PRESS RELEASE: Least Developed Countries Group

 

Pursuing progress at the Bonn climate negotiations

From 8-18 May 2017, the United Nations climate change negotiations will be held in Bonn, Germany. It is important that substantive progress is made on the rules and processes that will fully operationalise the Paris Agreement. This session marks the half-way point to the finalisation of this process by 2018.

Chair of the Least Developed Countries (LDC) Group, Gebru Jember Endalew, said “climate change is costing lives and livelihoods, particularly in poor and vulnerable countries so there is a need for urgent action by all countries. The LDC Group will continue to push for fair and ambitious action by all.”

“For many of our countries, keeping the global temperature rise below 1.5 degrees Celsius is a matter of survival. Therefore, we all have to work towards a cleaner, greener, low-carbon global society as soon as possible.”

“Protecting people, livelihoods and economies also requires adapting to the impacts of climate change that are already devastating communities, erasing hard-won development gains and forcing mass migration. In this regard, I am deeply concerned about the lack of available support for adaptation, leaving the poorest and most vulnerable in society to weather the worst impacts of climate change with the least means to cope. Meanwhile the Least Developed Countries Fund, a key source of support for adaptation planning and implementation, sits empty.”

“Many LDCs have made ambitious commitments under the Paris Agreement. However, these commitments cannot be implemented without substantial support, including technological and financial support. Many estimates suggest that more than $100 trillion is needed to transition to a global low-carbon society. The financial support committed by developed countries to date falls far short of this figure and is therefore woefully inadequate. The little that has nominally been made available through various funds and institutions continues to be inaccessible for our countries that the lack individual and institutional capacity to readily access those funds. In short, climate finance must begin to actually flow to the countries that need it and be scaled up drastically if we are to limit global warming to safe levels and avoid the most catastrophic impacts of climate change across the globe.”

“Despite the challenges LDCs face, we are leading through action, for example by building on the successful launch of the LDC Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Initiative at COP22. Through this initiative, LDCs are taking charge of their energy future and security and empowering our poorest communities to pursue sustainable development through equitable access to clean, sustainable and low-carbon energy.”

The LDC Group has already convened in Bonn for preparatory meetings from 1-2 May, to consolidate our positions and strategies ahead of the upcoming negotiations.

Further details on these topics, as well as other prominent issues arising at the Bonn conference can be found in the LDC group’s Media Background Note (below).

 

 

Media Background Note

The Least Developed Countries Group and the Bonn Climate Change Conference

From 8-18 May 2017, the United Nations climate change negotiations will convene in Bonn, Germany.[1] This session marks the half-way point to the finalisation of the UNFCCC’s ‘rule book’ to implement the Paris Agreement in 2018, so it is vitally important that substantive progress is made.

The negotiations follow more than a year of growing political momentum within the international community to address climate change. In December 2015 the Paris Agreement was adopted and on 4 November 2016 it entered into force – an achievement that came far sooner than expected.

While international political progress over the past year has been significant, countries are still far from implementing actions on the scale required to steer the planet away from dangerous climate change and achieve the goals that have been set under international agreements. For developing countries, and particularly the Least Developed Countries (LDCs), the Bonn conference is an important opportunity to continue working towards a strong and fair international response to climate change, to protect poor and vulnerable communities across the world and safeguard the planet for future generations.

With work under the Paris Agreement now underway, the focus of the climate change negotiations must be firmly on action and implementation. At COP22[2] in Marrakech, Parties began negotiating how the UNFCCC’s ‘rule book’ will be elaborated to ensure the commitments Parties made in Paris are translated into tangible actions to address climate change. However, progress in Marrakech was slower than the LDC group had hoped. In Bonn, the international community must work productively to make the decisions needed to implement the Paris Agreement.

Detailed in this note are some of the key questions arising in Bonn, including:

  • How will support be secured for poor and vulnerable countries?
  • How will global temperature goals be met?
  • How will countries adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change?
  • How will countries cope with the unavoidable impacts of climate change?
  • How will countries assess progress and adjust actions to successfully implement the Paris Agreement?

