Summary report, 17–27 June 2019
Bonn Climate Change Conference - June 2019
The Bonn Climate Change Conference was expected to advance work on several issues to facilitate implementation of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and its Paris Agreement, due for completion at the Santiago Climate Change Conference in December 2019. Delegates made progress on a number of issues, including:
- Paris Agreement Article 6 (market and non-market cooperative approaches): On the only outstanding issue from the Katowice Climate Package, the rulebook of the Paris Agreement, parties brought forward the work undertaken in Katowice and worked to ensure that all views were reflected in the draft texts produced by the Co-Facilitators. Parties agreed to work in Santiago on the basis the Co-Facilitators’ texts;
- Terms of Reference (ToR) for the review of the Warsaw International Mechanism on Loss and Damage associated with Climate Change Impacts (WIM): The ToR were adopted, setting out the scope, inputs, and other aspects of the review of the WIM, a mechanism important to developing countries;
- Reporting tables and other issues related to the transparency framework under the Paris Agreement: Parties agreed to intersessional work, and to forward informal notes developed by the Co-Facilitators to advance discussions in Santiago; and
- Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture: Countries welcomed and set the themes for an upcoming intersessional workshop on sustainable land and water management, and strategies and modalities to scale up practices and technologies to increase resilience and sustainable production.
Parties were unable to advance several issues, including the issue of the Adaptation Fund’s Board membership, with parties diverging on the need to reform the Board once it transitions from serving the Kyoto Protocol to exclusively serving the Paris Agreement. The outcome on common time frames of future nationally determined contributions (NDCs) was procedural, to continue consideration of the issue without intersessional work or agreeing to a deadline to reach agreement.
Several parties were deeply disappointed with the outcomes related to scientific issues. Most notably, many delegates and civil society demonstrated and repeated the mantra “Science is not negotiable” to express their frustration with the outcome on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report on 1.5°C of Global Warming. Parties agreed to thank the IPCC for its work on the report, but did not engage in substantive discussions of its findings as many had hoped.
Over 3300 delegates gathered in Bonn for the two-week meeting, including over 1900 government delegates, over 1300 representatives of observer organizations with close to 1100 representatives of non-governmental organizations, and nearly 60 members of the media. The meeting was comprised of the 50th meetings of the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI) and of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA).
A Brief History of the UNFCCC
The international political response to climate change began with the 1992 adoption of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), 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 Convention, which entered into force on 21 March 1994, has 197 parties.
In order to boost the effectiveness of the UNFCCC, the Kyoto Protocol was adopted in December 1997. It commits 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 established the second commitment period from 2013 to 2020. It will enter into force after reaching 144 ratifications. To date, 128 parties have ratified the Doha Amendment.
In December 2015, parties adopted the Paris Agreement. Under the terms of the Agreement, all countries will submit 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, 185 parties have ratified the Agreement.
Recent Key Turning Points
Durban Mandate: The negotiating mandate for the Paris Agreement was adopted at the UN Climate Change Conference in Durban, South Africa, in 2011. Parties agreed to launch the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP) with a mandate “to develop a protocol, another legal instrument or an agreed outcome with legal force under the Convention applicable to all Parties” no later than 2015, to enter into force in 2020. In addition, the ADP was mandated to explore actions to close the pre-2020 ambition gap in relation to the target to limit global warming to well below 2°C.
Lima: The UN Climate Change Conference in Lima, Peru, in 2014 adopted the “Lima Call for Climate Action,” which elaborated the elements of a draft negotiating text and the process for submitting and synthesizing intended NDCs, while also addressing pre-2020 ambition.
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 will be implemented to reflect equity and the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities (CBDR-RC), 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 a transparency framework and a process known as 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, including through the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Paris Agreement (APA), SBI, and SBSTA. 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 is now known as the Talanoa Dialogue.
In Paris, parties also agreed 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. The Partnership aims to enhance collaboration among state and non-state actors. Each year, the current and incoming Presidencies appoint High-level Champions to promote voluntary and collaborative actions.
Marrakech: The UN Climate Change Conference in Marrakech took place from 7-18 November 2016, and included the first Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement (CMA 1). Parties agreed that the PAWP negotiations should conclude by 2018, among other decisions.
Fiji/Bonn: The Fiji/Bonn Climate Change Conference convened from 6-17 November 2017 in Bonn, Germany, under the Conference of the Parties (COP) Presidency of Fiji. The COP launched the Talanoa Dialogue and established the “Fiji Momentum for Implementation,” a decision that gives prominence to pre-2020 implementation and ambition. The COP also provided guidance on the completion of the PAWP and decided that the Adaptation Fund shall serve the Paris Agreement, subject to decisions to be taken by CMA 1-3. Parties also further developed, or gave guidance to, the Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples Platform, the Executive Committee of the WIM, the Standing Committee on Finance, and the Adaptation Fund.
Katowice: The Katowice Climate Change Conference convened from 1-14 December 2018 in Katowice, Poland, concluding a busy year that featured an additional negotiating session in Bangkok to advance work on the PAWP. At COP 24, parties adopted the Katowice Climate Package. The Package finalized nearly all 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. Parties agreed that COP 25, in Chile in 2019, would serve as the deadline for this work. COP 24 was also unable to agree whether to “welcome” or “note” the IPCC Special Report on 1.5°C of Global Warming.
Report of the Meeting
The Bonn Climate Change Conference opened on Monday morning, 17 June, with opening statements reflecting on the work of the SBI and SBSTA.
Palestine, for the Group of 77 and China, stressed the importance of mobilizing support for adaptation and called for progress on means of implementation, including the replenishment of the Green Climate Fund (GCF). He urged progress on, inter alia: Article 6 (market and non-market cooperation approaches); technology transfer; capacity building; and common time frames.
Switzerland, for the Environmental Integrity Group, stressed the need to establish robust rules, avoid double counting, and ensure environmental integrity in Article 6. He stated that common time frames should be agreed upon at COP 25 and highlighted discussions on the Adaptation Fund Board membership and the budget.
Underscoring that credible markets facilitate investments, Australia, for the Umbrella Group, called for moving forward on Article 6 in line with the Paris Agreement mandate, focusing on key elements for a decision at COP 25.
The European Union supported, inter alia, the collective mobilization of the USD 100 billion finance goal by 2020 and engagement with non-party stakeholders and youth.
Iran, for the Like-Minded Group of Developing Countries, called for reflecting common but differentiated responsibilities (CBDR) in all work areas and equal treatment of adaptation and mitigation. He called for flexibility in common time frames, and no participation restrictions in Article 6 based on NDC type.
Belize, for the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), urged the completion of work related to the transparency framework without renegotiating the agreement reached at COP 24. He called for developing a robust ToR for the review of the WIM.
Egypt, for the African Group, said there is a need for a reality check in relation to support provided, and expressed concern about the absence of adaptation on the agendas. He stressed that the COP should have authority over the WIM.
Bhutan, for the Least Developed Countries (LDCs), said the WIM should be under both the COP and CMA and called for robust rules for markets under Article 6. She expressed concern over the limited progress in matters relating to LDCs.
Saudi Arabia, for the Arab Group, called for response measures that avoid negative socio-economic impacts. She said all parties should be able to participate in cooperative approaches if they choose, and that Article 6 should reflect the bottom-up nature of NDCs.
Costa Rica, for the Independent Association of Latin America and the Caribbean (AILAC), called for concrete results on common time frames, the scope of the next periodic review, and the WIM review.
The Democratic Republic of Congo, for the Coalition for Rainforest Nations, drew attention to the need for implementation and facilitation of Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD+) processes, including REDD+ focal point meetings.
Calling attention to adaptation and implementation in transparency mechanisms, Brazil, for Brazil, South Africa, India, and China, emphasized the principle of CBDR and stressed that developed countries must “take the lead” in funding flows.
Venezuela, for the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA), called for the expansion of financial flows “without discrimination.”
Argentina, for Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil, highlighted the IPCC’s finding that lack of sufficient financial resources and technology hamper climate action in developing countries. She stressed that the GCF replenishment must be considerable.
China stressed the need to move to substantive negotiations on Article 6 and noted the budget situation.
Ukraine objected to the inclusion of emissions and other data from Crimea in the Russian Federation’s national reports and called for this to be removed. The Russian Federation said it complied with the obligation to provide information on its territory in its entirety. The US and Canada rejected the Russian Federation’s “illegal annexation” of Crimea.
Climate Action Network called for an additional finance stream to adequately address loss and damage and the needs of the most vulnerable communities.
Climate Justice Now! urged adoption of a conflict of interest policy to prevent obstruction from fossil fuel lobbies.
Farmers emphasized that transformative change in the agricultural sector requires scaling up finance, innovation and technology transfer, and putting livelihoods of women and future farmers at the center.
Indigenous Peoples’ Organizations highlighted findings that over 2 billion hectares of land have degraded globally due to climate change, and stressed the effects on indigenous peoples’ lands in particular.
Local Governments and Municipal Authorities called for mechanisms that enable early stage projects and build capacity, and a focus on adaption and e-transportation.
Research and Independent Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) urged parties to consider the IPCC report in a way that strengthens the role of science in the UNFCCC.
Women and Gender called for action that is gender-responsive, people-centered, and promotes inter-generational justice.
Business and Industry NGOs stressed the need for strong and coherent long-term policies and significant progress on Article 6 to unlock needed investments.
Youth NGOs called for bold action, for all parties to have five-year timeframes, and for a conflict of interest policy.
This report is organized according to the SBI and SBSTA agendas, respectively. The following issues were considered by both the SBI and the SBSTA and are summarized in a separate section:
- The Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture;
- The terms of reference for the review of the WIM;
- Forum on the Impact of Response Measures serving the Convention, Kyoto Protocol, and Paris Agreement; and
- The scope of the next periodic review of the long-term global goal under the Convention and of overall progress towards achieving it.
A number of mandated and related events took place prior to and during SB50, including: the first meeting of the Katowice Committee of Experts on the Impacts of the Implementation of Response Measures (KCI); the first meeting of the Facilitative Working Group of the Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples Platform (LCIPP); and a series of Technical Expert Meetings (TEMs) on Mitigation and Adaptation.
SBI Chair Emmanuel Dlamini (eSwatini) opened the session, announcing its motto as greater ambition and enhanced implementation.
Parties adopted the agenda and organization of work (FCCC/SBI/2019/1) with the sub-item on information contained in national communications from non-Annex I parties held in abeyance.
Multilateral assessment: The following countries presented progress toward their 2020 targets: Australia, Croatia, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein, Malta, Monaco, Norway, Poland, Romania, the Russian Federation, Slovenia, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.
Facilitative sharing of views: The following countries presented their biennial update reports: Armenia, Brazil, Nigeria, North Macedonia, Republic of Korea, South Africa, Thailand, Uruguay, and Vietnam.
Election of officers other than the Chair: The SBI elected as Rapporteur Ayşin Turpanci (Turkey). SBI Chair Dlamini noted that Turpanci and the SBI Vice Chair Naser Moghaddasi (Iran) are not from Paris Agreement parties. The SBI elected as additional Vice-Chair Yeonachul Yoo (Republic of Korea) and as additional Rapporteur Constantinos Cartalis (Greece) from Paris Agreement parties.
Annex I Reporting: Status of submission and review of seventh national communications and third biennial reports: This item was taken up in the opening plenary. The SBI took note of the information (FCCC/SBI/2019/Inf.7).
