Least Developed Countries Group calls for COP23 to be a COP of Finance and Support

Date: 02 November 2017

The Least Developed Countries Group and the UN Climate Change Negotiations

From 6-17 November 2017, the United Nations climate change negotiations will convene in Bonn, Germany, for COP23.[i] The Conference represents a critical moment in the international climate change negotiations. It comes at a time when urgency of action on climate change has never been clearer. The world has experienced devastating events exacerbated by climate change over the past year, from deadly hurricanes and flooding, to severe droughts, wildfires and heatwaves, creating irreversible loss and damage. Spread across Africa, southern Asia, the Pacific and the Caribbean, none know this better than the 47 Least Developed Countries (LDCs), who have contributed negligible emissions but feel the impacts of climate change acutely due to their low social and economic development and severe capacity constraints.

While international political progress in recent years has been significant, countries are still far from implementing actions on the scale required to steer the planet away from dangerous climate change and achieve the goals that have been set under international agreements. The LDC group intend to use the upcoming Conference to chart a course towards fair and ambitious outcomes that curb the growing threat climate change poses to people and the planet, implement the UN Convention on Climate Change and its Paris Agreement, and advance the interests and aspirations of poor and vulnerable countries and peoples.

In particular, at COP23 the LDCs will be driving parties towards greater commitments for climate finance and support. Through the Convention and the Paris Agreement, the vision for a a low-carbon, resilient future that safeguards the lives and prosperity of communities around the world has been set. At COP 22 in Marrakech, Parties set about creating the rules to translate the Paris vision into tangible action.

While this work is ongoing, a critical gap remains in the level of support for developing countries. This is why COP23 must be a COP of finance and support. The LDCs call on developed countries to accelerate delivery on their climate finance obligations and bridge the ever-widening finance gap before the distance becomes too great.

Detailed in this note are some of the key questions that will arise in Bonn, including:

  • How will support be secured for poor and vulnerable countries?
  • How will global temperature goals be met?
  • How will countries deal with the adverse impacts of climate change? How will the world transition to a clean energy future?
  • How can countries design a “rulebook” to implement the Paris Agreement that helps bring about fair and ambitious climate action?

The Least Developed Countries Group is committed to achieving fair andambitious outcomes on all of the issues arising at COP23, not just thoselisted hereFor further informationinterviewsbriefings or quotes on thesetopics or others from the LDC group during COP23 please emailldcchair.media@gmail.com to be put in touch with Gebru Jember EndalewChair of the LDC group

1. How will support be secured for poor and vulnerable countries?

A prominent issue at COP23 will be around fulfilment of the commitment made by developed countries to mobilise a minimum of US$100 billion a year in climate finance by 2020 to support developing countries to cope with the impacts of climate change and take actions to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. Climate finance is key to the implementation of the Convention, Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement.

More than US$4 trillion is needed to implement the current NDCs of developing countries, with US$200 billion needed only for LDC adaptation actions costed to date, recognising that some LDCs have only partially costed their needs or not costed them at all.

The support LDCs, Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and other developing countries currently receive falls far short of the $100 billion target. So far US$10.3 billion has been pledged to the Green Climate Fund, while funds like the Least Developed Countries Fund sit almost empty with a backlog of approved projects. Many vulnerable countries also have difficulty accessing finance that has been mobilized, so mechanisms for the disbursement of funds need to be improved to ensure support reaches those countries that need it so acutely.

Through initiatives such as the LDC Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Initiative (REEEI), LDCs have demonstrated that they are leading the way on ambitious climate action. Yet developing countries are also the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and many lack the capacity to adequately protect their populations from the severe storms, increased drought, sea level rise and spreading diseases that are already occurring. While most developing countries have also submitted plans to limit their emissions in their intended or final Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement, many have also noted the need for support in order to carry out their mitigation, adaptation and loss and damage related plans.

This is why the LDCs call for COP23 to be a COP of finance and support – emphasizing the key role climate finance must play in empowering developing countries to protect their citizens, and pursue their ambitious climate actions.

