6 June 2023
Published by Third World Network
UNFCCC bodies launch work, with agendas pending adoption
Bonn, 6 June (Prerna Bomzan & Hilary Kung): The 58th sessions of the UNFCCC’s subsidiary bodies (the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice [SBSTA]) and the Subsidiary Body for Implementation [SBI]) launched work on 5 June after a delayed start with the SBSTA Chair Harry Vreuls (Netherlands) and SBI Chair Nabeel Munir (Pakistan), convening the opening plenaries of the two bodies together.
SBSTA Chair Vreuls apologising for the delay said that they had to hold “consultations with Parties that needed time for preparation”. The consultations, according to sources, relate to two agenda items. One is a on the Mitigation Work Programme (MWP) proposed by the European Union (EU), while the other is on National Adaptation Plans (NAPs) proposed for addition by the G77 and China.
(The MWP agenda inclusion is being resisted by some developing country groupings including the Like-minded Developing Countries [LMDC], Brazil, South Africa, India and China [BASIC] and the Arab Group, while on the NAPs, developed countries wanted more clarity on what the G77/China want to discuss prior to its inclusion on the agenda. Developing countries have been keen to discuss the means of implementation of NAPs prepared by developing countries).
When coming to the adoption of the SBI supplementary provisional agenda issued on 4 June, SBI Chair Munir (Pakistan) informed that “extensive consultations with heads of delegations” were held by the SB Chairs, but their “understanding” was that there’s “no agreement on the adoption of the agenda”. Munir therefore proposed that work be launched on the basis of the supplementary provisional agenda, with the “understanding” that both Chairs will hold further consultations with Parties and “we will come back on the adoption of the agenda at a later plenary where we will report on the outcome of the consultations”.
Likewise, SBSTA Chair Vreuls (Netherlands) also proposed to launch work in a similar manner and understanding since “no compromise” could be reached on the SBSTA provisional agenda as well.
However, this process created confusion since on the one hand it was understood that the Chairs would come back later on the adoption of the agendas while on the other hand, work was launched on all agenda items, including on the two new additional items proposed.
Bolivia for the LMDC requested clarification on the status of the proposed joint agenda item on the Mitigation Work Programme to which SBI Chair Munir (Pakistan) explained that further consultations will be held as agreed “while launching work on the basis of the agenda as it stands, while not adopting the agenda”. Bolivia expressed confusion on the way forward as well as disagreement on work being launched since “it is very premature for Parties to start discussions on the Mitigation Work Programme when different understandings of how we should move forward on this agenda item”. Chair Munir clarified that “the agenda was not adopted” and that both Chairs will continue consultations as agreed. China too had raised similar concerns during the plenary when it spoke in its national capacity during statements by groupings and Parties.
(TWN has learnt that further consultations with delegations on this matter will take place afternoon of June 6).
After completion of launch of work on all items of the SBs, Parties and their groupings presented statements outlining their expectations for the session.
Expectations and priorities at SB58
Ambassador Pedro Pedroso of Cuba, speaking on behalf of G77 and China, reiterated that the multilateral system on climate change is based on the UNFCCC, its Kyoto Protocol and Paris Agreement and “reaffirmed that the Paris Agreement is the collective achievement of all Parties, and seeks to enhance the implementation of the Convention, in accordance with its objectives, principles and provisions”. The Group wanted to see balanced progress on all issues, including adaptation, mitigation, means of implementation and loss and damage.
“We fully recognize the importance of keeping the global average temperature increase well below 2ºC above pre-industrial levels and continuing efforts to limit temperature increase to 1.5ºC, emphasizing that developed countries must take the lead in such efforts. We recognize that limiting global warming to 1.5°C requires rapid, strong and sustained reductions, based on the best available science and equity, taking into account common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities and in the context of sustainable development and efforts to eradicate poverty and leaving no one behind,” said the Group.
