Friday 15 January 2016

2015 Paris Agreement, a typical departure from the UNFCCC

Cross-section of COP21 delegates along the main walk-way
The COP21 completed business on December 12, 2015 with adoption of the Paris Agreement. A new decision making body known as the Conference of Parties serving as the meeting of Parties to the Paris Agreement (CMA) was established, and will commence business in 2020. The Ad Hoc Working Group on the Paris Agreement (AWG-PA) was also established and will hold its first session in 2016 alongside the sessions of the UNFCCC subsidiary bodies.

The New Paris Agreement is envisaged to enhance the implementation of the UNFCCC, including the objective of stabilizing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.
Innovatively, the Agreement aims to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change, in the context of sustainable development and efforts to eradicate poverty, including by making finance flows consistent with a pathway towards low greenhouse gas emissions and climate resilient development. 

I am happy to note that Parties agreed on establishing the global goal on adaptation of enhancing adaptive capacity, strengthening resilience and reducing vulnerability to climate change although the provision of scaled-up financial resources is not yet clear.

 “Considering the need” for public and grant-based resources for adaptation is not enough. Poor countries should not acquire loans to adapt to changing weather patterns.
Although the Agreement seems to provide a bearing on how financial resources will flow, it remains in suspense to determine the quantity and nature of such financial resources. Most of the Agreement language is process based yet developing countries cannot wait for another 5 years to see actual financial flows.

However, a wave of hope remains in the Finance Decisions giving effect to the Agreement. With reference to the quantified figure of USD 100 billion per year as a floor, a lot of work is expected to re-work on the ambiguous language of 'Prior 2025'. There is need to operationalize the short term goal process in 2020. In addition, most of the Agreement language is not clear e.g. on matters relating to provision of scaled-up financial resources, Public and grant based resources for adaptation will only be taken into consideration as of when and for who.

Also communicating indicative quantitative and qualitative information on projected levels of public financial resources will only be done “as available”. The Standing Committee of Finance might play a dual reporting role to both the CMA and COP.

There is a typical departure from the Convention, with the insertion of other Parties providing financial resources on voluntary basis. One wonders why this voluntary nature of doing business did not remain under the Lima-Paris Action Agenda (LPAA).

Article 9 of the Paris Agreement has set a departure from the Convention by carrying the burden of providing and mobilizing financial resources to all Parties both Developed and developing.