Progress of the “LDC Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Initiative (REEEI) for Sustainable Development” is also outlined; an initiative reflecting LDC’s commitment to taking real action on climate change.

The LDC group is committed to achieving fair and ambitious outcomes on all of the issues arising at the Bonn conference, not just those listed here. For further information, interviews, briefings or quotes on these topics or others from the LDC group please email  ldcchair.media@gmail.com to be put in touch with Gebru Jember Endalew, Chair of the LDC group.

1.     How will support to poor and vulnerable countries be secured?

A prominent issue in Bonn will take place around the commitment made by developed countries to mobilise a minimum of $100bn a year in climate finance to support developing countries to adapt to climate change and take actions to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

Developing countries are the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and yet many lack the capacity to adequately protect their populations from the severe storms, increased drought, sea level rise and spreading disease that is already starting to occur. While most developing countries have submitted plans to limit their emissions in their intended or final Nationally Determined Contributions under the Paris Agreement, many have also noted the need for support to carry out these commitments.

Over the next two decades more than $100tn USD will be needed to finance the necessary infrastructure for the transition to a global low carbon economy.[3] Preliminary estimates of the total amount of finance required for developing countries to implement their NDCs over a similar period are small in comparison, exceeding $4tn USD, however the finance to meet these commitments is lacking. Currently only $35.3bn USD has been pledged to climate finance across multiple different funds, falling far short of any of these measures.[4] Only 8% of this ($2.6bn) has been disbursed, and of this very little finds its way to the poorest countries. With the election of Donald Trump, $2bn of the US’ pledged $3bn to the Green Climate Fund is unlikely to materialise. Greater action therefore needs to be taken in mobilising public finance and stimulating private finance, particularly in the poorest countries which are slipping through the gaps.

A key issue with respect to climate finance is also how it is tracked and accounted for. Climate change is a challenge which is both additional to and exacerbates existing development challenges, so to ensure all countries have the tools and resources to reduce their emissions and protect their communities it is important that the finance counted towards the $100bn minimum target represents new and additional finance that goes beyond Official Development Assistance.

LDC ministers have emphasised the importance of developing country ownership over finance provided, urging the Financial Mechanism of the Paris Agreement “to ensure country ownership, facilitate direct access and provide support while prioritizing the most vulnerable countries, particularly LDCs, to develop quality projects.”[5] However, many vulnerable countries still have difficulty accessing finance that has been pledged, so there is a need to make access to, and disbursement, of funds more straightforward. Many of these issues will arise during the in-session workshop on long-term climate finance on 15 May 2017 in Bonn.

Capacity building is another prominent issue, and the first meeting of the Paris Committee on Capacity-building will take place in Bonn from 11-13 May. The outcomes of the Committee’s work are of particular importance to LDCs, with capacity constraints forming a serious impediment to the pursuit of low-carbon development. Strengthening the abilities of LDCs and other developing countries to take climate action and have a voice in the international arena is vital to a truly global response to climate change. Recognising the disproportionate impacts of climate change on women and the significant role they have to play in climate solutions is one important consideration in this regard

2.    How will global temperature goals be met?

In Bonn, key discussions will continue around action to curb greenhouse gas emissions to safe limits for communities and ecosystems across the world. Reports by the IPCC (the UN’s climate science panel) highlight the urgent need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to avoid the most catastrophic of projected impacts. The Paris Agreement sets a goal of keeping average global temperatures well below 2°C and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.[6] This goal must be taken seriously as many vulnerable countries face devastating impacts even with 1.5°C of warming, including small island states, some of which could disappear due to rising sea-levels at warming above these levels. Higher levels of warming increase the risks of severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts.[7]

If countries continue emitting in a business as usual scenario the world will experience warming of 2.6-4.8°C above preindustrial levels by the end of the century.[8] Current targets set by countries under their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) to reduce greenhouse gas emissions globally are also not enough, and are projected to lead to temperatures 3-3.5 degrees above preindustrial levels (this is also assuming full implementation of developing country commitments which are conditional on the provision of support from developed countries).[9]

The Paris Agreement provides that every five years countries will submit a new NDC that represents a ‘progression’ beyond their current commitments.[10] Thus, important discussions will be had in Bonn around how the Paris Agreement will facilitate an upwards spiralling of commitments that is both fair and proportional to the task at hand. This will include mechanisms to enhance accountability among countries such as reporting and review requirements, to enable the scrutinization of countries’ actions against the best available science (further discussed in part 4 below).