“Climate finance, technology transfer, and capacity building are determinant enablers to what the Paris Agreement stands for and hence, G77 and China will be looking for tangible progress at this session and at COP28 on these issues. For developing countries, adaptation to climate change is a priority and a key component of the implementation of the Paris Agreement.” COP 28 will conclude the two-year Glasgow Sharm El Sheikh work programme on the Global Goal on Adaptation (GGA) with a substantive outcome that delivers on the urgent need for progress on adaptation action and support. The Group also expects it to set the GGA framework and work beyond CMA5 (5th session of the Conference of Parties to the Paris Agreement). Therefore, the expectation is that this SB session must produce concrete progress towards this outcome, including on the delivery of finance to developing countries to support their adaptation priorities within their NAPs, NDCs and others under the UNFCCC.”
Elaborating further, Cuba said that, “As we advance our work on the GGA work programme, we must work to develop an equitable and inclusive framework that recognizes developing countries challenges, ensures flexibility and address the support needed for developing countries, according to article 9 of the Paris Agreement and take into consideration CBDR-RC (common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities) and countries different priorities, needs and circumstances These outcomes should be outlined in the draft decision of SB58.”
The Group welcomed “the historic decision at COP27 to establish the Loss and Damage Fund (LDF) and call for advancing its full operationalization at COP28. The group hope that discussions during the 2nd Glasgow Dialogue, taking place during this SBs session, will provide useful information to the work of the Transitional Committee (which is tasked with designing the fund). Also of great importance is the operationalization of the Santiago Network through the selection of its secretariat’s host agency at this SB session. The Santiago Network is intended to catalyze and facilitate the provision of loss and damage-related technical assistance to developing countries.”
The Group expected that “the LDF will provide new, additional, adequate, and predictable grant-based funding for ongoing and ex-post actions that developing countries are and will have to take to address impacts of slow onset and extreme events, including rehabilitation, recovery, and reconstruction. It also expects LDF to be a stand-alone operating entity of the Financial Mechanism of the Convention and its Paris Agreement and be guided by and accountable to both the COP and CMA. In that regard, the outcomes of the loss and damage funding arrangements and fund must be designed in line with the provisions and principles of the Convention and its Paris Agreement, including the principles of equity and CBDR.”
On Global Stocktake (GST), the G77 said that “It must be carried out in a holistic, balanced, integrated and facilitative manner, considering all thematic areas, and in light of equity and the best available science. It must enable us to look backwards at implementation gaps and challenges, including those related to pre-2020.” The Group said that “the GST should also look forward in terms of identifying implementation and ambition opportunities to inform Parties in updating and enhancing, in a nationally determined manner, their actions and support, and enhancing international cooperation on climate change.” It also called for text based negotiations as soon as possible for the outcome at COP 28.
On the provision of climate finance, it expressed serious concern “on the failure of developed countries to meet the commitment made to jointly mobilize US$ 100 billion per year by 2020, while noting that the goal will continue through 2025. If we add the accumulation of non-compliance in pledges since the goal should have been achieved as the previous mandate in 2020 and the impact of inflation, this target, which was never based on the needs and priorities of developing countries nor informed by science, is considerably higher, even calculated under existing commitments. Further highlighting that the needs of developing countries to achieve their nationally determined contributions (NDCs) are evolving and around USD 5.8 to 11.5 trillion up to 2030, …, recognizing that not all countries and regions have been able to quantify their needs.” The Group added that “the current amount dedicated to climate finance for adaptation remains also very insufficient” and supported “the commitment by developed countries at COP26 doubling adaptation finance by 2025 to contribute to achieving a balance between mitigation and adaptation”.
On the New Collective Quantified Goal on Finance, the Group said that the new goal must reflect the needs and priorities of developing countries to enable the achievement of NDCs and other national plans.
On the work programme on just transition, the G77 highlighted the importance of adequate means of implementation for developing countries “to undertake concrete action and address all aspects of just transitions, taking into account different national circumstances and needs. Therefore, all options, solutions and technologies must be explored towards promoting just, inclusive, and affordable transition pathways.”
