Climate Change

Slow, uneven progress at Bangkok climate talks

Finance, equity and addressing interlinkages remain topics of major concern

By Vijeta Rattani
Published: Friday 07 September 2018
Bangkok Climate Conference
Credit: UNFCCC Credit: UNFCCC

Much of the work in the Bangkok climate intersession remains to happen across all agenda items under the Paris Work Programme, even as the Parties have shown optimism towards the formation of a clear negotiating text that can be taken forward to Katowice, Poland for the 24th Conference of the Parties (COP 24). At Katowice, the mandate is to adopt the rule book for implementation of different elements of the Paris Agreement, including finance, mitigation, market mechanisms, stocktake and transparency of actions and support.

To facilitate the work of the Parties ahead of the talks in Bangkok, the co-chairs of agenda items circulated informal tools which formed the basis of procedural and technical discussions. The informal tools have multiple options as proposed by the Parties and work on formation of rulebook is underway. The tools have been hailed by the Parties as useful starting points for discussions.

While developed countries seemed positive about the “solutions-oriented atmosphere” of the talks and expressed optimism on progress, developing countries raised several concerns. They accused developed countries of restricting discussions on nationally determined contributions to the mitigation aspect of it, thereby, ignoring adaptation, loss and damage and means of implementation. According to them, equity needs to be reflected in implementation of all the components and should not be treated just as a conceptual guiding principle.

Roundup of discussions so far

On matters of transparency framework, developing countries pushed for bifurcation in identification of separate rules and modalities for developed and developing countries, to implement flexibility as mentioned in the Paris Agreement.

Finance-related discussion is facing bottlenecks where developing countries pushed for discussions on setting up a process for new and additional finance post 2020 and also wanted ex-ante (before the event) and ex-post (after the event) information on finance from developed countries. Developed countries, including Australia, New Zealand and Japan, argued that ex-ante sharing of financial information was beyond the scope of the Paris Agreement.

Regarding new market mechanism, discussions have so far focused on the issues of double counting, corresponding adjustments and transition of carbon projects to post-2020 period. But the issues of environmental additionality, safeguarding of rights of communities and ways to prevent creation of cheap credits have, till now, failed to garner attention.

On global stocktake, including loss and damage in a separate work stream and ways of providing inputs to the process by engaging non-state stakeholders and operationalising equity have proven to be challenging, so as the issue of common time frames for Nationally Determined Contributions.

The fact that several elements of the Paris Agreement are cross-cutting in nature and such interlinkages must be properly identified and addressed has been recognised. The Parties proposed joint consultations for better progress, especially on issues of public registry, global stocktake, accounting of financial needs and adaptation communications.

Currently, the informal tools and iterations have multiple options on sub-elements and repetitions. Considering the complexity of negotiations and paucity of time, bringing clarity and streamlining of options would require a spirit of compromise. It is important that developing countries hold their ground and push for a balanced rulebook based on the principles of the Climate Change Convention.

The draft conclusions under each agenda item would be presented to the Parties on Sunday. They will be merged and compiled into a legal draft text when the closing plenary of the negotiating tracks takes place.

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