18-19 July, 2015 – Luxembourg
Meeting of the Major Economies Forum
July 18-19, 2015
The Major Economies Forum met in Luxembourg on July 18-19, 2015. The meeting was co-chaired by Luxembourg Environment Minister Carole Dieschbourg and U.S. Deputy National Security Advisor Caroline Atkinson, and attended by ministers and officials from 15 of the major economies, with ministers and officials from Angola, Egypt, the Maldives, Marshall Islands, New Zealand, Norway, Peru, Singapore, Switzerland, and Turkey also participating in the session. The co-Chairs of the ADP attended, as did representatives of the UNFCCC Secretariat and the UN Secretary-General's Office.
This meeting used a new approach in which facilitators led thematic sessions to seek convergence on how the Paris agreement and accompanying decisions in Paris would address certain key issues. Valli Moosa, former South African Environment Minister, facilitated the first session, which centered on adaptation. Two sessions on mitigation were facilitated by Michael Zammit Cutajar, Adviser to the Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations (IDDRI, Paris). The topic of post-2020 transparency of mitigation was facilitated by Kwok Fook Seng of Singapore. Participants also had a broad exchange of views on finance. This Summary reflects the conclusions of the Co-Chairs.
The first session, on adaptation, focused on the nature and purpose of a possible global adaptation goal, what should be included in the Paris agreement on adaptation, and the nature of the linkage between mitigation and adaptation.
In a robust discussion, Participants generally agreed that adaptation is urgent and important; that elevating adaptation does not mean that mitigation and adaptation need to be treated the same way; and that adaptation efforts are context specific and driven by national considerations. Many noted that adaptation efforts have mainly national and regional impacts, in contrast to the global implications of mitigation.
All Participants shared the view that the agreement needs to give greater prominence and visibility to adaptation. There was substantial support for the idea of a global adaptation goal or vision, with more openness among Participants to a qualitative adaptation goal/vision (expressed in terms of enhancing resilience to climate impacts) than to a mixed qualitative and quantitative goal/vision linked to the temperature goal that would tie the level of mitigation achieved to the level of adaptation needed. It was suggested that the agreement might contain a factual statement to the effect that the more mitigation is done, the less adaptation will be needed.
There was also widespread support for the view that the agreement could elevate adaptation by encouraging Parties to build resilience to climate impacts and to work at both the national and international levels to reduce vulnerability. In terms of national efforts, Participants saw the need for provisions in the agreement for Parties to mainstream adaptation and engage in national adaptation planning processes. In terms of international cooperation, Participants stressed the importance of sharing and exchanging information and best practices (such as through a provision on submission of National Adaptation Plans, "NAPs"), as well as of shared work in areas including early warning and emergency response.
Further discussion may be needed on how to recognize the adaptation efforts of countries, particularly those with little mitigation potential. Other issues that merit further exploration include whether additional reporting would be useful on adaptation (and if so, what that reporting should be), as well as whether adaptation actions should be reviewed.
Before the lunch break, Eliot Diringer and Valli Moosa presented on the dialogue that the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions has been hosting, which is aimed at identifying areas of convergence on key issues under negotiations.
In the first mitigation discussion, on elements to be included in the agreement and their legal nature1, there was broad convergence that the following elements should be included in the agreement, and that the first, third, and fourth elements be legally binding:
- Submitting a mitigation contribution, and including clarifying information;
- Achieving/implementing the contribution;
- Updating the contribution at regular intervals (i.e., providing for future rounds);
- Reporting on emissions and implementation of the contribution, having implementation be reviewed; and
- Following agreed rules.
Within that broad convergence, certain points emerged:
- Regarding the clarifying information that accompanies a Party's mitigation contribution, paragraph 14 of the Lima Call for Climate Action should be the basis for the provision in the agreement on the types of information to be provided. There were suggestions for building upon the paragraph, for example by refining the list and/or making that paragraph legally binding.
- In terms of achieving or implementing the contribution, discussion centered on the pros and cons of a legally binding target. Some Participants supported legally binding targets, stressing the need for credibility and predictability, while others argued that legally binding targets would suppress ambition and reduce participation in the agreement. Some noted that robust transparency and accountability could offer a "functional bindingness" in lieu of literal bindingness. Various options for highlighting the importance of implementation were put forward, including, for example, submitting information on existing and anticipated laws/measures relevant to the implementation of the contribution.
- There was general agreement on the importance of creating a dynamic, durable agreement that would increase ambition over time, including through provisions for "updating" contributions, or what many referred to as future "rounds" of contributions. As to whether and how rounds would be synchronized, Participants noted the complication that the time frames of their respective mitigation contributions are nationally determined and that INDCs communicated thus far are expressed in terms of end dates of either 2025 or 2030. As such, there might need to be a "soft synchronicity" in which Parties with 10-year targets consider whether to adjust or restate their targets at the same time as Participants with 5-year targets submit new targets, perhaps in 2019/2020. There was also a proposal that after 2030 future rounds of contributions could be updated in synch (e.g., every 5 years). Another question centered on having an overall assessment of adequacy of collective effort. There was a proposal to conduct such an assessment every 5 years, to be followed (e.g., one year later) by a new round of contributions.
- On the issues of reporting on emissions and the implementation of the contribution, as well as being reviewed, Participants did not object to the inclusion of such a provision or that it be legally binding.