Compilations and syntheses of second and third biennial reports: This item was taken up in plenary and then forwarded to informal consultations, co-facilitated by Sin Liang Cheah (Singapore) and Getraud Wollansky (Austria). Discussions focused on the report on the national GHG inventory data, and issues related to non-Annex I reporting, namely: the ToR for the Consultative Group of Experts (CGE), and provision of financial and technical support.
SBI Conclusions: In its conclusions (FCCC/SBI/2019/L.11), the SBI agrees to continue its consideration of this matter
Report on national GHG inventory data for the period 1990-2016: This item was taken up in plenary and discussed in informal consultations convened for various Annex I and non-Annex I reporting issues.
SBI Conclusions: In its conclusions (FCCC/SBI/2019/L.11), the SBI agrees to continue its consideration of this matter at SBI 51.
Revision of the modalities and procedures for international assessment and review: The SBI noted that the modalities, procedures, and guidelines (MPGs) for the Paris Agreement transparency framework will supersede these modalities and procedures.
SBI Conclusions: In its conclusions (FCCC/SBI/2019/L.7), the SBI agreed to consider this item at SBI 54.
Revision of the “Guidelines for the preparation of national communications by Parties included in Annex I to the Convention, Part II: UNFCCC reporting guidelines on national communications”: This item was taken up in plenary.
SBI Conclusions: In its conclusions (FCCC/SBI/2019/L.5), the SBI recommended that the COP:
- adopt the revised “Guidelines for the preparation of national communications by parties included in Annex I to the Convention, Part II: UNFCCC reporting guidelines on national communications” contained in the annex;
- decide that Annex I parties shall use the guidelines beginning with their eighth national communications; and
- decide to change that due date for the eighth national communications and the fifth biennial reports by Annex I parties from 1 January 2022 to “as early as the annual greenhouse gas inventory submissions for inventory year 2020 is provided to the UNFCCC” but no later than 31 December 2022.
Non-Annex I Reporting: Information contained in national communications: This item was held in abeyance.
Terms of reference of the Consultative Group of Experts (CGE): This item was first taken up in plenary. Gervais Ludovic Itsoua Madzous (Congo), Chair of the CGE, presented an oral report on CGE’s work under its current mandate and ToR. This item was discussed in informal consultations convened for various Annex I and non-Annex I reporting issues, co-facilitated by Sin Liang Cheah and Getraud Wollansky.
In informal consultations, discussions focused on elements for an updated ToR according to the outcomes of COP 24, which extended the term of the CGE for eight years. These included:
- using the current ToR as starting point;
- enhancing current provisions based on lessons learned and relating them to the enhanced transparency framework; and
- allowing for an update of the ToR after four years.
One group noted the need for Secretariat support and financial resources given the CGE’s expanded mandate. Some cautioned against including a timeline for when the CGE’s work will shift from biennial update reports to biennial transparency reports (BTRs), with one noting that LDCs and small island developing states (SIDS) have flexibility on the introduction of BTRs.
SBI Conclusions: In its conclusions (FCCC/SBI/2019/L.11), the SBI agrees to continue consideration of this matter at SBI 51.
Provision of financial and technical support: This item was first taken up in plenary. The Global Environment Facility (GEF) highlighted its activities, including: the resources available for the preparation of national communications and biennial update reports; the global support programme on national adaptation plans (NAPs); and the Capacity Building Initiative on Transparency, which has been allocated resources from the GEF Trust Fund. This item was discussed in informal consultations convened for various Annex I and non-Annex I reporting issues, co-facilitated by Sin Liang Cheah and Getraud Wollansky.
SBI Conclusions: In its conclusions (FCCC/SBI/2019/L.11), the SBI agrees to continue its consideration of this matter at SBI 51.
Summary reports on the technical analysis of biennial update reports: The SBI took note of the information.
Revision of the modalities and guidelines for international consultation and analysis: The SBI noted that the MPGs for the Paris Agreement transparency framework will supersede these modalities and guidelines.
SBI Conclusions: In its conclusions (FCCC/SBI/2019/L.8), the SBI agreed to continue its consideration of this matter at SBI 54.
Common time frames: This item was first addressed in plenary, then in informal consultations co-facilitated by Grégoire Baribeau (Canada) and George Wamukoya (Kenya).
In informal consultations, several groups lauded the decision taken in Katowice (decision 6/CMA.1) that all parties shall apply common time frames to the NDCs, to be implemented from 2031 onwards.
Two groups added new options to the informal note. Some parties observed that one of the new options could be read ambiguously: that a party may choose its time frame, or choose to submit an NDC. The proposing group clarified that their option was to allow for time frame choice only.
On the way forward, many developed and developing countries proposed, opposed by two groups, a call for submissions and a synthesis report of those submissions. Several called for a decision on common time frames in 2019, citing the importance of the decision for planning and developing future NDCs. Two developing country groups opposed specifying a date for a decision.
SBI Conclusions: In its conclusions (FCCC/SBI/2019/L.10), the SBI agrees to continue considering this matter at SBI 51 with a view to recommending a draft decision for consideration and adoption by the CMA.
Matters Relating to Mechanisms under the Kyoto Protocol: Review of the modalities and procedures for the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM): This item was taken up in plenary. During its closing plenary, the SBI noted that consultations did not result in conclusions, meaning that in accordance with Rules 10(c) and 16 of the draft rules of procedure, this matter will be forwarded to SBI 51.
Procedures, mechanisms and institutional arrangements for appeals against decisions of the Executive Board of the CDM: The SBI agreed to defer consideration of this item to SBI 52.
Matters relating to LDCs: This item was introduced in plenary and subsequently addressed in informal consultations.
SBI Conclusions: In its conclusions (FCCC/SBI/2019/L.14), the SBI, inter alia:
- welcomes the two-year rolling work programme of the LDC Expert Group (LEG) for 2019-2020;
- notes that seven of 77 proposals that received funds from the GCF Readiness and Preparatory Support Programme for the formulation of NAPs were from the LDCs;
- notes the approval of 11 projects and programmes totaling USD 100.6 million from the LDC Fund (LDCF);
- welcomes the financial pledges totaling USD 71.3 million from the Government of Belgium (Walloon Region), Denmark, Finland, France, Ireland, the Netherlands, and Switzerland to the LDCF;
- invites further contributions to the LDCF and support for the implementation of the LEG work programme;
- decides to recommend in its guidance to the GEF that the GEF continue to provide approved funding through the LDCF to countries graduating from LDC status until the completion of projects approved by the LDCF Council prior to graduation;
- agrees to recommend to the COP to extend the LDC-specific financial provisions related to the Trust Fund for Participation in the UNFCCC Process, and the indicative scale of contributions to the Trust Fund for the Core Budget of the UNFCCC, to countries that have graduated from LDC status for a period of three years from graduation; and
- requests the LEG to continue to provide capacity-building support to countries that have graduated from LDC status for a period of three years from their date of graduation.
Development and Transfer of Technologies: Poznan Strategic Programme on Technology Transfer: This item, including a report by the Technology Executive Committee (TEC) on an updated evaluation of the Poznan strategic programme on technology transfer (FCCC/SBI/2019/7) and the GEF report to COP 24 (FCCC/CP/2018/6), was introduced in plenary. Parties addressed this subsequently in informal consultations co-facilitated by Elfride-Anna More (Austria) and Stella Gama (Malawi).
Discussions focused on the TEC report on the updated evaluation report of the Poznan strategic programme, specifically on the effectiveness and efficiency of the African Climate Technology Centre supporting sub-Saharan African countries. Some raised concerns about some of the TEC report’s recommendations. Several proposed language on learning from the Programme’s regional climate technology transfer and finance centres, and pilot projects under the fourth replenishment cycle of the GEF. Rather than suggesting continued GEF support for these projects, some preferred language on continued GEF support for technology development and transfer more generally. Views diverged, among others, on encouraging the GEF to strengthen collaboration with the regional centres and the Climate Technology Centre and Network (CTCN). Some no longer viewed the GEF as actively involved with the regional centres, while others cited a role for the GEF in giving guidance on improving regional centres. Parties continued work on the recommendation that the COP invite the GEF to consider the relevant recommendations on the updated evaluation of the Poznan strategic programme in the TEC report.
SBI Conclusions: In its conclusions (FCCC/SBI/2019/L.6), the SBI notes the TEC report, undertaken with the aim of enhancing the effectiveness of the Technology Mechanism and agrees to continue to consider its recommendations at SBI 51 in December 2019. The SBI requests the Secretariat to prepare an updated synthesis report on technology needs assessments (TNAs), including the TNAs and technology action plans of parties that participated in phase II of the global TNA project and taking into account the terminal evaluation of phase I and phase II of the project, for consideration at SBI 52 in June 2020.
The SBI further:
- invites the CTCN and the TEC to include information in their joint annual report for 2019 on how they will address the key messages and relevant recommendations contained in the TEC report;
- welcomes the continued support provided by the GEF for technology development and transfer, including innovation, as well as the ongoing collaboration between the regional climate technology transfer and finance centres and the CTCN;
- encourages the GEF, the regional centres, and the CTCN to continue to collaborate with a view to providing further support to developing country parties for scaling up their technology-related action for enhanced mitigation and adaptation action, in a balanced manner;
- notes the information provided in the GEF report to COP 24 on the collaboration between the GEF focal points and national designated entities for technology development and transfer and encourages strengthened collaboration to enhance coherence between the support provided by the GEF and the CTCN for technology transfer activities;
- encourages the GEF and the CTCN to facilitate the collaboration, as appropriate; and
- welcomes the information in the report on the experience and lessons learned and encourages relevant stakeholders to consider best practices and lessons learned, including challenges, regarding each regional centre.
Matters relating to the Adaptation Fund: Membership of the Board: This item was introduced in plenary and subsequently addressed in informal consultations co-facilitated by Amjad Abdulla (Maldives) and Fiona Gilbert (Australia).
Views diverged substantially on the need for SBI 50 to address the issue of eligibility, which some stressed is the mandate from the Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP) and the CMA. One group said the current status of representation from only Kyoto Protocol parties was a problem because Paris Agreement parties should also be able to serve on the Board. This group wanted a change in the representation of regional groups on the board. Others noted the existing decision that says the Adaptation Fund shall serve the Paris Agreement does not require a change in the representation of the Board. They argued that non-Kyoto Protocol parties who are parties to the Paris Agreement are eligible to serve on the Board and can be represented in accordance with prevailing arrangements. Some suggested the issue could be addressed after hearing input from the Adaptation Board Task Force, and after the outcome of negotiations under Article 6 (market and non-market cooperation approaches).
Parties’ views also diverged on the need to re-visit board composition. One developing country party opposed re-configuring the Board. One developing country group favored confirming the eligibility of all Paris Agreement parties. Another developing country group noted the prerogative of regional groups to decide nominations. Two party groups called for clarity on Board composition when the Adaptation Fund exclusively serves the Paris Agreement. Several developed country parties called for a “future proof” decision. One developing country party expressed willingness to change the Board’s composition if the Adaptation Fund were to receive a share of proceeds from Article 6.2 (internationally transferred mitigation outcomes) in addition to Article 6.4 (mechanism).
