Climate negotiations in the UN
The UN’s climate convention - United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) - serves as a framework for the global climate negotiations. The Climate Convention does not entail binding emission reduction targets. The Kyoto Protocol, however, sets binding emissions reductions targets, making it the first internationally binding agreement on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The Kyoto Protocol was concluded in 1997 by 192 countries.
The Parties to the UN Convention on Climate Change meet once a year at the Conference of the Parties (COP). The COP is the governing body of the UNFCCC. At the COP, all the big decisions are made – often with media attention from all around the world. At COP21 in Paris in December 2015, Parties agreed on a new, legally binding agreement on climate change – The Paris Agreement. The agreement contains amongst other things three long term goals, on:
- Holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, recognizing that this would significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change. This includes aiming at a peak in global greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible with a rapid decrease of emissions subsequently, in order to achieve a balance between emissions and sinks in second half of this century.
- Increasing the ability to adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change and foster climate resilience and low greenhouse gas emissions development, in a manner that does not threaten food production.
- Making finance flows consistent with a pathway towards low greenhouse gas emissions and climate-resilient development.
Completion of the Paris Agreement ”Rulebook”
The Paris Agreement was adopted on December 12th 2015 and entered into force on November 4th 2016. A range of issues with regards to the rules of the agreement were to be negotiated later on. At COP22 in 2016, these elements – the so-called “Paris Rulebook” – was agreed to be finalized no later than December 2018 at COP24. At COP24, Parties reached an agreement on the majority of elements in the Rulebook, making the Paris Agreement operational. However, there are still a few outstanding elements in the Rulebook, including the rules on market mechanisms for internationally transferable mitigation outcomes and emission trading quotas under the Paris Agreement, which is expected to be finalized at COP25 as well as other more technical components.
For the EU and Denmark, one of the important considerations of the formulation of the Rulebook has been to obtain transparency in the calculation and reporting of countries’ climate contributions and climate finance. This seems to have been achieved with the rules agreed at COP24.
Finalizing the Paris Agreement’s Rulebook was a big step towards an intensified global green transition towards lower greenhouse gas emissions. Some of the key elements of the agreement are elaborated further in the following paragraphs.
Countries are bound to contribute
The Paris Agreement obligates countries to provide national climate contributions – the so-called ‘Nationally Determined Contributions’ (NDCs) – which should contribute to the overall reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. The countries’ NDCs are to be updated or renewed every five years and next in 2020.
In the UN climate negotiations, the EU negotiates on behalf of all its member states including Denmark. The EU has thus presented a collective NDC on behalf of Denmark and the other EU Member States. The contribution is based on a cut of at least 40% in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 (compared to 1990). This contribution must be confirmed, updated or renewed no later than 2020.
The Ambition Mechanism must ensure increased efforts over time
In accordance with the Paris Agreement the climate contributions from Parties must become increasingly ambitious over time. This is secured through the so-called ambition mechanism. The ambition mechanism must ensure that global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are continuously increased. Thus, the ambition mechanism is crucial in achieving the temperature goals of the Paris Agreement. As it is, the countries’ collective climate contribution is not enough to keep the global temperature rise below 2 degrees, not to mention 1.5 degrees. Thus, it is crucial that the contributions are increased over time. Consequently, Denmark is working for the EU to raise its emission reduction target for 2030 in 2020 and for an EU target of climate neutrality by 2050.
As part of the ambition mechanism, a global stock take is held every five years, in which parties are expected to assess how far we are collectively from meeting the long-term temperature goals of the Paris agreement. In light of this assessment, the countries must confirm or update their existing climate contribution – or commit themselves to new climate contributions.
Climate Finance for the Developing Countries
At COP21, the industrialized countries confirmed their obligation to mobilize 100 billion USD annually from 2020 through to 2025 from both public and private sources dedicated to the developing countries’ climate efforts. Most recent, at COP24, several industrialized countries stressed their continued responsibility to live up to the obligation.
Furthermore, Parties also agreed, in accordance with the Paris Agreement, that a new funding target for the climate finance devoted to the developing countries after 2025 should be adopted. At COP24, it was decided to initiate this process in 2020 with reference to the developing countries’ need for certainty about future funding. The Paris Agreement also points to the opportunity to broaden the donor base for the new funding target. Finally, the Paris Agreement also established a framework for reporting on climate finance expected and provided. You can find more information about climate finance here.
Team Global Rules