- With respect to following agreed rules, most Participants saw the need for rules/norms/expectations as a way of "bounding the flexibility" provided by "nationally determined" contributions. There were open questions as to whether they should apply only to future rounds of contributions, and what they should be. Some suggested distinguishing between rules for design (such as quantified contributions or unconditional components) and for implementation (such as accounting rules). Participants also discussed the possibilities of a combination of legally binding rules and non-legally binding norms/expectations depending on the subject matter.
In a second session on mitigation, Participants discussed whether the following elements meet the Lima COP's call for an agreement that reflects common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities in light of different national circumstances:
- Each Party will determine its own contribution;
- LDCs will be exempted or entitled to implement at their discretion;
- Clarifying information will be different depending upon the type of contribution;
- Developing country Parties will be eligible for support with respect to implementation;
- There will be an expectation of "no backsliding."
There was substantial convergence that these points were key to meeting the Lima call, but also some contended that over and above these elements, the agreement would still need to be bifurcated in some manner, while many disagreed on this point.
- It was noted that differentiation was already evolving, with all Parties taking action.
- Participants were in agreement that the nationally determined nature of the contributions is central to addressing differentiation, and some suggested that the agreement would also take account of whether a Party is developed or developing, such as by providing for Parties to identify their national circumstances when submitting their NDC. Some expressed the view that future cycles also need to take science into account.
- On whether LDCs should be exempted or entitled to implement at their discretion, Participants were in broad agreement that there should be flexibility based on capacity. Although some Participants expressed the view that SIDS and African countries should benefit from a similar carve-out, others questioned the need for any carve-outs. There was a reminder that the list of LDCs is based on specific criteria, and is dynamic, with countries graduating as their circumstances evolve.
- There was general agreement that clarifying information will naturally differ depending on the type of contribution, but that all Parties must provide clarity on their contributions.
- There was widespread understanding that developing country Parties would be eligible for support with respect to implementation.
- Participants examined the concept of "no backsliding," and there was convergence that Parties should not go backwards. There was a difference of views on whether this should be a norm, or expressed as a legally binding commitment. It was also pointed out that "no backsliding" is not the equivalent of "forward progression." Some expressed the view that the concept of "progression" beyond existing undertakings as agreed in Lima should continue to guide future targets and the Paris agreement. Others struck a note of caution that if "forward progression" were adopted, some Parties could be more cautious in setting their targets out of concern that they would have to continuously ratchet up in subsequent rounds.
The topic of post-2020 transparency of mitigation focused on three questions:
- What the critical features of the system would be, e.g., should each Party report and be reviewed on the implementation of its mitigation contribution?
- Should it provide for differentiation and if so, how?
- When should it take effect? If it were to take effect sometime after 2020, what would be in place before then (e.g. the existing system? a "transition" system? Other?)
A productive discussion reflected a shared view of the centrality of transparency to the Paris agreement, and established some basic parameters on transparency and accountability.
- On the critical features of the system, there was broad, but not complete, convergence that a transparency system (whether a "framework," "mechanism," or other) should be binding, strong, and common, and should promote accuracy and consistency. Participants also shared the view that the system should be facilitative, non-intrusive, and non-punitive.
- Participants were of the view that reporting on emissions and progress towards implementation of mitigation targets would be followed by expert, technical review of each Party's report in terms of its progress towards implementation of the target. Some also suggested a multilateral exchange of views.
- It was suggested that there might be an additional facilitative, non-intrusive process that could take place after expert review, for example by a standing body.
- Participants were in broad agreement that differentiation could be operationalized by providing flexibility in light of capabilities, for example, with respect to frequency and level of detail.
- Participants noted the need for support for building human and institutional capacity to implement transparency; there was discussion of the needs and capacities of LDCs and SIDs.
- There was also broad support for the proposition that the scope of transparency applies to support and should apply to adaptation, although some Participants cautioned that transparency in relation to support and adaptation should be fit for purpose.
- There was also broad understanding that many Parties would need time to build capacity for reporting. Some suggested there should be a transition period for this purpose; others suggested that the "transition" could be incorporated without delay into the common system through flexibility.
- Finally, there would be an aggregate review in light of the long-term goal. A suggestion was made that there be a space created between the individual review of implementation and the aggregate review of adequacy of contributions.
There was also a vibrant discussion of which aspects of the system needed to be included in the Paris agreement or accompanying decisions, and how much could be left until after Paris. A number of Participants agreed that core principles should be decided in Paris, to avoid fundamental disagreements afterwards. Some also noted the importance of adopting a clearly defined work program in Paris to make sure necessary rules/procedures/etc. are designed by 2020.
In addition, Participants held a general discussion of finance over dinner, exchanging views on what would be useful to build trust and confidence in progress towards the collective goal of mobilizing $100 billion by 2020. Participants also discussed how to ensure, in the post-2020 period, that climate-friendly finance is scaled up and high-carbon finance is scaled down.
1 The co-chairs clarified that the consideration of a number of related issues would not be addressed at this meeting: what mitigation “contributions” should be called; the scope of the term Nationally Determined Contributions; where mitigation contributions will be housed; and whether mitigation contributions/commitments need to be submitted in order for a Party to join the Paris agreement.