Parties could not agree on whether to engage with Co-Facilitators’ informal note, to refer to it in the draft conclusions, or to add an addendum capturing the views expressed during the session. On a proposed draft decision text, parties disagreed on whether the SBI would decide or confirm that the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement parties shall be eligible to serve on the Board. Parties expressed opposing views on a paragraph that would invite the CMA to consider the Board membership modalities, once the Adaptation Fund begins to serve the Paris Agreement exclusively.
During its closing plenary, the SBI noted that consultations did not result in conclusions, and that in accordance with Rules 10(c) and 16 of the draft rules of procedure, this matter will be forwarded to the provisional agenda of SBI 51.
Matters Relating to Capacity Building for Developing Countries: Under the Convention, including enhancing institutional arrangements and the review of the Paris Committee on Capacity-building (PCCB): This item was introduced in plenary (FCCC/SBI/2019/2 and Add.1; FCCC/SBI/2019/3; FCCC/SBI/2019/Inf.3).
SBI Conclusions: In its conclusions (FCCC/SBI/2019/L.15), the SBI, inter alia:
- invites parties and observers to make submissions on the review of the PCCB by 31 October 2019;
- requests the Secretariat to prepare a synthesis of the submissions for consideration at SBI 51;
- agrees to continue its deliberation on the review of the PCCB at SBI 51 on the basis of the ToR annexed to the conclusions;
- initiates the fourth comprehensive review of the implementation of the framework for capacity building in developing countries under the Convention;
- notes that there are current and emerging capacity-building areas related to the implementation of the Paris Agreement that could be considered in the context of the fourth comprehensive review of the implementation of the framework for capacity building in developing countries under the Convention;
- invites parties and observers to submit their views on the fourth review by 30 September 2019; and
- agrees to continue its consideration at SBI 51 with a view to recommending a draft decision on enhancing institutional arrangements for capacity building for consideration and adoption by COP 25.
Under the Kyoto Protocol: This item was considered in conjunction with capacity building under the Convention (FCCC/SBI/2019/2 and Add.1; FCCC/SBI/2019/3).
SBI Conclusions: In its conclusions (FCCC/SBI/2019/L.13), the SBI, inter alia:
- welcomes the synthesis reports prepared by the Secretariat on the implementation of the framework for capacity building in developing countries established under decision 2/CP.7, and the capacity-building work of bodies established under the Convention and its Kyoto Protocol; and
- highlights the importance of considering the outcomes of the fourth comprehensive review of the implementation of the framework for capacity building in developing countries under the Convention as input for the fourth review under the Protocol.
ToR for the Review of the Doha Work Programme on Article 6 of the Convention (Education and Training): This item was briefly introduced and subsequently addressed in informal consultations facilitated by Helmut Hojesky (Austria).
SBI Conclusions: In its conclusions (FCCC/SBI/2019/L.3), the SBI, inter alia: acknowledges the outcomes of the 7th Dialogue on Action for Climate Empowerment held at SBI 50 and recommends a draft decision (FCCC/SBI/2019/L.3/Add.1) on the ToR for the review of the Doha Work Programme for consideration and adoption by COP 25 in December 2019. Annexed to the draft decision are the ToR, which contain four sections on mandate, objectives, information sources, and modalities of review and expected outcomes.
In the draft COP decision, the COP would, inter alia:
- request the SBI to launch, at SBI 52, the review of the implementation of the Doha Work Programme on Article 6 of the Convention on the basis of the ToR contained in the annex and to consider future work to enhance the implementation of Article 6 of the Convention and Article 12 of the Paris Agreement (Doha Work Programme), following the review, and to prepare a draft decision for consideration and adoption at the COP 26 in November 2020; and
- request the Secretariat to organize the 8th in-session Dialogue on Action for Climate Empowerment in 2020 to advance the discussions on recommendations and views on future work to enhance the implementation of Article 6 of the Convention and Article 12 of the Paris Agreement.
Gender and Climate Change: This item was first addressed in plenary before it was referred to informal consultations, co-facilitated by Penda Kante Thiam (Senegal) and Colin O’Hehir (Ireland).
During consultations, participants adopted an informal note from the Co-Facilitators that details preliminary views from parties, including priority areas of its gender action plan, the Lima Work Programme on Gender, other proposals from parties, and next steps.
SBI Conclusions: In its conclusions (FCCC/SBI/2019/L.4), the SBI, inter alia, welcomes the Secretariat’s synthesis report on differentiated impacts of climate change on women and men, the integration of gender considerations into climate policies, plans and actions, and progress in enhancing gender balance in national climate delegations. It also agreed to continue considering the review of the Lima Work Programme on Gender and the gender action plan at SBI 51, based on party submissions due 30 August 2019, reports produced under both activities, and on the informal note.
Arrangements for Intergovernmental Meetings: This item was taken up in plenary and referred to a contact group chaired by Una May Gordon (Jamaica).
In discussions, participants considered, among others, the frequency of meetings. Several developed countries said that, under the Paris Agreement, implementation should take precedence and the supreme decision making bodies could meet less frequently. Several developing countries underscored the value of the COPs for implementation, and cited mandates for reporting or review activities up to 2030.
On engagement with non-party stakeholders, many noted the intergovernmental nature of the UNFCCC process. Some developed countries called for greater engagement to increase climate ambition and for discussing the Marrakech Action Partnership under this agenda item. One group of developing countries called for a framework or policy to be developed to ensure that engagement with non-party stakeholders does not undermine the goals of the Convention. One developing country, supported by others, proposed support for the participation of observers from developing countries.
Observers critiqued the UNFCCC’s “limited capacity” for civil society participation, and most called for a conflict of interest policy to limit polluting private interests’ participation.
SBI Conclusions: In its conclusions (FCCC/SBI/2019/L.12) the SBI, inter alia:
- requests the Secretariat to take note of parties’ views on potential elements of provisional agendas for COP 25, CMP 15, and CMA 2;
- reaffirms the value of contributions from observer organizations towards supporting implementation and welcomed views on how to further enhance effective engagement of observer organizations; and
- reiterates the invitation to future presidencies to engage with “relevant stakeholders, including youth” in organizing open dialogues.
Administrative, Financial, and Institutional Matters: Programme budget for the biennium 2020-2021: This item was first taken up in plenary. UNFCCC Deputy Executive Secretary Ovais Sarmad reported on the programme budget for the biennium 2020–2021, the review of Secretariat functions and operations, and other financial matters, noting the pressing issue of outstanding party contributions. Parties convened informal consultations, facilitated by Kishan Kumarsingh (Trinidad and Tobago) and Talieh Wögerbauer (Austria), as well as a spin-off group on the proposed budget for the international transaction log facilitated by Jozef Buys (European Union).
In the contact group, the Secretariat presented the proposed budget, noting that it focused on delivering on decisions and mandates, as well as providing predictable and adequate resources. Parties expressed their priorities and differing concerns about the balance of funds between the core budget and the supplementary budget. Many pressed for balance in the allocation of resources.
SBI Conclusions: The SBI adopted the programme budget for the biennium 2020-2021 (FCCC/SBI/2019/L.2, Add.1, 2, 3), which expresses concern regarding the high level of outstanding contributions to the core budget and strongly urges parties to complete contributions without delay.
Other financial and budgetary matters: In the opening plenary, the UN Board of Auditors reported on the 2017 statements and draft 2018 statements, noting issues of outstanding contributions (FCCC/SBI/2019/INF.4, INF.5, INF.6), long-term employee benefit liabilities, and compliance. Parties considered this item in the budget informal consultations.
Annual report: The SBI took note of the 2nd annual report for 2018 and its summary (FCCC/SBI/2019/8).
Implementation of the Headquarters Agreement: The SBI heard an update on the facility developments presented by Nicole Wilke (Germany) during the opening plenary.
SBI Conclusions: The SBI adopted conclusions on the implementation of the Headquarters Agreement (FCCC/SBI/2019/L.9), which takes note of the information provided and invites the Host Government and Secretariat to report on any new developments.
Report of the Session:The SBI adopted its report (FCCC/SBI/2019/L.1).
Pointing to an image of the Keeling Curve, showing rising carbon dioxide concentrations, SBSTA Chair Paul Watkinson (France) opened the meeting and underscored the need for further action. Watkinson noted agreement reached in informal consultations to consider the IPCC Special Report on 1.5°C as a separate agenda item, without pre-judging the substantive outcome of the discussions at this session, and not, as a special case, invoking Rule 16 for this item. With that understanding, parties adopted the agenda and organization of work (FCCC/SBSTA/2019/1).
Nairobi Work Programme: The item was first taken up in plenary and referred to informal consultations, co-facilitated by Monika Antosik (Poland) and Majid Shafipour (Iran).
Discussions considered potential synergies with work on fishing, gender, and agriculture. Some parties noted assessments of countries’ adaptation needs should inform the Global Stocktake.
SBSTA Conclusions: The SBSTA (FCCC/SBSTA/2019/L.2), inter alia,
- welcomes the Nairobi Work Programme annual report and work plan for 2019-2020;
- welcomes advice from multiple bodies and partner organizations, including the Adaptation Committee, on the delivery of Work Programme mandates;
- requests the Secretariat to disseminate knowledge, solicit feedback from knowledge users, and strengthen existing modalities and explore new ways of dissemination and communication relating to NWP knowledge products;
- requests the Secretariat to prioritize the following Work Programme thematic areas mandated at SBSTA 48: extreme weather events such as heatwaves, flash floods, sand and dust storms, cyclones and heavy precipitation; drought, water scarcity and land degradation neutrality; forests and grassland; oceans, coastal areas and ecosystems, including mega deltas, coral reefs and mangroves; and agriculture and food security.
Matters Relating to Science and Review: Research and systematic observation: This item was first taken up in plenary and forwarded to informal consultations, co-facilitated by Richard Muyungi (Tanzania) and Christiane Textor (Germany).
In informal consultations, parties discussed the Co-Facilitators’ draft conclusions, broadly agreeing save for inclusion of a paragraph noting, either with “alarm” or “concern” the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Statement of the State of the Climate in 2018 and its Greenhouse Gas Bulletin. Parties agreed to remove the paragraph, while retaining a footnote referencing the SBSTA Chair’s summary report on the tenth meeting of the Research Dialogue.
SBSTA Conclusions: In its conclusions (FCCC/SBSTA/2019/L.6), the SBSTA, inter alia:
- on systematic observation, notes several national and international observation initiatives; urges parties to enhance the development of climate services; and encourages parties and relevant organizations to maintain, strengthen, and enhance systematic observation; and
- on research, welcomes the themes of the eleventh Research Dialogue; notes the importance of hearing directly from representatives of the science community, and from communities and peoples most vulnerable to climate change; and invites parties to submit views on possible topics and consideration for the meetings of the research dialogue at SBSTA 52 (June 2020).
IPCC Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C: This item was first taken up in plenary and forwarded to informal consultations, co-facilitated by Annela Anger-Kraavi (Estonia) and Ladislaus Chag’a (Tanzania).
Parties’ views strongly diverged during the consultations. Many parties welcomed the report and lauded the efforts of the IPCC to deliver “robust and useful” science under significant constraints, with some highlighting how the Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 °C has already influenced individual national policies, and proposing language to that effect. One party initially argued against discussing the Special Report further and raised strident concerns about, among others, perceived knowledge and methodological gaps in the report. SBSTA Chair Watkinson intervened twice, welcoming the discussion and highlighting the importance of the relationship between the UNFCCC and the scientific community.
