This week’s resource is the below paper, published unchanged under a creative commons licence. We are grateful to Climate Briefing Service and E3G for permission to reprint.
This briefing has six sections:
- Provides suggested interventions for CBS partners
- Frames COP23 and provides benchmarks to assess its success
- Summarises the key variables that will shape the COP outcome
- Outlines political scenarios for COP23
- Provides further detail on COP23 policy discussions
- Illustrates the COP’s choreography
1.1 WHAT CAN COUNTRIES DO TO MAKE THE MOST OUT OF COP23?
Governments can help to maximise ambition in COP 23 by actioning the following:
- Prepare and outline expectations for COP23 along with upcoming 2017-8 moments, reaffirming commitment to finalising the rulebook at COP24 and building the politics of ambition for 2020
- Announce plans and ideas for taking forward the Fijian Presidency’s vision of the Talanoa (Facilitative) dialogue in 2018
- Prepare ideas and consult on how to achieve progress on the solidarity aspects of the negotiations (capacity building, loss & damage, adaptation, technology and finance)
- Come prepared to highlight success stories and new initiatives that reinforce momentum for climate action within the real economy by coordinating with others toannounce aggregate progress
- Consult with other Parties to build new alliances committed to raising real economy ambition by tackling shared issues such as coal phase-out, EV roll-out, air pollution and resilience building
- Acknowledge the role of non-state and sub-national actions in delivering on Paris commitments
- Prepare reactions to respond to any flare-ups generated by the US position
1.2 WHAT CAN THE COP PRESIDENCY DO TO MAKE THE MOST OUT OF COP23?
- Make use of Ministers: This is particularly on more challenging components of the rulebook as well as the solidarity package, both requiring political guidance. Given the lack of ‘grand bargains’, many Ministers may feel lost in COP23. Having some clear deliverables for Ministers will help bank progress ahead of the COP24 rulebook deadline and highlight outstanding political issues to be addressed during 2018 (see 3.5 for more detailed suggestions).
- Create coherence of upcoming moments to 2020: Frame COP23 as the pivot to 2020 ambition, outlining the moments which build ambition ahead of the 2020 NDC enhancement deadline. The coming years are packed with climate events at all levels, so the Presidency can use COP23 to begin setting expectations for these moments, including how they fit into the Talanoa process and how to leverage the UN Secretary General’s Leaders Summit in 2019.
- Facilitate discussion of options for enhancing ambition: Open the conversation around what increased ambition and NDC enhancement could look like in the run up to 2020. This can include options for capturing overachievement, strengthening implementation through additional policies, supporting institutional reforms e.g. sustainable finance, closing loopholes, increasing finance, supporting the implementation of conditional NDCs, enhancing emissions reduction targets, strengthening adaptation and resilience commitments and supporting non-state and sub-national implementation.
- Legitimise non-state and sub-national action: Consult on options for legitimising the role of non-state and sub-national actions in delivering on Paris commitments. These could include options for involving non-state and sub-national actors in the Talanoa Dialogue, the role of the California Summit, as well as options for improving the accounting and transparency of their action, to build confidence with Parties.
1.3 WHAT CAN NON-STATE ACTORS DO TO MAKE THE MOST OUT OF COP23?
- Prepare to diversify media narrative: Ensuring the media story is not solely dominated by a focus on the US administration will build confidence in the sustained momentum of Paris. Non-state actors can make a greater impact if they coordinate announcements to maximise momentum and media attention.
- Put COP23 in context of a new pivot to ambition: Set expectations going into 2018/2019 for enhancing ambition before 2020. The US has absorbed attention, but this year’s climate impacts are further proof that action is urgent; non-state actors should message that this COP marks the pivot to ambition ahead of 2020 – delivering the Paris rules and taking stock in the facilitative dialogue in 2018, through to enhancing ambition by 2020.
- Prepare to constructively call-out bad behaviour: Whilst COP23 should maintain a sense of momentum in Paris implementation, given the absence of deadlines, there is some space to shine a spotlight on countries and actors who are failing to align with Paris. This could include Parties blocking progress on the rulebook, high-carbon infrastructure decisions (e.g. coal), unconstructive actions of the incoming Polish Presidency, and any provocative US interventions during the COP.
- Articulate options for enhanced ambition: The parameters for enhanced ambition in 2020 lack clarity for both state and non-state actors. Non-state actors should begin articulating options for how they plan to enhance ambition by 2020, including through public-private partnerships, and encourage Parties to do the same.
