Summary report, 31 May – 17 June 2021
2021 Sessions of the UNFCCC Subsidiary Bodies
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, no formal meetings of the parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) took place in 2020. Delegates were not able to engage in virtual negotiations, and only met for discussion-centered events, namely the June Momentum and the November Climate Dialogues. More than one year into the pandemic, parties acknowledged that they had little choice but to convene, in a virtual format, to advance work and minimize further delays in preparation for Conference of the Parties (COP 26), currently scheduled to take place from 1-12 November 2021, in Glasgow, Scotland, UK.
To account for the challenges and constraints of virtual meetings, the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI) and the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) met for three weeks instead of the usual two. The two subsidiary bodies (SBs) held plenaries, and mandated and Presidency-led events also took place. Crucially, delegates convened informal consultations on a range of issues which, under normal circumstances, would have taken place in 2020 and 2021. The timing of these informal consultations shifted from one week to the next, to accommodate different time zones. Discussions on individual items were captured in informal notes issued under the authority of the SB Chairs.
According to the Secretariat’s count, approximately 5,800 delegates participated in the meeting, significantly more than the 3,400 participants at the last meeting of the SBs in Bonn in 2019. Plenaries and mandated and Presidency-led events, such on the Paris Agreement’s Article 9.5 (ex ante biennial finance communications by developed countries) and on the Santiago Network for Loss and Damage, were livestreamed and recordings remain available online. Informal consultations were open to registered participants only. Many of these remained open to accredited observers throughout, while others, such as transparency-related discussions, were largely closed.
Over 80 sessions of informal consultations took place between 31 May and 17 June on a total of 22 draft provisional agenda items, with some issues being covered by both SBs. Informal notes were issued on all items. Elements outlined in the informal notes are not exhaustive and have no formal status, but are meant to inform further discussions. The notes’ level of maturity differs, some resembling something close to decision text, while others read almost like laundry lists of all potential options. One thing countries agree on is that considerable work remains to reach agreement on the key issues under consideration at COP 26.
Editor’s Note: This summary does not cover every session held during the three-week meeting. For a list of all events, see unfccc.int/event/may-june-2021-climate-change-conference-sessions-of-the-subsidiary-bodies
A Brief History of the UNFCCC, the Kyoto Protocol, and the Paris Agreement
The international political response to climate change began with the 1992 adoption of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, which sets out the basic legal framework and principles for international climate change cooperation with the aim of stabilizing atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases (GHGs) to avoid “dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.” The UNFCCC, which entered into force on 21 March 1994, has 197 parties.
The Kyoto Protocol, adopted in December 1997, committed industrialized countries and countries in transition to a market economy to achieve quantified emissions reduction targets for a basket of six GHGs. The Kyoto Protocol entered into force on 16 February 2005 and has 192 parties. Its first commitment period took place from 2008 to 2012. The 2012 Doha Amendment, which entered into force on 31 December 2020, established the second commitment period, which took place from 2013 to 2020.
In December 2015, parties adopted the Paris Agreement. Under the Agreement, all parties must submit nationally determined contributions (NDCs), and aggregate progress on mitigation, adaptation, and means of implementation will be reviewed every five years through a Global Stocktake. The Paris Agreement entered into force on 4 November 2016 and, to date, 191 parties have ratified the Agreement.
Recent Key Turning Points
Paris: The 2015 UN Climate Change Conference convened in Paris, France, and culminated in the adoption of the Paris Agreement on 12 December. The Agreement includes the goal of limiting the global average temperature increase to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels, and pursuing efforts to limit it to 1.5°C. It also aims to increase parties’ ability to adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change and make financial flows consistent with a pathway towards low GHG emissions and climate resilient development. The Agreement is being implemented to reflect equity and the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, in light of different national circumstances.
Under the Paris Agreement, each party shall communicate, at five-year intervals, successively more ambitious NDCs. By 2020, parties whose NDCs contain a time frame up to 2025 are requested to communicate a new NDC and parties with an NDC time frame up to 2030 are requested to communicate or update these contributions.
Key features of the Paris Agreement include the enhanced transparency framework, and the Global Stocktake. Starting in 2023, parties will convene this process at five-year intervals to review collective progress on mitigation, adaptation, and means of implementation. The Agreement also includes provisions on adaptation, finance, technology, loss and damage, and compliance.
When adopting the Paris Agreement, parties launched the Paris Agreement Work Programme (PAWP) to develop the Agreement’s operational details. They agreed to convene in 2018 a facilitative dialogue to take stock of collective progress towards the Paris Agreement’s long-term goals. This process became known as the Talanoa Dialogue.
In Paris, parties also agreed on the need to mobilize stronger and more ambitious climate action by all parties and non-party stakeholders to achieve the Paris Agreement’s goals. Building on the Lima-Paris Action Agenda, several non-party stakeholders made unilateral mitigation pledges in Paris, with more than 10,000 registered actions. Attention to actions by non-party stakeholders continued through the Marrakech Partnership for Global Climate Action, launched in 2016.
Marrakech: The UN Climate Change Conference in Marrakech took place from 7-18 November 2016 and included the first meeting of the Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement (CMA). Parties adopted several decisions related to the PAWP, including: that the work should conclude by 2018; and initiating a process to identify the information to be provided in accordance with Agreement Article 9.5 (ex-ante biennial finance communications by developed countries). Other decisions adopted included approving the five-year workplan of the Warsaw International Mechanism on Loss and Damage associated with Climate Change (WIM).
Fiji/Bonn: The Fiji/Bonn Climate Change Conference convened from 6-17 November 2017 in Bonn, Germany, under the Presidency of Fiji. The COP launched the Talanoa Dialogue and established the “Fiji Momentum for Implementation,” a decision giving prominence to pre-2020 implementation and ambition. The COP also decided that the Adaptation Fund shall serve the Paris Agreement, subject to decisions to be taken by the CMA.
Katowice: The Katowice Climate Change Conference convened from 2-14 December 2018 in Katowice, Poland, concluding a busy year that featured an additional negotiation session to advance work on the PAWP. At COP 24, parties adopted the Katowice Climate Package. The Package finalized nearly all elements of the PAWP, including decisions to facilitate common interpretation and implementation of the Paris Agreement on the mitigation section of NDCs, adaptation communications, transparency framework, Global Stocktake, and financial transparency, among others. Work on cooperative approaches, under Article 6 of the Agreement, was not concluded, and parties agreed that COP 25 in 2019 would serve as the deadline for this work. The COP was also unable to agree on whether to “welcome” or “note” the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Special Report on 1.5°C of Global Warming.
Chile/Madrid: The Chile/Madrid Climate Change Conference convened from 2-15 December 2019 in Madrid, Spain, under the Presidency of Chile. This COP was the longest in the history of the UNFCCC to date and several issues were left unresolved, including Article 6 (market and non-market approaches) and transparency issues for the Paris Agreement, as well as common time frames for NDCs. Parties decided that the second periodic review of the long-term global goal under the Convention would begin in the second half of 2020 and conclude in 2022, including a structured expert dialogue. After protracted discussions, they further agreed to establish what some dubbed “an implementation arm” of the WIM in the form of the Santiago Network for Averting, Minimizing, and Addressing Loss and Damage, and adopted the enhanced five-year Lima Work Programme and its Gender Action Plan.
2020 Climate Dialogues: The Climate Dialogues convened virtually from 23 November – 4 December 2020, since COP 26, scheduled to take place in Glasgow, Scotland, in November 2020, was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Climate Dialogues aimed to keep climate action and momentum alive, implement mandated events for 2020, and discuss ongoing and emerging issues, such as a sustainable recovery from the pandemic. Although it was agreed that no formal negotiations or decision-making would take place, some informal, non-broadcasted party-only events took place on outstanding negotiation issues, such as on Article 6 and common time frames for NDCs. These aimed at increasing common understanding and ensuring progress towards reaching decisions at COP 26.
Report of the Meeting
Opening the meeting on Monday, 31 May, COP 25 President Carolina Schmidt (Chile), urged parties to maximize progress at this session, calling for “new levels of solidarity and commitment.” She highlighted transparency, markets, adaptation, and finance among the issues requiring work. Incoming COP 26 President, Alok Sharma (UK), underscoring that “the world is watching us,” encouraged parties to use this session to produce draft text for finalization and adoption at COP 26.
UNFCCC Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa said while this year has witnessed some momentum, the climate emergency is still worsening, current plans are not in line with Paris goals, and negotiations are behind schedule. She called for leadership and trust, and stressed finance as a moral and economic imperative.
Tosi Mpanu-Mpanu, Chair of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA), and Marianne Karlsen, Chair of the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI) (together, the SB Chairs), outlined the approach for their respective sessions, which was described in the SBSTA and SBI scenario notes published on 7 May 2021 and built on feedback from delegations. They emphasized that work will be undertaken corresponding to the mandates for SB 52 and 53 (which under normal circumstances would have taken place in 2020), as well as SB 54 and 55 (scheduled for 2021), with the scenario notes laying out which items would be taken up at this meeting, and which will be deferred for consideration at a later meeting.
The SB Chairs noted that parties had expressed different views on the conduct of the meeting. Some parties thought that decisions could be taken by consensus, especially on procedural aspects such as the agenda. Others underscored the challenges of remote participation, expressing that they are not ready to adopt an agenda or formal decisions. Noting that all parties underscored the need to be pragmatic and move forward, the SB Chairs proposed to start work on the basis of the draft provisional agendas and modalities notes, underscoring that the modalities of this meeting do not constitute a precedent for subsequent meetings.
The SB Chairs appointed co-facilitators to support progress in informal consultations on individual agenda items and sub-items, and said progress would be captured in informal documents issued under their authority, possibly in different iterations to enhance transparency and demonstrate progress. These informal documents, they noted, can inform deliberations when delegates are able to convene in person.
The SB Chairs welcomed the input of observers to the UNFCCC process and said this meeting would follow the usual procedures for observer participation, with at least the first and last informal consultation under each item open to observers. They encouraged, to the extent possible, all informal consultations to remain open to admitted observers, recognizing the parties’ right to close meetings to address sensitive issues.
Opening statements: Switzerland, for the Environmental Integrity Group (EIG), underscored “we are past the time for broad exchanges of views” and highlighted the importance of synthesizing discussions. He noted that other processes, such as the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, are moving forward with virtual decision-making and cautioned against delaying effective progress. He stressed the need to adopt the agenda and discuss concrete text to achieve progress ahead of Glasgow.
Antigua and Barbuda, for the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), called for considering the NDC Synthesis Report of April 2021 at COP 26, specifically the gap it identifies in global emissions reductions. She underscored the need to initiate discussions on a post-2025 collective goal on finance, and lamented barriers to accessing funds related to gross domestic product (GDP). She expressed support for capturing progress at this meeting in writing.
Portugal, for the European Union (EU), welcomed the SB Chairs’ proposal to capture progress in informal documents to be the basis of next steps taken in Glasgow, and called for making the best possible use of the virtual setting, including by reflecting on the possibility of adopting decisions.
Saudi Arabia, for the Arab Group, highlighted that interrupted internet connections pose a challenge to the group’s effective participation, stressing that virtual work is a pandemic-induced exception that must be avoided in future. She called for extending the action plan of the Katowice Committee of Experts on the impact of the implementation of response measures (KCI), and dealing with items under Article 6 (market and non-market mechanisms) in a balanced fashion.
India, for Brazil, South Africa, India, and China (BASIC), urged progress on operationalizing the long-term global goal on adaptation, initiating the process to set the post-2025 finance goal, support for developing countries to fulfil their obligations under the Enhanced Transparency Framework (ETF), and bridging the gap on pre-2020 ambition.
New Zealand, for the Umbrella Group, called for progress on the development of draft tables for greenhouse gas inventories and tracking progress towards nationally determined contributions (NDCs), and for completing negotiations on Article 6 in 2021. On adaptation, she supported the increasing focus on social inclusion.
Bhutan, for the Least Developed Countries (LDCs), highlighted the need for sessions to be conducted in a transparent, inclusive, and participatory manner. He said a single common time frame for NDCs is critical and noted that the NDC Synthesis Report shows the level of ambition of NDCs to be “extremely inadequate.” He emphasized capacity building in the context of the ETF, and the need to assess progress on developed countries’ goal of jointly providing USD 100 billion annually by 2020. He expressed concern over the postponement of discussions on adaptation, loss and damage, and gender.
Paraguay, for the Independent Association of Latin America and the Caribbean (AILAC), highlighted the need for more ambitious NDCs that are collectively compatible with a 1.5°C pathway, noting that this calls for leadership by major emitters. He said progress on transparency, and soundness and coherence between transparency elements, is key.