Zambia spoke on behalf of the African Group called on developed countries to take the lead in the efforts to address climate change and calls for an ambitious outcome on adaptation at COP28. On the GGA, it called for “work on decision elements here in Bonn to reach collective targets captured in politically significant framing to materialize the GGA.”
On the GST, the Group expected the GST outcome to “operationalize fairness and a just transition for all” adding that “we cannot have deepened fossil fuel use in developed countries further eat into the ability of African countries to transition in light of constrained pathways towards 1.5 degrees C.
On finance, the African Group called on developed countries to deliver to restore trust in the UNFCCC process. It said further that, “The Green Climate Fund (GCF) replenishment in October is an opportunity for developed countries to show the world they are willing to do their part to address climate change and support climate action in developing countries.” On loss and damage, the Group expects that the finalization of the selection of the host of the Santiago Network during this session represents a major outcome towards the effective operationalization of the Network.
Bolivia, for the LMDC said that its priorities are the GGA, GST, means of implementation for developing countries as well as operationalizing the non-market approaches.
“For the GGA, the CBDR-RC principle shall be followed on recognition of the progress, gaps and needs from developing countries, in particular the means of implementation on adaptation action for the GGA.
The Group highlighted some of the challenges in the road to implementation which includes: (a) attempts by developed countries to side-line equity and CBDR and their historical responsibility in causing climate change and its impacts; and not sticking to previous decisions and mandates; (b) tendency among developed countries to shift the burden of climate action to developing countries, which is neither practical nor feasible; (c) tendency to shift the responsibility of provision and mobilization of finance, technology, and capacity building from developed countries to the private sector and to the Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs); (d) attempts to play to the gallery by making ambitious pledges and not fulfilling them, of which are not conducive to trust building; (e) unilateral coercive measures against developing countries and proposals by developed countries to introduce unilateral carbon border adjustment measures in the name of climate change responses that are discriminatory towards developing countries and violate international trade rules, as well as the principles of equity and the UNFCCC provisions.
It outlined seven approaches to overcome these challenges: “(a) Negotiations must be Party-driven, inclusive and transparent; (b) Presiding officers must ensure the principles and provisions of the Convention and the Paris Agreement and the purpose of the Agreement are not diluted; (c) Equity, CBDR and historical responsibility of developed countries must guide all discussions under the UNFCCC; (d) We must not reopen and renegotiate what we have already agreed; (e) Ambition must be seen in all the elements of the Paris Agreement, clearly highlighting that mitigation for developing countries is contingent upon with the provision of finance and means of implementation; (f)There must be recognition that developing countries are already tackling various challenges in addition to addressing climate change impacts; (g) We request the incoming Presidency and SB Chairs to follow a principles-based approach and continue with the practice of thematic consultations, Heads of Delegations meetings, and stress the importance of balanced texts, capturing the views of all the Parties. We also request the Presidencies and other presiding officers to allow maximum time for consultations before issues move into the political level.”
South Africa for Brazil, South Africa, India, China (BASIC) lamented that “developed countries failed to deliver enhanced ambition on means of implementation support for developing countries or progress on developing the multilateral response to adaptation. Once again, developed countries failed to honour their commitments under the Convention and the Paris Agreement”. It underscored that developed countries must honour their pre-2020 commitments regarding mitigation, adaptation and means of implementation and support provided without transferring any burden and responsibility to developing countries and that developed countries are required to take “immediate” actions to close the pre-2020 implementation gaps. It further expressed concerns that “some developed countries are burden shifting and imposing unilateral coercive measures in the name of climate action, such as carbon border taxes, that pose a grave threat to the sustainable development of developing countries.”
Samoa on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), said that guided by the latest science, the global response to climate change must involve concrete actions on the interconnected response pillars – adaptation, mitigation and loss and damage response with commensurate support for developing countries. AOSIS has two high priorities that must be realised at COP28 at Dubai: (1) course correcting and ratcheting up ambition through the outcome of COP28 including the GST process, MWP and GGA; (2) the timely operationalisation and fit-for-purpose funding arrangement cantered around the new fund addressing Loss and Damage and focus on assisting developing countries that are particular vulnerable to the adverse impacts of climate change, including the communities and ecosystems.