2.1 FRAMING COP23
- COP23 is the pivot to building the conditions for enhanced ambition in 2020 and beyond. Paris momentum generated significant advances in the real economy and saw countries recommit to Paris despite the US withdrawal announcement, but Parties must now focus on building conditions for enhanced ambition by 2020.
- COP23 gets the ball rolling to fulfil the 2018 rulebook deadline. COP21 delivered a framework in the form of the Paris Agreement, but its robustness depends on a ‘rulebook’ for the agreement. A year of climate events has instilled a sense of urgency in strengthening and implementing Paris. COP23 must generate enough momentum to fulfil the deadline of completion of the rulebook by COP24.
- COP23 sees countries show recommitment to Paris in rulebook negotiations. An effective and thorough rulebook by 2018 will need collective leadership from all countries. Teamwork between the EU and large developing countries like China, Brazil and India will be crucial. Further, vulnerable countries and the High Ambition Coalition will have to continue to provide the guiding light on an ambitious rulebook to ensure its robustness.
- COP23 sets up the rhythm and vision for securing enhanced ambition in 2020. 2018 will set expectations for enhanced ambition in 2020 through the facilitative dialogue and delivery of components of the solidarity package. COP23 will bring clarity to the technical and political components of the facilitative dialogue and processes for securing the solidarity package. This will further clarify the relative significance and role of upcoming external events.
2.2 STRATEGIC CONTEXT
There are some significant external factors which are fundamental to contextualising COP23:
- US withdrawal announcement: This COP will be the first demonstration of the ongoing commitment of countries to Paris following the US government’s withdrawal announcement. It is unclear how the US will engage, but experts expect US negotiators to take a low profile and maintain historical red lines. Other Parties will begin deciding whether to develop rules for Paris which allow for potential US re-engagement or not – this will be made further challenging by tensions over their withdrawal of climate finance. In addition, the drama over the US position is attracting significant media attention and heightening expectations for a process-heavy COP which wouldn’t normally command much media space. It will be important to contain the US story, manage expectations around COP23 outcomes and pivot focus to those actors implementing Paris.
- First Island COP: COP23’s role as the first island COP is increasing the pressure on securing outcomes which support the most vulnerable. However, the opportunity to deliver is relative compared with 2018 (facilitative dialogue and rulebook deadline) and 2020 (with the submission of enhanced NDCs). A lack of deadlines in 2017 means the COP will be crucial for establishing clarity on the processes and expectations for securing outcomes by 2020 – both in and outside the UNFCCC – but expectations of bankable 2017 outcomes should be managed.
- Macron’s Climate Summit: Following the COP, on 12 December, French President Emmanuel Macron will host a Summit marking two years since the adoption of the Paris Agreement. It is anticipated that announcements which would traditionally be made during the COP will instead be held back for Heads of State to announce in December. Parties should be encouraged to privately articulate these intentions to one another to leverage momentum into negotiations. The COP provides an opportunity to set expectations for Macron’s Summit and elevate unresolved political sticking points, as well as opportunities, to the Heads of State level.
- A pivot to ambition: Following a period of adjustment after the US government announced its intention to withdraw from Paris, countries must get back to the job in hand and focus on building ambition to fulfil the long-term goals of the Paris Agreement. 2018 will be a moment to take stock on progress towards the long-term goals of the Convention and to begin articulating options for enhancing ambition before 2020. Parties can use COP23 as a springboard to begin articulating their expectations for increased ambition, both domestically and internationally. Outlining their expectations is important to support enhanced ambition through upcoming moments including the IPCC 1.5C report, the role of state and non-state summits and the UN Secretary General’s Leaders summit in 2019.
2.3 BENCHMARKS OF SUCCESS IN COP23
- COP23 sets expectations for the 2018 facilitative dialogue, building the conditions for enhanced 2020 ambition. This COP needs to ensure that modalities of the technical and political process for the FD2018 are adopted as well as set expectations for upcoming international climate moments that will play a role in building momentum towards increasing ambition before 2020. These moments include Macron’s Climate Summit, the Ministerial on Climate Action, the release of the IPCC 1.5C special report, the Global Climate Action Summit in California and the Secretary General’s Summit on climate action.
