Turn climate dialogue into real action!

Under the Kyoto Protocol second commitment period, historical emitters are requested to report on their climate mitigation efforts every two years. At COP22 in Marrakesh, this assessment exercise is part of the so-called Facilitative Dialogue. It is supposed to identify opportunities to enhance the provision of means of implementation – finance, technology and capacity building – with a view to increase ambition of mitigation efforts by these countries.

On paper this biennial meeting seems promising. However we are concerned that it could turn out to be a lost opportunity, given that countries at this COP were reporting their mitigation actions to an almost empty plenary. Tricky questions asked by countries were simply avoided. Moreover, the process was not accompanied with a clear science and equity based evaluation grid to put these reports into a framework that would limit global warming below 1.5°C or even 2°C.

COP21 decisions provided for a similar Facilitative Dialogue in 2018 and the Paris Agreement sets up a 5-year stock-take mechanism to start in 2023 with a similar purpose to readjust national climate plans.

Jos Delbeke, DG Clima Director at European Commission, declared this week: ¨This Facilitative Dialogue is a great opportunity to exchange experiences on actions we are taking¨. Whilst it is good to exchange experiences, should this be its only purpose? Is this really a space for exchanges? Do we want this 2018 meeting and the Paris Agreement ambition mechanism to look like the dialogue we have seen at COP22?

No, no and no! To tackle climate change seriously we must learn from the 2016 Facilitative Dialogue and develop a meaningful mechanism which will serve as a useful tool to ramp up both mitigation targets and financial commitments.

In our view several lessons must be learnt from Marrakesh:

  1. Countries’ presentations must be based on specific criteria and there should be no option to avoid difficult issues. A standard format is needed to enable country comparisons, and from 2020 onwards, this would include comparison with the global goals on mitigation and adaptation.
  2. A time-line must be adopted for countries to prepare both presentations and responses so that the next Dialogue and Mechanism are clear, informative and questions can be used as honest attempts to encourage other countries to improve and increase their targets.
  3. High level leaders must be engaged in this exercise to ensure that technicalities and recommendations are followed by political commitments.
  4. Science and equity must guide this process to collectively assess the emissions gap and define the fair share of remaining effort.
  5. As climate change is already happening at an unprecedented rate, the national presentations must integrate mitigation, adaptation and finance reports. In that way, developing countries must present their low carbon development plans and identify the support they need to achieve them.

Latest scientific findings show that global warming will reach 1.5°C above pre-industrial level within 3 or 5 years. There is no time to waste and the next dialogue in 2018 must not be merely an act where countries can indulge in self-congratulations without being held accountable by their citizens for the harm they cause to all humankind.