- Negotiations on Action for Climate Empowerment got into full swing at COP28.
- The topic of climate finance remains a point of contention between the global North and South.
Along with the numerous topics on the table at COP28 in Dubai, the Action for Climate Empowerment (ACE) also returned to the negotiating rooms. The focus is on the approval of the summary report, which assesses the Parties’ progress to date on the implementation of the Glasgow Work Programme on Action for Climate Empowerment. The first informal consultations opened on 2 December with much enthusiasm and eagerness to reach agreement and will continue throughout COP28.
Although the Secretariat has been working hard in recent months to present a document ready for approval, in the view of the Parties there are still some issues that need to be more carefully defined. The items on the agenda mainly revolve around the form and structure of the text, the guidelines to be followed for monitoring, evaluation, and reporting, and, finally, the debated topic of climate finance.
But before we get into the debate, where were we at previous climate COPs?
The ACE is an initiative to implement Article 12 of the Paris Agreement, which stipulates the need to improve education and training on climate change, and to ensure more awareness, participation and access to information by civil society, with the aim of enabling citizens to actively engage in climate action. At COP26, in 2021, Parties approved a 10-year plan, the Glasgow work programme, which serves as a basis for the implementation of ACE-related projects. At COP27 in Sharm el-Sheikh in 2022, a four-year plan was then adopted to plan activities in four priority areas (policy coherence, coordinated action, tools and support, monitoring, evaluation and reporting) with the aim of accelerating the implementation of the core elements of ACE: education, awareness-raising, training, participation, access to information and international cooperation.
This year, at COP28 in Dubai, discussions are mainly focusing on the topic of climate finance.
In the first days of negotiations, the G77, led by the Dominican Republic, immediately highlighted the need to include an explicit reference to financial support for developing countries in both the summary report and the ACE Dialogues (annual forums for Parties and stakeholders to share experiences, exchange ideas, and highlight ‘good practices’). This reference tends to be opposed by developed countries, so much so that the United States has stated that “it would be difficult for them to agree on finance-specific language, and that they would prefer it to be removed“. To reach an agreement and create a bridge between the two positions, Norway proposed a change of words from ‘matter of finance’ to ‘matter of technical and financial support’. This compromise, however, was not approved during the second informal consultations and forced, to the explicit disappointment of the facilitators, a postponement to the next session.
In the field of diplomacy, language is crucial, as a simple comma can completely change the meaning of a negotiating text. Therefore, when these debates take place, negotiations tend to be challenging and quite heated. In fact, ACE co-facilitators did not hide their frustration, and urged delegates not to get hung up on grammar and to be more flexible.
In short, even on areas generally characterised by high consensus, such as Action for Climate Empowerment, we are seeing tensions and divisions between the global North and South related to the issue of climate finance. Developing countries are determined to get financial support from richer nations and are unlikely to compromise on the issue, so it will be up to the co-facilitators to avoid an impasse.
Article by Alice Rotiroti, Italian Climate Network Volunteer
Timeline infographic source: https://unfccc.int/sites/default/files/resource/Information%20Session_ASR_ACE_at_COP28.pdf
Image source: UNFCCC_COP28_30Nov23_Youth-Orientation-Session-ACE-KiaraWorth-21. https://www.flickr.com/photos/unfccc/53366228855/in/album-72177720313044698/