With this imperative, key discussions in Bonn must be held around:

  • How to scale up from a floor of US$100 billion a year to meet actual finance needs;
  • The development of rules to ensure genuine climate finance is provided that is new and additional to Official Development Assistance, including through clear rules around the new mechanism for transparency of support;
  • Beginning to develop modalities on an increased finance goal to be decided before 2025;
  • Setting out modalities to ensure the Facilitative Dialogue to be held in 2018 takes stock of the widening finance gap and leads to recommendations of how to close the gap;
  • Increased funding for specific developing country initiatives, such as LDC REEEI;
  • Commitments to increase funding committed in replenishment of the Green Climate Fund, Least Developed Countries Fund, Adaptation Fund and others; and
  • Finalising arrangements for the Adaptation Fund to serve the Paris Agreement.

Without scaled up and predictable climate finance, as well as support in the form of technology and capacity building, the LDCs and other developing countries who have made ambitious pledges under the Paris Agreement will not have the means to implement them and contribute to global goals.

2. How will global temperature goals be met?

In Bonn, key discussions will continue around action to curb emissions to remain within safe limits for communities and ecosystems across the world. Reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC – the UN’s climate science panel) highlight the urgent need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to avoid projected catastrophic impacts of climate change. While the Paris Agreement sets a goal of keeping average global temperatures well below 2°C and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels,[ii] full implementation of current emissions reduction pledges made by countries in their NDCs, including conditional pledges,[iii] are projected to lead to a temperature rise of 2.7-3.2°C.[iv] Global temperatures have risen 1.2°C so far and this is already having a devastating effect.[v] Countries must take temperature goals seriously to prevent increased risks of severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts. Taking action to reduce emissions now minimises the need to take costly efforts to adapt to climate change or deal with the aftermath of unavoidable loss and damage, both of which are often beyond the current capacity of LDCs.

LDC Ministers recently noted the large ambition gap with ongoing concern and reemphasised the need for higher climate ambition by all countries in a manner that is consistent with their responsibility for climate change and capacity to respond, in order to close the emissions gap to avoid further devastating climate change impacts.”[vi] The Paris Agreement provides that every five years countries will submit a new NDC that represents a ‘progression’ beyond their current commitments, and so important discussions will be had at the Conference around how to facilitate an upwards spiralling of commitments that is both fair and proportional to the task at hand – a task that the LDC group has emphasised should occur before 2020.[vii] This will include mechanisms to enhance accountability among countries such as reporting and review requirements, to enable the scrutiny of countries’ actions against the best available science.

The 2018 Facilitative Dialogue will play an important role in providing collective guidance on the global effort needed to put the world on a pathway to below 1.5°C of temperature increase by informing the ambition of NDCs, and countries must ensure the process for this dialogue is clearly laid out by the end of the Bonn conference.[viii]

3. How will countries deal with the adverse impacts of climate change?

Developing mechanisms that assist countries in adapting to the adverse impacts of climate change are imperative to an effective global response. These impacts are particularly acute in the LDCs, where climate change exacerbates existing challenges; significantly limiting efforts to reduce poverty and hunger, grow sustainable cities, build climate-resilient infrastructure, and make strides to promote health, education and prosperity for all. LDCs have already spent considerable time and effort developing National Adaptation Plans and it is important that these plans, as well as other forms of adaptation actions, are adequately supported so that countries can prepare their economies, infrastructure and social support structures for the impacts of climate change. How to achieve this will continue to be an important discussion at the Conference.

Not all of the negative impacts of climate change can be avoided through adaptation, and countries are also faced with unavoidable loss and damage unleashed by climate change. With a changing climate, communities who are reliant on agriculture can have their livelihoods wiped out during a single bad drought, while island states face the loss of homes, culture and history of entire populations. Thus, an important aspect of responding to climate change effectively is addressing impacts that communities are not able to cope with or adapt to. Recognition of loss and damage as a key action area in the international community’s response was a significant achievement under the Paris Agreement. However, the provision is still expressed in general terms and further work is required to fully elaborate the mechanism into a tool that delivers on the ground assistance to those suffering from climate impacts.[ix] This will include the establishment of a clearinghouse for risk transfer to act as a repository for information to assist with the development of comprehensive risk management strategies, which will help developing countries gain greater understanding of, and access to, risk management tools such as insurance and contingency funds that can be used to address loss and damage.

