TWN Bonn Climate News Update No. 3
7 June 2023
Published by Third World Network

Address pre-2020 gaps and equity in global stocktake – say developing countries

Bonn, 7 June (Prerna Bomzan): Developing countries made strong calls for the assessment of pre-2020 gaps in implementation and equity to be addressed properly in the technical assessment phase of the global stocktake (GST), in order to assess the collective progress of Parties in the implementation of the goals of the Paris Agreement (PA).

These calls were made at the third and final meeting of the first technical dialogue (TD 1.3) of the first GST, chaired by Co-facilitators Harald Winkler (South Africa) and Farhan Akhtar (United States), which opened on 6 June in Bonn, Germany at the meeting of the UNFCCC’s Subsidiary Bodies. The first GST is scheduled to take place at the UNFCCC’s 28th Conference of Parties (COP 28) in Dubai, UAE, and the technical assessment phase currently underway, will inform the political messages which will emerge later in the year.

Developing countries, led by the G77 and China and many of its sub-groups underlined that the GST must enable Parties to look backwards at implementation gaps and challenges, including those related to the pre-2020 timeframe, as well as the historical responsibilities of developed countries to emissions since the pre-industrial era, and called for the equitable sharing of the carbon space to limit temperature rise.

In response to these calls, the United States said that this was “unacceptable”, adding that the GST is a collective assessment of the PA and “not” the Convention and that equity did not have a single definition but had multiple dimensions. (See below for the detailed interventions). (The PA came into effect in 2016 and nationally determined contributions of Parties for climate action cover the timeframe post 2020, while the Convention covers obligations pre-2020).

At the opening of the TD, the G77 and China led by Cuba said that the Group looks forward “to being able to discern and discuss any emerging messages and findings that may be derived from the information inputs assessed during the technical dialogue” and that the key issues to be addressed in this regard include “the reflection and operationalisation of equity; reflection of the best available science; the importance of the provision of means of implementation from developed to developing countries to enhance their climate actions; contextualising collective progress and ambition on sustainable development, the right to development, and the eradication of poverty in an integrated and holistic manner; the progress in implementation and ambition in, and the linkages between mitigation, adaptation, loss and damage, response measures, and the means of implementation”.

Cuba said that “to do so, it would be necessary that the modalities of the GST TD1.3 are done in a way that provides balanced treatment across all the thematic areas of the GST and also enables the perspectives that have been raised by Parties all throughout the technical dialogues (TD 1.1 and TD 1.2) since last year to be properly reflected. For example, equity is reflected in only mitigation – we would note that equity should be considered in all of the thematic areas as it is, together with the best available science, a key basis of the work of the GST. Finance is imbalanced in its focus on only Article 2.1(c)”.

(Article 2.1 (c) of the PA provides as follows: “Making finance flows consistent with a pathway towards low greenhouse gas emissions and climate-resilient development”, and has been controversial in the climate negotiations among developed and developing countries with differing interpretations about its scope. While developed countries are contextualising it as stand-alone matter with attempts to shift their financial obligations to the private sector and the multilateral development banks, including linking of provision of financial resources to achieve net zero by 2050, developing countries are pushing for its consideration in the entirety of Article 2 including Article 2.2 which anchors equity and the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities [CBDR&RC] in light of national circumstances, as well as in the context of Article 9 which obligates developed countries for the provision and mobilisation of climate finance.)

Cuba stressed that the GST “must be carried out in a holistic, balanced, integrated and facilitative manner, considering all thematic areas, and in light of equity and best available science”, further underlining that the GST “must enable us to look backwards at implementation gaps and challenges, including those related to pre-2020.” The Group also underscored “the critical importance of substantive attention to this area, in order to sufficiently fulfill the mandate of the GST and of assessing collective progress. Our Group expects to see this front and center in the outcome of the GST”.

The G77/China underlined the importance of activities under TD 1.3 and looked forward to a “robust and substantive CMA5 decision”. In this regard, it noted that “the output of the technical dialogue informs the work of the Joint Contact Group and the High Level Committee in achieving their respective mandates”. The Group suggested that the Co-facilitators “take into consideration the structure of elements or outline for the GST decision that the Joint Contact Group is expected to develop so that the outputs and their format coming from the technical dialogue will be fit for purpose for the political phase of the GST”.

