24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
The 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) takes place in Katowice, Poland, from 2 to 14 December 2018, under the presidency of Poland.
The conference will comprise the 14th COP serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP14), the 3rd part of the first session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Paris Ageement (CMA1-3), together with subsidiary body meetings.
The mandate of the Katowice Climate Conference is to adopt the Paris Agreement Work Programme (PAWP), setting out the implementation guidelines required to operationalise the Paris Agreement in 2020. The Conference will also host Ministerial-level events, including the Talanoa Dialogue, which aims to raise ambition and accelerate action to address climate change, as well as dialogues on financial support for developing countries and implementation of the pre-2020 Agenda under the Convention and its Kyoto Protocol. In addition, the Polish Presidency of the Conference will host a one day Summit for Heads of State and Government, to be held on 3 December.
The theme of COP24 is Changing Together emphasising the need for collaboration and cooperation to address climate change. COP24 is a critical milestone towards the success of the multilateral approach to addressing climate change at a time when such an approach is being opposed by the United States of America and further undermined by backtracking on commitments by several other developed countries.
The South African government in 2015 joined 196 countries in ratifying the Paris Agreement, which came into effect on 4 November 2016 – four years ahead of schedule giving recognition to world leaders’ concerns that climate change is one of the biggest challenges of the century.
In November 2016, COP22 was held in Marrakesh, Morocco was on operationalising the Paris Agreement by initiating the negotiation of the rules, procedures and guidelines for inclusive, just, fair and ambitious action by all to mitigate and adapt to the impacts of a changing climate on economies and society. Significant progress has taken place in this regard.
At COP23 in Bonn, Germany, in November 2017, decisions were adopted that dealt with the contents of Nationally Determined Contributions submitted by Parties to the UNFCCC and how members should communicate and report on action related to their adaptation efforts and needs. Extensive discussion also took place on the Adaptation Fund and how compliance with the Paris Agreement would be monitored. The Parties had adopted the Talanoa Dialogue – the backbone of the facilitative dialogue that will take place in Poland.
South Africa has identified a number of priorities for COP24 where it is important to ensure the technical needs and requirements of nations to mitigate and adapt to climate change are comprehensively negotiated.
At COP24 the emphasis remains on limiting global temperature increases to well below 2 degrees Celsius in pursuit of efforts to limit global temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius (as called for in the Agreement). Adnving the pre-202 agenda including ratification of the Doha Agreements, and mobilisation of climate finding for developing and least developed countries will also be discussed. It is therefore urgent that ambition gaps be closed, and that the Katowice climate change conference place a particular priority on a finalised Paris Agreement Work Programme.
South Africa, in collaboration with the National Business Initiative (NBI), will again be hosting a South African exhibition pavilion at the climate change talks. During the conference a number of dialogues and events are to be hosted at the Pavillion to showcase the work being done by South Africa to adapt to, and mitigate, climate change.
Priorities for COP24
It is important to keep the Katowice Climate Conference as technical as possible with maximum time allocated for negotiations. It is a 2 track process, on the one hand we need to focus on core activities pertaining to pre-2020 action, and on the other hand the finalisation and adoption of the Paris Agreement Work Programme. The outcome for the Katowice Climate Change Conference should:
- Take stock of work required to fully implement the Paris Agreement, provide assurances that the political balance of the Paris Agreement is upheld, and that all issues of importance to developing countries (including adaptation and means of implementation) will be addressed in the rule-book to be adopted;
- Focus on ensuring that commitments by developed countries in the pre-2020 period, including the provision of US$100 billion per annum in climate finance to developing countries by 2020, are honored;
- Clarify the relationship between the formal UNFCCC process on the pre-2020 workstream and the “Action Agenda”, which is a parallel process for voluntary coalitions and partnerships involving state and non-state actors, increasingly being used by developed countries as a ‘substitute’ for their legal commitments under the UNFCCC and its Kyoto Protocol;
- Advance the efforts of developing countries to ensure that the Adaptation Fund serves the Paris Agreement. Despite opposition from developed countries and a diminishing revenue stream, Parties have agreed that the Adaptation Fund, created under the Kyoto Protocol, should also serve the Paris Agreement after 2020;
- Advance the outcomes of the 2018 Talanoa Dialogue.
Negotiations on the PAWP are expected to be difficult and for developing countries it is critically important to secure a comprehensive and balanced outcome, with guarantees of ongoing means of implementation support from developed countries. The outcome further needs to be in accordance with the guiding principles and provisions of the Convention, including equity and differentiation, also enabling adherence with the Paris Agreement’s principles of progression of effort and no backsliding on Nationally Determined Contributions.