As SBSTA adopted its conclusions in plenary on Thursday, 27 June, SBSTA Chair Watkinson underscored that science plays a central role in SBSTA’s activities and in the actions required to respond to climate change. After adoption of the conclusions, Costa Rica for AILAC, Tuvalu for LDCs, and Belize for AOSIS, expressed their disappointment that not all parties could “accept the messages of science,” and lamented that the report’s substantive content could not be fully discussed, with the LDCs citing the “existential risk” of climate change for small island states. Switzerland, for the Environmental Integrity Group, underlined that “science is not negotiable.”
SBSTA Conclusions: In its conclusions (FCCC/SBSTA/2019/L.8), the SBSTA, inter alia:
- expresses its appreciation and gratitude to the IPCC and the scientific community for responding to the invitation of the COP and providing the Special Report, which reflects the best available science; and
- notes the views expressed on how to strengthen scientific knowledge on global warming of 1.5°C and to agree that its work under this agenda sub-item has been completed.
Methodological Issues under the Convention: Training programme for Review Experts for the Technical Review of Annex I GHG inventories: This item was first discussed in plenary, then in informal consultations co-facilitated by Jae Hyuk Jung (Republic of Korea) and Harry Vreuls (the Netherlands).
SBSTA Conclusions: In its conclusions (FCCC/SBSTA/2019/L.4), the SBSTA agrees to, among others, extend the implementation of the training programme from 2020 to 2022; and assess the continued utility and implementation period of the training programme at SBSTA 54 (May–June 2021).
Training Programme for Review Experts for the Technical Review of Biennial Reports and National Communications of Annex I Parties: This item was first discussed in plenary, then in informal consultations co-facilitated by Jae Hyuk Jung and Harry Vreuls.
SBSTA Conclusions: In its conclusions (FCCC/SBSTA/2019/L.5), the SBSTA agrees to, among others, extend the implementation of the training programme from 2020 to 2022; and assess the continued utility and implementation period of the training programme at SBSTA 54 (May–June 2021).
GHG Data Interface: First taken up in plenary, this issue was then referred to informal consultations co-facilitated by Takeshi Enoki (Japan) and Clifford Mahlung (Jamaica).
In informal consultations, parties’ views diverged on whether to note the increased number of submissions from non-Annex I parties and on whether to request that the Secretariat display submissions in the GHG data interface.
During its closing plenary, the SBSTA noted that consultations did not result in conclusions, meaning that, in accordance with Rules 10(c) and 16 of the draft rules of procedure, this matter will be forwarded to the provisional agenda of SBSTA 51.
Common Metrics to Calculate the Carbon Dioxide Equivalence of GHGs:First taken up in plenary, this issue was then referred to informal consultations, co-facilitated by Takeshi Enoki and Clifford Mahlung.
In informal consultations, several suggested postponing further considerations of common metrics until the IPCC’s sixth assessment report. Others opposed, calling for technical discussions, stressing the relevance of common metrics to policies aimed at achieving the long-term global temperature goals.
During its closing plenary, the SBSTA noted that consultations did not result in conclusions, meaning that, in accordance with Rules 10(c) and 16 of the draft rules of procedure, this matter will be forwarded to the provisional agenda of SBSTA 51.
Bunker Fuels: This item was first addressed in plenary. The International Maritime Organization (IMO) reported actions to further its strategy on the reduction of GHG emissions from ships, including amendments to rules related to ships’ energy efficiency. The issues was then sent to informal consultations, co-facilitated by Luiz de Andrade (Brazil) and Bert van Loon (Belgium).
During informal consultations, parties agreed to continue considering the matter and take note of the information provided by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the IMO. Views diverged on whether to invite the ICAO and IMO to continue to report, and on whether to continue discussions at SBSTA 51.
During its closing plenary, the SBSTA noted that consultations did not result in conclusions, meaning that, in accordance with Rules 10(c) and 16 of the draft rules of procedure, this matter will be forwarded to the provisional agenda of SBSTA 51.
Methodological Issues under the Kyoto Protocol: Land use, Land-use change, and forestry (LULUCF) under Article 3.3 and 3.4 (Annex I LULUCF Reporting) and in the CDM: The SBSTA agreed to defer this sub-item to SBSTA 52.
Implications of including reforestation of land with forests in exhaustion in the CDM: The SBSTA agreed to defer this sub-item to SBSTA 52.
Methodological Issues under the Paris Agreement: This item was first taken up in plenary and subsequently in a contact group co-chaired by Xiang Gao (China) and Helen Plume (New Zealand). The sub-items were discussed in informal consultations. During a heads of delegation meeting it was agreed that discussions on common tabular formats (CTFs) for tracking progress toward NDCs would refrain from discussing Article 6, pending the outcome of those negotiations.
During contact group meetings, parties heard reports summarizing progress under each agenda item and discussed draft conclusions. Parties expressed views on, among others, discussing flexibility beyond the MPGs and respecting the principle of “no backsliding.”
After lengthy debate, parties agreed to forward draft conclusions to the SBSTA, without agreement on whether to request the Secretariat to prepare a synthesis paper of parties’ submissions.
In plenary, the SBSTA adopted the conclusions after removing the request to the Secretariat to prepare a technical paper providing an overview of existing training programmes.
Common reporting tables (CRTs) for national inventory reports of anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks of GHGs: Informal consultations were co-facilitated by Xiang Gao and Helen Plume.
In informal consultations, the Secretariat presented the common reporting framework tables used by Annex I parties, which developed countries preferred to use as a starting point for a table common to all, and the tables for national communications used by non-Annex I parties, which several developing countries preferred to use as a starting point for tables that will be used by developing countries.
On how to reflect flexibility in the tables, parties suggested referring to the MPGs’ flexibility provisions in the CRTs to inform reviewers where national reports applied a flexibility provision. Others suggested the possibility of different tabular formats. Some stressed the complementary nature of the summary tables. On flexibility for using CRTs to report by 2024, one party suggested a phased approach, which could be linked to capacity building and support provided during that transition.
On capacity building, some stressed the need for access and training to use current reporting software. Several noted the usability of current software, adaptability to national needs, and possible linkage to IPCC reporting tools. Others stressed that information can be aggregated and linked to Paris Agreement Article 15 (implementation and compliance mechanism).
CTFs necessary to track progress made in implementing and achieving NDCs under Agreement Article 4: Xiang Gao and Helen Plume co-facilitated informal consultations.
On CTFs for mitigation policies and measures, actions and plans, parties reviewed the existing CTF in biennial reports on progress in achievement of the quantified economy-wide emissions reduction target as a starting point. Several developed countries said only minor changes would align this table with the MPGs of the transparency framework. Developing countries pointed to the flexibilities in this section of the MPGs (Chapter 3d contained in the annex to decision 18/CMA.1), including that some information is not strictly required, and that information on estimates of expected and achieved GHG emissions reductions shall be provided “to the extent possible.” One suggested that parties should be able to delete columns, and others called for a consistent way to indicate when flexibility is applied. A group called for including mitigation co-benefits resulting from adaptation actions and economic diversification plans.
On the structured summary, there was general agreement that existing models do not exist and this issue will require more discussion. In initial exchanges, all parties reaffirmed that this is a “shall” requirement and recalled the need to accommodate different types of NDCs. Several developed countries, and a few developing countries, envisioned the structured summary as a table only, while some developing countries pointed to the need for a table, a narrative, or both. Some developing countries suggested the format of the structured summary could be nationally determined.
CTFs for financial, technology development and transfer and capacity-building support provided and mobilized, as well as support needed and received: In informal consultations, co-facilitated by Delphine Eyraud (France) and Seyni Nafo (Mali), there was general agreement to build on existing CTFs for biennial reports learning from other processes such as national communications, biennial update reports, and guidance from the CGE. Many agreed that the information on support needed and received is not subject to review and contains considerable built-in flexibility. Many also noted the distinctions between the legal obligations: that developed countries “shall” provide information on support provided, and other countries are “encouraged” to do so, and that developing countries “should” provide information on support received.
On support provided, multiple developing country groups called for “no backsliding” by developed countries on the level of detail provided. Developing countries suggested ways to disaggregate the data provided, including for details on:
- bilateral, regional, and multilateral finance reported;
- information on support for adaptation and mitigation;
- sector-specific codes for reporting;
- information on grant equivalency and face value; and
- specific methodologies for accounting for finance provided and used.
On support needed and received, several developing countries relayed difficulties using existing tables. Some identified information that is difficult to report, such as the expected timeframe and expected instruments.
Many noted the need to cross-reference or somehow indicate when there is a link between finance provided and received, and technology development and transfer or capacity building provided and received, to ensure there is no double counting.
Outlines of the biennial transparency report (BTR), national inventory document, and technical expert review report pursuant to the MPGs for the transparency framework for action and support: Xiang Gao and Helen Plume co-facilitated informal consultations.
On the BTR outline, many cited the MPGs as a starting point, with some noting the need for additional headings, such as on the application of flexibility provisions or loss and damage. Several developing countries noted that BTRs and national communications would both be due in a few years and the outline should provide guidance on how to avoid duplicating efforts.
On the national inventory report, several cited existing outlines and the technical expert review as good starting points. One developing country said parties could modify the outline for the national inventory document, as required.
On the technical expert review report outline, several cited existing expert reviews as a model. Views diverged on the link with the implementation and compliance mechanism.
Training programme for technical experts participating in the technical expert review: Jae Hyuk Jung and Harry Vreuls co-facilitated informal consultations. Delegates discussed ways to make the programme and certification process more accessible, including by having online examinations. Some developing countries preferred that the CGE develop the training programme and materials, while developed countries, and one developing country group, favored tasking the Secretariat with support from lead reviewers. One developing country drew a distinction between developing the programme and the materials for the programme. Views diverged on whether the programme should be completed by COP 26.
SBSTA Conclusions: In its conclusions (FCCC/SBSTA/2019/L.3), the SBSTA, inter alia:
- notes the divergent views among parties on the consistency of certain elements of the informal notes with the MPGs;
- agrees to have a dedicated discussion on how to operationalize the flexibility provisions defined in decision 18/CMA.1 (adoption of the MPGs for the enhanced transparency framework) under this agenda item at SBSTA 51;
- notes that the existing guidelines and tables, including those for GHG inventories, mitigation policies and measures, GHG emission projections, and financial, technology development and transfer, and capacity-building support provided, as well as the current measurement, reporting, and verification system, offer a good starting point;
- invites parties to submit their views on the matters related to the fulfillment of the mandate, including on experience using the IPCC 2006 Guidelines for National GHG Inventories, the common reporting format, the transition to the 2006 IPCC Guidelines for National GHG inventories, and countries’ experience with that transition, and the development of country-specific tools for facilitating GHG inventory reporting; CTFs for tracking progress in implementing and achieving NDCs; tables for reporting on support needed and received, and support mobilized; and approaches to operationalize the flexibility for those developing country parties that need it in the light of their capacities; and
- requests the Secretariat to prepare a technical paper providing an overview of the existing training programmes for technical expert reviews, including lessons learned, and how they could be used for the purpose of the training courses, including relevant statistics.
Matters Relating to Article 6 of the Paris Agreement (Cooperative Approaches): The three sub-items of this agenda item were discussed in a contact group setting chaired by SBSTA Chair Paul Watkinson (France) and in informal consultations co-facilitated by Hugh Sealy (Barbados) and Peer Stiansen (Norway).