Argentina, for Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay (ABU), underscored that any decision has to be taken in person and lamented lack of coordination between UN bodies, noting the simultaneous conduct of climate and biodiversity negotiations puts delegations under strain. He emphasized the need to initiate discussions on setting a post-2025 finance goal and to continue discussions on long-term finance. On transparency, he cautioned against introducing new reporting and review requirements, noting that this would risk “reopening” the Katowice package.
Guinea, for the Group of 77 and China (G-77/China), urged launching negotiations on a post-2025 finance goal from a floor of USD 100 billion, based on the needs of developing countries, and building on a common definition of climate finance. He expressed concern over the lack of prominence of finance and adaptation issues at this meeting, as well as the postponement of discussions on loss and damage. He stressed that the SB Chairs’ informal documents should reflect all parties’ views in a transparent and inclusive manner, underscoring that these documents have no formal status and should not prejudge any outcome.
Nicaragua, for the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of our America (ALBA), called for striking a balance across and within items, and outlined priorities including completing work to finish the Paris rulebook, reviewing the Adaptation Fund, opening a specific window to fund loss and damage, and implementing non-market-based approaches.
Papua New Guinea, for the Coalition of Rainforest Nations, called for combining the transition to renewable energy with action on forestry, agriculture, and land use measures. Stressing the (cost-) effectiveness of implementing the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation mechanism (REDD+), he called for REDD+ results to be rewarded.
Gabon, for the African Group, urged against restricting support to only LDCs and small island developing states (SIDS), and expressed concern about the proposal to defer consideration of reports on the Adaptation Committee, the Technology Executive Committee, and the Climate Technology Centre and Network to COP 26.
Bolivia, for the Like-Minded Developing Countries (LMDCs) expressed concern about unilateral economic measures adopted in relation to climate change, which he said are contrary to international law. He said the agenda is not balanced, with finance, adaptation, and loss and damage relegated to future sessions.
SBI Chair Karlsen suspended the meeting, noting that it would reopen later in the week for further statements. In the resumed plenary meeting on Wednesday, 2 June, participants heard further statements by parties and observers.
Bangladesh underscored the need to urgently address loss and damage, enhance NDC ambition, and fully implement finance commitments.
Egypt called for progress on the global goal on adaptation, and highlighted the importance of delivering on the USD 100 billion finance goal.
Cuba asked for enough time for parties to consider the informal notes to be prepared by the SB Chairs ahead of the closing plenary, and expressed concerns related to coercive, unilateral measures affecting parties’ climate action efforts.
Youth Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) underscored a robust decision on Article 6, a single common time frame of five years for NDCs, and drastically increasing climate finance. Business and Industry NGOs called for an enabling environment for the shift to net-zero, with coherent and predictable policies. On Article 6, she underscored the need for a strong monitoring, reporting, and verification framework that ensures environmental integrity and prevents double counting.
Climate Action Network (CAN) said COP 26 should be in person, with inclusive participation of all countries and civil society, which would require equitable access to vaccines. Climate Justice Now! stressed the urgency of systems change and warned that the dominant economic system has unequal and violent impacts. Farmers highlighted the importance of the Koronivia joint work on agriculture in raising ambition.
Indigenous Peoples said no party should use the virtual format as an excuse to delay action, called for inclusion of human rights and Indigenous Peoples’ rights in Article 6 discussions, and denounced “vaccine nationalism.” Local Governments and Municipal Authorities (LGMA) called for collaboration among multiple levels of government to become the “new normal.”
Research and Independent NGOs urged parties to enhance NDC ambition, develop long-term low-emission development strategies, and commit to a green pandemic recovery. Trade Union NGOs urged parties to develop just transition plans with workers and unions. Women and Gender underscored the need to address the fundamental drivers of the climate crisis, calling for sustainable consumption and production models. She cautioned against taking up the concept of nature-based solutions, noting its ambiguity.
Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice
Nairobi Work Programme on impacts, vulnerability, and adaptation to climate change: Informal consultations on this item were co-facilitated by Alessandra Sgobbi (Italy) and Carlos Fuller (Belize). Opening the first session on Wednesday, 2 June, Co-facilitator Sgobbi noted the objective of these informal consultations is to foster an exchange of views on progress and outcomes of the Nairobi Work Programme (NWP) since SB 50 in June 2019, on its indicative work plan for 2021-2022, and on how the NWP can be more responsive to developing countries’ needs. She noted that they would also discuss criteria and guiding questions for the review of the NWP’s operational and institutional modalities, which is scheduled to take place in June 2022.
The Secretariat provided an overview of the NWP’s work (FCCC/SBSTA/2020/INF.1, FCCC/SBSTA/2021/INF.2). The Adaptation Committee (AC) noted it recently advised the NWP (AC/NWP/2021/1) to hold the 15th NWP Focal Point Forum on the theme of assessing and meeting the costs of adaptation, to complement the AC’s work on the subject. Statements by NWP partners highlighted, among others: access to finance, especially concessional support, as a crucial constraint to adaptation action; and an upcoming knowledge product on developing Green Climate Fund (GCF) proposals on marine and coastal issues.
Delegates expressed their appreciation for the NWP’s work, including its collaboration with the Adaptation Committee, its thematic work on coastal areas, and the Universities Partnership Programme.
Recurrent statements related to strengthening engagement in previously under-focused regions and identifying more targeted ways to seek feedback on NWP effectiveness, with delegates underscoring the low response rate to a survey implemented to that effect. Many emphasized the need for better accessibility of NWP knowledge products for practitioners on the ground, including by translating them, reducing their length, and avoiding jargon. Other points raised include: considering issues related to drought, desertification, and land degradation neutrality; the role of adaptation communications in identifying adaptation needs and knowledge gaps; and ensuring an inclusive stocktaking process.
On Tuesday, 8 June, delegates expressed support for the indicative work plan. Several parties supported increasing the focus on gender and Indigenous knowledge, and assessing lessons learned from virtual and hybrid arrangements, especially to enhance the participation of marginalized groups. Several groups asked for clarification on the composition and mandate of thematic expert groups. Other points included: exploring new approaches to stakeholder engagement, including through Instagram, promoting the use of web browsers’ translation functionalities to improve the accessibility of the NWP’s website, and inviting the IPCC to participate in the NWP on a more regular basis.
Delegates then had a lengthy exchange and were ultimately unable to agree over whether the Co-Facilitators should prepare an informal note following this session of informal consultations, or only after the last session.
On Saturday, 12 June, discussions focused on the stocktake of the operational and institutional modalities of the NWP. There was broad support for inviting submissions by parties and non-party stakeholders, including NWP partners, to inform the stocktake, and for requesting the Secretariat to provide a synthesis thereof. Several groups and parties called for: the stocktake to draw lessons learned at regional, sub-regional, and country-levels; indicators to track impacts over time; and holding regional events to inform the stocktake. Delegates debated the use of virtual and hybrid meeting arrangements, noting connectivity challenges, and using regional level events to avoid time zone problems. Some also mentioned using social media and video gaming to enhance the NWP’s reach.
Some supported continuing discussions in a fourth session of informal consultations, while others did not. The Co-Facilitators indicated they would consult with the SBSTTA Chair on the way forward.
A fourth session of informal consultations took place on Wednesday, 16 June. Some groups initially opposed holding the session, and did not support the format of an informal note prepared by the Co-Facilitators. Many other groups underscored their support for both. Ultimately, delegates provided clarifications and inputs on the note. The Co-Facilitators prepared a revised informal note for inclusion in the SBSTA Chair’s overview of progress.
Koronivia joint work on agriculture: Informal consultations on this item, which was jointly considered by the SBs, were co-facilitated by Philip Blackwell (Ireland) and Milagros Sandoval (Peru). On Friday, 4 June, delegates discussed how to address reports from workshops on:
- Improved nutrient use and manure management towards sustainable and resilient agricultural systems (FCCC/SB/2020/1);
- Improved livestock management systems, including agro-pastoral production systems and others (FCCC/SB/2021/1); and
- Socio-economic and food security dimensions of climate change in the agricultural sector (FCCC/SB/2021/2).
Several delegates noted insufficient time to consider the reports within the scheduled informal consultation slots on this item and requested additional time, possibly in informal-informals. Parties agreed that parties and sub-groups would submit their views on key elements of importance from each report, to serve as input for the Co-Facilitators to prepare for more substantive discussions.
On Monday, 7 June, delegates exchanged views on an informal note on possible elements of draft SBSTA conclusions related to a Koronivia workshop on improved nutrient use and manure management towards sustainable and resilient agricultural systems. They welcomed the note as a fruitful basis for discussion. Among others, parties discussed references to a systems approach, and how to phrase references to traditional knowledge. Several parties opposed establishing an information exchange platform, noting the existence of other such platforms, and views diverged on whether or not to retain references to science-based approaches.
There was disagreement on providing means of implementation to developing country parties, with several developed countries underscoring they had no mandate to discuss finance commitments under this agenda item. A developed country, supported by others, suggested shuffling the paragraphs relating to means of implementation and centering the reference to the Koronivia joint work on agriculture’s role in raising ambition on mobilizing financial and technological resources and creating capacities to address the vulnerability of agriculture and food security to climate change.
On Tuesday, 15 June, delegates welcomed progress in the informal-informals as well as the Co-Facilitators’ work in capturing discussions. The Co-Facilitators indicated that they would issue new iterations of existing informal notes on the three workshop reports. Observers called for concrete outcomes to guide climate action in agriculture, and highlighted, among others: delivering food security and nutrition; ensuring gender responsiveness; empowering small-holder farmers; shifting subsidies to support agro-ecological practices; attention to consumption-side approaches; and restoring soil health and soil organic carbon.
In the final consultations on Wednesday, 16 June, countries agreed to forward the informal notes on the three workshop reports, as well as an introductory note, to the SB Chairs. Many developing countries expressed concern that a bullet on “reducing total livestock numbers” was inserted in the informal note on the workshop on improved livestock management systems. The proponent noted scientific findings that meat consumption should decrease to help reach the Paris Agreement’s goals, and acknowledged that reducing livestock numbers would not be appropriate in all contexts, particularly in LDCs. The Co-Facilitators reminded parties that the informal note has no legal standing and is a compilation of the comments provided. The informal note was included in the SBSTA’s overview of progress.
Sources of input for the Global Stocktake under the Paris Agreement: In informal consultations co-facilitated by Christiane Textor (Germany) and Harald Winkler (South Africa), parties discussed inputs for the Global Stocktake (GST). While Decision 19/CMA.1, adopted in Katowice, listed a non-exhaustive set of input sources, parties considered whether additional, complementary sources of input should be considered, and if so, what these should be. Many stressed the importance of the GST for enhancing ambition and achieving the Paris Agreement’s objectives. Several developed country parties said no complementary inputs were needed at this stage, highlighting that this could be reconsidered after the first GST. Developing country groups suggested complementary inputs on, inter alia, adaptation, finance, and loss and damage. These included biennial reports under Article 9.5, the report of the Standing Committee on Finance forum on financing nature-based solutions, and adaptation-related reports, such as those of the Adaptation Committee and the Nairobi Work Programme. Two developing country groups stressed the importance of equity and best available science. Another underscored all input should be scrutinized to ensure it is scientifically valid.
On guiding questions for the GST proposed by the SB Chairs, a developing country group said the guiding questions should be more forward-looking and detailed in nature. Delegates also considered how a potentially large number of inputs from non-party stakeholders and UNFCCC observer organizations could be effectively considered. Many stressed the importance of such inputs. One proposal was for non-party stakeholder submissions to be synthesized by observer constituencies and/or the Secretariat. Several developed countries said the Secretariat should consult stakeholder constituencies on their ability to process inputs. The Secretariat noted that while 90% of observer organizations are members of a constituency, only 40% of environmental NGOs are. Another suggestion was that submissions should conform to guidelines such as containing an executive summary in English, but should be able to be submitted in any language. One party questioned the practicalities of the latter suggestion, while cautioning not to be overly prescriptive. Some groups supported creating a designated support unit in the Secretariat to assist developing country parties, non-party stakeholders, and observer organizations to make submissions, including providing translation services, while others questioned the budgetary implications. A developing country group noted the consideration of inputs should not be limited by administrative concerns.
