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Earth Negotiations Bulletin (ENB)

Volume 12 Number 765 | Tuesday, 3 December 2019


Chile/Madrid Climate Change Conference

Monday, 2 December 2019 | Madrid, Spain


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The Chile/Madrid Climate Change Conference began with the opening plenaries of all bodies as well as a high-level opening ceremony. Parties adopted the agendas and launched all substantive work. A roundtable on climate ambition was held with nearly 50 heads of state and government.

Opening Ceremony

Hoesung Lee, Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), reminded delegates of the latest IPCC findings, which show that, although climate stabilization requires greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to peak next year, emissions continue to increase.

In a video message, Sebastián Piñera, President of Chile, emphasized the need for more ambitious climate action in a much shorter timeframe than that agreed to in Paris.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres called for “rapid and deep transformational change.” He noted the expectations of developing countries for adequate delivery of climate finance, and urged parties to make progress on Paris Agreement Article 6 (cooperative approaches) to incentivize the private sector and support collective action.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez drew attention to women’s role in environmental protection, recalling Eunice Foote, the first scientist to demonstrate the effects of GHGs. He stressed leadership, saying “as Europe lead the industrialization, it must now be Europe that leads in decarbonization.”

Opening Statements

Palestine, for the G-77/CHINA, said Article 6 negotiations should, inter alia, reflect the diversity of nationally determined contributions (NDCs), and focus on avoiding double counting, and providing predictable funds for adaptation. She cautioned against a mitigation-centric COP. She also called for making the Warsaw International Mechanism on Loss and Damage associated with Climate Change Impacts (WIM) an effective mechanism, including through financial support and technology transfer.

Finland, for the EU, outlined priorities, including: “robust and comprehensive” accounting rules for Article 6 to avoid double-counting; the second review of the WIM; and the review of the Lima Work Programme on Gender.

Switzerland, for the ENVIRONMENTAL INTEGRITY GROUP (EIG), highlighted Article 6 as an “unprecedented opportunity” to increase NDC ambition, noting that EIG would not support transitioning Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) credits into the post-2020 mechanism.

Australia, for the UMBRELLA GROUP, stressed the need for Article 6 rules to facilitate markets and enhance ambition. He also highlighted the WIM, capacity building, and Adaptation Fund as key issues.

Saudi Arabia, for the ARAB GROUP, urged consideration of the needs of developing countries in discussions regarding, inter alia, response measures and Article 6.

Egypt, for the AFRICAN GROUP, stressed that the COP and the CMA should balance mitigation and adaptation, rather than become “consumed with reporting.” On finance, he stressed the importance of grant-based resources to avoid increasing the developing countries’ debt burden.

Bhutan, for the LEAST DEVELOPED COUNTRIES (LDCs), outlined the group’s priorities, including: a COP decision announcing 2020 as a year of “strong ambition;” a meaningful review of the WIM; and that Article 6 should provide resources for adaptation through a share of proceeds.

Papua New Guinea, for the COALITION FOR RAINFOREST NATIONS, urged scaling up implementation of Reducing Emissions for Deforestation and Degradation (REDD+). He called for Article 6 rules to protect environmental integrity and called for an Article 6 “adaptation credit.”

Belize, for the ALLIANCE OF SMALL ISLAND STATES (AOSIS), expressed disappointment regarding inadequate action and urged COP 25 to “trigger a decade of ambition.” She called for Article 6 to go beyond offsetting and for reforming the climate finance landscape, including to address loss and damage.

Brazil, for ARGENTINA, BRAZIL, AND URUGUAY (ABU), outlined expectations on climate finance, calling on developed countries to scale up ambition with regards to the Green Climate Fund (GCF) and the Adaptation Fund. He also stressed, among others, the need to engage all stakeholders on Article 6 and to raise the profile of adaptation.

Malaysia, for the LIKE-MINDED DEVELOPING COUNTRIES (LMDCs), stressed, among others: strengthening transparency for developed countries regarding implementation; engaging with all parties on cooperative approaches by operationalizing multiple metrics; and “depoliticizing” the flow of international financial resources.

Venezuela, for the BOLIVARIAN ALLIANCE FOR THE PEOPLES OF OUR AMERICA (ALBA), called for creating a financial mechanism under the WIM and emphasized the need for balanced support, noting its priority is adaptation and that financial support is essential for raising ambition.