3.     How will countries adapt to climate change?

Ongoing discussions around how countries will adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change are imperative to an effective global response, with communities across the world at risk. These impacts are particularly acute in the LDCs, as extreme weather events, increased drought and floods, and the spread of tropical diseases threaten public health, food security and water supplies. LDC ministers have emphasised the need to “raise the profile of adaptation by insisting on recognition of adaptation efforts”.[11] Recognition of adaptation as a component of the commitments made by countries under their NDCs was an important achievement in Paris.[12]

The Paris Agreement provides for countries to submit ‘adaptation communications’, including their priorities, implementation and support needs, plans and actions. Parties began to develop specific modalities for the adaptation communications in Marrakech in 2016, and these negotiations will continue in Bonn.[13] Many LDCs have spent considerable time and effort developing National Adaptation Plans (NAPs) and for these countries it is important that they are able to submit their NAPs as their Adaptation Communication.

LDCs have consistently expressed their concern at the lack of support given to developing countries for adaptation actions. The LDC Fund, designed to help LDCs formulate NAPs, currently lies empty. Important discussions in Bonn will therefore also centre around how developed countries will provide support to ensure all countries can meet their adaptation commitments. LDC ministers have called for the “mobilization of adequate and effective support for adaptation”,[14] to enable communities to prepare their economies, infrastructure and social support structures for the impacts of climate change. An important point for the negotiation room is to ensure that the Adaptation Fund is clearly linked to the Paris Agreement to help mobilise finance to support adaptation in developing countries.

4.     How will countries cope with unavoidable climate impacts?

Not all of the negative effects of climate change can be avoided through adaptation. With a changing climate, communities who are reliant on agriculture can have their livelihoods wiped out during a single bad drought, while island states face the loss of homes, culture and historic ties to their land. Thus, an important aspect of responding to climate change effectively is addressing impacts that communities are not able to cope with or adapt to. In the UNFCCC process this is referred to as ‘loss and damage’.

A significant achievement in Paris was the recognition of loss and damage as a key action area in the international community’s response to climate change, with a standalone provision in the Paris Agreement. However, as with adaptation, the loss and damage provision is expressed in general terms and further work will be required to fully elaborate a mechanism to “enhance understanding, action and support” with respect to loss and damage.[15]

A central component of the framework for loss and damage negotiated in Paris is strengthening the existing Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage associated with Climate Change Impacts.  Countries agreed that this will include establishing a clearinghouse for risk transfer to act as a repository for information to assist with the development of comprehensive risk management strategies.[16] This will help developing countries to gain greater understanding of and access to risk management tools such as insurance and contingency funds that can be used to address loss and damage. A task force to assist people displaced by the impacts of climate change will also be developed.[17]

5.    How will countries assess progress and adjust actions to successfully implement the Paris Agreement?

Important discussions will continue in Bonn around how to develop the mechanisms to enhance transparency, take stock of progress, and promote compliance with the Paris Agreement. Each of these components are key to ratchetting up climate action to put the world on track to meet the goals set in Paris.

Key to ensuring ambitious, upscaled action on all aspects of the Paris Agreement is a transparency framework setting out clear guidelines for reporting, reviewing and assessing progress. A strong transparency framework allows for all countries, civil society organisations and the public generally to understand what action is being taken to mitigate and adapt to climate change and mobilise support, and where individual countries are falling short of their climate targets.

The Paris Agreement also establishes a new global stocktake which will take stock of progress globally towards implementing the Paris Agreement. The global stocktake is an important process to ensure the world remains on the right trajectory and further negotiations about the design of the global stocktake will occur in Bonn.