- COP23 sees countries coalesce around key ideas for a robust rulebook and reaffirm commitment to its completion by 2018. Countries should put forward options for crucial elements of the transparency framework, guidelines for future nationally determined commitments and the architecture of the global stocktake. Final consensus will not be reached in 2017, but countries should begin to coalesce around common understandings of scope and build the conditions needed to support convergence on common rules, whilst acknowledging the limitations of national circumstances. Further, countries should agree on a procedural way forward that ensures delivery of the rulebook by 2018.
- COP23 builds trust with vulnerables by establishing processes towards outcomes on loss & damage, adaptation and finance. As the first island COP, expectations for making progress on the solidarity package are high. However, the overall political climate is devoid of any deadlines to deliver such a package and appetite from developed countries is limited. Managing these constraints against the expectation of a solidarity package will be crucial. The COP can, however, help in clarifying how processes on these elements would evolve in order to leverage greater ambition by 2020.
- COP23 contains the US as a disruptive force and supports shared leadership by pivoting focus to real economy progress. Media focus on the US is expected, but should be contained, pivoting focus to those making progress in the real economy. COP23 can move the debate on from the US government’s lack of participation toward enabling and recognising other state engagement, as well as sub-national and non-state actors, including those from the US who continue to support climate action.
The landing points for COP23 outcomes are relatively constrained. Given there are limited deadlines, the scope and quality of discussion, as well as form that progress is captured in, will be formative for furthering Paris implementation.
3.1. US PARTICIPATION
3.2. NEGOTIATOR vs. MINISTER DRIVEN AGENDA
3.3. EXTREME WEATHER EVENT
3.4. ATTENTION ON PARIS SOLIDARITY ELEMENTS
- Building support for the Talanoa (Facilitative) Dialogue: The level of Party support for the Presidency will shape the outcome space. Following extensive consultations, Party support for the Fijian Talanoa Dialogue design for the 2018 facilitative dialogue can bolster their position. Continuing to embrace a multi-stakeholder approach will further strengthen their broad support.
- Framing COP23 pivot to 2020 ambition: This COP will set expectations for upcoming moments toward enhancing ambition in 2020. This includes outcomes on the rulebook, 2018 facilitative dialogue and elements of the solidarity package. Articulating the links between this COP and the role of upcoming moments in the climate diplomacy calendar can help build the conditions for enhanced ambition in 2020.
- Preparing to respond to US disruptions: If members of the US administration make unexpected provocative interventions, the Presidency should seek to work with countries (including the EU and China) to contain the damage on the COP23 negotiations and Paris regime more broadly. The Presidency is well placed to frame and minimise the damage of provocative statements during COP23.
- Finding a clear role for ministers: Giving ministers a clear set of roles can improve negotiator oversight and tackle sticking points in rulebook negotiations. The Presidency can task ministers to:
- Address challenging areas of the rulebook, and task some ministers to facilitate particular negotiation streams
- Articulate the rhythm out to 2020 in their interventions, including the role of the next few years toward fulfilling the long-term goals of the Paris Agreement
- Consult on ideas and options for enhancing ambition by 2020, including the role of 2050 plans and an improved solidarity package
- Signal toward upcoming announcements of enhanced domestic and international action, particularly on solidarity elements of the Paris Agreement
- Engage in bilateral discussions on economic cooperation and learning-exchange on core areas to deepen real economy climate action e.g. air pollution, EVs, grids, efficiency, etc.
3.6. RELATIONSHIP WITH UPCOMING MOMENTS
The strengths and weaknesses of scenarios will depend on two axes:
- Impact on the Politics of ambition: moving beyond transactional target politics to achieving economic cooperation which fulfils the long-term goals of the Paris Agreement
- Impact on the strength of the regime: direction of travel from the Paris framework, providing robust rules that strengthen the regime vs. rules which weaken the regime, diluting Paris’ progress
4.1. THE POLITICAL SPACE
Following the US withdrawal announcement, many countries voiced defiant recommitment to the Paris Agreement. Alongside the relative low policy stakes of this COP, a ‘collapse scenario’ is unlikely. The external forces – such as an extreme weather event, negative intervention from the US administration, media focus and narrative – could significantly impact the momentum for Paris implementation, including the finalisation of the rulebook in 2018.
At present the political dynamics suggest we are at the upper end of a ‘Paddle’ scenario. The opportunities to move toward a more ambitious outcome are articulated through the suggested interventions for countries, the Presidency and non-state actors at the beginning of this briefing.