China, for BRAZIL, SOUTH AFRICA, INDIA, AND CHINA (BASIC), called upon developed countries to honor existing financial commitments, scale up financial support, and increase predictability of support.

Guatemala, for the INDEPENDENT ASSOCIATION FOR LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN (AILAC), emphasized the need to ensure environmental integrity and avoid double counting, and for developed countries to increase funding channeled through the GCF and Global Environment Facility (GEF).

YOUTH NGOs called for: refraining from double counting under Article 6; a financing facility for loss and damage; an enhanced post-2020 work programme for Action on Climate Empowerment; and “an end to fossil fuel lobbies at the COP.”

BUSINESS AND INDUSTRY NGOs said there is a “race to the top,” with more companies placing climate change at the heart of their business strategies, and, on Article 6, called for, inter alia, clarity on accounting of transfers and avoidance of double counting.

Stating that a “historic movement of climate justice is rising,” CLIMATE JUSTICE NOW! (CJN!) said civil society would hold leaders accountable at this COP and called on governments to raise domestic ambition while realizing inherent climate justice linkages.

TRADE UNION NGOs underscored the need to protect human rights and called for working together towards a fair transition for workers.

Local Governments and Municipal Authorities (LGMAs) called for COP25 to take into account of the thousands of cities and other subnational governments that declared a climate emergency and climate neutrality, as key to raise ambition. 

WOMEN AND GENDER called for system change and urged governments to end violence against women on the “frontlines of climate action.”

COP 25

COP 24 President Michał Kurtyka, Poland, opened the conference, emphasizing the need for a just transition in all sectors, and to address the needs and dignity of vulnerable people.

Organizational Matters: Election of the President: Parties elected by acclamation Carolina Schmidt, Minister of Environment, Chile, as COP 25/CMP 15/CMA 2 President.

Rules of procedure: Parties agreed to apply the draft rules of procedure (FCCC/CP/1996/2), with the exception of draft rule 42 on voting. The COP Presidency will hold consultations.

Adoption of the agenda: President Schmidt noted that an agenda item proposal from the African Group, on clarification of the status of the provision of privileges and immunities to the GCF, had not been included on the provisional agenda (FCCC/CP/2019/11) with the understanding that the issue would be discussed under the agenda item on the report of, and guidance to, the GCF. She also informed that Turkey had withdrawn its proposal relating to an agenda sub-item on deleting the country’s name from the list in Annex I to the Convention.

The COP adopted the agenda as amended, with the following items held in abeyance: a proposal from the Russian Federation to amend Article 4.2(f) of the Convention; a proposal from Papua New Guinea and Mexico to amend Articles 7 and 8 of the Convention; and the second review of the adequacy of Articles 4.2(a) and (b) of the Convention.

Election of officers other than the President: Consultations will convene.

Admission of observers: The COP admitted new observers as proposed (FCCC/CP/2019/6 Rev.1) and agreed to request SBI 52 to review and provide recommendations to the Secretariat on the current approach.

Organization of work: The COP adopted the organization of work.

The COP forwarded the following items to the subsidiary bodies for discussion:

  • Reporting from and review of Annex I Parties;
  • Reporting from Non-Annex I Parties;
  • Report of the Adaptation Committee;
  • Joint report of the Technology Executive Committee (TEC) and Climate Technology Centre and Network (CTCN);
  • Capacity building under the Convention;
  • Matters related to the LDCs;
  • Report of the forum on the impact of the implementation of response measures;
  • Gender; and
  • Audit report and financial statements for 2018; budget performance for the biennium 2018-2019; and decision-making in the UNFCCC process.

WIM: Parties agreed to maintain the provisional approach whereby the COP continues to consider the report of the WIM Executive Committee (ExCom) and the WIM review without prejudging the outcome on matters related to the governance of the WIM.

Matters Related to Finance: Long-term finance: Standing Committee on Finance: A contact group will consider these sub-items.

Report of the GCF and Guidance to the GCF: Report of the GEF and guidance to the GEF: A contact group will consider these sub-items.

The AFRICAN GROUP emphasized the need to allocate sufficient time for consultations on the provision on privileges and immunities to the GCF.