In the contact group, parties extensively debated the linkage between Article 6 and work under the transparency framework (in particular, paragraph 77d of the MPGs of the transparency framework). Unable to break the deadlock in the contact group, SBSTA Chair Watkinson convened a heads of delegation meeting to resolve the issue. Parties agreed to “de-prioritize” working on Article 6 issues under SBSTA agenda item 10(b) (CTFs to track progress toward and achievement of NDCs) and agreed that discussions elsewhere would not pre-judge the negotiations on Article 6 under this agenda item.
In informal consultations, Co-Facilitator Stiansen outlined the steps forward: “stabilize” the draft negotiating text given that there are multiple versions; identify issues that require further discussion, including consultations in spin-off groups; report back from the spin-offs; and discuss remaining issues. Parties agreed to proceed without a “stabilization text” for the moment.
Parties exchanged views on all parts of Article 6, identifying options and language to be reflected in a draft negotiating text. The Co-Facilitators produced the first iteration on Tuesday, 25 June. The Co-Facilitators noted that the draft texts reflect re-insertions from the draft decision texts developed during SBSTA 49 (SBSTA49.DT.i11av2) as requested by parties, the “evolution of ideas,” and the bridging proposals made during the session. The Co-Facilitators emphasized that this was a first draft. After collecting comments on the first iteration of the text, the Co-Facilitators produced a second iteration of the text on Wednesday, 26 June.
In the final contact group meeting, SBSTA Chair Watkinson noted that three separate draft conclusions were prepared, one on each sub-item under the agenda, as requested by a party. Many parties welcomed the second iteration of the texts as the way to progress the negotiations in December and agreed to carry them forward. A few parties emphasized the texts were not consensus documents. One party lamented inadequate focus on Article 6.8 (non-market mechanism) and called for an even balance across the three sub-items. Parties diverged on the need for intersessional work, including the production of technical papers. SBSTA Chair Watkinson proposed to remove the placeholder for intersessional work from the draft conclusions but invited parties to engage in preparatory work on their own during the intersessional period, highlighting the many technical details that are yet to be resolved. SBSTA Chair Watkinson proposed including a note in the footnote of the conclusions that the draft texts do not represent consensus amongst parties, to which parties agreed.
The SBSTA adopted draft conclusions on each sub-item during the closing plenary.
Guidance on cooperative approaches (Agreement Article 6.2): In the first exchange of views, parties called for clarity on corresponding adjustments, particularly on single-year and multi-year accounting and NDC scope. Views diverged on the applicability of share of proceeds and overall mitigation of global emissions. Parties raised unresolved issues needing discussion, including: definition of internationally transferrable mitigation outcomes (ITMOs); linkages between Articles 6.2 and 6.4; governance and oversight; NDC types including scope and timelines; reporting, review, recording and tracking; and share of proceeds.
On defining ITMOs, parties identified various features, including quantifiability; expression into carbon dioxide equivalents; eligibility of emission avoidance; and national determination. A group identified the distinction between ITMOs and mitigation outcomes that are used for purposes other than NDC fulfillment or international transfers. Some highlighted the ability of a buffer registry to enable exchanging parties with different units to transfer ITMOs.
Views diverged on including emissions avoidance, with those opposed expressing concern about risks to environmental integrity. Others expressed willingness to include emissions avoidance if there were adequate safeguards. One party called for a work programme that would tackle conversion of different metrics and identify means to ensure environmental integrity. A group suggested focusing on the transfer of mitigation outcomes as opposed to their creation.
On governance, including oversight of Article 6.2 provisions on ITMOs, reporting, review, recording, tracking, sequencing with NDC accounting and compliance, many parties expressed willingness to work on the basis of the Katowice text, noting its “precarious balance.” Parties exchanged views on the role of initial reports on ITMOs and how they relate to BTRs. A group suggested having annual reports with annual information in addition to BTRs.
Many parties supported oversight of Article 6.2. Parties held divergent views on the kind of tracking of ITMOs required. Some suggested real-time tracking while others opposed, with some noting that ITMOs are “amounts” and not “units.” Two groups urged avoiding a system that imposes requirements on NDCs. Others, however, noted that a country’s NDC should determine how it engages with Article 6 provisions. One group suggested a link with Article 15 (compliance), which another group opposed.
On safeguards and limits, parties discussed how best to organize work. Some parties proposed a sequential approach whereby safeguards are discussed after the guidance for Article 6 is agreed. Others disagreed, noting that safeguards are integral to the overall package. A number of parties suggested a middle ground that involves an agreement on the principle to avoid increasing emissions while listing the safeguards in the annex to the decision and mandating a work programme to operationalize them in the future. Parties diverged on specific safeguards such as unilateral measures and fluctuations of credit prices.
Parties disagreed on the applicability of share of proceeds to Article 6.2. Some groups urged “levelling the playing field” between Articles 6.2 and 6.4. Others objected. A number of parties suggested a 5% levy at issuance, while others supported tasking the supervisory committee to formulate recommendations based on needs. For the interim period before share of proceeds becomes available, a group of parties suggested using the CDM trust fund, while others opposed.
On delivering overall mitigation in global emissions (OMGE), parties diverged on its operationalization, including applicability to both Articles 6.2 and 6.4. While several parties supported conservative baselines and emissions factors, others opposed. A group suggested going beyond an offsetting approach, which was described as “zero sum.” A number of parties favored cancellation of units.
On response measures, two groups called for a process to channel information about the impacts arising from the implementation of Articles 6.2 and 6.4 to the response measures bodies. Some preferred using the response measures forum and committee to address response measures.
On accounting issues, some parties and groups advocated for a common accounting system, with some calling for a centralized registry, and cautioned against a menu approach. Parties held diverging views on ITMOs and Article 6.4 activities and NDC scope. Some identified a possible middle ground between restricting Article 6 activities to NDC scope and allowing actions outside of the scope, proposing that transfers from outside NDCs be allowed with clear incentives for progression into NDCs. On single-year/multi-year accounting, some parties expressed preferences for real-time accounting, while others wanted harmonization with BTRs.
SBSTA Conclusions: In its conclusions (FCCC/SBSTA/L.9), SBSTA notes its work on this sub-item, as reflected in a draft decision text, and agrees to continue consideration of the draft decision text at SBSTA 51.
Rules, modalities, and procedures for the mechanism (Agreement Article 6.4): In the first exchange of views, many parties emphasized the need to focus on the supervisory body and transition issues from the Kyoto mechanisms. Parties highlighted issues to discuss, among others, activities, baselines and methodologies, overall mitigation, and governance of the mechanism.
On the governance of the Article 6.4 mechanism, parties expressed varying views on the balance of responsibilities between the supervisory body and parties, with one group suggesting that host parties should be enabled to get more involved. Delegates diverged on the need for term limits for members of the board.
On the Article 6.4 mechanism, parties exchanged views on membership of the supervisory board, with many supporting a gender-balanced board. On activity design, some suggested that all sectors and gases should be eligible. Many opposed excluding activities related to Article 5 (forests). With regard to human rights, parties’ views diverged, with those opposed to its inclusion suggesting that activities would conform to prevailing national laws. As a bridging proposal, a group suggested referring to the Paris Agreement preamble. On activity design and NDC scope, two groups of parties explicitly focused on supporting parties to expand the scope of their NDCs. Others supported activities outside NDC scope as long as robust accounting was possible.
On baselines and additionality, views diverged on the use of historical and business as usual baselines. One group proposed that the supervisory committee be asked to waive additionality requirements for LDCs and SIDS. Several parties suggested: avoiding a prescriptive approach to methodology development; baselines to reflect NDCs; and how achieved emissions reductions would be complementary to existing national policies. A group urged taking into account uncertainty and net leakage due to Article 6.4 activities.
In setting the baseline, parties expressed diverging preferences for a performance-based approach that reflects best available technologies and a business as usual/historical approach. Those preferring the latter urged avoiding a restrictive approach for developing countries. Parties diverged on how to reflect the context where developing countries also have mitigation goals. Some parties suggested that crediting take place below NDC levels, while others called such an approach too restrictive. Parties disagreed on whether baselines provided the basis to operationalize OMGE. They also disagreed on whether the issuance of credits was possible in the absence of commitments by Annex B countries (developed countries with targets under the Kyoto Protocol).
On Article 6.2 and 6.4 linkages and operationalizing Article 6.4c and 6.5 (double counting), many parties supported the application of corresponding adjustments when Article 6.4 units are internationally transferred. A group of parties suggested that corresponding adjustments be applied at the time of issuance rather than transfer. A number of parties supported the generation of credits outside the scope of NDCs to avoid the risk that the generated credits will be double counted. Parties diverged on whether the group had the mandate to formulate accounting guidance under Article 6.4. Two groups of parties called for capacity-building support to countries to bring activities undertaken within the scope of their NDCs.
On transition, some parties and groups expressed the need to identify the new arrangements so that a transition process could be worked out, while some parties stressed the importance of preserving the environmental integrity of the Paris Agreement. Others worried that ineligibility of Kyoto Protocol units would undermine private sector confidence. Some suggested that Kyoto Protocol activities be subject to authorization by the supervisory committee and be allowed expedited registration. Parties finished their exchange of views on the list of the unresolved issues.
SBSTA Conclusions: In its conclusions (FCCC/SBSTA/L.10), SBSTA notes its work on this sub-item, as reflected in a draft decision text, and agrees to continue consideration of the draft decision text at SBSTA 51.
Work programme for non-market approaches (Agreement Article 6.8): In the first exchange of views, parties agreed on the need to focus on governance arrangements of the work programme, with some parties calling for more permanent arrangements. Parties expressed diverging views on the need for a permanent body. Noting the integral nature of Article 6.8 within Article 6, a group of parties opposed further deferring the matter for consideration. Others tried to find a bridging ground between the options, noting that a work programme could be mandated to discuss both the functions as well as the nature of the governance arrangements.
Many parties supported the formulation in the Presidency text produced in Katowice. Others, while preferring the SBSTA version, expressed willingness to work with the Presidency text if details were incorporated. A group suggested an explicit focus on opportunities for capacity-building and technology transfer. While some parties supported identifying eligible activities, others urged avoiding any limitations on scope.
The SBSTA plenary adopted conclusions on Thursday, 27 June.
SBSTA Conclusions: In its conclusions (FCCC/SBSTA/L.11), SBSTA noted its work on this sub-item, as reflected in a draft decision text, and agreed to continue consideration of the draft decision text at SBSTA 51.
Market and Non-Market Approaches under the Convention: Parties agreed to not discuss this item, given the work ongoing on Article 6.
Cooperation with other International Organizations: SBSTA Chair Watkinson introduced this item noting the Secretariat’s information paper on relevant cooperative activities (FCCC/SBSTA/2019/INF.2) and invited interested parties to consult with him. A special event on interagency activities took place on Tuesday, 18 June.
During the opening plenary, the IPCC noted 2019 is a “busy year” that includes revising the guidelines to the methodology used by governments to estimate their GHG emissions and removals, and two special reports.
The WMO reported recent findings that show record warming, a continued upward trend of GHGs, and increases in the rate of sea level rise in 2018.