In their third and final session on Thursday, 10 June, the Co-Facilitators introduced an informal note and invited parties to provide comments. Several developed countries said the note captured the group’s discussions well and was a good basis for work going forward. Developing countries expressed disappointment, calling for the note to reflect all views and positions that had been expressed in informal consultations and submissions, especially regarding additional sources of input, and provision of Secretariat support to help developing country parties and non-party stakeholders provide inputs. Several developing country groups expressed concern that the note as presented gave the impression that the discussions reached a consensus, stating that in their view they did not. A revised informal note was included in the SBSTA’s overview of progress.
Research and systematic observation: In informal consultations on Wednesday, 9 June, co-facilitated by Ladislaus Chang’a (Tanzania) and Elizabeth Bush (Canada), delegates proposed elements to be captured in an informal note. Many supported expressing appreciation for the organization of the research-related mandated events such as Earth Information Day and the Research Dialogue. Other suggestions included: welcoming the ongoing work of the IPCC on its Sixth Assessment Report (AR6); supporting the activities of the Global Climate Observing System; thanking the Secretariat and the SBSTA Chair for their work in organizing the virtual poster session at this meeting; and noting with concern the state of the global climate system as conveyed at the 2020 Earth Information Day. Several supported more inclusion of Indigenous Peoples’ knowledge systems as a priority for future research dialogues. One developing country group pointed out the skewed geographic distribution of scientists and institutions, noting a relatively smaller contribution from developing country scientists. The Co-Facilitators indicated they would compile these views in an informal note prior to the next session of informal consultations.
In the second session of informal consultations, on Monday, 14 June, parties discussed the informal note prepared by the Co-Facilitators. Many said the note provided a good basis for future work. Suggested additions included: challenges to the IPCC’s work posed by COVID-19; subregional needs, including those of Caribbean states, LDCs in the African region, and states in high mountainous areas; requesting information related to equity and climate justice; and increasing the participation and representation of experts from developing countries. A developed country suggested amending language related to local communities and Indigenous Peoples, to reflect Decision 2/CP.23 on the Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples’ Platform regarding how various traditional knowledge sources should be woven into parties’ work. A developing country opposed language that could be interpreted to indicate that virtual approaches should be continued after the pandemic. On the IPCC’s ongoing work on AR6, one party suggested “welcoming” rather than “acknowledging” this work, while another pointed to “inevitable gaps” in multilateral assessments and urged keeping the IPCC’s role in perspective. Views diverged on whether to remove five bullet points in the informal note related to the 12th and 13th meetings of the Research Dialogue and the Earth Information Day 2020, with one developing country in support and several developed countries opposing.
A revised informal note was forwarded to the SBSTA Chair and included in the overview of progress.
Second periodic review of the long-term global goal: Informal consultations were co-facilitated by Una May Gordon (Jamaica) and Frank McGovern (Ireland). After an initial exchange of views on Monday, 7 June, in the second session on Monday, 14 June, parties reflected on an informal note prepared by the Co-Facilitators. Many welcomed the note as a good basis for further discussions. Disagreement centered around a bullet point on the roundtable on pre-2020 implementation and ambition, with two developing country groups stressing that the pre-2020 work is an ongoing process and the summary report “is serving,” rather than “served,” as an input for the second session of the first meeting of the structured expert dialogue under the second periodic review. Delegates also considered whether and how to refer to the scope of the second periodic review, with a developing country group suggesting a footnote specifying the themes, while developed countries supported reflecting the “entire scope” of the review.
On Wednesday, 16 June, the Co-Facilitators presented a revised informal note. Many welcomed it as a good basis for further discussions. Views diverged on whether to add the qualifier “scientific” to a reference to “integrity” in the note, with developed country parties and one developing country group stressing the importance of scientific integrity, while two developing country groups highlighted the need for balance across both themes of the second periodic review (scientific integrity and means of implementation) and underscoring that integrity relates to more than science. To resolve the issue, the Co-Facilitators suggested referencing past decision text. A suggestion from a developing country that the periodic review consider the IPCC’s AR6 Synthesis Report as an input, in addition to the reports of its three working groups, met with opposition from developed countries, who underscored avoiding overlaps with the GST and keeping to the previously agreed schedule of ending the work of the periodic review in 2022.
A revised informal note was forwarded to the SBSTA Chair and included in the overview of progress.
Matters relating to the forum on the impact of the implementation of response measures serving the Convention, the Kyoto Protocol, and the Paris Agreement: Informal consultations on this item, which was jointly considered by the SBs, were co-facilitated by Andrei Marcu (Papua New Guinea) and Mattias Frumerie (Sweden). In the first session, on Saturday, 5 June, delegates took stock of progress made by the KCI, considered the reports of the KCI (KCI/2021/4/8 and KCI/2021/4/11) and recommendations on the forum’s mandate, and discussed the implementation of the forum’s workplan.
Throughout the informal consultations, delegates disagreed on whether to hold a session of the KCI prior to COP 26 to make up for a KCI session missed in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Two developing country groups supported a KCI session before COP 26. Developed countries opposed, stressing that the KCI is mandated to meet twice a year alongside SB sessions, and that the 2020 session, which took place virtually alongside the Climate Dialogues, should not be treated as a precedent. Co-Facilitator Marcu said this matter would be taken up with the SBI and SBSTA Chairs prior to the final meeting on this item.
Stressing the social and economic implications for developing country parties, two developing country groups and several other developing country parties proposed that the KCI should analyze and assess the impact of trade measures, such as carbon border tax adjustments, and that the response measures forum should develop good practices on such measures. Several developed countries said this was not within the scope of the forum’s six-year workplan agreed at COP 25, and highlighted other forums discussing trade-related issues.
A developing country group underscored the need to hold regional workshops prior to COP 26. Three developed countries stressed the importance of economic diversification and, with a developing country group, a just transition.
In the third set of informal consultations, on Friday, 11 June, there was consensus on forwarding the annual report and recommendations of the KCI to the COP. Delegates reflected on the implementation of the response measures workplan, in particular activities 1 (maximizing positive and minimizing negative impacts of response measures), 3 (tools and methodologies for assessing impacts of the implementation of response measures), and 4 (enhancing capacity on assessment of impacts of the implementation of response measures). Delegates identified takeaways from the informal panel on activity 3 that took place in May 2021, including the importance of qualitative measures, the importance of gender considerations, and concerns about lack of data. One group stressed the importance of raising developing countries’ capacity to deal with the impacts of the implementation of response measures.
In the fourth session on Tuesday, 15 June, discussions were based on an informal note prepared by the Co-Facilitators. Comments on the informal note related to, among others: its preambular paragraphs, with some countries objecting to the idea that it contains “possible elements of an outcome” meant to “assist” parties in advancing the discussions; and noting, rather than welcoming, the KCI’s annual report. Parties debated the way forward, with several developed countries calling for the Co-Facilitators to consult with groups to prepare a revised note. Raising points of order, many developing countries opposed this and requested another session of informal consultations with the presence of the SB Chairs.
A fifth session took place on Wednesday, 16 June. In the SBSTA closing plenary on Thursday, 17 June, SBSTA Chair Mpanu-Mpanu said the final informal note reflected a compromise proposal that did not provide a strict mandate on the way forward, and stressed that if the KCI can agree to meet before COP 26 this would relieve pressure at COP 26.
Transparency: In informal consultations on Tuesday, 1 June, SBSTA Chair Mpanu-Mpanu outlined recent discussions on the issue of transparency, including an informal dialogue at the 2020 Climate Dialogues and an informal technical workshop in May 2021, stressing the urgency of moving forward. He noted transparency-related discussions would take place under five sub-items related to:
- common reporting tables for national inventory reports;
- common tabular formats for tracking progress on NDCs;
- common tabular formats for the electronic reporting of support;
- outlines of the biennial transparency report (BTR), national inventory document (NID), and technical expert review report (TERR); and
- a training programme for technical experts participating in the technical expert review.
A number of groups underscored the urgency of concluding negotiations on transparency, including to facilitate the submission of BTRs in 2024, and to allow the Paris Agreement’s ambition cycle to function. Some called for a quick move to detailed discussions and for concrete outcomes, stressing that “sleepless nights” and “sacrifices” made during this intersessional period should not be “for naught.” Developing countries noted challenges to engaging in technical discussions virtually, but expressed willingness to engage constructively. Two developing country groups called for a balance between transparency and other agenda items, and among transparency sub-items.
Several groups and parties called for work to be guided by the modalities, procedures, and guidelines (MPGs) defined in Katowice (Decision 18/CMA.1), with one group noting that with political discussions resolved by the adoption of the MPGs, negotiations are now at a technical phase.
Developing countries stressed the need to strengthen developing countries’ capacity with respect to transparency. Several developed countries acknowledged the importance of capacity building. A developing country group highlighted the importance of SBI agenda items related to the Consultative Group of Experts and to financial and technical support.
On outcomes from the session, there was consensus on the production of an informal note. A range of parties supported producing full drafts of reporting tables during this sessional period. Several parties stressed the final informal note should incorporate all suggestions from parties.
One developing country opposed observer participation in subsequent informal consultations on transparency, meaning all but the opening and closing sessions on transparency were closed to observers. In subsequent informal consultations, some groups and parties urged openness, noting the irony of closed sessions on transparency.
In the closing session on transparency-related issues on Wednesday, 16 June, the Co-Facilitators of individual sub-items reported back on progress made. Delegates welcomed the informal notes as good foundations for future discussions, and many said the complete sets of draft tables for tracking progress on NDCs represented substantial progress. Many expressed dissatisfaction with the informal note on common tabular formats for reporting on support, saying it did not capture all views. Two groups expressed concern about the large amount of technical work remaining, especially on inventories. Some parties expressed disappointment that the informal notes included options outside the scope of the mandate, such as non-tabular formats for the structured summary for tracking NDC progress, while others stressed diverging interpretations of the mandate and the MPGs. Views diverged on whether the virtual format had proven useful for technical discussions, with a developed country saying this intersessional period demonstrated that technical discussions could be carried out virtually, while developing countries underscored the opposite.
On the way forward, four developing country groups requested in-person technical workshops, possibly to be held back-to-back with COP 26, while stressing the need for balanced progress across agenda items, including on adaptation, finance, and response measures. Others supported virtual or hybrid settings. Several parties expressed disappointment on the lack of observer participation. Observers stressed the need to support developing countries’ implementation of the enhanced transparency framework.
Common reporting tables for national inventory reporting: Informal consultations on this sub-item convened three times, co-facilitated by Xiang Gao (China) and Helen Plume (New Zealand).
During the third session on Saturday, 12 June, delegates exchanged views on an informal note prepared by the Co-Facilitators, based on two sessions held on 1 and 8 June. Parties provided detailed comments on additional elements to be included in the note as well as proposed changes in phrasing. Several developed countries highlighted the note would benefit from more direct linkages to previous decisions and better reflecting compatibility with the MPGs. They called for reflecting the balance of views expressed, underscoring that, for example, most parties opposed the deletion of rows and columns in the tables.
A third iteration of the informal note was forward to the SBSTA Chair.
Common tabular formats for the electronic reporting of the information necessary to track progress made in implementing and achieving NDCs: Discussions under this sub-item were co-facilitated by Xiang Gao (China) and Helen Plume (New Zealand). Opening informal consultations on Thursday, 3 June, Gao expressed the expectation for advanced technical discussion in line with the relevant provisions of the MPGs. The Co-Facilitators proposed to focus on the structured summary, which they noted would not necessarily be in the form of a table. They introduced a visual tool that contained two high-level options for the structured summary: one where the principal means of reporting is through common tabular formats, and the other that uses a combination of different formats, such as tabular, graphical, and/or textual. Under the first option, they invited comments on a draft table for the structured summary.
Parties expressed diverging views as to whether the structured summary will be in the form of a table or not. Some groups and parties supported the Co-Facilitators’ proposed way forward, noting that while other parties are of the view that it is not necessary to have a structured summary in the form of a table, the mandate under this agenda item relates to the development of a table rather than other formats. Other groups disagreed, stressing a diverging interpretation of the mandate and that discussions should not focus only on the tables for the structured summary but also consider elements for the non-tabular option in a balanced manner. One party called for deciding whether the structured summary is a table or not, before developing such a table.
On the structured summary table itself, issues raised included: the need for different indicators for tracking and for achieving NDCs; a row or column for parties to report their progress relative to conditional and unconditional aspects of the targets, as well as where parties have a target range; and how to reflect an option for a placeholder for the ongoing Article 6 negotiations.
Many asked to see a complete set of tables in the informal note to be prepared for the end of the sessional period. Several groups stressed that all parties’ views should be captured in the informal note in a balanced manner. Some said it should take into account previous informal notes and parties’ submissions. A group and a party lamented the lack of observer presence. Parties were unable to agree on whether to hold informal-informals as well as on whether to schedule additional informal consultations beyond those already scheduled during this intersessional period.
