UN talks on 2015 climate deal must “shift gear” warn officials

UN chairs also call for Warsaw summit in November to start delivering decisions on how global treaty will work

By Ed King

Negotiations aimed at developing a global emissions reduction deal are ready to “shift gears” in the coming months, according to UN officials.

A report presented on Tuesday by the co-Chairs of a working group tasked with developing a climate treaty [ADP] also says there is general agreement that the proposed 2015 treaty will be guided by science.

This is significant, as current projections leave the planet on course for 4C warming by 2100, and scientists say emissions will have to be radically cut by 2020 to ensure dangerous levels of climate change are avoided.

The four page document, credited to India’s Jayant Moreshver Mauskar and Norway’s Harald Dovland, says talks have been conducted in a “constructive spirit”, but warns it is now time for decisions to be taken.

And referring to discussions on how emissions can be controlled between now and 2020, they say that while there are broad levels of agreement, it is now time to develop this into practical actions.

“It is also constructive to promote an approach that facilitates decision-making while remaining flexible and responsive to new challenges,” they say.

“In order to meet the deadlines established at COP17 [2011 – Durban] and 18 [2012 – Doha] and to reach the agreed milestones, the ADP will need to start recording its progress more formally in written form.”

Mauskar and Dovland, who were replaced as co-Chairs by the EU’s Artur Runge-Metzge and Trinidad’s Kishan Kumarsingh in June, also stress the need for countries to start offering a clear vision of how a deal could be reached in 2015.

“Parties will need to move beyond elaborating their preferred positions and work with each other to find and formulate a balanced and effective outcome that everyone can support”

Most participants involved in this part of the UN process agree the atmosphere and level of cooperation has been generally positive.

Negotiations on a parallel strand focused on implementation of decisions taken by parties collapsed in June, but this is not expected to directly impact on the ADP.

The document also emphasises the strong level of support for a high-level ministerial dialogue during the UN talks in Warsaw, which the co-chairs say will be “helpful” for work in 2014.

And Runge-Metzge and Kumarsingh warn the role of the forthcoming UN climate science report (IPCC AR5) in September in informing “relevant deliberations” is unclear, and add the way market and non-market mechanisms will work within the context of a global deal also need examination.

This note is a much-needed wake up call for UN climate envoy’s say some analysts, with PwC’s Jonathan Grant describing 2013 discussions as “unfocused and unproductive”.

“Negotiators looking to scale up action on emissions pre-2020, might look at the tangible measures suggested by the IEA – efficiency, energy subsidies and addressing fugitives in the oil and gas sector – but this seems unlikely,” he told RTCC.

“The focus at Warsaw is likely to be on how to rapidly increase climate finance and developing the approach to ‘loss and damage’, rather than targets, timetables and texts.  And with no exams until the end of 2015, the students of the climate negotiations have little incentive to study.”

Separately, the second UNFCCC meeting of experts on Long-term Finance starts in Bonn on Monday 19 August.

The primary focus of the gathering is to develop ways of meeting the US$100 billion by 2020 goal agreed at the 2009 UN talks in Copenhagen.

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