The World Climate Research Programme highlighted progress achieved in coordinating climate research and remaining challenges, including the need to enhance monitoring capacity and improve prediction of extremes to enhance emergency planning.
The Global Climate Observing System reported from its regional and steering committee meetings, and its task teams, including the team on terrestrial observations of the impacts of climate variability that is discussing, inter alia, observed changes in distribution and phenology of the terrestrial biosphere.
The Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) welcomed the theme of the research dialogue devoted to oceans and highlighted the IOC’s platform on ocean and carbon research.
The European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT) outlined how space agencies can help inform SBSTA’s work, including through a web-based inventory of essential climate variables observable from space.
The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) reported findings from the 2019 Global Assessment, including that large-scale deployment of bioenergy represents a threat to biodiversity because it converts habitats.
UN-Oceans underscored that the impacts of global warming and sea level rise are becoming more evident, and highlighted the Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030) as a key platform to advance knowledge, inform policy, and identify solutions.
SBSTA Conclusions: In its conclusions (FCCC/SBSTA/2019/L.7), the SBSTA, inter alia:
- notes the importance of the Secretariat’s cooperation, within the scope of existing mandates provided by the governing bodies, with relevant UN entities and other intergovernmental organizations to supporting parties’ efforts to enhance ambition on climate actions, including with regard to mitigation, adaptation, and means of implementation, and in contributing to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development; and
- recognizes that the UNFCCC and the Paris Agreement are the primary international, intergovernmental forums for negotiating the global response to climate change.
Report of the Session: The SBSTA adopted its report (FCCC/SBSTA/2019/L.1).
Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture: This item was taken up in plenary and referred to informal consultations co-facilitated by Milagros Sandoval (Peru) and Heikki Granholm (Finland).
Parties participated in two workshops, on
- methods and approaches for assessing adaptation, adaptation co-benefits, and resilience; and
- improved soil carbon, soil health, and soil fertility, under grassland and cropland as well as integrated systems, including water management.
In the first workshop, parties heard from presenters on topics including adaptation approaches to food security; monitoring and evaluation practices for adaptation and their interaction with national adaptation frameworks; and several organizations’ individual approaches to assessing climate risk. In the second, participants discussed adaptation funding; soil organic carbon monitoring systems; and agroecological approaches in soil management.
In informal consultations, some developing countries stressed the need to create a permanent mechanism to continue the Katowice Joint Work on Agriculture. One group suggested recognizing and referring to work undertaken by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), while developing countries noted that the FAO is an observer.
SB Conclusions: In its conclusions (FCCC/SB/2019/L.2), the SBs, inter alia, request the Secretariat to organize an additional intersessional workshop between SB 51 and 52, hosted by New Zealand, to consider sustainable land and water management, as well as strategies and modalities to scale up practices and technologies to increase resilience and sustainable production.
Terms of Reference for the 2019 Review of the WIM: This item (FCCC/TP/2019/1) was briefly introduced on Monday, 17 June, and subsequently addressed in informal consultations, co-facilitated by Marianne Karlsen (Norway) and Pepetua Latasi (Tuvalu), as well as in informal party-led discussions.
Parties exchanged their views on their priorities for a review of the WIM, including, among others, effectiveness and efficiency; a backwards- and forwards-looking scope for the review; and the importance of a long-term vision. Some parties urged the elaboration of adequate benchmarks to assess progress. Parties also reflected on the mandate of the review and elements of its ToR, including: objectives, input, process, modalities, timeline, and expected outcomes.
Many proposed that the review should focus on how the WIM has:
- performed its functions and how its structure has enabled it to do so;
- addressed action and support;
- facilitated the implementation of Paris Agreement Article 8 (loss and damage);
- responded to relevant decisions and recommendations; and
- enhanced its efforts through cooperation with related work undertaken within and outside the Convention.
Many agreed to refrain from discussing governance issues before COP 25.
On the long-term vision, many agreed the ToR should clarify parties’ common understanding of the vision as presented in previous decisions, in particular decisions 3/CP.18 (approaches to loss and damage) and 2/CP.19 (WIM). Many agreed that the long-term vision should assist in defining the recommendations on how the WIM can be strengthened, but views diverged on how to do so. One party suggested discussing the long-term vision after the backward-looking review.
One group stressed that delivery of and access to means of implementation for developing countries is crucial to ensure the most vulnerable can address the adverse impacts of climate change. One party opposed any lists of gaps and needs, calling on parties to focus on priorities and available resources, and where the WIM adds most value to these priorities.
Parties engaged in textual negotiations on elements of the ToR, including on the objective, inputs, and scope of the review. On the objective of the ToR, one group stressed ensuring the WIM can fulfill its function including identification of further actions and arrangements. On inputs, one group called for considering lessons learned. One group noted previous agreement that, for the review, inputs, and submissions from parties and relevant organizations should be considered. Some groups, opposed by another party, called for referencing the IPCC Special Report on 1.5°C of Global Warming.
On the scope of the review, some groups stressed the need to include both backward- and forward-looking approaches. Others said that future aspects do not fit the context of a review, and cautioned against misplacing a reference to the Global Stocktake. Several groups preferred broader text, with references to the Convention. Others called to highlight whether the WIM has delivered its functions with regard to enhancing action and support, including means of implementation. One group opposed references to “usability” and “actionability.” Another expected references to the needs of the most vulnerable countries, while a third said that the review should consider overarching principles on gender, vulnerable communities, and indigenous peoples. One group preferred that the review commence from the last review, not the WIM’s establishment.
Views diverged on a reference to Paris Agreement Article 8 (loss and damage), which many developed country parties favored. Two groups cautioned against “singling out” any specific Agreement article. Another preferred referring to Article 8 throughout more sections of the ToR.
Other groups disagreed, calling for expanding the reference to the functions as specified in decision 2/CP.19 (WIM). One group stressed the review must focus on methods to enhance the WIM. One party said its vision of the WIM has changed over time, pointing to decisions taken up to the Paris Agreement. He asked to reflect the WIM’s role as including “minimizing” loss and damage, as this matters for the most vulnerable countries.
Several developing country parties opposed using Paris Agreement language, such as including the term “minimizing,” and references to Paris Agreement Article 8. They cautioned against prejudging a governance decision that they expect to be taken at COP 25. Noting that no specific reference to Agreement Article 8 is found in the workplan of the Executive Committee (ExCom), one group proposed language that stays away from the governance issue by stating the review will be undertaken “in the light of the relevant decisions.” One developed country party said parties should not single out or prejudge views, including views on the need for a governance decision.
During the final informal consultation, the Co-Facilitators presented draft conclusions, with the ToR in the annex, incorporating the discussions held during SB 50. Many welcomed the document, describing the ToR as a balanced compromise and useful guide for the review. One developing country group opposed the text saying that its views were not included. Another party proposed a footnote to avoid prejudging the governance issue. Co-Facilitator Karlsen said there was a common understanding in the room that decisions on the governance issue will take place elsewhere but that parties have no consensus on how to reflect this in the ToR. She proposed, and one developing country group opposed, to forward the draft conclusions with the annexed ToR to the SBI and SBSTA Chairs for their consideration.
During the closing plenary, the SBSTA and SBI adopted conclusions with the ToR annexed.
SB Conclusions: In their conclusions (FCCC/SB/2019/L.3), the SBSTA and the SBI agree to undertake the review at SB 51 based on the ToR and to forward the output of the review to the appropriate body or bodies. Two footnotes clarify “nothing in these conclusions or ToR prejudices parties’ views or prejudges outcomes on matters related to the governance of the WIM” and “inclusion of references to the Paris Agreement in the terms of reference does not prejudge the outcome of the consideration on the matters related to the governance of the WIM.” They further invite parties and other stakeholders to submit by 16 October 2019 their views on the review of the WIM on the basis of the ToR for consideration at SB 51.
The annexed ToR contain six sections relating to mandate, objective, scope, inputs and sources of information, modalities, and expected output.
Forum on the Impact of Response Measures serving the Convention, Kyoto Protocol, and Paris Agreement: This joint SBI and SBSTA item was introduced on Monday, 17 June. Birgit Aru (Estonia) and Albara Tawfiq (Saudi Arabia), Co-Chairs of the Katowice Committee of Experts on the Impacts of the Implementation of Response Measures (KCI), reported from KCI’s first meeting, held on 13-14 June 2019. Aru said the KCI successfully delivered on its:
- outline for its annual report;
- reporting formats for its meeting reports;
- rules of procedure for its operation; and
- views on the development of the workplan of the forum and its KCI.
Discussions continued in a contact group and in informal consultations co-chaired and facilitated by Delano Verwey (Netherlands) and Xolisa Ngwadla (South Africa). Opening the contact group, SBI Chair Dlamini said that he expected the group to produce recommendations on the forum’s six-year work plan with clear outputs and timelines. KCI Co-Chair Aru reported diverging views in the KCI on the work plan. She said discussions focused on: enabling climate action consistent with available science and the Paris Agreement; sharing best practices and experiences; and capacity building for assessing impacts and informing policies.
In informal consultations, parties identified the work plan should:
- be developed in tabular format;
- cover all four areas of the work programme for the entire six years;
- have built-in flexibility;
- be clear on timelines, activities, and outputs and responsibilities; and
- specify the workflow between the Forum and the KCI.
One party, supported by others, suggested three work streams: methodologies to identify the vulnerable sectors; assessment of the impacts of response measures; and measures to address those impacts. Many supported a work plan with a clear, sequential timeline of activities to ensure accountability.
Parties reflected on a work plan table presented by the Co-Facilitators, with headings outlining: activities; themes/clusters; responsibilities; modalities; outputs; as well as several columns for the years 2019-2025. Several parties called for streamlining the table, with some warning of the budgetary implications of the 115 activities listed. Others lamented that the proposal was not based on models used in the past. One group suggested a reference to the timeline of activities would be helpful.
Parties reflected again on activities in a revised paper. Views diverged on: references to activities on needs and finance; whether specific sectors and policy issues of concern must be addressed; and the development of guidelines for economic diversification, cautioning against prescriptiveness.
Subsequently, the Co-Chairs presented an informal document, explaining it contains their original proposal to develop the six-year work plan of the forum and the KCI, and captures submissions and interventions from parties on activities in the work plan. Many questioned the feasibility to reach consensus on a work plan at this session. One developing country group advocated to continue working by engaging on time frames and modalities. One proposed focusing on an interim six-month work plan for the KCI.
Parties considered draft conclusions paragraph by paragraph and engaged in lengthy discussions on when and what activities the KCI would undertake, and the KCI’s draft rules of procedure. Views diverged on how to capture progress made in this session.
During the closing plenary, the SBI and the SBSTA adopted conclusions.
SB Conclusions: In their conclusions (FCCC/SB/2019/L.4), the SBI and the SBSTA, inter alia:
- take note of the draft rules of procedure prepared by the KCI and invited the KCI to append the draft rules to its annual report to the forum with a view to the forum considering them during SB 51 and forwarding them for adoption by the COP, CMP, and the CMA;
- request the forum to finalize the six-year work plan of the forum and the KCI at SB 51;
- take note of the informal documents, which have no hierarchy over each other, which were prepared by the Co-Chairs on their own responsibility, which have no status and do not reflect the consensus views of parties; and
- agree that the KCI, at its second meeting, will exchange lessons learned and best practices on analysis and assessment of positive and negative impacts of the implementation of response measures by parties and report to the forum.