CMA 2

CMA 2 President Schmidt opened the session.

Adoption of the agenda: President Schmidt invited parties to adopt the agenda (FCCC/PA/CMA/2019/4), explaining that parties had reached an understanding on:

  • not including a sub-item proposed by the African Group on consideration of special needs and circumstances of African countries, but holding informal consultations at this session;
  • not including a sub-item proposed by the AILAC regarding the special needs and circumstances of Latin American states;
  • including a sub-item proposed by the African Group on the report of the Adaptation Committee and convening an informal meeting with parties on the global goal on adaptation; and
  • including an identical footnote as on the COP agenda relating to the WIM agenda item, which states that inclusion of the item does not prejudge outcomes on matters relating to the governance of the WIM.

Honduras, for AILAC, supported by several Latin American countries, requested also holding consultations on the special needs and circumstances of Latin American countries. The AFRICAN GROUP, the ARAB GROUP, and EIG opposed. The ARAB GROUP called for also holding consultations on the special needs and circumstances of its region, if consultations for Latin America were to be held. AOSIS objected to discussions that would “amount to a renegotiation of the Paris Agreement.” NEPAL called for consideration of the special circumstances of mountainous countries.

The CMA adopted the agenda as proposed.

Election of additional officers: Consultations will convene.

Organization of work: The CMA adopted the organization of work.

The following items were referred to the subsidiary bodies:

  • Report of the Adaptation Committee;
  • WIM;
  • Joint annual report of the TEC and CTCN;
  • Capacity building under the Agreement;
  • Report of the forum on the impact of the implementation of response measures;
  • Matters relating to Article 6 of the Paris Agreement; and
  • Administrative, financial and institutional matters: Audit report and financial statements for 2018; Budget performance for the biennium 2018–2019.

Status of ratification of the Paris Agreement: President Schmidt reported that there are currently 184 parties. The CMA took note of the information.

Public Registries Under the Paris Agreement: A contact group was established for both sub-items related to the registry for Article 4.12 (NDCs) and 7.12 (adaptation communications).

Matters Relating to Finance: Matters relating to the SCF: The CMA agreed that this item would be discussed in the COP contact group established for the SCF.

Guidance to the GCF: Guidance to the GEF: The CMA agreed that these sub-items would be discussed in the COP contact group for the GCF and GEF guidances.

Matters relating to the Adaptation Fund: The CMA agreed that this sub-item would be discussed in the CMP contact group for the Adaptation Fund.

CMP 15

CMP 15 President Schmidt opened the session. The CMP adopted the agenda (FCCC/CMP/2019/1). The Presidency will consult on the election of Bureau members.

The CMP forwarded the following items to the SBs as reflected in their respective agendas:

  • Matters relating to the CDM;
  • Matters relating to the Adaptation Fund;
  • Capacity Building under the Kyoto Protocol;
  • Forum on the impact of the implementation of response measures;
  • Audit report and financial statements and financial statements for 2018; Budget performance for the biennium 2018-2019; and
  • Annex I parties’ reporting.

On this last point, UKRAINE proposed postponing consideration of the issue and called for correcting a Secretariat compliation report that includes information from the Russian Federation that includes Crimea and the City of Sevastopol. The Secretariat will consult.

Status of ratification of the Doha Amendment of the Kyoto Protocol: The CMP took note of the information.

Matters relating to Joint Implementation: The CMP took note of the report (FCCC/KP/CMP/2019/2).

Report of the Compliance Committee: The CMP took note of the report (FCCC/KP/CMP/2019/5) and invited parties to make contributions to the Trust Fund for Supplementary Contributions to support the Committee’s work in 2020-2021.

Report on the High-Level Ministerial Round Table on Increased Ambition of Kyoto Protocol Commitments: The Presidency will conduct consultations.

SBI 51

SBI Chair Emmanuel Dlamini, eSwatini, opened the session.

Organizational Matters: Parties adopted the agenda and organization of work with the sub-item on information contained in non-Annex I parties’ national communications held in abeyance.

Election of officers other than the Chair: The SBI Chair Dlamini informed that pending elections by the end of SBI 51, the current and additional Rapporteurs and two Vice-Chairs would continue to serve.

