Earth Negotiations Bulletin
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Volume 12 Number 620 - Sunday, 8 February 2015
GENEVA CLIMATE CHANGE CONFERENCE
8 - 13 FEBRUARY 2015

Opening today, negotiations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) are scheduled to continue in Geneva, Switzerland, until 13 February 2015. The conference is the first of several meetings in preparation for the Paris Climate Change Conference that will be held in France in December 2015. The Paris Conference is mandated to adopt “a protocol, another legal instrument or an agreed outcome with legal force under the Convention applicable to all parties.” The agreement will be implemented from 2020 onwards.

The body tasked with developing the Paris Agreement is the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP). In Geneva, the ADP will hold the eighth part of its second session (ADP 2-8).

The 20th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 20) in December 2014 requested the ADP to intensify its work, with a view to making available a negotiating text for a protocol, another legal instrument or an agreed outcome with legal force under the Convention before May 2015 (Decision 1/CP.20). In their scenario note (ADP.2015.1.InformalNote), ADP Co-Chairs Ahmed Djoghlaf (Algeria) and Daniel Reifsnyder (US) identify the objective of the Geneva session as delivering the negotiating text since there are no other negotiating sessions planned before May 2015. As also requested by COP 20, the text will be communicated by the Secretariat to all Parties in accordance with Convention provisions and applicable rules of procedure.  

A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE UNFCCC AND THE KYOTO PROTOCOL

 The international political response to climate change began with the adoption of the UNFCCC in 1992, which sets out a legal framework for stabilizing atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases (GHGs) to avoid “dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.” The Convention, which entered into force on 21 March 1994, now has 196 parties.

In December 1997, delegates to the third session of the COP in Kyoto, Japan, agreed to a protocol to the UNFCCC that committed industrialized countries and countries in transition to a market economy to achieve emission reduction targets. These countries, known as Annex I parties under the UNFCCC, agreed to reduce their overall emissions of six GHGs by an average of 5% below 1990 levels in 2008-2012 (first commitment period), with specific targets varying from country to country. The Kyoto Protocol entered into force on 16 February 2005, and now has 192 parties.

LONG-TERM NEGOTIATIONS, 2005-2009: Convening in Montreal, Canada, in 2005, the first session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP 1) decided to establish the Ad Hoc Working Group on Annex I Parties’ Further Commitments under the Kyoto Protocol (AWG-KP) in accordance with Protocol Article 3.9, which mandated consideration of Annex I parties’ further commitments at least seven years before the end of the first commitment period.

In December 2007, COP 13 and CMP 3 in Bali, Indonesia, resulted in agreement on the Bali Roadmap on long-term issues. COP 13 adopted the Bali Action Plan (BAP) and established the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action under the Convention (AWG-LCA) with a mandate to focus on mitigation, adaptation, finance, technology, capacity building and a shared vision for long-term cooperative action. Negotiations on Annex I parties’ further commitments continued under the AWG-KP. The deadline for concluding the two-track negotiations was in 2009 in Copenhagen.

COPENHAGEN: The UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, took place in December 2009. The high-profile event was marked by disputes over transparency and process. Late in the evening of 18 December, these talks resulted in a political agreement, the “Copenhagen Accord,” which was then presented to the COP plenary for adoption. After 13 hours of debate, delegates ultimately agreed to “take note” of the Copenhagen Accord and to extend the mandates of the negotiating groups until COP 16 and CMP 6 in 2010. In 2010, over 140 countries indicated support for the Accord. More than 80 countries also provided information on their national mitigation targets or actions.

CANCUN: The UN Climate Change Conference in Cancun, Mexico, took place in December 2010, where parties finalized the Cancun Agreements and extended the mandates of the two AWGs for another year. Under the Convention track, Decision 1/CP.16 recognized the need for deep cuts in global emissions in order to limit the global average temperature rise to 2°C above pre-industrial levels. Parties agreed to consider strengthening the global long-term goal during a review by 2015, including in relation to a proposed 1.5°C target. Decision 1/CP.16 also addressed other aspects of mitigation, such as: measuring, reporting and verification (MRV); and reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries, and the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests, and enhancement of forest carbon stocks (REDD+).

The Cancun Agreements also established several new institutions and processes, including the Cancun Adaptation Framework, the Adaptation Committee and the Technology Mechanism, which includes the Technology Executive Committee (TEC) and the Climate Technology Centre and Network (CTCN). The Green Climate Fund (GCF) was created and designated as an operating entity of the Convention’s financial mechanism.

Under the Protocol track, the CMP urged Annex I parties to raise the level of ambition of their emission reductions, and adopted Decision 2/CMP.6 on land use, land-use change and forestry.

DURBAN: The UN Climate Change Conference in Durban, South Africa, took place in November and December 2011. The Durban outcomes covered a wide range of topics, notably the agreement to establish a second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol from 2013 to 2020, a decision on long-term cooperative action under the Convention and agreement on the operationalization of the GCF. Parties also agreed to launch the ADP with a mandate “to develop a protocol, another legal instrument or an agreed outcome with legal force under the Convention applicable to all Parties.” The ADP is scheduled to complete these negotiations by 2015, with the new instrument entering into force in 2020. In addition, the ADP was mandated to explore actions to close the pre-2020 ambition gap in relation to the 2°C target.

DOHA: The UN Climate Change Conference in Doha, Qatar, took place in November and December 2012. The conference resulted in a package of decisions, referred to as the “Doha Climate Gateway.” These include amendments to the Kyoto Protocol to establish its second commitment period and agreement to terminate the AWG-KP’s work in Doha. The parties also agreed to terminate the AWG-LCA and negotiations under the BAP. A number of issues requiring further consideration were transferred to the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI) and the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA), such as: the 2013-2015 Review of the global goal; developed and developing country mitigation; the Kyoto Protocol’s flexibility mechanisms; national adaptation plans; MRV; market and non-market mechanisms; and REDD+.

