Agriculture, Civil Society, Climate Talks, Paris Agreement

SB46: A sorely needed acceleration of the race against the clock for the completion of the Paris Agreement Rulebook

This article is written by Rachel Wu.

The 2017 Bonn Climate Change Conference, or SB46

Starting next week, a capital round of climate negotiations will be held in Bonn, Germany. All three bodies to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) will be at the negotiating table, namely the 46th session of the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI 46), the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA 46), and the third part of the first session of the Ad-hoc Working Group on the Paris Agreement (APA 1-3).

The SBI is one of two permanent subsidiary bodies to the UNFCCC. Its role includes monitoring the effective implementation of the Convention and its Kyoto Protocol, as well as counseling the COPs on budgetary and administrative matters. The second permanent subsidiary body to the Convention, the SBSTA, supports the COPs’ work by dispensing information and advice on scientific and technological matters. Finally, the third body attending SB46, the APA, was established at COP21 in 2015 to prepare the entry into force of the Paris Agreement (PA).

The Paris Agreement Rulebook

The PA, adopted in 2015 at COP21, outlines new procedures and mechanisms and defines Parties’ basic obligations (for further insights into COP21 and COP22 refer to this article).To render the general provisions of the PA operational, Parties have to agree on an extensive set of decisions that translates the framework into specific and concrete rules, all of which will form the Paris Agreement Rulebook. Developing the rulebook falls under the responsibility of the SBI, the SBSTA and the APA. During SB46, Parties are expected to advance the work needed to complete the PA work programme by COP 24, in 2018.

Anticipated highlights of the SB46 session

     (1) APA workshop and roundtables

The APA Transparency intersessional workshop, held earlier this year, was expected to shape the rules of the enhanced transparency framework established under the PA yet was closed to civil society representatives. In a regrettable continuity of the closed door policy, several APA roundtables will too be inaccessible (including on NDC guidance, adaptation communication and matters related to Article 6 of the PA).

     (2) Processes tracking countries’ implementation

On 12 and 13 May, 18 developed countries will undergo the multilateral assessment (MA) process as part of the overall International Assessment and Review (IAR) process conducted by the SBI. This process is one of the most serious, formal ways for officials to question government’s’ commitments to climate action. In Bonn, a lot of attention will focus on the US administration. Countries have submitted questions, requesting more details on how the US plans to cut emissions. Similarly, on 15 May , 13 developing countries will undergo a Facilitative Sharing of Views (FSV) process. Those processes have a fundamentally positive influence as they help countries build confidence among each other, by increasing participation and ambition.

(3) Facilitative Dialogue 2018

The PA established a Global Stocktake (GST) to take place every five years starting in 2023 and expected to help determine how much more countries need to do to reach the agreement’s long-term goals. In the meantime, a stocktake with limited scope will take place in 2018, namely the Facilitative Dialogue. This process will outline whether or not we are on the right path. At the SB46, the countries of Morocco and Fiji, the current and upcoming presidencies to the COP, are expected to hold consultations with countries on how the facilitative dialogue should work.

   (4) Participation of non-party stakeholders

The recognition that transparency is a true governing principle of climate negotiations and collaboration comes hand in hand with the PA’s explicit acknowledgment of the contributions by non-state and subnational actors to the international dialogue on climate change. It seems however that the appeal for enhanced transparency remains purely rhetoric in certain organizational aspects of the negotiation process (1). There will be a workshop on the 9th, on “opportunities to further enhance the effective engagement of non-Party stakeholders with a view to strengthening the implementation of the provisions of decision 1/CP.21”.

   (5) First meeting of the Paris Committee on Capacity-Building (PCCB)

Another significant point on the SB 46 agenda is the inaugural meeting of the Paris Committee on Capacity-Building (PCCB), mandated by the PA to structure capacity-building efforts in developing country Parties for the effective implementation of the NDCs.

     (6) Orphan issues

Orphan issues are issues that are referenced in the Paris Agreement but not assigned to another body for further consideration. These include Action for Climate Empowerment (ACE) under article 12 of the PA. On 17 May, CliMates will organize a workshop on “ACE in action: examples of youth leadership on climate change education”, in collaboration with the Italian Climate Network, the Greener Impact and the Global Youth Institute.

   (7) Agriculture

In 2011, COP17 in Durban mandated the SBSTA to discuss the topic of agriculture and climate change. The process was set to conclude in Marrakech, generating hope that a decision would deliver the much-needed support to the sector, in elements of finance, technology, knowledge sharing, and capacity building. However, as countries were unable to reach a conclusion the decision was postponed to SB46. 

This conference will host other discussions, including on capacity building (6th meeting of the Durban forum), ACE (5th dialogue), technology, finance, the Indigenous People’s Platform and matters related to market and non-market mechanisms (Art. 6 of the PA).

Follow the Climates delegation attending SB46 here
For live news on SB46 follow the CliMates delegation : Twitter  / Facebook  / Instagram
For the detailed overview schedule of SB46, click here.
For the schedule of side-events during SB46, click here.

About the author : Rachel Wu is a penultimate year undergraduate student in political studies. A Cli’Mates rookie, she hopes to combine her interest in human rights issues and sustainability by playing an active part in the think-tank’s advocacy projects.

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