“This implies that the discussions in the technical dialogue as part of the technical assessment phase should focus on enabling Parties to collectively answer the questions of where we are, how we got here, and where do we go from here in terms of the collective progress in the implementation of the PA”, Cuba added.

It further said that the “technical dialogue should assist us identify and assess the implementation and ambition gaps, barriers, and opportunities that exist with respect to climate action and international cooperation under the PA, so that we can collectively progress in meeting its goals. In this context, while stressing that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) findings are multilaterally agreed, other information could also be noted as useful for us to consider. We also need to have an assessment of the enablers – finance, technology transfer, capacity building – and the extent to which they have been provided, the costs and support needs that should be addressed. This is particularly important with respect to adaptation in terms of progress towards achievement of the GGA (global goal on adaptation). We also need to have information about the landscape of international cooperation and the barriers and opportunities to it – including looking at barriers such as unilateral measures. We also need to know what the status is of what is happening in other workstreams. Gaps in terms of information and substance need to be addressed”.

Cuba emphasised that “the evolution and recognition of the institutional role of loss and damage issues should also be reflected in the GST” and in closing, expressed hope that “this first GST can be a positive turning point for our multilateral climate change regime, one that can move us from a period of inadequate action and gaps in implementation of commitments, to a period of hope, rebuilt trust, and enhanced international cooperation. For this hope to turn into reality, it will take all of us as Parties, with the support of non-Party stakeholders, to work together in good faith to achieve the outcome that the world expects from us through this GST”.

Ghana for the African Group highlighted the “unique challenges” particularly faced by Africa as backed by the latest IPCC’s 6th Assessment Report’s (AR6) Synthesis Report and focused on what’s been missing until now, especially the “pre-2020 implementation gaps”. Commenting on the various thematic areas – on mitigation, it said that work must be reflected around “equitable sharing of the remaining carbon space”; on adaptation, the largest challenge is “inadequacy of support provided”; on loss and damage, the GST cannot be approached in the context of adaptation so “reiterate our call for a dedicated focus on loss and damage”; on finance, its provision founded under the UNFCCC of “new and additional resources” and that the failure of this commitment is a “key barrier” to achieving the goals of the PA, further responsibilities are clear under Article 4, 9, 13 of the PA with Article 9.3 being clear on commitment of developed countries and “not Article 2.1c” as is currently in emerging messages; on response measures, the “negative impacts” that are being currently dealt with and provision of support to countries affected. Further, Ghana highlighted the “universally recognised right to development”, stressing that understanding the context on which developing countries are pursuing their climate action is one way to reflect “equity” and that “this context must be clearly articulated in the emerging messages”.

Saudi Arabia for the Like-Minded Developing Countries (LMDC) clearly articulated “three very important overarching messages for the GST to keep in mind during this final technical dialogue and towards the outcome – 1) A message of hope and acknowledgment of the positive and effective role of multilateralism and cooperation. Since the PA, we have been able to move the needle, in terms of demonstrable commitment to climate action by many. Many developing countries during this period have been making very ambitious commitments without any support. 2) We are progressing, but we are not progressing past the principles of the PA. Equity, based on historical responsibility, CBDR-RC and differentiation will continue to govern the implementation of this Agreement. Climate action will only truly be just when enacted in support of developing countries’ diverse development pathways, sustainable development, poverty eradication and economic diversification aspirations. 3) The real success of the GST will be a sense of global unity and ownership of an outcome which is equitable, fair and enables international cooperation and on-the-ground implementation across all solutions and approaches, truly leaving no one behind”.

It also expressed frustration on why developing countries’ consistent and repetitive calls to having a “dedicated space to discuss pre-2020 within this technical process have been ignored” and also highlighted the priority issue of adaptation for developing countries stating that the “GST can provide the signals on what is next to operationalise the GGA through its framework and indicators, which will be completed at COP28. This will be able to contribute to enhanced nationally determined adaptation action, and address the gaps and needs in adaptation action and support”. Further, on means of implementation and support, Saudi Arabia expressed concerns about the current positioning as “largely problematic” and underscored that “the GST must ensure the following signals: 1) Finance from developed countries, that is adequate, predictable and responds to the needs and priorities of developing countries, is an obligation, one that cannot be replaced by crafting confusing language merging Article 2.1c with the obligations of developed countries. 2) Technology development and transfer is severely lacking, but represents a key opportunity to enhance the implementation of the PA across mitigation and adaptation. 3) Enhanced capacity building is critical, especially during a time where developing countries may be considering how to enhance their ambition and implementation, in response to the GST”.