4. How will the world transition to a clean energy future?

The Conference will also be an important opportunity to advance tangible outcomes through providing a platform for collaborative efforts by countries to act on climate change. Renewable energy is a key area in this regard, and has the power to place the world on a path to a cleaner, fairer and more prosperous future.

The LDCs are working hard to lift their people out of poverty and achieve sustainable development outcomes without relying on fossil fuels, and their Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Initiative for Sustainable Development is an example of LDC leadership in this space. LDC Ministers recently welcomed progress and reaffirmed their commitment to the Initiative, while urging the global community to support its implementation.[x]

The Initiative aims to:

  • Deliver universal energy access through implementation of modern distributed renewable energy systems for all, planning for a 100% renewable energy future, and utilizing best practice energy use and efficiency standards;
  • Fulfil national aspirations within LDCs using the power of clean energy to drive change for sustainable development and create new jobs, delivering co-benefits for health, environment and climate, and delivering new sources of finance, technology and capacity; and
  • Contribute to global goals, such as the Sustainable Development Goals on renewable energy (SDG7), nationally determined contributions (NDCs), the Paris Agreement long-term goals, and enabling LDCs to benefit from other regional and global cooperation.

Similar initiatives are being taken up by other country groups and COP23 is an opportunity to catalyse support towards this shared goal by bringing Parties together to share their experiences, further strengthen global cooperation and demonstrate that countries across the world are serious about tackling climate change with real action.

5. How can countries design a “rulebook” to implement the Paris Agreement that helps bring about fair and ambitious climate action?

The 2018 deadline for completion of the UNFCCC’s “rulebook” to implement the Paris Agreement is fast approaching, and it is vital that this rulebook is completed in a timely manner and effectively addresses each pillar of the Agreement to facilitate ambitious climate action on all of the issues addressed above. There are a number of key areas under the Paris Agreement that require a set of clear, comprehensive and robust rules to ensure its effective implementation.

Parties must, therefore, allow sufficient time to conclude this work without a last-minute rush and an important question being considered is how to ensure tangible progress at the Conference. The momentum behind the Paris Agreement must be harnessed to propel Parties towards substantive progress on finalising decision texts on a number of key issues and confirm the outline of a skeletal decision text on other issues so that these can be properly fleshed out over 2018.

This could include decisions on issues such as the Adaptation Fund serving the Paris Agreement. It is important that the Adaptation Fund is clearly linked to the Paris Agreement to help mobilize finance to support adaptation plans and actions in LDCs and other developing countries. A decision can be taken at COP23 that the Adaptation Fund shall serve the Agreement, to enable important questions on how to fully integrate the Fund into the Paris Agreement architecture to be considered before the finalization of the “rulebook” in 2018.

Another vital area is how to develop an outline for the transparency framework that can effectively monitor countries’ progress and identify areas for improvement to ensure ongoing, ambitious efforts to implement the Paris Agreement. Parties must also develop guidelines and rules for NDC, the process for the global stocktake to enable a robust stocktaking of how countries implement the Paris Agreement, and mechanisms to support that implementation and promote compliance.

It is crucial that a balanced approach is taken to negotiations going forward that ensures all facets of the Paris Agreement are considered in a holistic manner.

In Bonn this November, the world will be watching for leaders across the globe to take serious action on climate change and the LDC group looks forward to working with all partners towards just, equitable and ambitious outcomes on all issues arising at the Conference.

For more information, please read press release.

[i] This is the 23rd Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and will be hosted by Fiji.

[ii] Paris Agreement, Article 2(1)(a).

[iii] The NDCs of some countries are contingent on a range of possible conditions, such as the ability of national legislatures to enact the necessary laws, ambitious action from other countries, realisation of finance and technical support, or other factors.

[iv] UNEP Emissions Gap Report 2016, page 16: http://www.unep.org/emissionsgap/download-emissions-gap-report-2016

[v] http://www.worldbank.org/en/topic/climatechange/overview

[vi] Addis-Ababa LDC Ministerial Communiqué on Climate Change, page 1.

[vii] Addis-Ababa LDC Ministerial Communiqué on Climate Change, Annex.

[viii] Addis-Ababa LDC Ministerial Communiqué on Climate Change, Annex.

[ix] Paris Agreement, Article 8(3).

[x] Addis-Ababa LDC Ministerial Communiqué on Climate Change, page 3.

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