In a second session on Tuesday, 8 June, delegates discussed options for reporting progress on NDC implementation and achievement, including making detailed remarks on table rows and columns. The Co-Facilitators presented a revised version of their “visual tool,” which contained a submission from one developing country group regarding non-tabular formats for the structured summary. Two groups expressed strong concerns, highlighting many parties had made submissions that were not reflected in the visual tool, and opposing the “verbatim” inclusion of a group’s submission. Many groups and parties stressed the item’s mandate does not cover the development of non-tabular formats, while a few developing country groups underscored different interpretations of the mandate.
Parties also reflected on the structured summary table contained in the tool. Points raised included: including a row for GHG emissions and removals taking land use, land use change, and forestry into account; the need for taking all NDC types into consideration, including conditional NDCs; including a column to report on progress on conditional NDCs; and seeding the tables with specific, non-prescriptive examples to help parties with least capacity to report.
Views diverged on how best to reflect linkages with ongoing discussions under Article 6, and on whether the same indicators are relevant to both the implementation, and the achievement, of NDCs.
In a third session on Thursday, 10 June, the Co-Facilitators presented an informal note and invited delegates to comment. Several groups noted that the informal note was circulated only two hours before the session, highlighting a lack of time to coordinate. Several developed country parties said an option for non-tabular formats, or a combination of formats, should not be reflected in the note, stressing that the development of non-tabular formats is outside their mandate. Others underscored the need to retain the option, stressing a diverging interpretation of the mandate. Views also diverged on whether to have different indicators to track the progress and achievement, respectively, of NDCs; and whether to have a separate table for parties that choose not to participate in cooperative approaches under Article 6. The Co-Facilitators said they would prepare a revised version of the informal note, as well as a version of the tables in Excel format. One group said that while the Excel tables could be used for the purpose of discussion, they should not be attached to the informal note at the end of the intersessional period.
A revised note published on Tuesday, 15 June, was forward to the SBSTA Chair and included in the overview of progress.
Common tabular formats for support under Articles 9–11 of the Paris Agreement: Informal consultations on this issue were co-facilitated by Seyni Nafo (Mali) and Delphine Eyraud (France). Delegates aimed to exchange views on common tabular formats to report on financial, technology development and transfer, and capacity-building support provided and mobilized, as well as support needed and received. These discussions were technical and centered on the design of tables, their columns, and the way to fill them in. Options included using yes/no boxes or filling in numeric information.
On Thursday, 3 June, delegates discussed options for reporting on inflows and outflows of finance in multilateral channels, such as multilateral development banks. Delegates underscored the need to differentiate between information related to inflow and outflow, in order to avoid double counting. A number of delegations highlighted the need for quantitative and detailed information.
Other issues raised included: challenges related to reporting on outflows; presenting information in both grant-equivalent and face-value amounts; methodologies for determining climate-specificity, meaning funding that specifically supports climate action; and that the difference between core-general and climate-specific funding is only relevant for multilateral channels.
Several parties underscored the importance of reflecting all options in the informal note. Responding to questions, Co-Facilitator Eyraud noted the options delegates were shown on a slide during the session built on all the work done so far, including at COP 25 and the 2021 workshop with the SBSTA Chair, as well as stemming from parties’ submissions. The slide showed different options for individual tables side-by-side.
On Thursday, 10 June, delegates exchanged views on an informal note prepared by the Co-Facilitators. It encompassed draft tables and elements for discussion, including regarding summary tables, consistency across tables, the use of documentation boxes, and the issue of climate-specificity.
Some parties saw value in having summary tables, while others cautioned that the idea of summary tables is not captured in the MPGs, and discussions on what to include in them would be complex and could delay the process. One group noted they expected the summary table to be automatically populated, to avoid an additional burden on the reporting party.
Several parties underscored that no column should be deleted, and where a party does not provide information, they should give a justification for that in a documentation box. Several developing country groups called for adding a column on support for loss and damage, especially in terms of support needed and received. One developed country opposed, recalling there was no agreement on this when the MPGs were agreed in Katowice. Other points related to, among others: reporting in grant-equivalent amounts, separate columns for inflows and outflows, and how to provide information on underlying assumptions and methodologies.
One developing country group called for presenting the draft tables in Excel format, with another underscoring this would be useful to facilitate in-session discussions, but opposing their attachment to the informal note. Several groups and parties supported better articulating different options, for example by presenting them side-by-side, as had been the case in the Co-Facilitators’ slide presented during the first informal consultations. The Co-Facilitators indicated they would issue a new iteration of the informal note.
On Wednesday, 16 June, several developing country groups lamented that not all their views were captured in the revised note and called for a new iteration. Other groups and parties, while noting that not all their points were reflected either, emphasized that the note provides a good basis for discussion. They highlighted that the note was issued under the authority of the Co-Facilitators and aims to capture key points of discussion. In terms of minor amendments to the note, several groups and parties supported referring to “illustrative” or “exemplary” instead of “draft” tables.
Substantive points related to, among others: compatibility with other systems, with some requesting clarification about what systems are meant; and reporting on support provided and mobilized in grant-equivalent terms. Some groups supported intersessional work, for example in the form of a technical workshop. The Co-Facilitators indicated their intention to consult with the SBSTA Chair on the possibility of issuing a new iteration of the informal note. Later that day, a revised informal note was forwarded for inclusion into the SBSTA Chair’s overview of progress.
Outlines of the biennial transparency report, national inventory document and technical expert review report: Informal consultations on this sub-item were co-facilitated by Helen Plume (New Zealand) and Xiang Gao (China). On Monday, 7 June, parties exchanged views on what the Co-Facilitators identified as central issues needing further deliberation in relation to BTRs, NIDs, and TERRs. Several developing and developed countries called for a common outline for each report applicable to all, while some developing countries highlighted that using the outline should not be mandatory. A recurrent point across statements related to the provision of support for developing country reporting under the Paris Agreement, and in what context to discuss this issue.
With regard to BTRs, several parties underscored that whether or not the NID is provided as a separate document, its level of detail should remain the same. One country noted that if the NID is provided as a separate document, it should also be briefly summarized. A developing country group noted that the BTR outline should be designed in accordance with all information to be considered under the ETF, including voluntary information.
Developing countries underscored the need to separate discussions on flexibility and on improvements over time, noting the first only applies to developing countries while the second applies to all. Many groups and parties supported a summary of flexibility application in addition to specific references in individual chapters, both in BTRs and NIDs, while others disagreed.
With regard to NIDs, several groups and parties expressed support for an executive summary, noting that this would be useful for decision makers. A number of parties requested clarification on the rationale for a different sector description for energy.
With regard to TERRs, a developing country group supported reviewing, on a voluntary basis, the reported information in the BTR related to climate change impacts and adaptation. Several groups supported including an annex on reviewed information on vulnerability assessments; research and systematic observation; and education, training, and public awareness. Several developing country groups called for a section on support needed and received for reporting, with a developed country expressing support, noting that this is already reflected in the MPGs. Several parties noted the need for clarifying the meaning of “significant persistent inconsistency” in relation to the recommendations in the final TERRs, as well as clarifying the respective responsibility of the TERR team and the compliance committee, because the committee may consider systemic issues.
On Wednesday, 9 June, the Co-Facilitators invited views on an informal note containing a compilation of parties’ views and an outline of areas requiring further discussion. One party said the list of unresolved issues in the note is not necessarily exhaustive, while another group noted some of the issues are more mature than others. Points raised included: revising the language in the informal note for consistency with that in the MPGs; bracketing a placeholder on clarifying the linkages between information relating to climate change impacts and adaptation under Article 7 of the Paris Agreement reported in the BTR and that reported in the optional adaptation communication; and removing reference to the structured summary, with parties noting this issue is under discussion under another agenda item.
A developing country group said that presenting flexibility provisions in a single table, or integrated into the relevant chapters, were not mutually exclusive options.
Views diverged on whether to delete reference to matters that were not considered at SBSTA 51 in December 2019, such as required support for developing countries to implement the ETF, with some parties pointing out these matters were considered at other sessions. One developing country party raised points of orders, expressing strong concerns about process, and opposing negotiating the outline. The Co-Facilitators said they would update the outlines to make them consistent with the MPGs and insert brackets where parties had indicated.
A revised informal note was forwarded to the SBSTA Chair and included in the overview of progress.
Matters relating to Article 6 of the Paris Agreement: Negotiations under this item were carried out in seven informal technical expert dialogues, on:
- enabling ambition in Article 6 instruments;
- Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) activity transition to the Article 6.4 mechanism;
- implementing overall mitigation in global emissions in the Article 6.4 mechanism;
- use of Kyoto Protocol units towards NDCs;
- reporting and accounting for GHGs and non-GHGs under Article 6.2;
- implementation of Article 6.8; and
- any other matters identified by parties.
Toward the end of the intersessional period, an informal stocktake was carried out with heads of delegation to assess progress on resolving outstanding Article 6 issues, how to address remaining differences, and next steps before COP 26.
Before the intersessional period, three informal technical expert dialogues were held on: financing for adaptation/share of proceeds; avoiding double counting for use outside the NDCs for Article 6.4; and ensuring rapid operationalization for Articles 6.2, 6.4, and 6.8.
Enabling ambition in Article 6 instruments: This dialogue took place on Wednesday, 2 June, co-facilitated by Anshari Rahman (Singapore) and Kim Solberg (the Netherlands). Delegates focused on design elements to allow the Article 6 instruments to enable increasing ambition over time.
Several groups said Article 6 aims to enhance ambition for mitigation and adaptation, and called for activities with direct co-benefits for adaptation. A developing country group called for ambition to be defined in relation to the principles of equity and of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities (CBDR-RC). While many elements can enable ambition, not all can deliver it, noted two developing country groups, urging going beyond zero-sum offsetting approaches. References were also made to the avoidance of double counting, ambitious baselines informed by the objective of carbon neutrality, and the San Jose principles that had been proposed at COP 25. A developing country group urged a clear definition of the role, functions, composition, and responsibilities of the Article 6 review team.
Delegates exchanged views on aspects of the reporting, review, and accounting cycle for cooperative approaches under Article 6.2 that can enable further ambition by parties. On the initial report, points raised included that it should contain information on how environmental integrity is ensured, how the cooperative approach contributes to mitigation and to adaptation finance, and how it ensures that overall mitigation in global emissions (OMGE) is addressed. Clarity on the timing of initial reports was highlighted, as well as infrastructure for recording and tracking, principles and guidance for baselines, clarity on accounting processes, and how to address inconsistencies or non-compliance. Some mentioned the need for a single accounting approach, and for parity between the quality requirements of Articles 6.2 and 6.4. Some developing countries called for accommodating different types of NDCs, including those based on policies and non-GHG metrics. One developing country group said reporting, review, and accounting rules should not penalize a party based on its level of ambition.
On other ways that the guidance for cooperative approaches under Article 6.2 could enable ambition, a number of parties called for better addressing corresponding adjustments. A developing country group highlighted cancellation to ensure OMGE via a percentage calculation. Several groups and countries noted the lack of references to human rights and Indigenous Peoples’ rights, as well as sustainable development, proposing to take inspiration from relevant text under Article 6.4. Several developed countries stressed safeguards for cooperative approaches outside the scope of NDCs, and said the issue of removals outside the scope needs special attention. A developed country noted the need for corresponding adjustments for all ITMOs, whether within or outside NDCs, and highlighted that not all cooperative approaches require a crediting mechanism, underscoring that, where they do not, the Article 6.4 model would not be appropriate. Capacity building for countries with less exposure to engagement in project-based mechanisms was emphasized.
On Article 6.4, delegates considered aspects of the mechanism and activity design that need addressing to enable both further ambition and broad participation. Several developed country groups called for further work on the responsibilities of the Supervisory Body and the broader mechanism, including in relation to baseline approaches and additionality. A developing country group said there should be a list of programmes and activities that automatically fulfil the additionality criterion. Other points raised included calls for at least a 5% share of proceeds for adaptation, and opposition to carryover of Kyoto Protocol units.
On Article 6.8, discussions focused on how the work programme for non-market approaches could enable further ambition in NDCs. Several developing country groups called for finance, technology transfer, and capacity building to be addressed in the text. One group noted uncertainty around potential focus areas and types of activities encompassed by the work programme, with another pointing to feed-in tariffs as an example of a non-market approach that can increase ambition. One developing country lamented that equal progress had not been made on Article 6.8 as compared with 6.2 and 6.4, and proposed that a task force be appointed to develop and operationalize the work programme on non-market approaches by COP 27. Another highlighted the need to “bring all tools to bear,” supporting the importance of non-market approaches.
