COP23 ends; US plays the spoilsport again, says CSE

Saturday 18 November 2017

US continued with its business-as-usual obstructionist agenda in the negotiations and hampered meaningful progress on equity and finance issues

                    In Bonn, the US continued to dictate terms of negotiations and blocked progress on equity and finance. Credit: UNclimatechange / Flickr
In Bonn, the US continued to dictate terms of negotiations and blocked progress on equity and finance. Credit: UNclimatechange / Flickr

The 23rdmeeting of the Conference of Parties (COP23) of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change ended here in Bonn on Friday with noreal headway in resolving the outstanding issues on the agenda – says an analysis of the results by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE). A CSE team had been stationed in Bonn through the duration of the conference to follow the negotiations.

“The US’ rogue and obstructionist attitude in the COP process ensured that progress was extremely slow and hampered on several occasions and the old divide between developed and developing nations remained,” says the CSE analysis.

Ahead of the COP, the US had signalled that it would engage in the negotiations process to secure its interests and had talked of a possible re-negotiation of the Paris Agreement to enable it to rejoin the Agreement. As per the provisions of the Paris Agreement, the US withdrawal will only take effect in late 2020.

“Instead of working together and standing united against the US intransigence, the old bickering between developed and developing nations continued at Bonn,” remarked Chandra Bhushan, deputy director general, CSE. “This meant that the US continued with its business-as-usual obstructionist agenda in the negotiations and hampered meaningful progress on equity and finance issues across a range of agenda items including stocktake, accounting, enhanced transparency framework, adaptation, technology transfer,” he added.

“The US announcement is only a political decision with no legal bearing on the Paris Agreement and Paris Agreement has almost no legal options to contain the US. Ideally, the US, having made its anti-climate agenda clear,should not have been allowed under any circumstances to determine the course of negotiations. Unfortunately, that did not happen,” said Vijeta Rattani, climate analyst, CSE.

Key outcomes

  • Talanoa Dialogue:Earlier referred to as the Facilitative Dialogue, it is about stocktake of the collective efforts,the outcome of which would determine the next round of NDCs (Nationally Determined Contributions) in 2020. The Dialogue would contain a technical phase where Parties would provide the inputs and a political phase in which the outcome would inform improving of NDCs in 2020. The final decision of the COP, however, does not provide the details of the content and scope of the NDCs.
  • Pre-2020 Action: Developing countries succeeded in bringing immediate actions and pre-2020 commitments into the limelight. India was leading the demand on pre-2020 action. Parties agreed that there will be two stocktakes to discuss pre-2020 commitments -- in 2018 and 2019 -- before the Paris Agreement becomes operative in 2020. 
  • Agriculture: After six years, a decision was finally taken on how to deal with climate actions in agriculture. Parties are now required to submit the following -- reporting on climate actions in agriculture; adaptation assessment methods for improvement of soil health, soil carbon and soil quality, as well as considerations for the improvement of nutrient use and manure management; andreporting on socio-economic and food security dimensions. A stocktake has been planned for COP26 in 2020.
  • Gender Action Plan: After being included in the Lima work programme, a decision was arrived at during COP23 on how to include gender in climate actions. The outcome decision talks ofbuilding capacity and improving participation and representation of women in climate negotiations and actions. A review has been planned in 2019.
  • Local communities and indigenous people’s platform: The platform to include indigenous people’s voices in the implementation of the Paris Agreement has been operationalised. The platform shall undertake activities to educate, build capacity and facilitate the incorporation of the diverse and traditional knowledge systems in international and national climate action policies. Afull operationalisation is slated for April-May 2018, during the inter-sessional COP.
  • Loss and damage: Although a text was passed on the critical issue of loss and damage, it was a weak one with no financial commitments being agreed upon.
  • Slow progress in all procedural issues: Global stocktake, accounting, transparency etc.
  • Unofficial US delegation: The US Climate Alliance, a delegation of mayors, elected officials, business leaders and activists, built their own separate pavilion outside the negotiation zone,pledging their commitment to climate change. The delegation drew interest but had no political clout.

“India’s stress on pre-2020 actions is encouraging, but it is more in the nature of procedure than action. It will require more than the ratification of the Doha amendment to make developed countries raise ambition and support commitments,” said Bhushan.

“The big question now is how to ensure that the rulebook for Paris Agreement is fair, equitable and ambitious,keeping in mind the fact that the US remains active and obstructionist in negotiations,” he added.

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