23-24 April, 2016 – New York, NY
Meeting of the Major Economies Forum
April 23-24, 2016
The Major Economies Forum met in New York City on April 23-24, 2016, immediately following the signing ceremony for the Paris Agreement, where over 170 countries signed the Agreement on the first day it was open for signature. The meeting was chaired by Senior Advisor to the U.S. President Brian Deese and attended by ministers and officials from 16 of the major economies, with ministers and officials from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mali, Marshall Islands, Morocco, New Zealand, Saudi Arabia, and Singapore also participating. Representatives of the UNFCCC Secretariat and the UN Secretary-General's Office also attended.
The main meeting was preceded by a dinner on April 23, during which Participants discussed the most forward-looking feature of the Paris Agreement: the call on Parties to formulate and communicate mid-century low greenhouse-gas-emission development strategies, contained in Article 4(19). Conversation centered on the various ways Parties are planning to formulate long-term strategies, the valuable role such strategies can play in both shaping and focusing near-term actions and driving ambition, and the benefit of sharing information and views as countries develop these strategies moving forward.
The next morning, following an introduction that lauded the success of the signing ceremony, Participants discussed the step that follows signature: joining the Agreement. UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres noted that in addition to those States that had signed on April 22, 34 had either also deposited their instruments of ratification, or had announced their intention to join as soon as possible with a view to joining in 2016. Together, these States account for approximately 49 percent of global emissions. Participants agreed that actively taking steps to join is an important way to continue the momentum and goodwill that was on display in Paris, and described how they are moving forward to join the Agreement. Recognizing that States have different domestic systems and procedures, Participants also emphasized that joining is not the only way to show ambition and maintain momentum, with many stressing the importance of implementation and action between now and 2020.
There was a strong sense of the desirability of early entry into force, as well as acknowledgment that it does present some procedural issues. Executive Secretary Figueres outlined those issues and described how they could be addressed. Participants generally agreed that such issues are manageable, noting, among other things, the need to consider the idea of deciding in Marrakesh that the Ad Hoc Working Group for the Paris Agreement would continue. There was clear support for an inclusive approach to participation pending broader ratification, given the universal nature of the Paris Agreement. The Presidencies plan to conduct consultations in Bonn on the issue of inclusivity.
Participants then turned to the next topic: discussion of priorities for the next meeting of the Conference of the Parties, slated for Marrakesh in November. Echoing the introductions provided by France and Morocco, the current and incoming COP presidencies, many Participants spoke of the new post-Paris context, in which Parties are cooperating in a context of common purpose. Participants also embraced Morocco’s description of Marrakesh as a COP of implementation and action. Speakers highlighted the need to demonstrate real-world progress, including through fulfilling the full range of pre-2020 commitments, including those taken at Copenhagen and Cancun in relation to finance for mitigation and adaption, notably the collective goal of mobilizing $100 billion, as well as in relation to transparency, notably the value of submitting pre-2020 reports and participating in their review as a means of learning through doing.
Participants placed particular emphasis on capacity-building as a foundation for action, and a number of Participants noted the importance of the prompt launch of the Capacity Building Initiative on Transparency and the Paris Committee on Capacity-Building. Other themes that emerged included: the desire for a balanced approach to the work program with good progress on all fronts; the call for continuing support to developing countries in their efforts, including urgent exploration of ways to improve access to finance, particularly, for adaptation actions; and the signal role that must be played by innovation and collaborating on technology and research. The role of the champions in helping stage a productive high-level segment was also highlighted, as was the importance of continuing to mobilize a broad coalition in support of the goals of the Paris Agreement, and of catalyzing investments at the scale that is needed to succeed in this effort.
Next, in the third session of the day, Participants engaged in a rich exchange on real-world efforts to take ambitious implementation actions, highlighting some of the domestic opportunities – and the challenges – presented. Among the cross-cutting issues that emerged were the important role longer-term strategies play in informing near-term policies; the need to mainstream climate considerations into broader economic and social policies and to engage the whole-of-government; and the role of cooperation and support between and among States to realize and maximize action. Some Participants noted the value of holding discussions on domestic action in the context of the MEF, to inform and reassure each other, and to flag issues that can benefit from an open exchange.
In the final session, Participants exchanged information and views on two key climate-related efforts in other arenas this year: the effort to adopt an amendment in 2016 to phase down HFCs by Parties to the Montreal Protocol, and the work by Parties to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to address international aviation emissions through a Global Market-Based Measure (GMBM). Following informative presentations, respectively, by EU Commissioner Miguel Cañete and Mexican Director-General Roberto Dondisch, Participants affirmed the importance of high-level attention to these parallel efforts, including through the MEF, the environmental value that successes in these fora could have, and the importance of continuing the Paris momentum and harnessing it in the service of concrete results.
There was broad support for – and confidence in the prospect of – finalizing an HFC amendment in 2016. Participants acknowledged the important role an HFC phasedown would play in climate action, recognizing that the phasedown amendment would provide for various types of flexibility in implementation. On ICAO, Participants broadly recognized that international civil aviation requires a global approach, and there was general support for the importance of reducing emissions in the aviation sector, including through a GMBM. Some Participants noted issues related to the particular way in which differentiation is balanced against non-discrimination, as well as the potential economic impact on the sector.