SBSTA Chair Mpanu-Mpanu prepared a summary of these discussions.
Transition of Clean Development Mechanism activities to the Article 6.4 mechanism: In a discussion co-facilitated by Hugh Sealy (Barbados) and Peer Stiansen (Norway), delegates considered the questions of which actors need to take which steps to enable eligible CDM activities to transition to the Article 6.4 mechanism, the deadline by which this transition should be completed, which rules of the 6.4 mechanism could apply to transitioned activities immediately, and what the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP) might need to decide to facilitate the transition.
Views diverged on the possible repercussions of carryovers in terms of overall emissions. Two developing country groups stressed the risks of CDM transition for overall emissions levels, with one also noting risks to domestic mitigation efforts and investment. Others said transitioning can present the opportunity for additional mitigation. Several developed countries noted their openness to proposals on transition will depend on the overall package, with one expressing opposition to any CDM transition. Several developing country groups called for an expedited transition process and for capacity building. One group stressed the Kyoto Protocol has not ended, only its second commitment period, underscoring that all CDM projects should be eligible for transition to the 6.4 mechanism.
A developing country group noted many CDM projects are directly linked with current NDCs, highlighting small scale projects as well as programmes of activities. Another highlighted the importance of continuing to support valid projects that produce emissions reductions. Several developed countries noted existing projects can apply, under Article 6.4 rules, to become a project under the 6.4 mechanism, with no special provisions needed, underscoring their understanding that transition, instead, refers to a possibility for CDM projects to apply existing rules for a period of time. Some countries noted the transition of CDM activities is not mandated in the Paris Agreement or relevant CMA decisions.
On actors, several groups said that host party approval should be needed. Points expressed by developing country groups included: transition to be subject to the host party establishing OMGE and share of proceeds, among others; having project developers submit requests for transition for approval by the host party; the CMA should invite the CMP to transition the CDM activities; the CMP should also take a decision to authorize the transition; and the CMA has the central role in adopting rules that protect ambition and credibility, while the SBSTA or CMP could ask the CDM Executive Board (EB) to provide a list of project types that are considered more vulnerable to cessation. A developed country highlighted the role of the Secretariat in facilitating the transfer of information to the 6.4 registry system. Some countries proposed a stepwise approach to transition, whereby: the CMA sets criteria for what kinds of projects can transition; the CDM EB informs all eligible projects about their eligibility; projects express interest in transitioning; the host party decides whether to transition the project; and the Supervisory Body then provides verification.
On the deadline, views expressed included: for it to end in 2023, in 2025, or after a five-year period. A developing country group said the deadline depends on how quickly the criteria are approved and existing CDM projects are reviewed against the criteria. Others suggested a shorter deadline for expressing intention to transition, with a longer period for execution.
On which 6.4 mechanism rules could apply to transitioned activities immediately, several groups and parties said CDM activities should meet all 6.4 rules in order to transition. One developing country group said the crediting period should be renewed and the current accreditation standards used. Other parties said reporting rules, among others, should apply straight away, and that there should be a transition period within which existing methodologies could be used, with updated methodologies to be finalized by the end of 2024. Some supported tasking the Supervisory Body with prioritizing the development of methodologies for project types known to be vulnerable. One developed country said the examination of CDM methodologies for small-scale projects should be prioritized.
On possible CMP decisions, two developing country groups said the CMP needs to decide on allowing the transition. Other groups and parties highlighted cooperation between the CMA and CMP on information managed by the CDM EB and registry, and reallocation of the CDM EB’s surplus funds to the Supervisory Body, with one group saying a proportion should go to the Adaptation Fund. One developing country group opposed redeploying Secretariat staff or infrastructure while CDM projects are still running, said any surplus resources from the CDM EB should be redirected to the Adaptation Fund board, and called for a CMP decision for a third Kyoto Protocol commitment period. A developed country said no CMP decisions should be required.
SBSTA Chair Mpanu-Mpanu prepared a summary of these discussions.
Implementing overall mitigation in global emissions in the mechanism: In an informal dialogue co-facilitated by Hugh Sealy (Barbados) and Peer Stiansen (Norway), parties considered the optimal method(s) for implementing OMGE, and how the impact of OMGE can be aggregated and reported.
On methods for implementing OMGE, two developing country groups supported mandatory cancellation in every transaction, noting it should be implemented by the mechanism at the first transfer and by moving the cancelled portion into a separate account. Several groups said corresponding adjustments should apply to all cancellations. Other groups and parties supported voluntary cancellation, with some stressing baselines, while several other parties opposed cancellation altogether. A number of parties requested a paper identifying the impacts on ambition of all proposals on the table.
Many developing country groups supported the application of OMGE in Article 6.2 (cooperative approaches), while one developed country opposed.
On how the impact of OMGE can be aggregated and reported, points raised included: for the participating parties to report on OMGE in their initial and annual reports for Article 6.2, as well as in their BTRs; and for the 6.4 Supervisory Body to report on how the mechanism contributes to OMGE in its annual report to the CMA.
SBSTA Chair Mpanu-Mpanu prepared a summary of these discussions.
Use of Kyoto Protocol units towards NDCs: In an informal dialogue co-facilitated by Kim Solberg (the Netherlands) and Anshari Rahman (Singapore), delegates discussed two guiding questions: in what circumstances could Certified Emissions Reductions (CERs) issued under the Kyoto Protocol’s CDM be used towards NDCs, if any; and how would this use be implemented, if agreed. Many groups expressed strong opposition to any carryover of CERs, stressing ambition and rejecting any “compromise” options such as a cut-off date for carryover. Some developing country groups supported carryover either in full or with limitations, highlighting the need to support CDM project developers, and to provide a price signal to spur new activities. On how the use of CERs would be implemented if agreed, suggestions included: parties to report on use of CERs towards their NDCs; CERs to be tagged by the 6.4 mechanism Supervisory Body and kept in a registry; and the establishment of a reserve. Two developed country parties called for looking at Article 6 issues “in the round” with an eye to the overall package.
Many supported a proposal for the Secretariat to synthesize scientific information on the impacts of the various carryover options, as well as the options for other aspects of the Article 6 discussions, although mandate issues were noted.
Two parties that opposed carryover said they would potentially be open to changing their positions depending on the results of such an assessment, while others said their positions were not open to change.
A suggestion by one developing country group that the CDM Executive Board had decided to issue CERs post-2020 on a provisional basis met with strong refutation from several developed countries, who said there was no provision for issuance of CERs or registration of CDM projects post-2020.
SBSTA Chair Mpanu-Mpanu prepared a summary of these discussions.
Reporting and accounting for Article 6.2 (including GHG and non GHG metrics): Kim Solberg (the Netherlands) and Anshari Rahman (Singapore) co-facilitated, raising two questions for consideration: will reporting and review be implementable or are further elements needed; and what further work may be needed for GHG and non-GHG internationally transferred mitigation outcomes (ITMOs) to be reported and accounted for.
Several developing country parties said that those wishing to use Article 6.2 should use the same criteria as for Article 6.4, mutatis mutandis, because Article 6.2 is not only about reporting and review. Some developed countries opposed, stating that the criteria applicable to a crediting mechanism would not be appropriate for all cooperative approaches.
On further elements of reporting, many called for elaborating the information to be included in the initial and annual reports. Suggestions for the initial reports related to, among others, information on share of proceeds, contribution to OMGE, and how ITMOs are supplemental to domestic action or help to achieve a country’s NDC. Many countries called for information to show that human rights and Indigenous Peoples’ rights are upheld, and that negative social and environmental impacts are avoided.
Several parties noted the need for infrastructure such as electronic registries, tracking systems, or tables, with a developing country group calling for capacity-building support. Some developed countries supported leveraging expertise from other international organizations such as the OECD, and a developing country group called for learning from the Kyoto Protocol mechanisms.
On review, several parties called for clarifying the timing of the reports, particularly the annual report. Discussions also addressed the role and scope of the Article 6 review team and the link to the enhanced transparency framework technical expert reviews. A developing country group suggested that the Article 6 review team could check for consistency of the information reported and require adjustments.
On accounting for non-GHG ITMOs, many countries expressed reservations. Some worried that non-GHG ITMOs could increase emissions and impede transparency. Many called for converting the outcomes into GHG metrics to ensure environmental integrity. Two developing country groups recalled the nationally determined nature of the Paris Agreement and supported use of non-GHG ITMOs, saying that the registry can track all ITMOs in all metrics. There was a suggestion that this issue could be deferred for a work programme after the rest of Article 6 is agreed, to allow time for technical work.
Several countries said they would prepare a submission on reporting and review.
SBSTA Chair Mpanu-Mpanu prepared a summary of these discussions.
Article 6: Other matters: Delegates discussed baselines and additionality, capacity building, and future work. On baselines, it was noted that the current iterations of the text include principles only. Some developed countries called for operationalizing baselines and additionality, beyond principles, which one developing country thought was unachievable before Glasgow. There were calls for forward-looking baselines, based on the best available technologies or other performance-based approaches, opposed by some parties that supported historic baselines. Two developing country groups supported a menu of performance-based, historic, and business as usual baselines.
On additionality, definitions differed. One group characterized the current iteration of text as defining the term as “supporting activities that otherwise would not be profitable.” There was a call to redefine the term in the context of the Paris Agreement. Suggestions included “contributing to transformative action” or “changing from business-as-usual pathways.” Another definition was “any emissions reductions below baselines, or that would not have occurred without the activity.” Two developing country groups said that additionality can only be linked to NDCs for project activities that are inside the NDCs, and there should be no requirement to go beyond NDCs in the Article 6.4 mechanism.
On capacity building, there was support for capacity building to support developing countries to fulfill their participation responsibilities and for reporting. Two developing country groups called for a dedicated work programme, operated by the Secretariat and linked to the Paris Committee on Capacity-building, where applicable. Some developed countries noted the existing sources of capacity building.
On other issues, suggestions related to: redeploying the CDM surplus; adaptation finance from 6.4; suppressed demand for credits; the relationship with the ETF; the practical application of share of proceeds and OMGE to Article 6.2; and the definition and delineation of the role of “other mitigation purposes” in NDCs. Technical work on baselines and non-GHG metrics was suggested.
Under Article 6.8, a developing country group called for a global lifecycle approach to avoid decommissioned technology being resold to developing countries. A developed country put forward a proposal regarding human rights and Indigenous Peoples’ rights, which would: request the Article 6 Supervisory Body to review existing tools; ask the Supervisory Body to support the response measures forum and any constituted body upon request within its mandate; and have countries report on safeguards in the initial reports.
Many supported a technical paper from the Secretariat that assesses how the various options under discussion may affect environmental integrity and global emissions. The concern cited was that some of the options put forward may weaken climate ambition, but it is not known if that is the case or by how much.
The SBSTA Chair prepared a summary of these discussions.
Subsidiary Body for Implementation
Mandated Event on Long-term Finance: This workshop, which took place on Monday, 7 June, was co-facilitated by Zaheer Fakir (South Africa) and Georg Børsting (Norway). Co-Facilitator Børsting explained this is the second half of the workshop, continued from the November Climate Dialogues, and is intended to deepen understanding of the effectiveness of climate finance and the provision of financial and technical support to developing countries for their adaptation and mitigation actions. Co-Facilitator Fakir summarized the outcomes of the first part, including that net climate finance may be less than half what was reported when adjusting for grant equivalence.
UNFCCC Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa expressed her frustration that the USD 100 billion commitment remains unfilled. She noted that the commitment is ten years old and enabled the adoption of the Paris Agreement. Julio Cordano, COP 25 Presidency, underscored the importance of delivering on finance for the credibility of the process.
Participants split into breakout groups to discuss three questions. On lessons learned, groups highlighted the need for a clear definition of climate finance and to distinguish climate finance from official development assistance. They observed little private finance. They noted the increased use of loans, which worsen indebtedness and, therefore, are unattractive to policymakers. The role of multilateral development banks was highlighted, with groups citing “top-down” policy conditions and the importance of enabling environments.
On aligning financial support with the needs of developing countries, groups drew attention to NDCs and national adaptation plans (NAPs) that signal developing country needs. Barriers to accessing funding were raised, such as lengthy and detailed application procedures.
On adaptation finance, groups highlighted the need to mainstream adaptation in climate finance and suggested scaling up grants. One group suggested new instruments dedicated to adaptation finance.