Scope of the next periodic review of the long-term global goal under the Convention and of overall progress towards achieving it: This item was first taken up in plenary and forwarded to informal consultations, co-facilitated by Leon Charles (Grenada) and Madoka Yoshino (Japan).
In informal consultations, parties’ views diverged on the scope of the periodic review of the long-term global goal. Several developed countries called for an option to close the review, with some citing potential overlaps with the Global Stocktake under the Paris Agreement. Some developing countries argued that the periodic review and the Global Stocktake are complementary and synergetic.
During the closing plenary, the SBSTA and SBI adopted conclusions.
SB Conclusions: In their conclusions (FCCC/SB/2019/L.1), SBSTA and SBI, inter alia:
- note that parties exchanged views on the matter;
- take note of decision 19/CMA.1 on the Global Stocktake, the 2018 Talanoa Dialogue, and the ongoing technical examination processes; and
- agree to continue consideration of this matter at SB 51.
Closure of the Meetings
Following adoption of the conclusions and reports of the meetings, delegates gave their closing statements.
Palestine, for the Group of 77 and China, said the Convention is the foundation of the regime, and the principles of CBDR-RC and respective capabilities in light of different national circumstances should be upheld. He called for a balanced treatment of work across all issues.
Calling Article 6 negotiations “challenging,” the EU said it welcomes the adoption of the ToR for the WIM review and looks forward to undertaking that review.
Australia, for the Umbrella Group, welcomed outcomes on the WIM review, capacity building, and response measures. He identified areas without agreement, including bunker fuels and the Adaptation Fund Board membership.
Iran, for the Like-Minded Group of Developing Countries, said the Convention is the foundation on which the Paris Agreement is built, and stressed that the Paris Agreement is not a new regime, but a way to enhance implementation of the Convention. He called for equal attention to issues of adaptation and mitigation, and said Article 6.8 must be as robust as Articles 6.2 and 6.4.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo, for the Coalition for Rainforest Nations, expressed support for the REDD+ focal point meeting held during this conference, and cited REDD+ as an example of ITMOs.
Egypt, for the African Group, expressed deep concern over the lack of attention to adaptation and finance under the Paris Agreement, and stressed the centrality of the Convention. He called for further operationalizing and strengthening the WIM and expressed concern about the lack of progress made on response measures.
Mexico, for the Environmental Integrity Group, welcomed the work on transparency and on Article 6 as starting points to advance future work. Reiterating that “science is not negotiable,” she stated her expectation for future constructive engagement.
Belize, for AOSIS, expressed satisfaction with the WIM review ToR, and the transparency work, although she stated that the MPGs must not be re-negotiated. She expressed concern over finance and the IPCC Special Report outcome. On markets, she underscored environmental integrity must be ensured.
Bhutan, for the LDCs, urged clear guidance on the WIM, including on institutional arrangements for support, and called the Article 6 outcome a good basis for further work.
Saying that progress fell short of expectations, Costa Rica, for AILAC, expressed concern about the outcomes on common time frames, the IPCC Special Report, and the periodic review of the long-term global goal, given the importance of climate action.
Saudi Arabia, for the Arab Group, underlined the need to respect and revitalize the Convention’s principles and, calling for a balanced treatment of all issues, expressed concern that no agreement was reached on response measures.
Argentina, for Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay, expressed disappointment that discussions on the IPCC Special Report did not lead to substantive conclusions, noting that barriers to accessing technology were noted in the report. He welcomed the outcome on common time frames, saying that it reflects all options, and the budget, underlining that it is critical to accommodate all needs.
Brazil, for Brazil, South Africa, India, and China, stressed that work under the Paris Agreement must also respect the principles of the Convention, particularly CBDR-RC, and called funding the UNFCCC and replenishing the GEF “crucial signals.”
Indonesia called for recognizing countries with specific geographic circumstances in the WIM, and for recognizing flexibility for developing countries in the development of the reporting formats.
Fiji, for Pacific SIDS, called for a work programme on oceans in the UNFCCC.
Chile, incoming COP 25 Presidency, underscored its commitment to multilateralism and highlighted three priorities: oceans, circular economies, and forests.
Climate Action Network called the current climate response “far from adequate” and told delegates to inform their leaders to bring ambitious pledges to the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Summit, or “face the consequences.”
Climate Justice Now! urged the development of a conflict of interest policy, underscoring that “what this process considers acceptable, is not acceptable.”
Indigenous Peoples’ Organizations underscored the role of traditional knowledge and called for states that generate ITMOs to report ITMOs and to respect the rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Local Governments and Municipal Authorities highlighted their Driving Change event, held during this meeting, as an example of an innovative model that can raise climate ambition.
Research and Independent NGOs called on parties to put science into action, and to provide space for science to guide the UNFCCC process.
Trade Union NGOs stressed the importance of implementing a just transition and raised concerns over lack of progress in response measures.
Women and Gender called for concrete, resourced, and gender-responsive solutions, as well as the delivery of finance and support, including for addressing loss and damage.
Chanting “science is not negotiable,” Youth NGOs expressed their disappointment over parties engaging in political discourse in discussions on the IPCC Special Report, highlighting that climate change is a matter of life and death and will impact all youth beyond borders.
Business and Industry NGOs called for clear guidance on Article 6 to emerge from COP 25 in order to mobilize implementation, innovation, and investment, including in low-carbon technologies.
The meetings closed at 10:07 pm.
A Brief Analysis of the Meeting
“The greatest sin of the age is to make the concrete abstract.” Nicholas Berdyaev
Amidst deafening calls for bold climate action—from students striking weekly for the climate, to a mounting heat wave across Western Europe, to the scientific community sounding the alarm on climate change’s devastating impacts on biodiversity—delegates at the 2019 Bonn Climate Change Conference were faced with a series of decidedly more technical tasks.
The session’s agenda was full of items which, though complex and seemingly mundane, are essential to set the stage for higher-level decisions at COP 25. Delegates needed to construct the textual basis for negotiating how countries cooperate in reducing emissions through Article 6 of the Paris Agreement, a holdover from rulebook negotiations in Katowice. Other items were more operational. For example, discussions under transparency involved clarifying how countries report and calculate emissions. Importantly, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Secretariat’s budget needed to be approved, dictating how much capacity the body would have to support countries in fulfilling their pledges. All of these should lay the necessary groundwork to continue the implementation of the Paris Agreement, including making substantive decisions at the next Conference of the Parties (COP) in Santiago.
This meeting of the subsidiary bodies of the UNFCCC also felt certain growing—or, perhaps, shrinking— pains: it was the first time since 2005 that an ad hoc group did not meet alongside SB sessions. With more time and attention placed on the technical issues, parties were faced with the challenge of moving from negotiation to actual implementation, and turning the abstract notions that inspired the Paris Agreement into the concrete material of climate action. This brief analysis considers the extent to which parties succeeded in that shift, with lingering, deeply-held political issues still evident, and what the shift to implementation may mean for climate ambition.
Making the Concrete Abstract
Although technical in nature, the work of the SBs reflected deep political undercurrents from the pre- and post-Paris world. From accepting climate science to determining how markets will play a role in mitigating emissions, these issues cut to the core of the climate regime.
Long before Paris, the global community accepted that climate change is real, anthropogenic, and already affecting humanity. In Paris, parties agreed to hold global average temperature increase to 2oC while “pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5oC above pre-industrial levels,” and invited the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to report on the implications of such a goal—to establish, in essence, the difference between 1.5o and 2oC, and to consider how feasible that goal might be. The number was a compromise: parties allowed this target in Article 2 of the Agreement in exchange for calling for a scientific review of its feasibility—with some reassured, at the time, that the science was not mature enough to demonstrate differences between 1.5 and 2°C of warming, or that mitigation costs would be too high. Yet the final IPCC Special Report on 1.5oC of Global Warming showed a remarkable degree of certainty on the importance of every fraction of a degree of warming and on the feasibility of mitigation, garnering considerable public and political attention and allowing 1.5°C to become, as one delegate remarked, “the symbol that defines real climate ambition.”
Despite this certainty, the 2018 Katowice COP sent a mixed message: parties—thanks largely to the efforts of Saudi Arabia, the US, Russia, and Kuwait—were unable to agree on whether to “welcome” or to “note” the same report that they had asked for years earlier. Faced with a deadlock, the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) invoked Rule 16 of its Draft Rules of Procedure, deferring discussion of the matter until its next meeting.
In an effort to break the deadlock at the Bonn Conference, SBSTA Chair Paul Watkinson negotiated a “gentleperson’s agreement.” Parties would talk substantively about the implications of the report during this session without prejudging conclusions; no one would invoke Rule 16; and, no matter what, the SBSTA would consider discussions on the IPCC Special Report closed at the end of the session. The substantive discussions were meant to let parties exchange experiences and ideas how to use the report in climate actions. Yet a long series of tense discussions found the same parties resisting the same issues, to many delegates’ consternation. In the media, vulnerable states accused Saudi Arabia of blocking substantial discussions by challenging the legitimacy of the report’s findings and of the IPCC process, something most other countries accept as settled.
In the end, the SBSTA conclusions “expressed its appreciation and gratitude” to the scientific community, saying that the IPCC Special Report “reflects the best available science.” This was a dissatisfying message for many, especially civil society. But the final plenary made it clear that lack of substantive discussion in SBSTA has not prevented countries from using the IPCC Special Report in informing national policies—with some exhorting, and others presenting on t-shirts, that “science is not negotiable.” The repercussions of what some called “a battle” will become clear in further sessions: 2019 will see the IPCC release two more special reports and ramp up review and discussions of its major Sixth Assessment Report for 2020.
A second long-running debate surrounds Paris Agreement Article 6, which enables parties to cooperate in implementing their nationally determined contributions (NDCs) towards emission reduction. Among other things, this means that emission reductions can be created and transferred between countries and counted towards NDCs using market approaches. Or, countries can cooperate to implement their NDCs using non-market approaches. This is the only remaining item in the Paris Rulebook that was not resolved in Katowice. The task at hand for the negotiators in Bonn was fairly modest: agree on draft text that could form the basis for an agreement in Santiago, and identify any high-level disagreements that need to be resolved.
Negotiators spent most of their time ensuring that they had one consolidated document. While the outcome was overwhelmingly procedural, the clear substantive victory is that delegates have a text from which to discuss Article 6 in Santiago. The price for consensus, however, was that the text “ballooned” up again as parties re-inserted their preferred options. As a result, parties have a much longer and heavily bracketed text—but one which, to the relief of many delegates, everyone can live with.
A number of political questions reflecting traditional debates about the effectiveness and desirability of markets as an instrument to address climate change need to be tackled so that parties can adopt operational guidance for Article 6 in Santiago, similar to the guidance already adopted in Katowice. How can the process ensure environmental integrity, including achieving overall mitigation in global emissions? How will internationally transferred mitigation outcomes (ITMOs) be accounted for, and would the proceeds be shared? And how, if at all, can markets be used to spur climate ambition? These debates have plagued delegates since the “framework for various approaches,” a set of discussions that first broke the issue of international cooperation into market and non-market approaches back in Cancun in 2011, and which have not yet yielded agreement.
