Climate Talks, Road to COP21

Will the Climate Summit be successful?

This article is the second of a series of 4 articles on Negotiation and COP20. Here is the first, and the 3rd!
This article is written by Clément Bultheel.

This 23 September, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has invited world leaders, from government, finance, business, and civil society to a new Climate Summit, similar to the one organised in 2009  next to  the Copenhagen Summit, to “galvanize and catalyze climate action”. A day before the Summit, what can be expected?


By organizing this high-level event, M. Ban has asked these leaders to bring to the Summit bold announcements and actions in order to reduce emissions, strengthen climate resilience, and mobilize political will for a meaningful legal agreement at the COP21, in Paris, 2015. More than 120 heads of state and governments will attend the Summit. This is the largest number of world leaders to ever attend a climate meeting, and it is a unique opportunity for leaders to champion an ambitious vision, anchored in action that will enable a meaningful global agreement in Paris.

Highlighting economic and climate co-benefits initiatives to strengthen climate action… and finance

Expected & awaited by stakeholders for a long time, the Summit will unfold like this. Mornings will be dedicated to statements from Heads of State, where new commitments for the Green Climate Fund are expected. At the same time, a few « policy rooms » are scheduled to discuss on the 8 action areas (mentioned below) which will be discussed in the afternoon.

Then a lunch will be provided by the Global Compact (the United Nations initiative to encourage businesses worldwide to adopt sustainable and socially responsible policies) with business leaders and heads of state and government, whose theme will be the price of carbon.

Afternoons will be dedicated to multilateral and multi-stakeholders action announcements in eight thematic areas (Finance; Energy; Forests; Agriculture; Resilience; Transports; Cities; Petroleum & industry), also divided in three plenaries. A few international cooperative initiatives will be highlighted, including new launchings, as for examples the UNEP Energy Efficiency Accelerators, the SIDS Lighthouse Initiative, the CCAC Oil and Gas Methane Partnership, the Compact of Mayors, the Global Fuel Economy Initiative, the CCAC “Addressing HCFs” Initiative, the Global Alliance for Climate Smart Agriculture, and a few others. These initiatives have been identified at the ministerial meetings in Abu Dhabi (Abu Dhabi Ascent 2014) last May. In complement of these action areas sessions, 4 thematic discussions are launched. Themes are science, health and jobs, economic case for action, and voices from the frontlines (see the diagram below).

The Climate Summit will be surrounded by numerous side events during the Climate Week NYC 2014. , organized by The Climate Group during the week of discussions at the UN General Assembly.

Climate Summit 2014 - Final Schedule

An oversold Summit?

The Ban Ki-moon Summit is an independent political event held aside of the climate negotiations, but must lead to a mobilization of state and non-state actors, and more bridges but be built with the negotiation process overtime.

Thus, the civil society momentum, embodied by the largest march for climate in history organized on September 21, is, although quite desirable, disproportionate as the Summit will result in no negotiated outcome. The Summit is only a platform to push the political & economic leaders to increase their financial commitments and in some of the initiatives detailed above. The decisions are taken only during the Conference of Parties, that’s why the COP20 in Lima and the COP21 in Paris are the moments where huge momentum is needed.

The real issues of the Summit are the funding of the Green Climate Fund and the place of international cooperation initiatives in relation to the negotiation process, including the terms of recognition of these initiatives by the latter. But nothing guarantees that the dynamic around these two issues will be enhanced after the Summit.

To do this, such dynamics cannot be punctual. It also raises the question of monitoring and strengthening actions already launched and of their political support. On these questions, at this point nothing seems to have been planned. An extended follow-up by the UN Secretariat General is not guaranteed, and nothing suggests what will be the role of Peruvian and French presidencies in these political portage issues. Some mystery therefore remains on the success of the Summit. In any case, it would be a success if political dynamics could be extended and catalyzed in the long-term.

Climate Summit 2014 - Momentum image 1

Reminder of the Calendar of events:

  • 23 September 2014 – UN Secretary General Summit
  • 20-24 October 2014: ADP 2-6 Meeting -> SB41 sessions, including ADP2-6 in Bonn. This meeting is scheduled additionally to have further discussions on the intended national determined contributions (iNDC) modalities and on the 2015 calendar which will be decided in Lima.
  • 23-24 October 2014: European Council -> Term fixed for a decision, still uncertain, on the 2030 energy-climate package. The package is likely to be the European Union’s contributions for COP21 in Paris.
  • 27-31 October 2014: Release of the 5th IPCC Report Synthesis
  • 4-7 November : Pre-COP20 in Caracas -> This “Social pre-COP” will welcome civil society organizations from all over the world, including those attending the UNFCCC negotiations or involved in other UN processes, as well as organizations with no formal UN status.
  • 1-13 December : COP20 in Lima -> This COP is crucial to fix a strong 2015 timetable which will be necessary for the elaboration of an ambitious agreement in Paris.
  • December 2015 : COP21 in Paris -> Signing of a new “protocol, another legal instrument or an agreed outcome with legal force under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change applicable to all Parties” for entry into force in 2020.


About the author: Clément Bultheel is studying international relations at ILERI in Paris. At the COP19 in Warsaw, he integrated the French climate delegation as a Young Delegate. He joined recently the CliMates’ negotiation tracking team, and had the opportunity to join the French climate delegation as an intern for the summer of 2014, in particular with a view to preparing the COP21.

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