Although one of the key negotiating points at COP28 is the Global Stocktake in Dubai, the Mitigation Work Programme (MWP) is also being discussed.
The Mitigation Work Programme (MWP) had become one of the crucial issues at COP27, when the European Union announced its commitment to establish a new Leakage and Damage Fund, but in return demanded that countries commit to peaking global emissions by 2025.
However, the reference to this target was removed from the final text of the Mitigation Work Programme, although the reference to science and the 1.5°C target was retained.
But let us come to today. Prior to COP28, the UNEP Emissions Gap Report reminded us that, with current commitments, global temperatures are heading for an increase of between 2.5 and 2.9°C, and that global emissions need to be reduced by 42% over the next 7 years (by 2030) to have any chance of keeping global temperature growth within 1.5°C. These are staggering numbers, and as a result we would expect a lot of buzz on the mitigation programme (MWP) negotiating topic, while in reality the drafts are almost devoid of content, negotiators are stalling and not speaking in the sessions, losing precious minutes of discussion.
At COP27 last year, nations agreed that the goal of the work programme would be to ‘urgently increase the ambition and implementation of mitigation in this critical decade to complement the global inventory’. The two drafts circulated at the moment, however, are insufficient.
They are 3 pages of text, empty of content and mainly procedural, in which there is no concrete mention of phase out from fossil fuels, (or phase down), no mention of emissions peaking in 2025, and no mention of how to concretise the programme into actions. Nor is there any mention of the duration of the mitigation programme, and thus no specification of whether it will be active until COP29 (as was discussed at COP27, though it is unclear what the point of keeping it active for a year when there is still so much to be done on mitigation), until 2030, or until the Paris target is met.
By contrast, the draft stalls on concrete actions, inviting Parties and observers to submit proposals for topics in line with the scope of work by February 2024.
During the negotiating sessions, some countries argued that discussions under the mitigation agenda should not overlap with the Global Stocktake negotiations, while others reiterated the need for the two agendas and drafts to talk to each other.
Another important consideration is the discussions on carbon markets. Serious discussions on mitigation seem to be lacking at this COP, but those on carbon credits abound, and on Monday 4 December, the Presidency even organised a roundtable discussion on the implementation of voluntary carbon markets. It is important to remember that carbon credits are a necessary but dangerous tool, because they distract attention from reducing emissions. As a recent report by the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment at Oxford University reminded us, thinking of solving the climate crisis with carbon capture technologies is not economically viable, so we need concrete commitments and ambition to reduce emissions.
We wait to see how negotiations on the mitigation programme will progress in the coming days.
Article by Margherita Barbieri, Italian Climate Network Volunteer