18 December 2018
*NBI Quick Brief: Post COP24*
*COP24 ran over time and was, after weeks of gruelling negotiations, officially closed late on Saturday evening, the 15th December 2018. Whether COP24 was a success or not depends on how you view it. If you compare the progress against enabling actions that are required by science it was not a success, although not without hope. If you measure it to what can be achieved in the context of global geopolitics and rising populism, it was a strong success.*
Critically the architecture of the Paris Agreement remains in force. Fundamentally this means that all countries agree to abide by the same set of rules: transparency in disclosure, scrutiny of ambition and timing, with some flexibility built in for countries with lower capacity levels. Furthermore, the long-term goals limiting warming to well-below 2-degree Centigrade with efforts towards 1.5 degrees, increasing the adaptive capacity and resilience to the impacts of climate change, and the long-term goal on finance and aligning all financial flows, remain in place. The mechanisms for countries to assess progress and ratchet up ambition were slightly strengthened. Every 5 years countries will take stock of their efforts on mitigation, resilience and finance and in 2020 countries must update their Nationally Determined Contributions (ambition statements) and enhance their ambition.
A positive note is that many felt that enough progress was made to leave a small window of opportunity for the United States to step back from their decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement – a decision that takes effect post 2020.
It is in this ambition mechanism that we find our hope for the process. If countries can progressively over time strengthen their understanding and measurement of climate change and, combined with the best available science, use that understanding to increase the ambition embedded in their Nationally Determined Contribution’s (NDCs) then we can still maintain a below 2-degree pathway. NDCs are the bottom up commitments each country makes. However, with each passing year, where countries agree what is politically possible and not what is actually needed, we significantly increase our risk of a higher than 2-degree Celsius increase. This is something that South Africa, and most developing countries, cannot afford.
It is therefore critical that the private sector starts to take progressive action in support of domestic and global ambition and act independently of a regulatory system that may move too slowly. A feature of COP24 was the involvement of the private sector and other non-state actors through the Talanoa Dialogue. With companies talking about the impacts they are already experiencing there was a greater sense of reality at this year’s COP. Private sector leaders are making strong commitments to reduce their climate footprint and it is hoped that this will provide political cover for international governments – certainty their constituencies will support them. For example, VW (turning their back on the emissions scandals of the past) announced they will make their last sole petrol/diesel model by 2025. At the very least it is as strong signal of global market transformation to a lower carbon economy.
The next big moment for discussion is the UN Secretary General Climate special summit on climate change to be hosted in September 2019, parallel to the UN General Assembly and Climate Week New York. This will be a key moment to convene business alongside large scale government discussions.
For our part the National business Initiative (NBI) contributed to this discussion by co-hosting the South African Pavilion, with generous support from Sasol, Exxaro, the DBSA, MINCOSA and the ITTCC. We also assisted Government with hosting the Talanoa Dialogue earlier in the year, and have run an on-going twitter campaign highlighting South African company leadership and other stakeholder activity through short, Talanoa linked, videos. These videos, including a summary of the South African Talanoa Dialogue discussion, are available on the *NBI You Tube
A long running component of the COPs is the debate on finance. While some key technical progress was made (measurement and tracking frameworks), the progress on actual provision of finance was not as good. Given that the target is US$100 billion a year until 2020, the additional pledges made were meek. The Green Climate Fund, which as of November 2018 had total contributions of US$10.3bn, accumulated an additional US$2 billion roughly. The adaptation fund, whose total contributions prior to COP was US$538 million, garnered additional pledges totalling US$129 million. Like the rest of the COP progress, both significant increases on progress until now, but far short of what is needed.
In theory we have maintained a framework that will keep governments accountable to each other and to their citizens. The real test will be in domestic implementation. What matters coming out of this COP is what parties and Ministers take home – do they intensify domestic programmes in support of a managed economic transition or in effect do they do nothing? In this lies the real weakness of bottom up processes – it’s up to the countries, which means that those that are ambitious will enhance their ambitions and those that are not, may well do very little.
We would like to hear your feedback so please send your thoughts and comments to: *Steve <SteveN@nbi.org.za?subject=Post%20COP24>** Nicholls.*
*Business Action for Sustainable Growth*
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