UN Climate Change Dialogues 2020

23 November - 4 December 2020 | Online

Highlights for Friday, 4 December 2020

Photo courtesy of Kiara Worth

Friday concluded the two-week long event and provided space for reflecting on progress made during the Dialogues and look ahead to the 26th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 26) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Key insights from constituted bodies included:

  • The pandemic prompted a move to virtual meetings which helped to broaden participation of stakeholders;
  • Some bodies had troubles facilitating the secure sharing of draft documents with nominated observers;
  • Innovations put in place in the pandemic context should inform practices even after in-person meetings become possible again; and
  • In the absence of negotiations, expectations for progress under the constituted bodies is heightened, but resources remain limited.

Marianne Karlsen, Chair of the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI), highlighted that despite the absence of formal negotiations, 2020 was not a “lost year” and thanked parties and stakeholders for engaging in the Dialogues. She nevertheless acknowledged that virtual events cannot replace in-person meetings, emphasizing the importance of informal discussions in the corridors for advancing negotiations.

Tosi Mpanu-Mpanu, Chair of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA), noted that a sense of urgency and willingness to engage was apparent in the discussions of Article 6 (cooperative approaches) and transparency, and proposed organizing more expert meetings in 2021, particularly on Article 6.

Julio Cordano, for the COP 25 Presidency, said that 2021 should “build on lessons learned” from 2020 and use every possible way to improve on parties’ common understanding on critical issues.

Archie Young, for the COP 26 Presidency, highlighted the UK’s new Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC), which commits to a 68% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 levels by 2030. Stressing the need for a “fair and inclusive process,” he announced that the UK Presidency intends to provide “maximum transparency” in the coming year, and announced that it will host a series of bilateral and multilateral conversations with negotiating groups and parties in 2021. He urged parties to do everything to avoid “looking back on 2021 and wishing we’d done more.”

Guyana, for the Group of 77 and China, stressed: the virtual format is not appropriate for negotiations; a "deficit of ambition" on pre-2020 commitments, which developed countries should address; and adaptation is lagging behind mitigation in the negotiations. She called for COP 26 to deliver concrete deliverables on action and support for loss and damage.

Belize, for the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), and said more intersessional work on finance and on Article 6 will be critical, and emphasized that Article 6 is not just about markets, but also about ambition and scaling up finance for adaptation.

Germany, for the European Union, urged an inclusive, productive, and ambitious set of discussions between now and COP 26 on transparency and Article 6. She expressed openness to continuing informal work in 2021, and encouraged the presiding officers to capture the status of discussions prior to the next negotiations.

Panama, for the Independent Association of Latin America and the Caribbean (AILAC), underscored the need to take messages from science to inform action, and called for relating enhanced NDCs to the long-term goal of carbon neutrality. He welcomed further expert engagement on Article 6 in 2021.

Egypt, for the Arab Group, emphasized, among others: his group’s opposition to a formal output from the informal discussions on Article 6; and the importance of not imposing conditions on countries’ approaches to COVID-19 recovery. He underscored that discussions with non-state actors on finance and on the enhanced transparency framework need to be distinct from the intergovernmental work under the UNFCCC.

Switzerland, for the Environmental Integrity Group (EIG), called for: capturing discussions at the Dialogues, although not in an agreed outcome; and continuing discussions throughout 2021, noting the need to avoid parallel meetings and to hold discussions at a variety of time zones.

  • Franz Perrez

Bhutan, for the Least Developed Countries Group, urged for the recovery from COVID-19 to be consistent with the aims of the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals.

Ecuador, for the Like-Minded Developing Countries, called for the new climate finance goal to effectively take into account the financing needs of developing countries; and pressed for operationalizing the long-term goal on adaptation.

Papua New Guinea, for the Coalition of Rainforest Nations, underscored that negotiations on Article 6 need to secure environmental integrity by, among others, avoiding double counting and including national greenhouse gas accounting by sector.

  • Ruel Yamuna

China, for Brazil, South Africa, India, and China (BASIC), stressed the limitations of virtual meetings and expressed dissatisfaction that the principle of CBDR-RC was taken into account to their liking in talks on adaptation finance.

Venezuela, for the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA), highlighting that developed countries must adopt a more ambitious post-2025 finance goal to cover the gap in their commitment not achieved in the pre-2020 period, and that loss and damage should be treated equally with mitigation and adaptation.

Women and Gender stressed that women, youth, Indigenous peoples, and other marginalized groups are benefiting the least from economic recovery programs. They called on leaders to “stop bailing out corporations”, warning that “this is the time to act differently.”

  • Kavita Naidu

Local Governments and Municipal Authorities (LGMAs) pressed for climate and social justice to be a central theme of COP 26 in Glasgow.

  • Susan Aitken

The Climate Action Network welcomed the sense of urgency to reach a decision on common time frames at COP 26 and reiterated that a 5-year common time frame is the outcome most compatible with leveraging the Paris Agreement's 5-year ambition cycle. She urged that no Clean Development Mechanism credits should be used to meet targets after 2020, and called for much stronger 2030 targets on mitigation and support.

SBI Chair Karlsen, reiterated the need for participants to come to future in-person meetings “with a new spirit” to ensure safeguarding the most vulnerable.

SBSTA Chair Mpanu-Mpanu said discussions on Article 6 and transparency have made progress, and the feedback received will help to engage constructively on these issues in 2021.

Cordano highlighted the humanizing, informal atmosphere created by the virtual setting. Noting parties have found new ways to communicate, he underscored the opportunity to accelerate work.

Young stressed the need to move from dialogue to negotiations, and from a round of interventions to more genuine discussion. He underscored the commitment of the COP 26 Presidency to reaching a positive, comprehensive, and inclusive negotiated outcome at COP 26, highlighting that no issue should be left behind.

In closing remarks, UNFCCC Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa stressed success at COP 26 means "going beyond the hunt for one or two big decisions" and instead achieving a balanced package of decisions. She urged parties to "work like you never have before" to complete the necessary work at COP 26.

  • Patricia Espinosa

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