Climate Finance Remains Tough Issue in COP21 Negotiations

December 2, 2015 | 00:00
Climate Finance Remains Tough Issue in COP21 Negotiations
Climate Finance Remains Tough Issue in COP21 Negotiations
Alden Meyer of the Union of Concerned Scientists gave a good overview of the state of affairs on the third day op COP21 during the Climate Action Network press conference.

On day 1 of the climate summit world leaders had come to Paris adding political momentum to the process, Alden said. “We saw a flurry of activity and statements and joint announcement and very significant ones. It clearly indicated that all leaders want to see an agreement by the end of next week in Paris.” It is certain we'll get an agreement, he said, but the question is “how ambitious, how equitable, how meaningful the agreement will be. And that is still all to play for.”

The rest of the week it is up to the negotiators to work out compromises and streamline the text. Next week the ministers will gather and those political crunch issues that negotiators could not resolve will be taken up by them.

Much of the negotiations are taking place in spin-off groups. The NGOs aren't allowed access to these groups, so they get their information from people who do have access to those rooms, said Alden. And what they've heard so far is that progress on different issues is uneven.

The toughest topic to tackle is climate finance and those issues tying in with it such as loss and damage. But on the subject of measuring and reporting greenhouse gas emission reductions the negotiators seem to be making progress.

“Finance is where the strongest roadblocks still are. It is almost clear that this is going to ministers next week and probably very late in the week to be resolved”, said Alden. “We need to have clarity in the Paris agreement about scaling up post-2020 finance beyond what is committed now by the developed countries. All countries want to see the base of donor countries broadened and there is a lot of debate over the language to encourage additional countries that are in the position to do so or are willing to do so.

“We also need support for the conditional ambitions a number of developing countries have put forward in their first round of proposed contributions. Many of them have said what they can do with their own resources on an unconditional basis. But they have also proposed additional contributions under the condition they receive support in the form of finance and technology.

Loss and damage
“The issue of loss and damage has been one of the big crunch issues, particularly between the USA and the Small Island States and other vulnerable countries. The good news is the mood has shifted a bit. President Obama had a meeting with the leaders of the Small Island States. The President of the Marshall Islands Christopher Loeak put out a statement afterward saying he is “more confident than ever before that we can secure the ambitious agreement that we need”. It was a positive outcome. Now it is down to the negotiators and next week to the ministers to see if they can translate that agreement at the leader level on a conceptual basis into actual text and provisions on loss and damage.

“Some of the conversations on adaptation are going well, but, again, it is linked to the issue of finance. Especially predictability and scaling-up of adaptation finance. What has not yet been resolved is having a larger share of public finance go toward adaptation needs. So a lot of these roads lead back to the finance issue.

Alden's recap on the progress with regards to measuring the effects of climate mitigation measures was more positive: “There has been some progress on the transparency and review and reporting issues although there are still some tough issues there. But there seems to be general convergence around moving toward a common MRV regime [Measurement, Reporting and Verification of greenhouse gas mitigation] by the middle of the next decade. It includes support for developing countries to develop their domestic monitoring, reporting and verification capability with probably some kind of exemption for the least developed countries.

“So there has been some progress but the devil is in the details. Particularly on the verification and the independent measurement of how well countries are doing. But this is really essential if this INDC world agreement is going to work. You have to have transparency, you have to have clarity on how well countries are doing with regards to meeting their obligations.

“We need a package including a clear long-term goal which sends a powerful signal to investors and the business community that the phase-out of fossil fuels is inevitable. And the move toward a 100% renewable energy based economy is unstoppable. We need a clear understanding of 5-year cycles of review and revision and ratcheting up of ambitions starting by the end of this decade. Not starting in 2025 or 2030, because if we wait that long to change the ambition trajectory we are locked into a path that is not sustainable.”

Image: The Marshall Islands - Majuro - Laura Beach. By:
Stefan Lins. CC-BY licence.
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