In the ensuing discussion, many developing countries called for continuing the long-term finance programme, saying that its objectives have not been met, such as an agreed definition of climate finance and the USD 100 billion commitment. The EU welcomed the “sunset” of the programme, the Standing Committee on Finance’s operational definition of climate finance, and future finance discussions under the Paris Agreement.
The US and the EU highlighted the need to scale down carbon-intensive investment and fossil fuel subsidies, and to create fundable projects to ensure capital flows where needed.
Archie Young, COP 26 Presidency, underscored that finance is a priority for the incoming Presidency and it is using all diplomatic channels to make progress, citing the G7 commitment to increase climate finance through to 2025.
Closing, Co-Facilitator Fakir underlined the accountability, trust, and multilateralism needed to improve climate finance.
Reporting from Parties not included in Annex I to the Convention: Terms of reference of the Consultative Group of Experts: Only one session of informal consultations was scheduled for this item, co-facilitated by Gertraud Wollansky (Austria) and Sin Liang Cheah (Singapore). Co-Facilitator Wollansky recalled that at COP 25, parties agreed to continue discussions on the review and the revision of the Group’s terms of reference, after no agreement could be reached. She pointed to an informal note prepared at the time.
Parties stated diverging views on whether or not to review the Group’s composition. Several developing country groups underscored such a review is beyond the mandate of the discussions, while many developed countries urged addressing past oversights and making the Group more inclusive. In this context, several developed countries expressed openness to discuss adjustments to the number of members for the Group. A suggestion was made to focus on discussing the future functions of the Consultative Group of Experts (CGE), and based on that, reflect on the most suitable composition.
One developed country noted the progressive transition to the ETF, calling for the CGE to focus, after 2022, on BTRs. A developing country group emphasized that it cannot be predicted whether countries will remain in the Paris Agreement, underscoring the need for ongoing support for biennial update reports.
Many underscored the need for more time for discussions under this item at COP 26. An informal note reflecting this request was forwarded to the SBI Chair for inclusion in her overview.
Provision of financial and technical support: This item was co-facilitated by Sin Liang Cheah (Singapore) and Gertraud Wollansky (Austria) and met Saturday, 5 June. The Global Environment Facility (GEF) provided an update on the support provided for biennial update reports and national communications. She also said that support for BTRs under the Paris Agreement’s enhanced transparency framework is available as of February 2021, with up to USD 484,000 available for BTRs per party.
Countries debated if this agenda item is mandated to include support for BTRs. Several developed countries emphasized the importance of support for BTRs, but said this agenda sub-item under non-Annex I reporting was not the appropriate framing or forum to discuss BTR support or to give guidance to the GEF. Developing countries drew attention to the SBI Chair’s informal note and GEF reports that included references to BTRs and the enhanced transparency framework.
Developing countries cited several challenges with accessing support for their reporting. These included the timeliness of approval and delivery of support, the need to strengthen the role of focal points, and the adequacy of support. Many developing country groups called for support based on countries’ needs, rather than GEF assessments. Many highlighted the additional challenges posed by completing BTRs under the Paris Agreement compared to previous reporting requirements under the Convention.
An informal note was forwarded to the SBI Chair.
Common time frames for NDCs: Kishan Kumarsingh (Trinidad and Tobago) and Andrew Rakestraw (United States) co-facilitated the informal consultations under this item. On Tuesday, 1 June, Co-Facilitator Kumarsingh drew parties’ attention to potential inputs, including conclusions from SB 52, documents prepared in Madrid, and a recent informal note issued by the SBI Chair. He called on parties to streamline proposals to arrive at a minimum set of options, focusing on “what can work” rather than “what cannot work.” Throughout, the informal consultations featured lengthy procedural debates including points of order raised by two developing country groups.
A developing country group expressed concern that the final iteration of the note from SBI 51 did not include the group’s options, stressing the note should not be considered as input and calling to work from the previous informal note that was an input to SBI 51. They requested that the options they presented in Madrid be added to the SBI Chair’s informal note. These included two options: differing time frames for mitigation, adaptation, and means of implementation components of NDCs; and differing time frames for developed and developing countries. One developing country party requested adding their option for NDCs based on a holistic perspective with a multidimensional vision of climate change.
Several groups and parties supported narrowing down the options and supported using the recent informal note as a basis for discussions. One group underscored that all proposed options can be boiled down to the four distinct options distilled in the note: 5 years; 10 years; “5+5” years; and 5 and 10 years. One developed country asked for clarification on how the options in the informal note were narrowed down from the previous set of options. A number of parties highlighted the session should end with clear textual options. Several parties underscored the need to delineate clear options for ministerial consultations in Glasgow.
Many groups of parties stated their preferences for the length of the common time frames, and how to operationalize this decision for NDCs submitted before and after common time frames are to take effect, which was agreed to be 2031.
On what time frames should apply for NDCs communicated by 2025, several parties preferred a 5-year time frame, and some noted that these NDCs should be implemented by 2031.
On what guidance should be provided for NDCs communicated after 2030, several developed countries suggested a 10-year implementation period, communicated again after 5 years. A developing country group suggested a 5+5 option, stressing that this is not a 10-year NDC, but a 5-year NDC that would be updated based on the best available science. Two other developing country groups expressed support for 5-year common time frames, but indicated willingness to compromise on 5+5.
Two countries queried if prescribing a frequency of updates would be in line with the nationally determined nature of NDCs.
On the legal strength of the call in a decision, several groups and parties suggested “shall.” A developed country suggested “encourage” and a developing country group suggested “invite.” Some expressed a preference for “shall” but flexibility to support “invite.”
On whether there should be a call for parties to review and update existing NDCs every five years, some pointed out existing procedures in the Paris Agreement for parties to amend their NDCs.
Some countries called for clarity on the communication year, starting point year, and endpoint year for the various options. A developing country underscored that breakthrough in finance discussions are important to a resolution on common time frames.
In the final consultation on Wednesday, 16 June, Co-Chair Kumarsingh presented an informal note. Many welcomed the delineation of options as presented in the note. Two developing country groups called for inserting options contained in the annex into the main text. One of those groups suggested changes to the informal note, to insert its understanding that the decision should only apply to NDCs communicated in 2025 and 2030, and to reflect common but different responsibilities (CBDR) in the chapeau text and in the options through inserting “flexibility for developing country parties.”
Several developed and developing countries called for a decision in Glasgow, with some suggesting that the COP 26 Presidency engage at the political level before COP 26, and chair these negotiations at the COP.
A revised informal note was forwarded to the SBI Chair.
Matters related to Least Developed Countries (LDCs): Informal consultations under this item were co-facilitated by Giza Gaspar Martins (Angola) and Elizabeth Atkinson (Canada). Co-Facilitator Martins noted discussions would focus on the Least Developed Countries Expert Group (LEG), responding to the decision taken at COP 21 to review, at COP 26, the LEG’s progress, need for continuation, and terms of reference.
Delegates praised the work of the LEG and its crucial role in supporting LDCs’ adaptation efforts. They expressed their expectation of converging on the main elements of the future LEG mandate at this session in order to adopt a decision in Glasgow.
In initial discussions, several developed countries called for streamlining the LEG workplan to ensure it can deliver on its mandate, and for clarifying the allocation of responsibilities between the LEG and other constituted bodies, such as the AC, to avoid overlaps. Other points raised included: challenges for LDCs to access support from the Green Climate Fund (GCF) for NAP formulation; the need for support for NAP implementation; welcoming the LEG’s key achievements on gender; and underlining the need for a country-by-country approach on addressing adaptation needs.
Parties expressed broad support for extending the LEG’s mandate. A developing country group proposed to extend the LEG’s mandate for 10 years instead of five, to give it a better planning horizon. Several developed countries expressed their general willingness to engage on the proposal, cautioning that the LEG needs to remain responsive to LDCs’ evolving needs. In this context, there was support for conducting a mid-term review after five years and updating the guidance to the LEG on this basis. Several developed countries called for using the mid-term review to revise the LEG’s terms of reference, noting that these are 20 years old.
Parties also discussed a proposal to expand the LEG’s membership, with additional members from both LDCs and other countries. Several groups and parties requested clarification on the rationale for the proposed extension, for example what gaps new members would be expected to fill. Some developed countries noted budgetary implications, with one proposing a turnover in membership, noting this would also address the question of regional representation. Another country proposed term limitations, noting that this is standard practice in other bodies. A developing country group questioned whether the additional members would join for this or the next biennium. Another question related to a reference to taking into account gender balance, youth engagement, and private sector considerations in nominating new LEG members, with several developed countries asking whether these envisaged members would be government officials or non-governmental representatives.
On the LEG’s mandate, several parties highlighted LDCs’ needs related to implementing the Paris Agreement. Several groups and parties supported work on cross-cutting areas such as data and monitoring, gender, youth, social inclusion, and private sector engagement. Some requested further clarification on the envisaged format for this thematic work. Regarding facilitating access to funding, a developing country group highlighted that the LEG could act as an incubator for LDC proposals to the GCF and engage with other entities beyond Financial Mechanism of the Convention. Several developed countries pointed to the LEG’s focus on technical advice, noting other entities would be better suited to support project implementation, and underscoring the role of the Standing Committee on Finance.
Several developed countries supported requesting the LEG to make further progress on enhancing transparency, including through the timely publication of meeting documents.
Building on the last session of informal consultations, the Co-Facilitators issued a revised informal note.
National Adaptation Plans: Parties met three times on this item, co-facilitated by Jens Fugl (Denmark) and Pepetua Latasi (Vanuatu). On Saturday, 5 June, Co-Facilitator Fugl outlined the dual mandate of this agenda item: to discuss the reports of the Adaptation Committee and the LEG, including in relation to gaps and needs in the formulation and implementation of NAPs; and to discuss actions and steps necessary to assess, before 2025, progress on implementing NAPs, as per Decision 8/CP.24.
Countries recognized the links between NAPs, NDCs, adaptation communications, and the Global Stocktake, with developing countries supporting the LEG report’s recommendation to develop a conceptual map of these linkages. Several developing country groups called for support for NAP implementation, not only for formulation, with several developed countries saying a core principle should be a focus on delivering adaptation benefits. Developing countries raised several needs and gaps, such as delayed disbursement of funding, streamlining and standardizing processes and applications for support, and finding suitable delivery partners. Several developing countries recommended more coordination between the Adaptation Committee and the LEG on gender and finance. Several highlighted the value of lessons learned from mechanisms such as the NAP Expo, which, one developing country group noted, is in the supplementary budget for the UNFCCC.
On Tuesday, 15 June, the Co-Facilitators presented draft elements to be captured in an informal note. Delegates raised additional matters for inclusion, such as specific funding for the implementation of NAPs, integration of gender and social inclusion throughout the NAP process, capacity building for the development of project proposals, and linkages with other national instruments, such as adaptation communications, as well as the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development, and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction. Several developed country parties noted that some issues captured in the draft elements were beyond the scope of the NAP agenda, proposing to omit these items from the note. These related to, among others: establishing an agenda item on adaptation, under which to discuss adaptation issues integrally, and mandating the preparation of a joint SBI-SBSTA technical paper to discuss the relationship between adaptation and the framework for non-market approaches under Article 6.8. On the next assessment of progress, some suggested that it take place in May-June 2024, and that parties take the procedures used for the previous assessment carried out in 2018 as a starting point.
An informal note was forwarded to the SBI Chair.
Alignment between processes pertaining to the review of the Climate Technology Centre and Network (CTCN) and the periodic assessment of the Technology Mechanism: Informal consultations under this item were co-facilitated by Elfriede-Anna More (Austria) and Stella Gama (Malawi). Delegates’ discussions were informed by a note prepared by the Secretariat on possible options, and their implications, for aligning the independent review of the CTCN and the periodic assessment of the Technology Mechanism.
From the outset and throughout the informal consultations, there was broad support for the option of maintaining stand-alone processes but aligning the periodicity of both processes. This would require the COP, as the governing body of the CTCN, to adopt a decision on extending the CTCN’s review cycle from four to five years. Delegates emphasized that this would ensure efficiency gains in the near term, and several underscored the importance of maintaining the independence of the CTCN review.
Supporting this option in the near term, one party noted the third option identified in the note, namely conducting the CTCN review as a component of the periodic assessment of the Technology Mechanism, should inform discussions on longer-term alignment. Some noted the possibility of addressing this in conjunction with the COP’s review of the CTCN’s functions, noting the CTCN’s current mandate runs until 2026. Several groups stated that efficiency gains from this form of alignment would only materialize in 2031, with the third periodic assessment. Some also said parties to the Convention that are not parties to the Paris Agreement would not retain the same level of governance over the functioning of the CTCN review should it be conducted as a component of the periodic assessment under the CMA. A developing country noted no periodic assessment has been conducted so far and that the first assessment will inform discussions on how to optimize the alignment of both processes in the future.