Brazil for Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay (ABU) pointed out that the issue of equity appears explicitly only in the roundtable questions/topics about mitigation and encouraged consideration of “equity through all the thematic areas of the roundtables” (of TD 1.3). It also expressed regret that a dedicated discussion on pre-2020 has not been convened since TD 1.1 and said that “at this point in time, we are going to discuss “what’s next” with not an appropriate context taking stock of the reasons that brought the world to where we are now. It means that critical information is not yet available to take stock of the gaps in an appropriate manner, with a view to inform the way forward as requested by Article 14.3 of PA. Why the temperature increased to 1.1C compared to the pre-industrial levels? Why there is a significant gap in means of implementation and support? Those findings and other similar findings contained in the IPCC AR6 reports as well as in the co-facilitators summary reports are related to implementation gaps not coming only from the last three years after the post-2020 period started. It comes from some many years. Considering pre-2020 enables Parties to look back and take stock of what happened and where we are now, and then look forward to what could be done. This means that Parties and NPS (non-Party stakeholders) should reflect on the need to assess the progress and gaps related to the pre-2020 period during the roundtables, the World Café and other GST activities at this session. Our Group encourage them to do so, for example, bringing some of the findings emerged from the Second Periodic Review to the discussions to be conducted under the TD 1.3 activities, as mandated by the decision 21/CP.27 agreed in Sharm El Sheikh”.

South Africa speaking for Brazil, South Africa, India, China (BASIC) strongly voiced out that “our central concern is that no space has been provided for an in-depth technical discussion and information gathering on pre-2020 issues, which is unacceptable when we are undertaking a stock taking exercise. Securing a definitive account of the pre-2020 period is a critical part of the GST, as it will allow us to assess its achievements, progresses and gaps, with a view to providing the equity basis towards achieving the long-term global goals of the Convention and its PA. We call on you to address this glaring deficiency as a matter of urgency”. Further, it highlighted the issue of finance and was critical that “the guiding questions and materials prepared thus far present a very slanted and restrictive perspective of climate finance, with an overwhelming focus on alignment of financial flows under Article 2.1c. This narrative ignores the wider finance ecosystem, in particular the need for provision of support and honouring of commitments by developed countries and the need for systemic reform to the global financial architecture. Recommendations arising from the GST political phase that rely simply on Article 2.1c will fail the equity and credibility test and will not unlock climate action and ambition”.

Algeria for the Arab Group said that “we emphasised on several occasions the necessity to preserve the policy space for sustainable development, including poverty eradication. On this critical idea, we are of the view that it is important to create adequate conditions to get developing countries on track. For this reason, our reflection under the GST has to focus on solutions to enhance international cooperation for reaching the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and to address, among other gaps, the lack of developing countries’ capacities to implement the PA when it comes to this particular context”. It added, “we consider that the principles of equity and CBDR-RC are still relevant. Our work has to focus on the manner to operationalise them in the context of implementing the relevant provisions of the PA. We would like, in this regard, to remind you that Parties are not at the same level of ability and the necessity that the global climate framework has to deal with the existence of a huge amount of national contexts of circumstances that have to be accommodated. Leaving no one behind means that we have to allow every Party to contribute to the global effort to stabilise global warming”.

Trinidad and Tobago for the Alliance of Small Island Developing States (AOSIS) expressed hope that the TD1.3 will be the “opportunity to further specify challenges and barriers so that we can have a full consideration of where we need to go in order to ensure that we can shift onto a 1.5C pathway as well as to strengthen international cooperation on climate action”. It echoed the call from the African Group for a “separate and focused treatment for the issue of loss and damage”.

