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08/12/2016

Regions raise the pressure on climate negotiations

Climate & Environment

Regions raise the pressure on climate negotiations

A meeting at COP21.

[Ronan Dantec]

After their failure to influence the Lima conference last year, towns and cities are working to make their voices heard on the climate action agenda, a parallel initiative to the official Paris agreement. EurActiv France reports

The mobilisation of regional authorities has lost none of its momentum since the start of the COP21. They hope to leave their mark on the action agenda, an unofficial list of actions aimed at making the ecological transition more effective, drafted by the non-state actors involved in the climate negotiations.

Lima-Paris Action Agenda

Non-state actors want to deepen their involvement in the management of this agenda, which is known as the Lima-Paris Action Agenda (LPAA) and largely funded by contributions from local authorities. “We call upon the national governments to make this agenda durable and strengthen it by opening its governance to the networks representing these non-Party stakeholders,” a group of declared on 2 December.

“The role of local authorities cannot be allowed to become a stumbling block for these negotiations, as it did in Lima. Our commitments should complement those of the states, or even become an integral part of them,” said Bernard Soulage, the vice-president of France’s Rhône-Alpes region and a member of the Committee of the Regions.

>>Read: Europe’s regions demand financing for climate action

Commitments made at a regional level often outstrip those of national governments. In Canada, whose national contribution is among the weakest at the climate negotiations, the federal states have shown a far more ambition.

“The state of Quebec has promised to reduce its CO2 emissions by 37.5%. This is the highest commitment in Canada. The federal states are showing real leadership,” said David Heurtel, Quebec’s minister for the environment.

“No country will fulfil its commitments without the efforts of the regions,” the French Senator Ronan Dantec warned. 

Lack of local funding

The question of finance is another potential stumbling block. “Since the Lyon conference, we have all seen that the finances available are insufficient. We have to double or even triple the financial flows to local authorities to make towns and cities more resilient,” one participant said.

>>Read: Cities and regions call for access to Green Climate Fund

The question of access to finance is even more urgent in the Global South. Here, local authorities count on the support of developed countries to implement their climate change mitigation projects.

And they currently have no way to access the climate finance destined for developing countries, which is entirely absorbed by national governments. “Today, the aim is to massively expand the Green Climate Fund. But there are many adaptation projects that should be carried out at regional level,” said Nicolas Imbert, the executive director of Green Cross France.

>>Read: Climate finance levels drop, as Green Climate Fund coffers swell

“Finance is at the heart of the response, and it has to get to the Global South,” Dantec stressed.

Aiming for 1.5°C

In their declaration, the regional representatives called for the level of ambition of the agreement to be raised. “We want to remind the international community of its obligation to keep global warming below +2°C in the 21st century as compared to pre-industrial levels, while keeping in perspective the adequacy of a +1.5°C target,” the declaration stated.

This call for a +1.5°C limit was backed by 106 countries at the COP21, including the Philippines, Bangladesh and many of the small island states, like Kiribati.

>>Read: EU member states not reaching 2020 energy efficiency goals, Commission says

So far, the various national contributions submitted by countries should limit the global temperature rise to +2.8°C, a trajectory that would have irreversible consequences for the environments in the most vulnerable countries. 

Background

United Nations conference on climate change

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was adopted during the Rio de Janeiro Earth Summit in 1992. This Framework Convention is a universal convention of principle, acknowledging the existence of anthropogenic (human-induced) climate change and giving industrialized countries the major part of responsibility for combating it.

The adoption of the Kyoto Protocol at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1992 was a milestone in the international negotiations on tackling climate change.

For the first time, binding greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets were set for industrialised countries. The protocol, which entered into force in 2005, was intended to cover the period 2008-2012.

A longer-term vision was introduced by the Bali Action Plan in 2007, which set timelines for the negotiations towards reaching a successor agreement to the Kyoto Protocol, due to expire in 2012. It was expected that an agreement would be reached by December 2009.

Although the Copenhagen meeting did not result in the adoption of a new agreement, COP15/CMP5 recognised the common objective of keeping the increase in global temperature below 2°C. Furthermore, industrialised countries undertook to raise $100 billion per year by 2020 to assist developing countries in climate-change adaptation and mitigation. Cancún, Mexico, in 2010 made the 2°C target more tangible by establishing dedicated institutions on key points, such as the Green Climate Fund.

The willingness to act together was reflected in the establishment, in 2011, of the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP), whose mandate is to bring all countries, both developed and developing, to the table to develop “a protocol, another legal instrument or an agreed outcome with legal force” applicable to all the States Parties to the UNFCCC. This agreement should be adopted in 2015 and implemented from 2020.

In the interim, until a legally binding multilateral agreement is implemented in 2020, the Doha Conference (Qatar) in 2012 established a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol (2013-2020), which was ratified by a number of industrialised countries, and terminated the Bali track.

The Climate Change Conferences in Warsaw, Poland, in 2013 and Lima , Peru, in 2014 enabled essential progress towards COP21 in Paris in 2015. All the states were invited to submit their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions ahead of COP21.

Timeline

  • 26 to 28 September 2016 : World summit of non-state actors in Nantes.

Further Reading