On Tuesday December 1st, substantive negotiations kicked off in a number of different forums, including the ADP contact group, the main Conference of Parties plenary and its two permanent Subsidiary Bodies (the SBSTA, which provides scientific and technical advice linking the scientific Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change with the policy aims of the COP; and the SBI, which reviews implementation of UNFCCC agreements).
Parties generally stated their positions along interest lines and set the scene for the negotiations to come. Nothing particularly new came up. Of note:
- The Umbrella group (a loose coalition of developed non-EU countries, such as Canada, Japan, the US, Norway, New Zealand, etc) said Paris must deliver an agreement that creates regular updates for ambition. This ran consistent with US president Barack Obama’s announcement supporting a legally binding periodic INDC review process, which represents a slight compromise in the USA’s negotiating position.
- The Least Developed Countries bloc stated that the 2° limit is inadequate, renewing the call for 1.5°. This runs consistent with the Climate Vulnerable Forum announcement.
These meetings were very technical in nature. IISD reporting has covered them in detail. Generally, the ADP Contact group discussed all major headings (mitigation, adaptation, finance, technology transfer, and so on) and considered linkages between themes, as well as how to build into the text solutions addressing the discrepancy between the aggregate effect of INDCs and the necessary emissions reductions to align with a 2 degree future.
Concerns were also raised by delegates about the rapidly expanding schedule, proliferation of informal groups and contact group meetings. They were also concerned that parties were still inserting new text at this stage, postponing the focus on substance called for by COP21 President Laurent Fabius on Monday.
Overall, the negotiations began at a characteristically slow pace. The meat of the issues will be negotiated in various respective spin-off groups throughout the week. It is likely that the press will not have access to these events.
Side events – the LPAA
LPAA (the Lima-Paris Action Agenda) is a joint undertaking of the Peruvian and French COP presidencies, the Office of the Secretary-General of the United Nations and the UNFCCC Secretariat. It focuses on implementing mitigation, adaptation and capacity building measures. It is a concrete example of the kind of initiatives which will form the operational, day to day aspect of the Paris Agreement. They represent the type of actions that can be mobilized with sufficient climate finance provided by wealthy countries (and private sector partnerships).
The LPAA will go on until 8 December and will focus on 12 areas. The agenda can be found here. Today the themes were forests and agriculture.
Forest loss is responsible for around 11% of global emissions and meetings have been held intending to focus on implementing partnerships with additional resources to ensure healthy forests. Heads of government have joined to recognise that tackling this issue as a key climate solution. $5 billion has been committed by Germany, Norway and the UK in aid of this goal.
The LPAA forest event included, for example, parties reporting on successful decreases in deforestation, $5 billion in commitments from governments such as Germany, Norway and the UK, and new announcements by large private sector companies committing to remove deforestation from their supply chains.
This kind of joint initiative is important, because supply chains which cause deforestation (and hence contribute to the climate change equation by removing carbon ‘sinks’) are a systemic problem. If a single company changes its supply chain, harmful production will just shift elsewhere. While ‘clean’ economies usually do have long term economic (not to mention ecological and social) benefits, the transition will have an upfront cost and put them at a competitive disadvantage. Partnership initiatives allow this hurdle to be overcome in the transition to a more sustainable and climate friendly business model.
Six cooperative initiatives driving climate resilient, productive and low emissions agriculture were announced today by governments along with food and agriculture organizations at the The LPAA “Focus on Agriculture”. The event featured the announcement of six new cooperative initiatives by government and food and agriculture organizations. They focused on driving growth in climate resilient, productive and low emissions agriculture. Agricultural greenhouse emissions account for 13% of global emissions. Reducing emissions in this area must be balanced with food security, especially in developing countries with increasing populations. Examples of initiatives announced here included aiming to increase carbon stocks in soils, reducing beef carbon footprints in European countries, US$285 million investments into smallholder farms. These initiatives tackle climate change on multiple fronts including mitigation (through both increased efficiency in production and sequestration), adaptation for vulnerable communities, and capacity-building to empower countries to develop from within.
Overall, the first day of the LPAA was a promising indication of the continued mobilisation of climate finance, mitigation and adaptation measures, demonstrating a potential trajectory for global sustainable development initiatives that will be encouraged by a Paris Agreement.