Multilateral assessment: The SBI Chair informed that ten parties will be assessed at SBI 51.

UKRAINE objected to consideration of the multilateral assessment and other reporting-related agenda items until the Secretariat corrects the relevant documents with regards to inventory data from Crimea occupied by the Russian Federation. The RUSSIAN FEDERATION said it complied with the obligation to provide information on its territory in its entirety in its reporting. The US, CANADA, the EU, and AUSTRALIA supported Ukraine. The SBI took note of the statements.

Facilitative sharing of views: The SBI Chair reported that five developing countries: Chile, Ghana, India, Malaysia, and Saudi Arabia, will present their reports.

Annex I Reporting: Status of submission and review of seventh national communications and third biennial reports from Annex I parties: UKRAINE reiterated its concerns and proposed postponing consideration of this and subsequent sub-items until the Secretariat amends the relevant documentation.

Egypt, for the AFRICAN GROUP, expressed concern that three Annex I countries had not submitted their 7th national communications and biennial update reports. Parties agreed to continue consultations.

Summary reports of biennial update reports: Parties took note of the summary reports finalized in the period up to 16 September 2019.

Matters relating to Mechanisms under the Protocol: Review of CDM modalities and procedures: Parties agreed to consider this item at SBI 52 to allow progress on Article 6.

Report of the administrator of the international transaction log: Parties took note of the report (FCCC/SBI/2019/INF.14).

Report of the Adaptation Committee: The Adaptation Committee presented on its work. Informal consultations with SBSTA will convene.

Matters Relating to the LDCs: The LDC Expert Group (LEG) reported on its activities. Informal consultations will convene.

National Adaptation Plans (NAPs): Lamenting many LDCs’ inability to formulate NAPs due to lack of funding, TIMOR LESTE urged parties and operating entities of the Financial Mechanism to support LDCs that have not started the formulation of their NAPs. Informal consultations on the item will convene.

Development and Transfer of Technologies: Joint annual report of the TEC and CTCN: The TEC and CTCN presented on their work. Informal consultations with SBSTA will convene.

Matters relating to the forum on the impact of the implementation of response measures: The Katowice Committee of Experts (KCI) reported that it completed its 2019 mandate and that the 2nd meeting of the KCI agreed to recommendations that will be considered by the forum. A joint SBI/SBSTA contact group will convene.

Report on activities related to Action for Climate Empowerment: SBI took note of the summary report (FCCC/SBI/2019/12).

Administrative, Financial and Institutional Matters: Audit report and financial statements for 2018: Budget performance for the biennium 2018-2019: UNFCCC Deputy Executive Secretary Ovais Sarmad reported on additional contributions received since 15 November 2019, but lamented overall outstanding contributions of 126 parties totalling EUR 16 million. The UN Board of Auditors presented the financial report and audited financial statements for the 2018. This item was forwarded to a contact group.

Informal consultations will convene on:

  • Compilation and synthesis of second and third biennial reports; Reports on national GHG inventory data from Annex I parties (1990-2016 and 2017);
  • Report and terms of reference of the CGE; Financial and technical support;
  • Common time frames;
  • Scope of the next periodic review of the long-term global goal under the Convention (with SBSTA);
  • Koronivia joint work on agriculture (with SBSTA);
  • WIM (with SBSTA);
  • Alignment between processes pertaining to the review of the CTCN and periodic assessment referred to paragraph 69 of Decision 1/CP.21 (on support provided to the Technology Mechanism); and Poznan strategic programme on technology transfer (with SBSTA);
  • Membership of the Adaptation Fund Board;
  • Matters related to capacity building; and
  • Gender.

SBSTA 51

SBSTA Chair Paul Watkinson opened the meeting, recalling the findings of the IPCC on the ongoing climate deterioration.

SBSTA adopted its agenda and organization of work.

Election of officers other than the Chair: Watkinson invited nominations for the posts of SBSTA Vice-Chair and Rapporteur. Parties agreed to conduct informal consultations.

Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples Platform (LCIPP): The LCIPP Facilitative Working Group presented on its second meeting, noting the group needs to start work in January 2020 and urging parties to agree on its two-year workplan. Informal consultations will convene.