The scenarios outlined below do not aim to predict detailed policy outcomes, but to demonstrate the major political drivers and their respective interactions which can shape the outcome.
Canoe: This scenario is characterised by effective coordination, resulting in the strongest possible outcome from COP23.
- The competent and well trusted Presidency builds support with Parties to embrace the Fijian Talanoa process (i.e. FD2018), with support from the upcoming Polish Presidency
- Countries reiterate commitment to the completion of a robust rulebook by 2018 and the Presidency provides a clear way forward, effectively tasking ministers to pick up outstanding issues
- Parties and non-state actors articulate expectations for the role of upcoming external moments in Paris implementation out to 2020
- The French and donors signal upcoming commitments to be announced at the Macron Summit
- Donors support capacity building and signal toward processes for strengthening the solidarity package, thereby building trust with vulnerables and strengthening progressive country coalitions for a robust rulebook
- US takes a low profile in negotiations
- The EU and emerging economies demonstrate diplomatic and economic collaboration on climate
- A diverse media narrative communicates real economy progress, including US non-state actor implementation
- Ministers lack direction and are underutilised, limiting progress on the rulebook; many issues remain polarised and the forward process is unclear
- The ownership of the facilitative dialogue is contested by Poland and the Fijian Presidency are unable to secure satisfactory backing for their Talanoa process
- Parties and non-state actors neglect to set expectations for the role of upcoming moments in strengthening Paris
- Donors only just get above the bar with minimal support for core solidarity needs such as capacity building and the adaptation fund
- As a result, progressive countries lack agency to support rulebook development; flexibility and process issues absorb focus of co-facilitators and the forward process lacks clarity
- The EU and emerging economies work behind the scenes, but do not publicly demonstrate their shared commitment to the Paris Agreement
- The US takes a low profile in negotiations and does not absorb focus
- However, the media narrative remains focused on the US and ambition actors fail to get cut through
- Fiji has limited room to operate and is unable to leverage its position as a vulnerable country into a strong and credible Presidency; they are unable to secure backing for their Talanoa process
- The Presidency, co-chairs and co-facilitators fail to build consensus for a forward plan for achieving the rulebook and the 2018 facilitative dialogue
- There is a lack of progress on crucial trust building components like capacity building; however, a compilation text is agreed regardless, locking countries into deadlocked positions throughout 2018
- Donors neglect to articulate their support and intensions for securing elements of the solidarity package
- As a result, progressive countries fail to build coordinated support for a robust rulebook
- The EU and emerging economies fail to collaborate effectively and emerging economies fall back on traditional negotiating positions
- Loss and damage flares up, but the Presidency fails to find a landing point
- The US is in the spotlight, detracting focus from negotiations
- The media articulates escalating tensions within the regime
Please note that the outline below does not exhaustively cover the details of the negotiations in COP23. Instead, it aims to capture some of the key details which will make a difference to the strength of the outcome.
5.1. The Rulebook:
- Balanced progress. The rulebook has a series of interlinked and interdependent elements which require simultaneous and balanced attention in negotiations. Furthermore, countries, with varying degrees of prioritisation, are keen to ensure balance across the mitigation, adaptation and means of implementation components. In any case, it will be important to maintain the perception that no element is being left behind and progress across all elements is balanced.
- Transparency, reporting and monitoring. Questions over how to build on the existing transparency regime to cater for the Paris Agreement will be under discussion. These discussions will not just be limited to transparency of action, but would also include transparency of support. Strengthening the capacity of countries will be a central component in support of convergence toward a common system over time, alongside the debate on streamlining existing reporting to help reduce undue burdens.
- Global stocktake. The biggest potential flare-up here is around scope, how means of implementation will be accommodated and whether loss and damage will be included. There will also be deliberations over how the global stock take will effect corresponding ambition increases.
5.2. Talanoa Facilitative Dialogue:
The Fijian Presidency has already made headway in building consensus around a constructive and solutions-oriented design by proposing a “Talanoa” style dialogue. “Talanoa” is a traditional Pacific island process of problem-solving through story telling. Alongside the growing consensus for a Talanoa format, there is a growing perception that the facilitative dialogue will be a yearlong process rather than a single high-level event at COP24. This would entail a both a series of technical, preparatory meetings throughout the year cumulating in a high-level political segment.
