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Accelerated pace needed in Bankgok as UN climate talks resume

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© Martin Harvey / WWF

UN climate negotiators will meet in Bangkok this week for the last formal meeting before COP24, taking place in Katowice, Poland in December.

This meeting must lay the groundwork for success in Katowice by resolving many of the less thorny issues. It must create a clear legal negotiating text with a limited number of options for the key political decisions that must be taken in creating a comprehensive and robust rulebook for the Paris Agreement.

COP24 will be the biggest test of the commitment of the global community to accelerate implementation under the Paris Agreement since it was adopted three years ago in December of 2015.

The Paris accord established COP24 as the deadline for finalizing and adopting the detailed rules to fully implement the agreement. If this deadline is to be met, we need three key outcomes of the Bangkok meeting:

  • Revised negotiating text for the rulebook: COP24 takes place in three months. The current negotiating text for the rulebook still does not have sufficient clarity about the central political issues to allow Ministers to grapple with them and provide direction to negotiators. Negotiators will have considerable work to do in Bangkok achieve a more streamlined text for discussion and approval at COP24, with a limited number of clear options for the key political questions.
  • Renewed commitment to, and confidence in, a comprehensive and strong rulebook to be agreed at COP24, that can inspire and inform revised and more ambitious nationally determined contributions (NDCs) to be submitted by 2020.
  • Concrete progress on central elements of the rulebook. These include common five-year time frames after 2030; evolution towards common rules for NDCs, accounting and transparency with flexibility for those developing countries that require it (e.g. least developed countries and and small island developing states); financing for loss and damage; a central role for the best and latest science in the Global Stocktake and informing NDCs aligned with the 1.5°C effort.

A good outcome at both Bangkok and COP24 is only one element of what is required to accelerate action, build momentum and fully implement the Paris Agreement. We must put the world on a path to keep warming below 1.5°C if we hope to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. Already non-state actors have signalled their intention to scale up action, through coalitions like We Are Still In and the Alliances For Climate Action, We Mean Business, and many others. The upcoming Global Climate Action Summit is set to spur pace of engagement among these non-state actors.

Three actions we need to enable greater climate action across the board include:

  • Countries should review their NDCs to, at a minimum, be in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement. They must also  take every opportunity to raise their emissions reduction targets for 2030, and improve their mitigation and adaptation measures, before the NDCs come into effect on 1st January, 2021.
  • Increase the scale and speed of climate action in all countries and all sectors of the economy. For us to shift from incremental change to transformational change, we need all all actors to play their part.
  • Increase the financial support for developing countries to enable them to accelerate their climate actions. The Green Climate Fund (GCF) is emerging as an essential and strategic element in the international climate finance architecture. Developed countries should set the tone for the first replenishment period, coming up next year,  by indicating their willingness to at least double their contributions to the GCF from the previous period. This would put available finance in line with expectations for project approvals.

Current NDCs put the world on a pathway to a catastrophic 3°C or more. We have barely topped 1°C  so far, and the reports of floods, recent heat waves in Europe, wildfires in the US and melting ice from around the world are ringing alarm bells that only the willfully deaf fail to hear. To keep the Paris Agreement on the road to full implementation, the Bangkok negotiations must achieve substantive progress that allows for the Rulebook to be adopted in Katowice.

The many extreme weather events seen in just this year underscores the urgency for us to step up climate action.

Mark Lutes is WWF’s senior global policy advisor, based in Brazil.

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