Colombia for the Independent Alliance of Latin America and Caribbean (AILAC) highlighted that “the commitment to acknowledge the urgency to keep alive 1.5C is key to deliver ambition at COP28” and said that “equity and best available science plays a substantial role for effective climate action and higher climate ambition”. It also emphasised that “assessment and progress on adaptation needs to be strengthened as well as enhanced efforts to avert, minimise and address loss and damage as we move to the final synthesis report”.

Senegal for the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) called for a clear guidance to “scale up finance and simplify access” given that there is “no adequate finance for adaptation, mitigation and loss and damage”. It also conveyed concerns on the treatment of loss and damage being included in the adaptation discussion.

China said that “there are a few significant missing pieces to present a clear picture of where we are and how we get there to achieve the goals of the PA” and elaborated on the “six missing pieces” in the technical assessment so far, namely, pre-2020 progress and gaps; global collective progress; progress and gaps on implementation and delivery of NDCs (nationally determined contributions), given many developing countries’ NDCs are conditional; absence of information and assessment of cost and support needs attached to different temperature goals, targets and modeled pathways; absence of substantive assessment of adaptation progress and gaps on a global scale towards achieving GGA; and assessment of landscape of international cooperation and what’s next.

It highlighted that according to the latest IPCC AR6 report on mitigation, the historical cumulative net CO2 emissions for the period 1850-2019 amounts to “four fifths of the total carbon budget for a 50% probability of limiting global warming to 1.5C and to about two thirds of the total carbon budget for a 67% probability to limit global warming to 2C”, adding that the report shows that “North America and Europe has taken up 39%, whereas Eastern Asia is 12%”. In relation to international cooperation, it pointed out that “enhancing international cooperation is the mandated aim of GST”; however, “the environment for global climate efforts is increasingly deteriorating” given “sanctions on clean energy products; blockages on international clean technology cooperation; green barriers and unilateral measures; disruptions to global economy, trade, investment, supply chains, etc.”. “These all undermine the capacities and progress collectively and individually in addressing climate change, in particular for developing countries”, it emphasised. China also requested the co-facilitators to “objectively and honestly capture” and “reflect” its messages in the technical assessment synthesis report.

India said that “we share the concerns raised by others regarding lack of operationalising equity in our dialogue so far, on pre-2020 gaps, the depletion of the global carbon budget due to disproportionate use by a minority, and the severe constraints and costs that this imposes on low-carbon development, in developing countries”. It firmly stated that “we would not support any prescriptive messages from the GST on what the content of our NDCs should be. Parties under PA retain the sovereign right to determine their climate targets in pursuit of their goals, and reflect them in their NDCs. In this context, we do not support that NDCs necessarily should be economy-wide, comprising all sectors or gases. Those that would like to frame their NDCs in this manner, voluntarily have our full support”. Referring to the IPCC scenarios on global mitigation pathways, India emphasized that “the models and scenarios currently in the scientific literature have not received the close scrutiny necessary to determine whether developing countries’ needs, rights and aspirations are anywhere close to being met by their projections. These models provide pathways that are based on constraining energy consumption and income growth in developing countries, and project a future for us that we do not want”.

The United States expressed concerns over the draft messages that will emerge from the GST process, and stressed the need for the appropriate balance between concerns and hope. Filling the gaps identified from the technical assessment is not solely up to developed countries, it added. It also said that calls for the assessment of the pre-2020 timeframe and for equitable access to sustainable development are “unacceptable”, adding that the GST is a collective assessment of the PA and “not” the Convention. It called for the next round of NDCs to be “economy-wide with all sectors and trajectories” in line with 1.5C. It also said that in order to mainstream adaptation, “good governance is equally important as finance”. On equity, it said that it is reflected in the PA and that there is no “singular” definition as there are “multiple dimensions” of equity. The US urged focus on one of the long-term goals of the PA which includes Article 2.1c, adding emphasis on requiring demand for investments, including and mobilising capital from all sources and managing financial risks and the contribution by non-Party stakeholders.

The European Union stressed on immediate, deep and rapid reductions to keep warming below 1.5C and said that for transforming economies making financial flows consistent with the PA is key.

Australia for the Umbrella Group said that significant progress has been made since the PA but also, more work needs to be done. It emphasised that it is important to clearly articulate the key messages coming up for global action by “all Parties”.