Towards the Paris Agreement

Warsaw: Introduction of Intended Nationally Determined Contributions

COP-19 in Warsaw (November 2013) did not result in big steps towards a new post-2020 climate agreement. According to the analysis by IISD (2013, p. 29), this was still partly due to lack of trust in the negotiation process, which had arisen at earlier COPs (including the questionable ways at Cancun and Doha to overrule and neglect some countries’ disagreements with COP-decisions, so that consensus could be proclaimed). Moreover, some developing country negotiators wondered whether the exhaustive negotiation schedule at Warsaw was tactical as “many developing countries’ delegations were spread too thinly to be able to effectively follow the packed agenda. Late nights, too, continued to compromise transparency, efficiency and inclusiveness, which led some to wonder if all night negotiations could be some parties’ tactic” (IISD 2013, p. 29). Another reason for lack of trust was that the contributions by developed countries to the Green Climate Fund were still limited, remaining very far away from the targeted USD 100 billion per year in 2020.

Eventually, on the Durban Platform (AWG-DP), COP-19 invited all countries, so both developed and developing countries, to formulate so-called ‘intended nationally determined contributions’ (INDCs) before COP-21 in Paris (UNFCCC 2014a, p. 4, para 2b). Building further on the developments since COP-15 in Copenhagen, INDCs would be voluntary pledges by countries (‘contributions’ instead of ‘commitments’). The decision also reflected the growing consensus that both developed and developing countries would need to contribute to emission reductions, while leaving scope for differentiation between developed and developing countries. Another important development since ‘Copenhagen’ and ‘CancUn’ had been the preference of countries to identify climate change mitigation (and adaptation) measures in light of domestic development plans. It was hoped that countries’ willingness to undertake climate measures would increase if these were embedded in national socio-economic and environmental planning. Finally, countries agreed not to use a common format for INDC reporting, so that countries would have flexibility in formulating their contributions.

Although generally considered a disappointing COP, with the INDC concept, ‘Warsaw’ had established a next step for further specification by countries of how they plan to achieve longer-term socio-economic growth with low emissions and strong climate resilience. This specification would imply the need for: ensuring that all INDCs together would lead to an overall greenhouse gas emission reduction that limits global average temperature increase to 1.5 or 2 °C, organising international financial, technological and human capital support for developing countries to help them achieve these, and organising a solid monitoring process to ensure that planned INDCs will actually be implemented.

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