There are a few remaining outstanding issues which will be up for discussion, these include: scope of the 2018 facilitative dialogue, role of non-state actors, sequencing between 2018 moments and sessions, and options for how the process will build ambition for enhanced NDCs.
5.3. The Solidarity Package:
- Loss & Damage: This is the most likely to flare up and one of the most contentious issues in past talks. The Presidency is keen to give space to the relatively young Warsaw International Mechanism on Loss and Damage (WIM) to deliver, instead creating space for announcements like that spearheaded by the German government. However, some vulnerable countries may look for more ambitious outcomes, including the inclusion of loss and damage in the global stocktake and/or a decision to make loss and damage a permanent agenda item to ensure regular reporting to the COP. In addition, a discussion on finance for loss & damage may also arise, this would need to be carefully managed to avoid sparking discussions over compensation for impacts which would likely antagonise developed countries, not least the US.
- Adaptation finance: After every extreme weather event, the debate over adaptation finance intensifies. In this context, discussions over the future of the Adaptation Fund will again take place at COP23. The adaptation fund will soon require replenishment and announcements could be made at the COP to do so. In addition, there are outstanding issues regarding the legal status of the Adaptation Fund under the Paris Agreement that need to be addressed. Developing countries are eager to secure the long-term status of the fund but some donor countries would rather wait until market mechanism policy has been designed. This may well be a point of contention at COP23.
- Empowering vulnerable communities: The Presidency’s focus in delivering the solidarity package lies in institutionalizing issues that have previously been pushed into the periphery of the UNFCCC negotiations: issues include gender, oceans, health, indigenous peoples and education. This focus on empowering vulnerable communities will be a key feature of the Pacific COP.
The raised media attention following a year of extreme weather and the US withdrawal from the Paris Agreement mean the COP will be under more scrutiny than usual, with high media attendance expected at the COP. 2017 mandated outcomes are limited and the COP’s choreography will have to be carefully messaged to avoid mismatched expectations.
The outline below does not include all the components to be discussed during COP23; however, it does outline some of the critical negotiations as well as UNFCCC and external events that will shape the rhythm of the COP.
The core elements of the COP choreography:
- The opening ceremony will be an important moment to kick-off the pivot toward Paris implementation ahead of 2018, and 2020. Parties will reflect on a year of extreme weather and their re-commitment to Paris, but should also begin articulating the delivery of commitment and actions for the next chapter.
- The middle weekend occupies an important spot in the COP23 choreography. The large array of events on the middle-weekend reflects the growing importance of non-state actors delivering the real economy progress fundamental to raising climate ambition. These initiatives will be important to demonstrate the diversity and ambition of the climate landscape. How these initiatives are coordinated will help to aggregate them into more than the sum of their parts. Events around US non-state actors and the US sub-national’s large delegation will offer the opportunity to highlight non-state actors’ role in driving real economy progress. The focus on solutions and implementation during this weekend can be used to refresh and rebuild momentum heading into the second week of negotiations.
- In the second week, the Fijian Presidency will identify how to make best use of ministers to work on challenging areas of the rulebook. Ministers can also use informal discussions to begin developing internal and bilateral sequencing for enhancing ambition ahead of 2020. A number of high-level events and initiative launches will be formative to building the politics of enhanced ambition by 2020. These announcements should be highlighted to show the diversity of leadership for climate action and the component parts of high ambition politics, including elements of the ‘solidarity package’ – finance, adaptation, capacity building and loss and damage.
- In the latter half of week two, informal intelligence suggests a Macron-Merkel bilateral will take place on the fringes of the COP. This moment will draw media attention and presents an opportunity for the heads of state from two major economies to outline the ideas and options they will be pursuing to raise ambition by 2020.
- The roadmap for the 2018 facilitative dialogue is anticipated to be announced toward the end of the second week. CBS is encouraging our partners to use this moment to set expectations for upcoming events including Macron’s Climate Summit and the California Summit amongst others. A clearer understanding of the sequencing of upcoming climate moments will be crucial for building the conditions for the politics of enhanced ambition by 2020, including securing elements of the solidarity package.
- Macron’s Climate Summit which will follow on the heels of the COP offers an opportunity to reflect upon the outcomes of COP23 and take up Paris implementation issues, particularly finance and the real economy practicalities of closing the ambition gap.