Senegal on behalf of Least developed Countries (LDC) stated that as we entering the third and final dialogue on GST and moving from technical to political, the Group hoped that focus will be on finding solutions which open the way to increase ambition and support. On adaptation, the GGA needs to be based CBDR_RC. On loss and damage, it highlighted concerns that loss and damage continued to be side-lined in the GST discussion and that the third technical expert dialogue is only a roundtable devoted to adaptation and does not include a space to discuss financing even though support is very much needed for countries on loss and damage.
Venezuela for the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of our America (ALBA) said it is clear that more ambitious commitments are required from developed countries on adaptation, loss and damage, mitigation and provision of means of implementation, including climate finance, technology transfer and capacity building, in line with their historical responsibilities. It stressed that “unilateral coercive measures” very seriously affects the implementation of the Paris Agreement and these are contrary to the basic fundamentals of international and environmental law, restricting countries’ right to sustainable development, further calling for an “inclusive and participatory multilateralism that brings everyone together to discuss the common future”.
Uruguay for Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay (ABU) also called for a strong “multilateral” climate regime governed by equity and CBDR-RC, expressing concerns about growing number of initiatives and groups proliferating “outside” of the UNFCCC regime which have the “opposite” of intended effect on the implementation of the NDCs as well as measures taken “unilaterally” should not affect negatively. It stressed that further work is needed to facilitate finance to support the efforts of developing countries.
Costa Rica for the Independent Alliance of Latin America and Caribbean (AILAC) said there is a need for ambitious climate action and urgent mobilisation of billions of dollars to meet the needs of developing countries recognising the importance of “public finance” given rising debts due to climate change. It said finance for ‘loss and damage’ must not undermine adaptation and mitigation and must come from “new sources”.
Sweden on behalf of the EU stated that the GST outcome at CMA5 should drive: (1) enhanced mitigation actions pre and post 2030 of all sectors towards decarbonised and resilient economies; (2) strengthening and scaling up adaptation by mainstreaming national policy and reinforcing adaptation policy cycle; (3) A shift in the global economy and the financial markets by orienting all financial flows toward low greenhouse gas (GHG) and climate resilient development.
On the Mitigation Work Programme, the EU hopes to further showcase Party and non-party stakeholders’ efforts and ambition. It also highlighted the recent ministerial meeting which promoted global goal for energy efficiency, renewable energy and peaking of emissions which complement other goals such as the phase out of unabated fossil fuels and fossil fuel subsidies and encourage following up on these discussions.
On climate finance, EU said that it stood by its climate finance commitments and recalled the announcement at the Petersburg Dialogue confirming that contributors are confident that the 100 billion USD goal will be met this year. “We underscore that financing transition to net zero emissions and climate resilient economies will require aligning global financial flows and integrating climate action into national budget and resource mobilisation processes.” It also looked forward to an agenda item on this topic at COP 28 engaging all relevant actors to participate in the implementation of Article 2.1(c) of the Paris Agreement (which relates to making financial flows consistent with pathway towards low GHG emissions and climate -resilient development.
Australia, for the Umbrella Group said that, “The output of GST should provide clear recommendations for NDCs to include all gases, sectors and categories and to reflect Parties’ highest possible ambition towards keeping 1.5 degree C within reach, particularly from those Parties whose emission reductions are required to achieve this goal. It should call on Parties to peak global emission by 2025 at the latest.”
Switzerland for the Environment Integrity Group (EIG) said that it hopes to use this SBs to agree on the structure of GST so that Parties can start working on the elements in the coming months that will be part of the decisions at COP28. The EIG hoped to see strong commitment by Parties to peak emissions by 2025. The group further said that as energy transition will be centerpiece of this year’s outcome, it hopes to see a clear call for the expansion of energy including renewables accompanied by plan for urgent decarbonisation.