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The LDC Group at COP25

Date: 29 November 2019

From 2 December to 13 December 2019, the United Nations climate change negotiations will convene in Madrid, Spain for COP25.[i] The talks in Madrid will be a key opportunity for countries to coordinate global efforts to tackle climate change.

None are more aware of the urgency with which climate change must be tackled than the 47 Least Developed Countries (LDCs). Highly dependent on the natural environment for their food and livelihoods and limited in their capacity to cope with the impacts, the LDCs are at a disproportionately higher risk of adverse consequences from global warming,[ii] despite contributing the least to the problem (the average person in an LDC emits 0.314 metric ton of CO2 a year, compared to the world average of 4.96 metric tons per person).[iii]

There is a clear need for countries to step up and do their fair share of climate action. Policies currently implemented are expected to lead to warming of 3.3°C by 2100.[iv] Climate change is already having a devastating effect, even at the current level of just 1°C of warming above pre-industrial temperatures.[v]

This year alone, Cyclone Idai and Kenneth have caused huge devastation to some of the world’s poorest. Flash flooding from Cyclone Idai killed more than 600 people and its destruction of livelihoods and properties left an estimated 1.85 million people in need in Mozambique alone. Associated rains and flooding killed a further 60 people in Malawi, displaced nearly 87,000 and affected a further 800,000. Just over a month later, Cyclone Kenneth hit Mozambique, leaving a further 365,000 people in need.[vi]

The Least Developed Countries negotiate as a bloc at the UN climate negotiations to push for fair and ambitious climate change action that limits warming to 1.5°C, ensures the needs and priorities of poor and vulnerable countries and people are not neglected, and provides a more just and sustainable future for all.

This note provides background information on some of the key issues for the LDC Group at COP25:

1. Climate Ambition
2. Loss and Damage
3. Article 6 of the Paris Agreement – carbon trading mechanism
4. Climate Finance

1. Climate Ambition

Under the Paris Agreement, Parties are required to submit NDCs, which include the emission reductions they intend to achieve.[vii] The time-frame that NDCs should cover was not agreed at COP24 in Katowice, so negotiations on common time-frames for NDCs will continue at COP25. This is not simply a procedural issue but a key to avoid locking in low ambition and to enhance the comparability of NDC targets and the predictability of the NDC cycle.

Current pledges by countries to reduce their emissions in existing NDCs are far from what they need to be to limit warming to1.5°C. Even if all governments fully implement their current commitments submitted under the Paris Agreement, the world would likely warm by at least 3°C above pre-industrial levels.[viii]

The LDC Group has called for Parties to submit new and updated NDCs by 2020 that are in line with the 1.5°C temperature goal.[ix] A Party’s NDC is meant to reflect its highest possible ambition and its common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, in the light of different national circumstances.[x] To keep from crossing the 1.5°C threshold, the IPCC recommends that the carbon emissions need to decline by 45% from 2010 levels by 2030 and become carbon neutral by 2050— a fact reiterated by the UN Secretary-General while convening the Climate Action Summit in September 2019.

Last year’s IPCC Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C highlighted the importance of meeting the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C goal. Amongst many concerning findings, the report confirmed that the LDCs are at a disproportionately higher risk of adverse consequences, and that limiting global warming to 1.5°C, compared with 2°C, could reduce the number of people exposed to climate-related risks and susceptible to poverty by several hundred million by 2050.[xi] The high level of vulnerability of Least developed countries is further confirmed in this year’s IPCC special reports on Land as well as Ocean and Cryosphere.

2. Loss and Damage

Even with efforts to mitigate climate change and adapt to its effects, an element of unavoidable economic and non-economic loss and damage results. This is recognised with a standalone article on loss and damage in the Paris Agreement (Article 8). Loss and damage occurs when the limits of adaptation are reached. This includes harms resulting from sudden onset events (such as cyclones) as well as slow-onset processes (such as sea level rise). Climate change has already caused severe loss and damage around the world, and it will continue to do so at an increasing rate. Despite contributing the least to climate change, it is the poor and vulnerable who suffer the most from these impacts.

In 2013, at COP19 in Poland, the Warsaw International Mechanism on Loss and Damage (WIM) was adopted. At COP25, the performance and effectiveness of this mechanism will be reviewed. The LDC Group wants the review to provide clear guidance for strengthening and enhancing the mechanism to enhance action and support for loss and damage, in order to meet the needs of vulnerable developing countries.[xii]

3. Article 6 of the Paris Agreement – carbon trading mechanism

At COP24 in Katowice, no substantive decision was taken on the necessary rules for implementing Article 6 due to a lack of consensus on a number of issues. The design of the rules related to Article 6 of the Paris Agreement will influence the effectiveness of the Paris Agreement and the achievement of its goals.

The LDC Group wants to see robust rules under Article 6 that maintain environmental integrity and result in real overall mitigation in global emissions (OMGE). The system must be transparent to ensure that emissions reductions cannot be double counted (i.e. counted as a reduction by both the provider and the receiver) and that units traded represent real and permanent emissions reductions.

4. Climate Finance

The scaling up and mobilisation of climate finance remains a key issue for the LDC Group. The LDCs need significantly more finance and support in order to adapt to climate change, address the loss and damage it causes, and pursue low-carbon, climate-resilient development pathways in line with a 1.5°C future.

Developed countries committed to mobilising USD 100 billion per year by 2020,[xiii] but are far from reaching that goal, and the actual needs of developing countries are greater still. The cost for LDCs alone to implement their NDCs is estimated to be US$93.7 billion per year.[xiv] The level of climate finance that rich countries provide needs to be scaled up significantly to reflect the actual needs of developing countries. A common definition of ‘climate finance’ is also needed, so that when finance is provided, countries can be confident that it is new and additional to Official Development Assistance.

The Least Developed Countries Group is committed to achieving fair and ambitious outcomes on all issues arising in the negotiations, including matters not addressed in this note. For further information, interviews, briefings or quotes from the LDC Group, please email ldcchair.media@gmail.com to be put in touch with LDC Group Chair Sonam P. Wangdi or an LDC Group spokesperson.

[i] The 25th session of the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC.[ii] IPCC Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C, Summary for Policy makers, 2018.
[iii] The World Bank, 2014.
Climate Action Tracker, December 2018.
[v] IPCC Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C, 2018.
[vi] UN OCHA, 2019.
[vii] Paris Agreement, Article 4.
[viii] Climate Action Tracker, 2018.
[ix] Thimphu LDC Ministerial Communiqué on Climate Change, 2019.
[x] Paris Agreement, Article 4.3.
[xi] IPCC Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C, Summary for Policy makers, 2018.
[xii] Submission by Bhutan on behalf of the LDC Group on possible elements to be included in the terms of reference for the review of the Warsaw International Mechanism, 18 February 2019.
[xiii] Decision 1/CP.16 (the Cancun Agreements), Paragraph 98.
[xiv] IIED, 2015.

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