CSE analysts said.
"There is no discussion on how countries will revise and update their NDCs by 2020, which is critical to keep temperature increase within liveable limits," says Vijeta Rattani, programme manager-climate change, CSE.
"The bottom line is that countries are sparring even on procedures. For example, they failed to reach a consensus on the adoption of the IPCC Special Report on 1.5oC, which was commissioned under the Paris Agreement. All this shows that countries are not ready and willing for a meaningful negotiation. In such a situation, forcing a weak rulebook in the name of consensus would be very harmful for the world," Bhushan added.
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