WARSAW: The UN Climate Change Conference in Warsaw took place in November 2013, in Warsaw, Poland. Negotiations focused on the implementation of agreements reached at previous meetings, including pursuing the work of the ADP. The meeting adopted an ADP decision that, inter alia, invites parties to initiate or intensify domestic preparations for their iintended nationally determined contributions (INDCs). Parties also adopted a decision establishing the Warsaw International Mechanism on Loss and Damage, and the Warsaw REDD+ Framework - a series of seven decisions on REDD+ finance, institutional arrangements and methodological issues.

LIMA: The UN Climate Change Conference in Lima took place in December 2014, in Lima, Peru. It included COP 20 and CMP 10. The three subsidiary bodies also met: SBSTA 41 and SBI 41, and ADP 2-7.

 Negotiations in Lima focused on outcomes under the ADP necessary to advance towards an agreement in Paris at COP 21 in 2015, including elaboration of the information and process for submission of INDCs as early as possible in 2015 and progress on elements of a draft negotiating text. Following lengthy negotiations, COP 20 adopted the “Lima Call for Climate Action,” which sets in motion the negotiations towards a 2015 agreement, including the process for submitting and reviewing INDCs. The decision also addresses enhancing pre-2020 ambition.

Parties also adopted 19 decisions, 17 under the COP and two under the CMP that, inter alia: help operationalize the Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage; establish the Lima work programme on gender; and adopt the Lima Declaration on Education and Awareness Raising. The Lima Climate Change Conference was able to lay the groundwork for Paris, by capturing progress made in elaborating the elements of a draft negotiating text for the 2015 agreement and adopting a decision on INDCs, including their scope, upfront information, and steps to be taken by the Secretariat after their submission.

INTERSESSIONAL HIGHLIGHTS

IRENA ASSEMBLY: The fifth Assembly of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) took place from 17-18 January 2015 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, with more than 1,000 participants in attendance. Key issues considered included: the presentation of the annual report by the Director-General; institutional matters; and renewable energy and climate change. Ministerial roundtables addressed the transformation of the power sector and energy security while programmatic discussions were held on renewable power generation costs and off-grid renewable energy deployment. The Assembly reappointed Adnan Amin as IRENA’s Director-General for a second four-year term.

NEGOTIATIONS ON THE POST-2015 DEVELOPMENT AGENDA: The first intergovernmental negotiation on the post-2015 development agenda convened from 19-21 January 2015 at UN Headquarters in New York to conduct a “stocktaking” of the preparations for a new global sustainable development agenda, which is anticipated to comprise four elements: a declaration; a set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), targets, and indicators; their means of implementation (MOI) and a new Global Partnership for Development; and a framework for follow-up and review of implementation. The discussions revealed support for the proposal on SDGs that the Open Working Group developed in 2014, as well as anticipation for the Third Conference on Financing for Development. On other issues, the discussions revealed that a range of options will need to be taken into account as delegates reconvene in the coming months, with an eye towards agreement on the post-2015 development agenda at the 25-27 September 2015 Summit.

DRAFTING SESSION OF THE OUTCOME DOCUMENT FOR FFD3: The first drafting session of the outcome document of the third International Conference on Financing for Development (FfD3) took place at UN Headquarters in New York from 28-30 January 2015. This was the first of three drafting sessions scheduled to negotiate an outcome document for FfD3, which will take place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, from 13-16 July 2015. Delegates discussed: domestic public finance; domestic and international private finance; international public finance; trade; technology; innovation and capacity building; sovereign debt; systemic issues; as well as monitoring, data and follow up. Many delegates highlighted the issue of climate finance.  There was broad support for building on the Monterrey Consensus, and achieving coherence with the post-2015 development agenda. The Co-Facilitators will prepare a zero draft reflecting discussions at the January session before the next drafting session in April 2015.

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This issue of the Earth Negotiations Bulletin © <enb@iisd.org> is written and edited by Beate Antonich, Kati Kulovesi, Ph.D., Annalisa Savaresi, Ph.D., and Virginia Wiseman. The Digital Editor is Leila Mead. The Editor is Pamela Chasek, Ph.D. <pam@iisd.org>. The Director of IISD Reporting Services is Langston James “Kimo” Goree VI <kimo@iisd.org>. The Sustaining Donors of the Bulletin are the European Commission (DG-ENV and DG-CLIMA), the Government of Switzerland (the Swiss Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN) and the Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation (SDC)), and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. General Support for the Bulletin during 2015 is provided by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB), the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, SWAN International, the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs, the Japanese Ministry of Environment (through the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies - IGES), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and the International Development Research Centre (IDRC). Specific funding for coverage of this conference has been provided by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the EC (DG-CLIMA). Funding for translation of the Bulletin into French has been provided by the Government of France, the Wallonia, Québec, and the International Organization of La Francophonie/Institute for Sustainable Development of La Francophonie (IOF/IFDD). The opinions expressed in the Bulletin are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of IISD or other donors. Excerpts from the Bulletin may be used in non-commercial publications with appropriate academic citation. For information on the Bulletin, including requests to provide reporting services, contact the Director of IISD Reporting Services at <kimo@iisd.org>, +1-646-536-7556 or 300 East 56th St., 11D, New York, NY 10022 USA. The ENB team at the Geneva Climate Change Conference - February 2015 can be contacted by e-mail at <kati@iisd.org>.
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