The priority for South Africa is the adoption of the Paris Agreement Work Programme, and on securing the delivery of means of implementation support to all developing countries that require it, without which the goals set in the Paris Agreement cannot be achieved in Poland. To achieve this, it will be important to advance the technical discussions on the PAWP as much as possible before COP 24. The key political issue slowing down the negotiations is differentiation / flexibility or bifurcation – how to operationalize this through the modalities, procedures and guidelines for mitigation and transparency.
South Africa is of the view that the question of differentiation in the Paris Agreement was settled in Paris COP 21, via the differentiation of types of NDCs, and the provision of flexibility in transparency, with the understanding that developed countries will take the lead and developing countries will be encouraged to move to a higher level of ambition and reporting over time within a common system. This was captured in the proposed enhanced transparency system as the provision of flexibility to Parties that need it in the light of their respective capacities and national circumstances.
The Like Minded Developing Countries (LMDC) and Arab Group want to perpetuate the strict differentiation between developed and developing countries under the Convention (bifurcation), whereas the developed countries are advocating for common MPGs, accompanied by conditions imposed on the use of this flexibility by developing countries. In South Africa’s view, neither of these two approaches are in line with the Paris Agreement. South Africa therefore occupies the middle ground.
South Africa is of the view that the Doha Amendment to the Kyoto Protocol should enter into force as soon as possible, which requires ratification of the Amendment by 33 more countries to reach the threshold of 144 ratifications. Following late ratification by the EU and its Member States, it is now in the hands of developing and African countries to secure entry into force. This will ensure that current commitments under the KP are locked in, but will not in itself close the pre-2020 and 2030 “emissions gap”. More mitigation ambition is required for 2020, and particularly from developed countries. The gaps should not be unfairly transferred to developing countries in the post-2020 phase. COP24 should also advance the discussions to provide clarity on what constitutes climate finance, which is essential to track progress on the commitment of developed countries to mobilizing the $100 billion by 2020, and advance discussions on the new collective goal post-2025.
A key outcome for COP 24 will also be the Talanoa Dialogue. The Conference of the Parties, by its decision 1/CP.21, paragraph 20, decided to convene a facilitative dialogue among Parties in 2018 to take stock of the collective progress of Parties in relation to the long-term goal referred to in Article 4, paragraph 1, of the Agreement and to inform the preparation and updating of nationally determined contributions. Since the outcome of the UNFCCC Secretariat’s synthesis of NDCs indicates that we are not on track to meet the global temperature goal, there is a public expectation that Parties will update their NDCs following the Talanoa Dialogue. This narrative is also being pushed by some countries within the EU and by Small Island Developing States.
However, it is almost universally understood by Parties that few, if any, countries will be in a position to revise their current NDCs, for reasons which include the current political situation arising from the US threat to withdraw from the Paris Agreement. South Africa has long made an argument that the 2018 facilitative dialogue should be used to encourage collaborative efforts amongst Parties; lead to increased support to developing countries; and facilitate transparency and clarity of action and support provided.
The Talanoa narratives presented at the Katowice Conference should be balanced and reflective of the experiences of all UNFCCC Parties, covering mitigation, adaptation and means of implementation, with a focus on pre-2020 implementation. We are concerned that up to now Parties are still not clear on how the process will transition from the technical to the political phase and how the outcomes will be captured. It is important that any formal outcome from the Talanoa Dialogue is in the form of a Party-owned consensus text.
South Africa Pavillion
The implementation of commitments pre- and post-2020 calls for joint action domestically, especially since the Paris Agreement provides for an increased role of non-State actors in the Paris Agreement Work Programme. The Department of Environmental Affairs is partnering with the South African business sector to inclusively address issues of climate change. 2018 is the third successive year that the South African Government and business will showcase the significant advances in climate change management work undertaken locally at a South Africa Pavillion. This includes both mitigation and adaptation action at national level. A South Africa Day is also to be hosted at COP24 to discuss with key, selected stakeholders the challenges facing South Africa and other developing countries, including lessons learnt.
Minister Nomvula Mokonyane announces SA’s participation at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Katowice, Poland
Minister of Environmental Affairs, Ms Nomvula Mokonyane has announced South Africa’s participation at the 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC CoP24) in Katowice, Poland. The international climate change talks are scheduled to take place from 2 to 14 December 2018, under the presidency of Poland. The delegation comprises the Minister of Tourism, Mr Derek Hanekom, the Deputy Minister of Environmental Affairs, Mrs Barbara Thomson, and a team of negotiators.