Climate Talks, COP20 - Lima, Road to COP21

How Lima can brace up pre-2020 ambitions

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

It is recognized that voluntary targets announced by the parties to the Convention for 2020 are insufficient to limit temperature increase to below +2°C. Based on this observation, and under pressure from the European Union, the group of Small Island Developing States (SIDS), the Least Developed Countries (LDC) and progressive South American States (AILAC), the Durban conference wishes to begin a workstream on the axis period of 2020, well-known as “Workstream 2”, with the aim to raise pre-2020 ambitions. The action plan is therefore to promote an ambitious short-term goal to ensure that the long-term goals that will be taken to the COP21 turn into feasible action.

Bridging the emissions gap

The UNEP Emissions Gap Report 2014 found that there is a need for additional reductions by at least 10 gigatons of carbon dioxide equivalent by 2020. The report also found that there is much untapped potential to reduce emissions at a relatively low cost. Given current rising emissions, it is urgent that these ways are explored as to how best tapping this potential.

By creating the Durban platform, the COP decided to launch a work plan on enhancing mitigation ambition to identify and explore options for a range of actions that can close the ambition gap, with a view ensuring the highest possible mitigation efforts by all Parties. A year later at its eighteenth session, the COP decided to identify and explore, in 2013, options for a range of actions that can close the pre-2020 ambition gap, with a view to identify further activities for its plan of work in 2014, ensuring the highest possible mitigation efforts under the Convention. This identification is made in a technical paper on mitigation benefits of actions, initiatives and options to enhance mitigation ambition, which is regularly updated.

What future for the work plan on enhancing mitigation ambition?

Workstream 2 activities are planned until 2014. In this context, the first question that will arise in Lima is the continuation of these activities, especially the Technical Experts Meetings (TEM) in 2015. On this point, the consensus should be reached, as Parties have shown a strong interest for the TEM.

Then, the other question which may arise from Lima concerns the follow up of the Durban platform mandate, which will end after the COP21. As the Paris agreement will enter into force by 2020, what will the future of the work plan on enhancing mitigation ambition for the 2015-2020 period be? Could a continuation of the Workstream 2 be officially recorded in the Paris agreement? Or would it be done in a secondary decision?

With the prospect of the COP21 and therefore the 2015 tight calendar of negotiations, it seems preferable to move forward as best as possible in Lima on pre-2020 ambition, by taking advantage of the scheduled end of the Durban platform to rebuild the pre-2020 architecture. It could improve the capacity to support and to impulse the actions taken by Parties. On the contrary, extending without enriching this axis of the Durban platform could be perceived as a confession of failure of this one. That is why it seems imperative to have results on this issue during the COP20.

The ADP co-chairs propositions on pre-2020 ambition

To allow advances in Lima, the ADP co-chairs provided a draft text on pre-2020 ambition last July, which has been updated for October ADP’s session, and finally collected into a final ADP draft for Lima as well as into a non-paper on elements for the Paris agreement which will be discuss in Lima. They propose, among others, the following elements:

  • The financial institutions (Green Climate Fund, Global Environmental Facility) and the technology mechanism (Technology Executive Committee, Climate Technology Centre & Network) are invited to support countries in the implementation of their pre-2020 actions and to participate in technical dialogues;
  • The work plan on enhancing mitigation ambitions will continue its work after 2015 till the entry into force of the new climate agreement, with two review processes in 2017 and 2019;
  • The Subsidiary Bodies (SBI in particular) would be responsible for taking into account the progress toward a path consistent with the 2°C scenario and develop the work program post-2015 for it to be adopted at the COP21;
  • A Forum on Accelerated Implementation of pre-2020 Climate Action will be convened in conjunction with the 42nd sessions of the subsidiary bodies (June 2015) with a view to consolidate and enhance immediate action.

To summarize on the COP20 issues for pre-2020 ambition, it is fundamental to extend the Workstream 2 mandate for 2015, so that the COP could ideally give a direct mandate to the Subsidiary Bodies in order to define modalities of a future interactive platform to enhance pre-2020 ambition, and to have the whole year to do it.


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 COP21.

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