This article is written by Sabrina Marquant.
Four years after the Durban climate change conference, here we are! The COP21 has just started this Monday. This last and final round of the UN Climate talks should bring new momentum to the international climate regime by defining a new mechanism of collective actions that are more modern, more inclusive and able to provide appropriate responses to the climate challenge. This four year process has strongly contributed to change the political awareness on climate change.
Outside the UNFCCC bubble: world leaders are on the #RoadtoCOP21
This year has been marked by a succession of forums in parallel of the UNFCCC and by increasing rhetoric of the climate challenges in political statements of several Head of States and Governments. It has been contributed strongly to linkup climate challenges with other topics and builds bridges among political leaders. This increasing attention has initiated for the very first time a larger and more comprehensive understanding on climate risks for global security, and has articulated concrete opportunities to fight effectively climate change.
In addition to this political momentum, the Parties have the opportunity to define their own mitigation trajectory through the articulation of a national development strategy towards a sustainable low-carbon economy. Throughout the year, countries have published their national strategies for mitigation on climate (what we call in UNFCCC jargon: the INDCs). Today, more than 180 INDCs have been already published (which represent around 90% of the global GHG emissions). This is unprecedented moment in the climate change negotiation history. Never before have Parties showed their hand before the final stop on the road to a new climate agreement. This also showed that globally, confidence has been rebuilt after the failures of Copenhagen.
These new commitments to reduce emissions will bolster the ambition and determination of world leaders making decisions in Paris.
Outside the UNFCCC bubble: a driver for the inside?
For over 20 years the climate change negotiations have been considered as a bubble disconnected from realities. Recently things seem to have shifted. For a long time the UNFCCC has been considered to be an isolated bubble reserved for complex negotiations on climate change. However, the Paris process shows the negotiations are now echoing the reality outside. It is evident that it awareness of the importance to build bridges between inside and outside the bubble, However to get an ambitious Paris agreement and a long term, inclusive and effective response to climate we also need to bring political will inside the UNFCCC bubble.
Whereas most of the time Heads of State and Governments come at the end of a negotiation process, French President M. Hollande has decided to open the COP21 with a world leaders event. Thus, Monday 30th of November, over 150 Heads of State and Governments were gathered to reaffirm their ambition and determination to reach an agreement here in Paris. With this “French gamble” the COP21 Presidency wanted to bring this positive and constructive atmosphere inside the UNFCCC bubble. Furthermore, the presidency wanted to kick off the talks with political momentum which will boost the last two weeks of this final round of climate talks and must translate political will into strong negotiation outcomes. However, it is too early to evaluate the degree of success of this “French gamble”.
Inside the UNFCCC bubble: the multilateralism test of climate change negotiations Translating the political will into negotiation outcomes is important, not only for the future of billion of people who will be directly impacted by climate change, but also for the future of the UN system and its role to preserve peace by maintaining dialogue and cooperation between all nations.
Forums in parallel with the official negotiating process are excellent tools to better understand national interests, to build links between topics and to light the way, but it cannot replace the decision making power of the UNFCCC. The UNFCCC arena is the only official forum where all countries are represented and the global action on climate change can be decided. The UNFCCC needs to stay the main forum at the international level to elaborate global strategy on climate change; as it’s legitimacy has been reaffirmed by new agenda for sustainable development recently adopted.
Seventy years after the establishment of the UN system, the climate change negotiations is a chance for the UN to continue to build the solid foundations of the global answer to climate change and to contribute on the achievement of the goals of the UN charter: “To maintain international peace and security […], to develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples, and to take other appropriate measures to strengthen universal peace […], to achieve international co-operation in solving international […], to be a centre for harmonizing the actions of nations in the attainment of these common ends”.
About the author: Sabrina Marquant.« Passionate about climate negotiations since Bali in 2007, Sabrina Marquant decided to join CliMates in order to develop a better concrete and critical analysis on the blocking points slowing down the negotiations process and to work on innovative solutions to re-invigorate this process on the road to COP21. In December 2013, at the COP19, she had the opportunity to integrate the Official French Delegation as a Youth Delegate. In 2014, she was one of the two UNFCCC focal points for YOUNGO. Those two opportunities give to her a new vision and understandings of the negotiation process and youth participation at the international level. More determined than ever to work on these issues she decided to focus her time on tracking the climate negotiations towards the COP21, analyzing potential bridges between this negotiation and other global processes (especially SDGs and Sendai Framework) and preparing the youth mobilization on the road to Paris and beyond. »