By Jaya Ramachandran | IDN-InDepthNews Analysis
BERLIN (IDN) – The African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group has welcomed the Climate Change Paris Agreement on December 12. “It is a major step forward; it has reinforced the core issues around which the ACP joined forces with the EU,” said the 79-nation Group’s Secretary-General Dr. Patrick Gomes.
He was referring to a landmark joint initiative by ACP Group and the 28-nation European Union on December 8 to push for an “ambitious, durable and legally binding” deal with a strong review every five years.
In the joint initiative, the EU and the ACP Group said that the Paris Agreement must be inclusive, fair, and dynamic, adding:
– It must set out a clear and operational long-term goal, which is in line with science.
– It must establish a review mechanism for countries to come together every five years to consider progress made and to enhance collective and individual efforts as appropriate.
– It must include a transparency and accountability system to track progress on the delivery of national commitments and the sharing of best practice.
Both developed and developing countries had endorsed the agreement. Gomes told IDN. Basically, he added, the key points are: all countries will set targets from 2020 and have these reviewed to see how close to reducing global warming is “well below” 2 degrees Celsius and pursue “efforts” to reach 1.5 degrees.
“The five-year review will have obligations on developed countries whereas developing countries are ‘encouraged’. Loss and damage to developing countries such as in particular SIDS will entitle assistance for climate impact risk insurance, for population displacement, relocation etc. That this loss and damage mechanism is recognised in the Agreement is a great gain for an ACP Forum on SIDS (Small Island Developing States) that will be set up,” said Gomes in an email comment from Nairobi, the venue of the WTO ministerial session.
Also key is the inclusion of forests and oceans as sources for carbon storage and special assistance to be provided for countries doing this as adaptation measures is an important element of the Paris Agreement, the ACP Secretary-General said.
According to the Secretariat of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Paris Agreement and the outcomes of the UN climate conference (COP21) in fact cover all the crucial areas identified as essential for a landmark conclusion: mitigation – reducing emissions fast enough to achieve the temperature goal: a transparency system and global stock-take – accounting for climate action; adaptation – strengthening ability of countries to deal with climate impacts; loss and damage – strengthening ability to recover from climate impacts; and support – including finance, for nations to build clean, resilient futures.
Setting a long-term direction, countries will peak their emissions as soon as possible and continue to submit national climate action plans that detail their future objectives to address climate change.
This builds on the momentum of the unprecedented effort which has so far seen 188 countries contribute climate action plans to the new agreement, which will dramatically slow the pace of global greenhouse gas emissions.
The new agreement also establishes the principle that future national plans will be no less ambitious than existing ones, which means these 188 climate action plans provide a firm floor and foundation for higher ambition.
Countries will submit updated climate plans – called nationally determined contributions (NDCs) – every five years, thereby steadily increasing their ambition in the long-term.
Climate action will also be taken forward in the period before 2020. Countries will continue to engage in a process on mitigation opportunities and will put added focus on adaptation opportunities. Additionally, they will work to define a clear roadmap on ratcheting up climate finance to USD 100 billion by 2020
This is further underlined by the agreement’s robust transparency and accounting system, which will provide clarity on countries’ implementation efforts, with flexibility for countries’ differing capabilities.
“The Paris Agreement also sends a powerful signal to the many thousands of cities, regions, businesses and citizens across the world already committed to climate action that their vision of a low-carbon, resilient future is now the chosen course for humanity this century,” said UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres.
Support to Developing Nations
The Paris Agreement, says the UNFCCC, underwrites adequate support to developing nations and establishes a global goal to significantly strengthen adaptation to climate change through support and international cooperation.
The already broad and ambitious efforts of developing countries to build their own clean, climate-resilient futures will be supported by scaled-up finance from developed countries and voluntary contributions from other countries.
Governments decided that they will work to define a clear roadmap on ratcheting up climate finance to USD 100 billion by 2020 while also before 2025 setting a new goal on the provision of finance from the USD 100 billion floor.
Figueres said. “We have seen unparalleled announcements of financial support for both mitigation and adaptation from a multitude of sources both before and during the COP. Under the Paris Agreement, the provision of finance from multiple sources will clearly be taken to a new level, which is of critical importance to the most vulnerable.”
International cooperation on climate-safe technologies and building capacity in the developing world to address climate change are also significantly strengthened under the new agreement.
Signing the Paris Agreement
Following the adoption of the Paris Agreement by the COP (Conference of the Parties), it will be deposited at the UN in New York and be opened for one year for signature on April 22, 2016 – Mother Earth Day.
The agreement will enter into force after 55 countries that account for at least 55% of global emissions have deposited their instruments of ratification.
Cities and Provinces to Companies and Investors Aligning
December 12 landmark agreement was reached against the backdrop of a remarkable groundswell of climate action by cities and regions, business and civil society.
During the week of events under the Lima to Paris Action Agenda (LPAA) at the COP, the groundswell of action by these stakeholders successfully demonstrated the powerful and irreversible course of existing climate action.
Countries at COP 21 recognised the enormous importance of these initiatives, calling for the continuation and scaling up of these actions, which are entered on the UN-hosted NAZCA portal as an essential part in the rapid implementation of the Paris Agreement.
The LPAA and NAZCA have already captured climate actions and pledges covering:
– Over 7,000 cities, including the most vulnerable to climate change, from over 100 countries with a combined population with one and a quarter billion people and around 32% of global GDP.
– Sub-national states and regions comprising one fifth of total global land area and combined GDP of $12.5 trillion.
– Over 5,000 companies from more than 90 countries that together represent the majority of global market capitalisation and over $38 trillion in revenue.
– Nearly 500 investors with total assets under management of over $25 trillion
UNFCCC Executive Secretary said: “The recognition of actions by businesses, investors, cities and regions is one of the key outcomes of COP 21. Together with the LPAA, the groundswell of action shows that the world is on an inevitable path toward a properly sustainable, low-carbon world.” [IDN-InDepthNews – 13 December 2015]
Photo: Rejoicing at Endorsement of Paris Agreement