The Road to an International Climate Agreement
National government representatives from around the world are currently in the process of negotiating a new universal climate change agreement, which is set to be adopted in Paris in 2015 and enter into effect in 2020.
The Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP) is the body that was mandated by the UN during the last international climate summit in Durban, South Africa (Dec 2011) to develop an international agreement on climate change. At the fifth part of the second session of this ADP, held on 4-15 June 2014 in Bonn (Germany), the negotiations led to several reflections, proposals and draft documents. Following submission from government representatives, the Co-Chairs of the ADP have now made key material available in advance of the next negotiating session from 20 to 25 October 2014 in Bonn.
A non-paper (available here) containing bullet points, describes Parties’ views, proposals and possible solutions. A summary of the findings are contained below:
Time Line for the Agreement
A draft legal text of the proposed international agreement on climate change should be drawn up over the next nine months.
Structure of the Agreement
On mitigation of greenhouse gases: It was agreed that the agreement would contain a common goal to contribute to emission reductions consistent with the agreed limit to global temperature rise. This would ensure a limit to global average temperature rise below 2/1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels. The reduction should equal 50 per cent below 1990 levels by 2050.
On allocation finance to adaptation or mitigation measures to climate change: It was agreed that financing for adaptation and mitigation measures would be set out on a 50:50 basis (i.e. 50% would go to adaptation measures).
The importance of the CBDR Principle: The agreement will respect the principles of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (the UNFCCC). The UNFCCC is the international environmental treaty negotiated at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (Earth Summit) held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. Although the treaty was not legally binding on other member states it provided a framework for negotiating specific international treaties (called “protocols”) that could set binding limits on greenhouse gases.
The principle of Common But Differentiated Responsibility (CBDR) was an integral part of the UNFCCC. It recognises historical differences in the contributions of developed and developing States to global environmental problems. Whether historical responsibilities or actual capabilities define Parties’ contributions in the new agreement (how to account for each country’s responsibility for greenhouse gas emissions), the CBDR principle remains crucial to the integrity and stability of the climate regime.
The translation of this principle into actual commitments by each Member State is certainly key to reach the level of ambition needed to address climate change.