Matters relating to the Forum on the Impact of the Implementation of Response Measures: A joint contact group with the SBI will convene.

Guidelines for the technical review of information reported under the Convention related to GHG inventories, biennial reports and national communications by Annex I Parties: This item was deferred to SBSTA 54.

Methodological Issues under the Paris Agreement: One contact group will convene, with informal consultations for each sub-item. Chair Watkinson assured that there will be no parallel meetings with, nor discussions preempting, Article 6 negotiations.

Matters Relating to Article 6 of the Paris Agreement: The SBSTA established one contact group on this item chaired by SBSTA Chair Watkinson and agreed to informal consultations on all sub-items. Watkinson said he will meet with heads of delegations first, and additionally, as needed.

Annual Reports on Technical Reviews: Technical review on information reported under the Convention by Annex I Parties in their biennial reports and national communications: SBSTA took note of the report (FCCC/SBSTA/2019/INF.3).

Technical review on GHG inventories of Annex I Parties: Technical review of GHG inventories and other information reported by Annex I parties under the Kyoto Protocol: The SBSTA took note of the technical review and other information provided (FCCC/SBSTA/2019/INF.5).

UKRAINE reiterated its concern regarding the Russian Federation’s reporting of emissions from the Crimea region and called for postponing consideration of these sub-items until the documentation is revised. Chair Watkinson will hold consultations, including with the SBI Chair and COP President, and report back to the SBSTA on the proposed way forward.

Informal consultations will convene on:

  • Report of the Adaptation Committee (with the SBI);
  • Report of the WIM and 2019 Review (with the SBI);
  • Development and Transfer of Technologies: Joint annual report of the TEC and CTCN (with SBI);
  • Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture (with SBI);
  • Matters Relating to Science: Scope of the next periodic review of the long-term global goal under the Convention (with SBI); Research and Systematic Observation; and
  • Methodological Issues Under the Convention: Revision of the UNFCCC reporting guidelines on annual inventories for Annex I Parties; GHG data interface; Common metrics to calculate the carbon dioxide equivalence of GHGs; and Bunker fuels.

Statements from intergovernmental organizations: The IPCC highlighted the panel’s work in its sixth assessment cycle, including the special reports on land, and on the ocean and cryosphere. The WORLD METEOROLOGICAL ORGANIZATION drew attention to gaps in observations and related data and knowledge, including in surface observations for Africa, mountainous areas and polar regions, and called for new financing facilities for systematic observation. The COORDINATION GROUP FOR METEOROLOGICAL SATELLITES invited parties to continue supporting the activities of space agencies. The GLOBAL CLIMATE OBSERVING SYSTEM highlighted regional workshops held in developing countries to support systematic observations, underscoring the high costs for many developing countries.

The INTERGOVERNMENTAL OCEANOGRAPHIC COMMISSION called for parties to search solutions during this “Blue COP,” stating that systematic observations provide the basis for these. The WORLD CLIMATE RESEARCH PROGRAMME called for free and open access to climate-related data and products for the international community.

Stating that international aviation is the first sector with a goal to achieve carbon neutral growth from 2020, the INTERNATIONAL CIVIL AVIATION ORGANIZATION reported that implementation towards this objective is on track. The INTERNATIONAL MARITIME ORGANIZATION updated on measures to reduce emissions from international shipping, including energy efficiency and emissions intensity reduction requirements for ships.

The CONVENTION ON BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY highlighted synergies achievable from strengthening collaboration between the scientific subsidiary bodies of the UNFCCC and CBD.

In the Corridors

COP 25 started amid the camera flashes and spotlights that herald the presence of heads of state and government. Dignitaries held a roundtable on climate ambition, and UN Secretary General António Guterres and speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi spoke at a packed press conference of the Climate Vulnerable Forum.

Meanwhile, parties launched a mass of work during a first day that stretched into the evening. One delegate considered it was “not as ugly as expected,” referring to debates on several proposed agenda items. The pre-meetings’ discussions proved fruitful for some agenda items as agreement was found quickly. The compromise on the special needs and circumstances of Africa and Latin America, however, left some wondering that trust may already be impacted, as they noticed the gavel fell despite the objections of Honduras. One negotiator assured that a return to a more normal pace of work tomorrow might help parties regain to their usual form.

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