Delegates reflected on the implications of extending the CTCN review cycle, notably in relation to the CTCN’s hosting agreement with the UN Environment Programme (UNEP). UNEP expressed its willingness to continue hosting the CTCN and noted its view that all options for alignment are feasible, albeit bearing differing levels of complexity.
A developing country group called for further reflection on possible alignment beyond timing, noting commonalities between both processes. Delegates reflected on whether the CTCN review has sufficient scope to effectively feed into the assessment of the Technology Mechanism. Discussions related to, among others, the possibility of providing guidance for the CTCN review so that it provides better input to the periodic review, and coordinating stakeholder interviews. One delegation supported reflecting on substantive alignment to avoid overlaps and enhance complementarity, but cautioned against micromanaging the CTCN review, underscoring its independence.
A question was raised on whether the periodic assessment will be performed in-house by the Secretariat or contracted out to consultants. Some welcomed efficiency gains should the same consultants perform both the CTCN review and the periodic assessment, while others cautioned on the importance of maintaining the independence of the CTCN review. The Secretariat recalled that no periodic assessment has been conducted so far.
The Secretariat clarified that having future CTCN reviews conducted as a component of the periodic assessment would require decisions by both the COP and the CMA. She highlighted that any decision emerging from discussions under this agenda item would supersede previous decisions, for example related to the periodicity of the CTCN review, clarifying that previous decisions do not need to be “revisited.”
A revised informal note was forwarded to the SBI Chair.
Review of the Adaptation Fund: Informal consultations under this item aimed for delegates to exchange views on the process to initiate the fourth review of the Adaptation Fund (AF). They were co-facilitated by Claudia Keller (Germany) and David Kaluba (Zambia).
In opening remarks on Thursday, 3 June, SBI Chair Karlsen pointed to an informal note she had prepared on this item, which includes the terms of reference (ToR) for the third AF review and submissions by parties and observers. Discussions focused on the suitability of the ToR from the last review to serve as a basis for the fourth, which found general agreement from the outset. Disagreement related to some possible references to the CMA. Many developing and developed countries noted the review should reflect the fact that the AF now also serves the Paris Agreement. Other developing country groups underscored that the Fund remains under the authority of and accountable to the CMP, with one country underscoring the CMA has no policy oversight and that the review’s purpose is to assess how the AF serves developing countries’ needs, not the Kyoto Protocol or the Paris Agreement. One developing country group noted that while the review is to be launched by the CMP, parties to the CMA that are not parties to the CMP could also be invited to provide submissions.
Two developed countries called for addressing the AF’s governance structure and institutional arrangements in the review.
Developing countries noted that the scale of adaptation finance should be viewed in relation to adaptation needs, with one group calling for ensuring sufficient funding until the Article 6.4 mechanism becomes operational. Several developed countries highlighted that the review is backward-looking and cautioned against overburdening its scope. One developed country noted that the adequacy of finance flows would be better considered by the AC than this review.
Many delegations called for maintaining the original timeline and concluding the review at COP 26.
On Tuesday, 8 June, delegates exchanged views on an informal note prepared by the Co-Facilitators. Discussions centered on the ToR of the review. Parties considered the ToR from the third review to be a good basis to discuss those for the fourth review.
Recurrent points of divergence resurfaced. Developing countries noted that the AF will only start exclusively serving the Paris Agreement once a share of proceeds from Article 6 becomes available, and underscored that issues related to board composition are to be addressed under the respective agenda item. Many groups and parties highlighted that the AF has been serving the Paris Agreement since 2019 and that the review should provide relevant information to both the CMP and the CMA, and that both should be able to take decisions informed by the review.
A developing country group noted that the review should provide information on the AF’s contribution to the Paris Agreement’s Article 9 (finance) and the global goal on adaptation. Another developing country group noted that neither Article 6 nor the global goal on adaptation are operationalized.
A developed country called for looking into lessons learned from the direct access modality and the innovation facility, and, as a rationale for addressing governance issues and the legal transition from the Kyoto Protocol to the Paris Agreement in the review, noted these have an impact on the Fund’s performance. Another developed country supported the relevance of the governance issue, underscoring the need to avoid discussions on board composition.
There was strong support for concluding the review as soon as possible, although the timeline is contingent upon the formal adoption of the ToR.
In observer statements at the end of the session, CAN called for the review to address not only the quantity but also the quality of adaptation finance, underscoring the difference between grants and loans, as well as for reflecting on the Fund’s gender policy and stakeholder inclusiveness.
On Thursday, 10 June, delegates exchanged views on the second iteration of an informal note prepared by the Co-Facilitators. Many stated the note did not capture the extent of convergence between parties, with one party noting “there already is agreement on 80% of the text.”
All expressed support for using the ToR from the third review for the fourth review, with some amendments. Key amendments relate to reflecting that the Fund now also serves the Paris Agreement, inviting submissions by parties to the Paris Agreement that are not parties to the Kyoto Protocol, and adding a reference to the effect that the CMA considers the outcome of the review. Developing countries underscored their view that discussions on board membership or eligibility criteria are beyond the scope of the review.
Delegates discussed the timeline for the review. Some requested clarification on the modalities for requesting the Secretariat to prepare a technical paper for the review. Two developing country groups noted the informal nature of the meeting and the short timeline until COP 26 precludes the review’s conclusion in 2021.
Delegates engaged in a lengthy exchange on the way forward. Several groups and parties called for the Co-Facilitators to go beyond a mere compilation of views, possibly using brackets to identify which issues in the draft ToR need further discussion. One developing country group opposed convening informal-informals. The Co-Facilitators indicated their intention to request an additional session of informal consultations with a view to discuss a new iteration of their informal note.
The Co-Facilitators subsequently held bilateral consultations with groups and parties, on the basis of which they forwarded a new iteration of their informal note to the SBI Chair.
Review of the Doha work programme: The aim of informal consultations under this item, co-facilitated by Albert Magalang (Philippines) and Bianca Moldovean (Romania), was to exchange views on the review of the Doha work programme, which was adopted in 2012 and relates to education, training, and public awareness. The work programme contributes to what is known as “Action for Climate Empowerment” (ACE). In opening remarks on Friday, 4 June, SBI Chair Karlsen presented an informal note on this item, highlighting that it is based on discussions held with parties and stakeholders. A fundamental point, she noted, is that many elements of the Doha work programme still hold value and could be included in a successor work programme.
Many delegates underscored the value of the Doha work programme, the need to maintain a flexible and country-driven approach, as well as the important role of national focal points for ACE. They also highlighted the need for balance between the six ACE elements (education, training, public awareness, public access to information, public participation, and international cooperation). Other points raised in discussions related to: funding; monitoring of ACE activities and peer learning; linkages between ACE and capacity building; and synergies with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the work of the other Rio Conventions. Several developed countries underscored the review should not only assess gaps, but also highlight what works well.
In the final consultations on Wednesday, 16 June, all parties welcomed the Co-Facilitators’ informal note as a compilation text of views, noting further work required to resolve disagreement, streamline text, and structure the framework for the future of the work programme. Several supported a developing country group’s suggestion to reflect, in a principle, that approaches should be implemented based on parties’ priorities, ensuring that local and national experts lead the process and avoiding reliance on foreign consultants. One party suggested a way to structure the framework, which includes thematic areas and actions at different governance levels. Supported by others, this suggestion included a focus on thematic areas at the international level and outlining suites of activities that could be implemented at the national level. Some suggested further engagement before COP 26 to ensure an outcome. The Co-Facilitators said they would try to reflect the discussion in the informal note, without deleting any points. They forwarded a new iteration of their note to the SBI Chair.
In their respective closing plenaries on Thursday, 17 June, SBI Chair Karlsen and SBSTA Chair Mpanu-Mpanu reported that they each had issued an informal note that references all informal notes prepared by Co-Facilitators on individual draft agenda items. They highlighted that informal notes were prepared for all items. On the way forward, they said they will prepare scenario notes that cover all items on the draft provisional agendas and identify ways forward. The notes, they indicated, would include textual proposals that may be helpful for advancing deliberations. The Chairs will also update parties on activities planned before COP 26. They stressed that the SBI and SBSTA are not closing, but only suspending, and that the respective draft provisional agendas encompass all mandates for the SBI and SBSTA.
UNFCCC Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa urged parties not to let division stall the process and underscored the expectations from billions of people around the world for countries to rise to the challenge of our time and take decisive steps towards a greener and cleaner future for the benefit of our generation and all to come.
Julio Cordano, COP 25 Presidency (Chile), said progress achieved at the meeting differed across agenda items, and noted that the second half of 2021 will be crucial to advance discussions, including in the context of Heads of Delegation consultations and through political guidance from ministers.
Archie Young, COP 26 Presidency (UK), noted slow progress on some issues and even expansion of options at a time when parties should focus on identifying landing zones. He underscored the COP 26 Presidency’s efforts to “leave no issue and no country behind,” pointing to consultations on loss and damage, finance, adaptation, and capacity building.
Statements by groups, parties, and observers: Guinea, for the G-77/China, reflected on progress made across agenda items, highlighting as priorities, among others: holding a meeting of the KCI before COP 26; rapidly operationalizing the Santiago Network for Loss and Damage; and support for developing countries’ reporting efforts.
Portugal, for the EU, called for consistent and balanced progress across the agenda items, expressing concern over use of points of order and limited use of informal-informals. She noted that political decisions remain to be taken for Article 6, and suggested that some parties have forgotten the mandate for transparency to build a framework applicable to all. She noted broad convergence on the Adaptation Fund, but said the informal note represents a step backwards.
Switzerland, for the EIG, called for technical work on transparency and said Article 6 is not on a path to be adopted at COP 26. He stressed that the EIG is willing to engage in additional sessions only if there is a change of format, including drafting decision text, informal-informal sessions, and the ability to take decisions as needed, whether face to face or virtually. He called for discussion of a broader Glasgow package of issues, beyond the core negotiation topics.
Bhutan, for the LDCs, welcomed the informal meeting on the Santiago Network for Loss and Damage held during the conference and stressed that the Network should consist of more than a web portal. He called for intersessional technical work on transparency to narrow options, and underscored the support needed for LDCs to undertake BTRs. He expressed frustration at discussions on common time frames.
Australia, for the Umbrella Group, said parties must redouble efforts on Article 6 and welcomed the UK COP Presidency’s ministerial initiative. On transparency, he called for technical work before COP 26 and expressed willingness to find the appropriate space to discuss support. He noted considerable work remains on common time frames.
Gabon, for the African Group, stressed the importance of finance, including transparency of support and support for reporting. On transparency, he called for robust reporting on adaptation and loss and damage.
Antigua and Barbuda, for AOSIS, stressed the need to conclude work on Article 6, transparency, and common time frames. On finance, she highlighted the need to ensure that the Adaptation Fund is adequately and sustainably resourced, and urged political will on the USD 100 billion per year goal.
Bolivia, for the LMDCs, underscored that some adaptation issues weren’t considered at this session, including the global goal on adaptation. He urged making up for the lost KCI session, opening a funding window to implement NAPs, and compromises on Article 6.
India, for BASIC, emphasized that virtual discussions are not conducive for negotiations. She called for balance across agenda items, underscored that support for developing countries’ reporting is critical, and noted that discussions on Article 6 need to be cognizant of the nationally determined nature of NDCs.
Argentina, for ABU, noted that progress on transparency can only be achieved in conjunction with the provision of support, and called for establishing a task force on the global goal on adaptation and for increasing finance for adaptation.
Paraguay, for AILAC, called for intersessional work on transparency, welcomed the plan to hold a ministerial meeting on Article 6, and called for enhanced political attention to the issue of finance.
Saudi Arabia, for the Arab Group, observed that delegates were disconnected from the online portal and opposed further virtual work. He underscored that the informal notes from the meeting are not to be used as a basis for decisions or negotiations. He called for progress on the technical work on response measures, and called for finance to implement the enhanced transparency framework.
Nicaragua, for ALBA, said discussions were useful but not sufficiently inclusive. He underscored the lack of commitments on finance and its implications for developing countries. He characterized flexibility and differentiation as crucial for all implementation mechanisms, including transparency.
Papua New Guinea, for the Coalition for Rainforest Nations, called for further technical work on Article 6, and outlined features of Article 6 mechanisms based on the experience of REDD+. He underscored the need for developed countries to provide finance for adaptation through existing channels, cautioning against reliance on the share of proceeds from Article 6.