As talks continued, one delegate wondered if parties fully understood the implications of all of the options on the table, reflecting the intractable complexity of the task. Mechanisms related to cooperation also relate to other parts of the Agreement, such as transparency and compliance, spinning a delicate web where a compromise in one area of negotiations will reverberate across the others. This is where some countries’ insistence against technical work during the intersessional period could most hamper the process: parties could potentially hesitate to make decisions on issues about which they lack information.
Some issues stemming from the adoption of the Paris Agreement bring new problems. Developing countries have long insisted that the Adaptation Fund needs to serve the Paris Agreement in addition to the Kyoto Protocol. Their demand was met in Katowice, with the decision-making bodies for the Kyoto Protocol and Paris Agreement agreeing that the Adaptation Fund “shall” serve the Paris Agreement. What that decision did not resolve, however, was how the composition of the Board would change, if at all, once the Adaptation Fund no longer serves the Kyoto Protocol and can include non-Kyoto parties. Developed countries have long argued for more representation on the Board; considering that they provide most of the contributions to the Fund, including non-Kyoto parties like Canada without adding seats would dilute their influence. Developing countries have responded that there is no mandate to change the distribution of seats, and that developed countries must decide amongst themselves who sits on the Board without increasing their total number. Locked in a circular discussion in Bonn, parties once again deferred decision. The stalemate is temporary: once the share of proceeds from Article 6 becomes available, the Adaptation Fund Board will exclusively serve the Paris Agreement, and the issue will need to be resolved.
Another looming deadline for the Paris Agreement is the date of the first biennial transparency reports under the enhanced transparency framework. The first reports are due in 2024, and will officially bring all parties into a common reporting system, albeit with flexibilities for developing countries. The compromise in Paris, deftly operationalized in Katowice, on flexibilities in the system arose in the context of common reporting formats. While conversations seemed smooth this time, a number of delegates were concerned that some developing countries were “renegotiating Katowice” by calling for different tables, formats, or expectations of completeness in their reports. One delegate lamented that reporting for finance provided and received “might become [Paris Agreement Article] 9.5 again,” recalling fractious rulebook negotiations on how detailed developed countries’ pledges needed to be, and how clear developing countries must be in their requests for financial aid.
Making the Concrete Concrete
The Bonn session also marked a milestone in consolidating processes under the Paris Agreement, moving away from the Kyoto Protocol and Cancun Agreements. Many discussions revolved around how to build on the old processes while simultaneously bringing countries into the new Agreement. Some countries now find themselves at odds: some want to preserve a heavy emphasis on self-determination, as per the Paris Agreement, while others emphasize the importance of international rules and oversight mechanisms in the spirit of Kyoto.
The budget discussion was an important indicator of this transition. The activities in the budget reflect the Secretariat’s changing orientation from supporting negotiations to facilitating and catalyzing implementation. Delegates debated over what budget increase they could support, with the Secretariat requesting a 21% increase to fully fund its operations. Ultimately, delegates agreed to accept only a 5% increase, far short of the original proposal. One delegate lamented that, by not fully funding the core budget, they are forcing the Secretariat to rely on supplementary contributions, which are unpredictable and subject to donors’ whims and priorities. The reliance on supplementary contributions, however, is only a part of a larger problem. As the Secretariat reported, countries continue to be late with their payments, with one estimate of outstanding payments putting the figure at EUR 19 million. One delegate was skeptical of how serious governments will be in their actions compared to their rhetoric. “If the budget is a reflection of priorities,” he said, “it’s clear that countries are not very serious about implementation.”
The Secretariat’s activities also raise the question of engagement with non-state actors. The Marrakech Partnership aims to build collaboration between governments and cities, regions, businesses, and investors. With its mandate winding down at the end of 2020, its champions have begun to informally identify the activities the Partnership could undertake this year and in the future. A delegate involved with the discussions noted a “heartening” level of support for the Partnership and, more broadly, for its vision in playing a role in increasing ambition. Non-state actors could help vitalize NDCs, and give governments the confidence to move forward knowing that civil society supports their actions. Still, with much of this conversation on the sidelines, it remains to be seen how strongly the incoming Chilean Presidency and the still-unconfirmed Presidency of the 2020 COP will champion the Partnership to perpetuate its concrete, evidenced contributions to climate action.
Making the Abstract Concrete
As the closing gavel fell and parties look to COP 25 in December, one delegate breathed a sigh of relief that some of the challenging items—the budget, the IPCC’s 1.5°C report, and Article 6—had progressed enough in Bonn to allow countries to prepare for political decisions in Santiago. Others, however, were worried that the length and often poorly-tempered nature of the discussions could indicate that “trust amongst parties has become fragile.”
No matter the technical nature of subsidiary bodies’ work, trust and politics are impossible to ignore. Many observers felt a distinct lack of urgency in Bonn, and bewilderment at how some sought to re-litigate the science as the general public voices ever-louder concern about the need for action on climate change. As UN Secretary-General António Guterres is preparing to make a major push to increase ambition at the UN Climate Summit in September, the question remains if the Paris Agreement will be able to balance its lofty goals and the gritty work necessary to achieve them. Abstract ambitions, after all, must be rooted in the concrete if they are to be achieved, legally, technologically, and socially.
Civil society spelled out a clear warning to delegates at the end of the meeting: “What is politically possible is not acceptable,” they said, calling for ambitious plans. “This is a matter of life or death.” The finer details discussed in Bonn were important precisely for this reason. Without agreement on the basis from which to negotiate, parties will not be able to support implementation on the ground. And yet, this session showed that, no matter the technical momentum built up between COPs, the old political tensions remain on the road to Santiago. Will their shaping of the implementation of the Paris Agreement drive the process towards the future? Or will the future look a lot like the past?
Stocktaking Meeting in Preparation for Climate Action Summit: The United Arab Emirates (UAE) will host a stocktaking meeting, which will serve as a preparatory meeting for the Climate Action Summit. The meeting will review the reports of the nine coalitions established ahead of the Summit, in order to identify the actions and partnerships that can be presented at the Summit. Coalitions have been established under nine tracks: mitigation strategy; social and political drivers; youth and mobilization; energy transition; resilience and adaptation; nature-based solutions; infrastructure, cities, and local governments; climate finance and carbon pricing; and industry. dates: 30 June - 1 July 2019 location: Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates www: https://www.un.org/en/climatechange/abu-dhabi.shtml
41st Meeting of the Open-Ended Working Group of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol: This meeting will consider issues related to the implementation of the Montreal Protocol in preparation for the 31st Meeting of the Parties (MOP31). dates: 1-5 July 2019 location: Bangkok, Thailand www: http://conf.montrealprotocol.org/
23rd Meeting of the GCF Board: The 23rd meeting of the Board of the Green Climate Fund will convene to help guide its assistance to developing countries in meeting the climate challenge. dates: 6-8 July 2019 location: Incheon, Republic of Korea www: https://www.greenclimate.fund/who-we-are/upcoming-engagements
HLPF 2019: Convening under the auspices of the UN Economic and Social Council, this year’s High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) will address the theme “Empowering People and Ensuring Inclusiveness and Equality.” It will conduct an in-depth review of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4 (quality education), SDG 8 (decent work and economic growth), SDG 10 (reduced inequalities), SDG 13 (climate action), and SDG 16 (peace, justice and strong institutions), in addition to SDG 17 (partnerships for the Goals), which is reviewed each year. Among other items, the Forum will consider the Global Sustainable Development Report, which is issued every four years. dates: 9-19 July 2019 location: UN Headquarters, New York www: https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/hlpf/2019
IPCC-50: The 50th session of the IPCC is expected to approve the Summary for Policy Makers of the Special Report on Climate Change and Land. dates: 2-6 August 2019 location: Geneva, Switzerland www: http://www.ipcc.ch/calendar
Latin America and Caribbean Climate Week 2019: Latin America and Caribbean Climate Week (LACCW) 2019 is designed to advance regional climate action. It aims to support implementation of LAC countries’ NDCs and action to deliver on the SDGs. The event is envisioned as a stepping stone to the UN 2019 Climate Summit. LACCW is part of Regional Climate Weeks that are held annually in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Asia-Pacific. Regional Climate Weeks are organized by the Nairobi Framework Partnership, which supports developing countries in preparing and implementing their NDCs. dates: 19-23 August 2019 location: Salvador, Brazil www: https://www.regionalclimateweeks.org/
Asia-Pacific Climate Week 2019: Asia-Pacific Climate Week (APCW) 2019 is designed to advance regional climate action. It aims to support implementation of Asia-Pacific countries’ NDCs and action to deliver on the SDGs. APCW is envisioned as a stepping stone to the UN 2019 Climate Summit. Regional Climate Weeks are organized by the Nairobi Framework Partnership (NFP), which supports developing countries in preparing and implementing their NDCs. dates: 2-6 September 2019 location: Bangkok, Thailand www: https://www.regionalclimateweeks.org/
19th Meeting of the Technology Executive Committee (TEC 19): Created in 2010, the Technology Executive Committee (TEC) is the policy arm of the Technology Mechanism. It focuses on identifying policies that can accelerate the development and transfer of low-emission and climate resilient technologies. dates: 16-19 September 2019 location: Bonn, Germany www: https://unfccc.int/ttclear/tec/meetings.html
IPCC-51: The 51st session of the IPCC is expected to approve the Summary for Policy Makers of the Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate. dates: 20-23 September 2019 location: Monaco www: http://www.ipcc.ch/calendar
UN 2019 Climate Summit: UN Secretary-General António Guterres will convene the UN Climate Summit under the theme “A Race We Can Win. A Race We Must Win,” to mobilize political and economic energy at the highest levels to advance climate action that will enable implementation of many of Sustainable Development Goals. Its aim is to challenge states, regions, cities, companies, investors and citizens to step up action in nine areas: mitigation; social and political drivers; youth and public mobilization; energy transition; climate finance and carbon pricing; industry transition; nature-based solutions; infrastructure, cities and local action; and resilience and adaptation. date: 23 September 2019 location: UN Headquarters, New York www: http://www.un.org/climatechange/
SDG Summit: The High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF), under the auspices of the UN General Assembly, will assess progress achieved so far since the adoption of the 2030 Agenda in September 2015 and provide leadership and guidance on the way forward that would help accelerate implementation of the 2030 Agenda and SDGs. dates: 24-25 September 2019 location: UN Headquarters, New York www: https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/sdgsummit
34th Meeting of the Adaptation Fund Board: The Adaptation Fund (AF), established under the Kyoto Protocol, finances projects and programmes that help vulnerable communities in developing countries adapt to climate change. The Fund is supervised and managed by the AFB, which is composed of 16 members and 16 alternates and convenes meetings throughout the year. The World Bank serves as AF trustee on an interim basis. dates: 7-11 October 2019 location: Bonn, Germany www: https://www.adaptation-fund.org
31st Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol (MOP31): MOP31 will consider issues, including HFC management, implementation, and other matters. dates: 4-8 November 2019 location: Rome, Italy www: http://conf.montrealprotocol.org/
Santiago Climate Change Conference (UNFCCC COP 25): The Santiago Climate Change Conference, which will feature the 25th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 25) to the UNFCCC, the 15th session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP 15), and the 2nd session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement (CMA 2), will convene along with meetings of the UNFCCC subsidiary bodies. The pre-sessional period will be from 26 November - 1 December 2019. dates: 2-13 December 2019 location: Santiago, Chile www: https://unfccc.int/santiago
For additional upcoming events, see http://sdg.iisd.org/