For those countries which are failing to meet their targets or having difficulty in doing so, a new compliance mechanism is also being negotiated which will help facilitate effective implementation of the Agreement. A comprehensive compliance mechanism where parties can be referred from a variety of sources (including self-referral, referral by other parties and referral from the transparency mechanism) will ensure all countries receive the advice and expert guidance needed to help them stay on track.

6.     The LDC Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Initiative for Sustainable Development

The Bonn conference will provide a platform for the advancing collaborative efforts by countries to act on climate change. Of particular significance to the LDCs is the “LDC Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Initiative (REEEI) for Sustainable Development”, which was successfully launched in Marrakech last November.

The LDC REEEI empowers LDCs to take charge of their sustainable development pathways, improving livelihoods across the LDCs by facilitating access to modern, clean, resilient energy systems for millions of energy-starved people. Through improved energy access and the creation of jobs, the Initiative will simultaneously contribute to the realisation of the Sustainable Development Goals. The initiative aims to ensure no LDC will be left behind by supporting African LDCs to participate effectively in the Africa Renewable Energy Initiative, while developing similar opportunities for Asian and other LDCs. The initiative also offers an opportunity for developed countries to fulfil their commitments to provide financial, technological and capacity building support under UNFCCC agreements.

The LDC REEEI forms a pillar of the Marrakech Global Partnership on Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency, which will foster access to energy and sustainable development across the LDCs, African countries and small island and other developing states.

 

[1] The conference will include the third part of the first session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Paris Agreement (APA 1-3), the forty-sixth sessions of the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI 46) and Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA 46).

[2] The 22nd Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), held in Marrakech, Morocco in November 2016.

[3] Rounded up from an estimated $93tn over the next 15 years. http://www.cisl.cam.ac.uk/publications/publication-pdfs/financing-the-global-low-carbon-transition.pdf

[4] Neha Rai, Sara Best and Marek Soanes, ‘Unlocking climate finance for decentralised energy access’, Working Paper, June 2016, IIED: http://pubs.iied.org/pdfs/16621IIED.pdf

[5] Communiqué from the LDC Pre-Marrakech ministerial meeting, hosted in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, 28 September 2016, Annex: thematic priorities: https://ldcclimate.wordpress.com/2016/10/22/ldc-pre-marrakech-ministerial-meeting-kinshasa-democratic-republic-of-congo-28-september-2016/.

[6] Paris Agreement, Article 2(1)(a).

[7] UNFCCC 2013-2015 Review and Structured Expert Dialogue http://unfccc.int/files/science/workstreams/the_2013-2015_review/application/pdf/sed_final_report_presentation_a__fischlin__zou_ji.pdf

[8] IPCC Fifth Assessment Report, summary for policy makers, page 10: https://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar5/syr/AR5_SYR_FINAL_SPM.pdf

[9] UNEP Emissions Gap Report 2015, pages 21-22. http://uneplive.unep.org/media/docs/theme/13/EGR_2015_301115_lores.pdf

[10] Paris Agreement, Article 3.

[11] Communiqué from the LDC Pre-Marrakech ministerial meeting, hosted in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, 28 September 2016, Annex: thematic priorities: https://ldcclimate.wordpress.com/2016/10/22/ldc-pre-marrakech-ministerial-meeting-kinshasa-democratic-republic-of-congo-28-september-2016/ .

[12] Paris Agreement, Article 3.

[13] Paris Agreement, Articles 3 and 7.

[14] Communiqué from the LDC Pre-Marrakech ministerial meeting, hosted in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, 28 September 2016, Annex: thematic priorities: https://ldcclimate.wordpress.com/2016/10/22/ldc-pre-marrakech-ministerial-meeting-kinshasa-democratic-republic-of-congo-28-september-2016/ .

[15] Paris Agreement, Article 8(3).

[16] Decision 1/CP.21 Article 49

[17] Decision 1/CP.21 Article 50.

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