Bolivia underlined CBDR, equity, and historic emissions, and said developed countries should take voluntary, binding, and ambitious emissions reductions commitments now.
Belize stated that, despite well-known challenges, the virtual format is a viable option if there is no possibility to hold in-person meetings, underscoring that process issues arose rather from the nature of UNFCCC negotiations. She called for urgency, action, and political will for outcomes that keep the world below 1.5°C and do more than reaffirm the USD 100 billion finance goal.
Nepal said countries are “a long way” from agreeing on several issues, including transparency, Article 6, and common time frames. She said operationalizing the Santiago Network for Loss and Damage is key to success at COP 26.
Nicaragua called for new financial mechanisms for the Paris Agreement, citing scarce progress at this session on finance and loss and damage. He said unilateral coercive measures were unacceptable.
The US said Glasgow must deliver on specific mandates for the COP on completing the Paris Agreement rulebook and on finance, adaptation, and other outcomes. He said a critical marker of success in Glasgow is enhancing ambition including through NDCs that keep the 1.5°C limit in reach. He noted that the US has doubled its climate finance pledge.
Indonesia supported the identification of options for common time frames. She called for clarifying flexibility and the provision of support in transparency, and for maximizing co-benefits in adaptation. She said an in-person COP should consider COVID-19 related restrictions for some countries.
Trade Union NGOs observed that digital connectivity and time zones did not prevent parties from procedural wrangling, citing response measures as an example. She urged for full support for social inclusion in response measures. She also called for access to vaccines to allow full participation in COP 26.
Women and Gender called for finance and support for adaptation and loss and damage, as well as an independent redress mechanism. Youth NGOS requested a COP decision on children and young people, an in-session workshop in 2022 on meaningful participation of children and youth, and faster progress.
Business and Industry NGOs highlighted the urgent need for more progress on Article 6, transparency, and common time frames.
CAN underscored that the G7 failed to deliver on climate finance, noting the USD 100 billion per year goal, and stressed the need for clarity on the path to COP 26. Farmers said the Koronivia joint work on agriculture is crucial to raising climate ambition for the farming sector, underlining the need for an enabling framework to deliver sustainable outcomes. LGMAs, noting that the Convention on Biological Diversity process has worked virtually to deliver agreement on conference room papers, urged close coordination between the Secretariats of the climate and biodiversity processes.
Research and Independent NGOs called for clarity on observer participation at COP 26.
In closing, SBSTA Chair Mpanu-Mpanu thanked parties for their “hard work and sleepless nights.” SBI Chair Karlsen urged delegates to take “a good rest.” SBSTA was suspended at 9:37 am CEST, and the SBI was suspended at 9:38 am CEST (GMT+2).
A Brief Analysis of the 2021 Sessions of the UNFCCC Subsidiary Bodies
During the pandemic, everyone has had to innovate—or make do, depending how you look at it. The climate change negotiations are no exception. Although the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) moved from holding impromptu virtual events a year ago, to virtual mandated events with some informal sessions in the November Climate Dialogues, the climate process could no longer put off (somewhat) more formal substantive discussions. The informal, virtual meetings made clear that looking to Glasgow, positions remain firmly entrenched. The main question, as ever, is where the landing zones will be found, and the political trade-offs made. But even larger questions loom. Perhaps the biggest question on the horizon is can the Conference of the Parties (COP) convene in person amid vastly uneven vaccination rates and global restrictions on travel?
Perhaps more existentially for the process, to what extent does it matter if the Glasgow COP takes place, given that talks are technical, only indirectly related to ambition, and deep, long-standing political divides between parties continue to hamper progress? This brief analysis considers the process and progress of the virtual 2021 Subsidiary Bodies (SB) meeting, and what this means for Glasgow and beyond.
The “Mood Music”
Climate negotiations do not take place in a vacuum. This became especially clear after an 18-month hiatus imposed by the global pandemic. With the legitimacy of the Paris Agreement—its ability to deliver an adequate response to the climate crisis—hanging in the balance, countries were unable to meet. During this time, the Paris Agreement took over from the Kyoto Protocol, and countries were “encouraged” to submit or communicate their new, enhanced nationally determined contributions (NDCs). Meanwhile, the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere continued its seemingly inexorable rise, with the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide reaching 419 parts per million for the first time in May 2021.
Expected due dates for NDCs to the Paris Agreement shifted several times. Only three countries made it in time for the envisaged “nine months before COP 26” deadline in February 2020. Other submissions followed throughout the year, especially in December, when the UN held a Climate Ambition Summit. Newly back on the scene, the US delivered during the Leaders’ Summit on Climate convened by President Biden in April 2021. But we are yet to see NDCs from many major players. To date, six Group of 20 (G20) countries have not submitted new NDCs. Moreover, according to Climate Action Tracker, the NDCs as they stand put the world on track for a 2.4°C increase in average temperature—if they are fully achieved, which is far from certain. Observers are hopeful more NDCs will trickle in, and a fuller picture of global ambition should come into view.
The G7 convened in parallel to this SB session and could have generated some momentum. But it ultimately proved unhelpful. G7 Environment and Climate Ministers pledged reaching net zero by 2050, a goal already enshrined in the Paris Agreement. The G7 communiqué reaffirms the commitment to reach USD 100 billion of climate finance per year by 2020, but was widely criticized for its lack of a plan to reach that goal. Although Canada and Germany announced individual finance pledges, they were not enough to plug the gap. The timing was unfortunate, given the strong calls during this meeting for increased finance. As UNFCCC Executive Secretary Espinosa stated in her opening address, “It’s a matter of trust. It’s a matter of integrity. And it’s both a moral and economic imperative.”
While the SBs convened in a context of lagging enthusiasm for climate ambition, they did bring countries back to the negotiating table. That is an achievement in itself.
Rules of Virtual Engagement
Returning to the negotiating table, delegates agreed to meet virtually, with the SBs focused on a smaller set of agenda items in informal consultations only. This was only made possible by strong assurances from the SB Chairs that remaining agenda items would not be left behind. To assuage some countries, there would be no negotiating text or draft decisions. Rather, progress on each item was captured in an informal note.
The SBs convened in a different time zone each week, so the same delegates did not have to be always up in the middle of the night. Families, pets, and co-workers vied for attention during interventions. Coordination among geographically far-flung coalitions was rendered more difficult. Some members of the African Group gathered in Egypt, with support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), which proved helpful to address spontaneously arising technological problems. Despite such preparations, and even in countries with good internet infrastructure, connections sometimes dropped or made interventions difficult to hear. It was slower and more cumbersome.
But, as some groups pointed out, this mode of working wasn’t necessarily less effective than in-person meetings. Notably, those with the most at stake from climate change and most disadvantaged in virtual negotiations—LDCs and SIDS—expressed willingness to work online. As Belize pointed out in the closing plenary, the problem lies with a lack of political will and willingness to compromise, not with the platform. Indeed, “Those who wanted to delay progress simply had additional tools to use,” opined a seasoned delegate.
Clear Trade-offs, Unclear Progress
Indeed, progress in the SBs seems as patchy as it was in Madrid in 2019 and the same overarching divides remain. At COP 25, the African Group and China refused to move forward on transparency because developed countries were not showing flexibility on finance and adaptation. Balancing the priorities of developed and developing countries matters for inclusion and equity. It also matters for climate action. Developing countries cannot mitigate, adapt, or report—that is, meet their Paris Agreement obligations—without support.
The political bargain of transparency in exchange for finance and adaptation (and perhaps other agenda items) was even more clearly delineated at the SBs. Observers were asked to leave transparency consultations by parties wishing to use the item as a bargaining chip. While there was progress in the transparency consultations, with many welcoming the production of full draft tables and concrete examples, worries remain about the sheer volume of technical work remaining before decisions are possible.
Other, equally contentious issues saw limited progress. Common time frame discussions were at times acrimonious, with extensive procedural discussions on points of order by two developing country groups seeking differentiated approaches to common time frames. Some countries showed flexibility in their stance on whether NDCs should last 5 years, or more flexibly follow a “5+5” model that allows for an update. The same options discussed in the last days of COP 25 are still on the table for Glasgow.
Similarly, the same, ultimately political, issues remain in Article 6. The various iterations of text in Madrid simplified the issues greatly, for the sake of expediency to try to reach agreement. At the SBs it was clear that the underlying complexity continues. The same questions loomed large about carrying over credits from the Clean Development Mechanism, allocating a share of proceeds for adaptation, and what metrics countries can use to count credits, to ensure that countries achieve both environmental integrity and an overall reduction in global emissions. The technical issues were individually considered, leading one long-time delegate to stress the need to look at things “in the round.” Ultimately, many felt that these talks could only go so far without political guidance, with some doubting whether the political will for an agreement exists at all.
Elsewhere, flashpoints emerged in the context of old battles. In response measures, countries strongly disagreed about whether to hold an additional session of the KCI in 2021 to make up for a missed session in 2020. The SBs were also limited in their ability to help secure a successful COP on other key issues. Loss and damage was not on the SB agenda, but several countries signaled its importance, and developing countries are growing increasingly unnerved about the lack of progress on the global goal on adaptation. COP 26 is also mandated to set up a process to determine the new collective finance goal by 2025, a task it will have to start and finish during the meeting.
Overall, a glance across the informal notes reveals that some issues are much more advanced than others, with some resembling something close to decision text (Nairobi work programme, extending the Least Developed Country Expert Group’s mandate, research, and systematic observation) while others read almost like laundry lists of all potential options (common time frames, Article 6). “Of course, there is a lot in the notes that is not helpful,” said one delegate, who nevertheless considered them conducive for advancing work.
Heading to Glasgow?
One thing countries agree on is that considerable work remains to reach agreement on the key issues on the agenda at COP 26. The COP 26 Presidency team will begin a ministerial initiative on Article 6, co-chaired by Norway and Singapore. The Presidency will also continue to hold heads of delegation meetings in July to discuss adaptation and loss and damage. The broader way forward, including on whether and how further technical negotiations will take place prior to COP 26, remains unclear.
The first question for the COP is if it can take place in person. In this regard, it seems the process is stuck between a rock and hard place. On the one hand, the UK Presidency is adamant: the COP will go ahead as normal. Certainly, virtual meetings are not ideal, for the aforementioned reasons, as well as due to lack of opportunities for impromptu chats in the corridors and quick huddles to deliver compromise text. On the other hand, there is the risk of further delays, health risks associated with a large multinational gathering, as well as the significant burden on delegates, especially from distant countries. The UK government floated the possibility of supporting vaccinations for delegates, but, with less than 20 weeks left until the conference, a clear confirmation of that plan has yet to materialize. Least developed countries and the Alliance of Small Island States have significant concerns about holding the COP in person, since their members face long journeys through transit countries, many of which require tests or even self-isolation periods. At any time, countries may decide to close their borders in light of emerging virus variants. The UK currently requires two weeks of self-isolation for those travelling from most other countries. Delegates would therefore have to devote at least five to seven weeks to the COP and its preparatory meetings. This raises questions about the ability of even well-resourced ministries to bear such a burden, not to mention civil society organizations. Against this background, many are hoping the Presidency and the Secretariat are working on a contingency plan.
A second question is if this COP matters? What if the COP cannot convene in 2021? Does that doom the climate? The ambition of NDCs is outside the control of the multilateral process. The agenda items left under consideration are largely technical. The scale of demand for Article 6 credits is unclear, and a weak rulebook would pose risks to the planet and human rights. Common time frames can speed up ambition, but the constraint will always be parties’ political will as expressed in their NDCs. Developed countries have shown that multilateral pressure to meet their 10-year-old finance promise doesn’t hold sufficient sway.
But to ask this question may be overly cynical. At the SBs, delegates seemed convinced that ambitious decisions on common time frames, transparency, Article 6, and finance, among other issues, would help unlock more ambitious NDCs. The Glasgow COP is an opportunity to hold countries—individually and collectively—to account for their failure to meet their promises. In addition, COPs have become spaces for global actors to pledge action, from cities to corporations and beyond. Perhaps a pared-back COP, focusing on technical issues, is possible.
The final question is what the ultimate package will look like. Unknowable at present, this will no doubt be hammered out in the final hours of COP 26. Delegates will first have to bring all technical issues to maturity. And, very likely, developed countries will have to bring meaningful financial pledges for a political bargain to be struck. For this, it will be essential for the Presidency to deliver on its promise, as stated by UK chief negotiator Archie Young at the closing plenary, to “leave no issue and no country behind.”