06
Dec

CLIMATE DIPLOMACY STARTS AGAIN

The point of Italian Climate Network

Every climate conference has goals. Important topics have been addressed at this COP: transparency, climate finance, NDCs (Nationally Determined Contributions), Article 6 and human rights, adaptation and loss and damage. Here is a specific commentary on each of these negotiation topics that Italian Climate Network followed directly with its Observers. Immediately following is a statement by Marirosa Iannelli, Climate and Advocacy Coordinator and head of the Italian Climate Network delegation to the COP26 negotiations.

“Many aspects approved at this COP26 have brought points of progress, but the last minute shift from phase out to phase down (from elimination to reduction of coal use) has given a setback to the ambition expected from this COP and leaves countries like India and China free for too many years to invest in climate-changing technologies. We, as Italian Climate Network, want to overcome the dichotomy success or failure because it is clear that negotiations are an incremental process. COP26 was certainly the most political COP since Paris and it brought back constructive dialogue among countries. Many bilateral and multilateral agreements have indicated a step forward even if in some parts incomplete or in progress, one of all the agreement launched by the USA and the European Union on methane emissions. The 1.5°C target has been included in the negotiation texts with great force as per the IPCC recommendations and scenarios, absent in the decisions at least since Katowice.

Transparency

Finally adopted the tables for the new reporting, a system of mutual control and monitoring of national commitments that will come into force for all countries – developed and not – by 2024. Despite the reluctance to communicate in a transparent way data on their emissions and progress in mitigation, a satisfactory result has been achieved on how to make operational the flexibility options reserved for developing countries that need it: it will not be possible for any country to completely omit data that it is not able (or wants) to communicate, instead of the missing data it will be necessary to insert a symbol “FX” explaining the choice in the margin. Inserting “FX” does not eliminate entire columns or rows from the report and it will be possible to continue reading the other data. This is a result that cannot be taken for granted given the growing political sensitivity of the issue, which will make it possible to preserve the very nature of the new global system (common to all) of transparency.

Climate finance

We come out of COP26 without the $100 billion promised to vulnerable countries for more than a decade now, and this negatively affects the positioning of China and India on other parts of the final agreement. Moreover, with respect to the Paris mandate to quantify a new climate finance target by 2025, not only is there no agreement on the figure in the end (it was barely discussed), but the only result of COP26 is the creation of an ad hoc working group on the issue to convene four annual meetings with experts from 2022 to 2024 inclusive. In short, in front of the first of the problems (money), it is decided to convene a table to talk about it. More.

NDC

We come back from Glasgow with common time horizons of 10 years for NDCs starting from 2025 (and then always 10 years to be reported every 5 years), which will finally make them comparable to each other compared to the anarchy seen from Paris onwards. Unfortunately, the text is approved with an escape clause for those countries that for whatever reason will not be able to communicate their NDCs according to the new rules already in 2025, postponing the presentation of the new commitments to 2030 with a 2040 horizon. We wonder why some countries might not want to submit a new NDC according to deadlines that are the same as those decided in 2015.

Article 6 and human rights

Several human rights principles have “survived” by being included in the operational part of Article 6, dedicated to carbon market mechanisms, approved tonight. This is certainly a positive result, direct consequence of 6 years of advocacy by civil society, which has made a common front within the Human Rights Interconstituencies Working Group. However, there remain some reservations regarding the practical implementation of these markets. It will be necessary to understand to what extent we will carry risks of double counting of emission credits in cooperation between countries. Article 6 remains one of the most technical and complex parts of the Paris Rule Book. From the initial analysis, important gray areas emerge that could allow bureaucratic loopholes with negative consequences for the protection of human rights and the protection of ecosystems. If we consider that until two years ago there was no reference to human rights, and therefore no social or environmental safeguards in the measures that actually support the cooperative implementation of the NDCs, we can however understand the importance of the work of civil society observers within the COPs and consider this as substantial progress.

Adaptation

The doubling of the international funds for adaptation is a good thing and it is good that the final text arrived in plenary with a relative balance between adaptation and mitigation (this last point was strongly weakened by the Indian sortie). In addition, a two-year work program on the Global Goal of Adaptation was approved, called Glasgow Sharm-El-sheikh Work Programme, which aims to monitor the adaptation actions of countries.

Loss and damage

Those who needed concrete news on this point were strongly disappointed. The Glasgow text foresees the launch of a new “dialogue” on the issue, when the countries most affected by climate change were asking for the establishment of a real “facility”, a formal instrument of coordination and action with its own staff, annual meetings, inclusion of stakeholders and local actors, to better coordinate global activities on the issue. A very weak conclusion that leaves us largely unsatisfied on an issue still little understood by rich countries.

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