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Climate Change

Hot-Button Issues In The Climate Talks

From the original blog of Dr. Timothy Cadman, Research Fellow at Griffith University Institute for Ethics, Governance and Law, Coffs Harbour Area, Australia. 

Coral 'bommie' at Michaelmas Cay, Great Barrier Reef (Cadman 2015)

Coral “bommie” at Michaelmas Cay, Great Barrier Reef (Cadman 2015)

… Sources have identified several key issues that have emerged in preliminary climate talks.

Most governmental Parties to the Convention (155 so far) have now submitted their nationally determined contributions to reducing emissions and keeping global temperatures within the 2 degrees centigrade recommended by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Sources indicate that the aggregate number of contributions now reaches approximately 90% of the target required to prevent dangerous climate change, to be implemented between now and 2020. This is cause for some cautious optimism that countries are beginning to recognise the need for climate action. However, this is also to be tempered by the reality that how these reductions will be implemented will probably be the most significant challenge for negotiators over the next two weeks.

Climate finance has been a historical source of conflict between the developed and less developed countries during the Conferences of the Parties. Finance for capacity building (including technology) is essential if activities aimed at stoping climate change (mitigation) and coping with it (adaptation) are to be implemented effectively. Given the present reality of climate change for small island developing states, increased funding for responding to exisiting and future sea level rise is essential.

This leads on to another contentious discussion, that of climate change-related loss and damage. This is a separate negotiating stream, and one that has been pushed by the SIDS (especially Tuvalu) for several years, and while it is good to see that it has been a formal Convention mechanism since Warsaw COP 19, discussions are still not especially advanced, and developed countries, who are afraid they will will end up paying for their own emissions legacy have been reluctant to fund any formal arrangements for redress.

However, on the mitigation front, sources also indicate that it is unlikely that any final decision will be arranged over the fate of the Clean development Mechanism, the one (relatively) successful market mechanism aimed at reducing emissions. However, strong emissions reduction targets will make it more likely that the CDM will continue, as methods for trading ‘offsets’ have so far proven to work – methodologically, at least, even if the current value of carbon is not especially high.

But the hand of negotiators will only be strengthened if there is sufficient external pressure on their political overlords from civil society and business. So far, there has been strong engagement from these stakeholders. It is hoped that this will maintain the dynamism of the discussions, and push the transformation of the global economy away from fossil fuel dependence and towards a deeply ‘decarbonised’ future.

One unifying ‘meta issue’ connected to all these negotiating elements is the extent to which anything that comes out of Paris will be subject to good governance. At the moment existing compliance and enforcement under the Kyoto Protocol is something of a toothless tiger. Without it, everything may go up in smoke.

Dr. Timothy Cadman, Griffith University and Earth Systems Governance Project

As well as being Research Fellow at Griffith, Dr. Cadman is also a research fellow in the international Earth Systems Governance Project. He specializes in the governance of sustainable development, natural resource management, climate change and forestry, and responsible investment. Dr. Cadman is presenting an exciting new tool at the 2015 Global Landscapes Forum–the leading platform for bringing together individuals and organizations that have an impact on land use–on December 5-6. The event is expected to be the largest meeting on the sidelines of the UNFCCC COP21. His books include The Governance of Climate Change and  Quality and legitimacy of global governance: case lessons from forestry.

Reposted with permission.

 

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