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Possible Elements of a 2015 Legal Agreement on Climate Change

Working Papers N°16/2013. Iddri, 2013. 24 p.

Un article consacré aux éléments potentiels d'un accord climat juridiquement contraignant en 2015. Cet accord devrait garantir un équilibre entre : atténuation et adaptation au changement climatique ; objectifs globaux (approches top-down) et architecture flexible de mise en œuvre (approche bottom-up) ; et une augmentation des flux et de la prévisibilité des sources de financement et des transferts de technologies et capacités.

Points clés [en anglais] :

  • THE NEED TO KNOW WHERE WE ARE GOING

Countries have committed to negotiating a new legally binding agreement by 2015, applicable to all countries for the period after 2020. This commitment has given new impetus and direction to the UN climate talks. The talks certainly need to progress on individual elements in the run up to 2015. However, Copenhagen showed that unless there is clarity and convergence on the overall objectives of the negotiation (the meta-negotiation), the technical level negotiations will get stuck. This is why there is a need to step back and envisage all potential elements of a new climate agreement, and their interaction. This is the objective of this paper, which IDDRI invited from three renowned international experts.

  • A HYBRID FRAMEWORK TO BALANCE TOP-DOWN AND BOTTOM-UP

Governments have committed to limiting warming to 2 degrees C above pre-industrial levels. The recently released IPCC report shows that this essentially requires capping total cumulative emissions: in the future emissions will need to decline to close to zero. The paper proposes that governments commit to phasing down net anthropogenic GHG emissions to zero by 2050. This multilaterally negotiated objective would be complemented by nationally determined mitigation objectives, which would be subject to international ex ante review and ex post verification.

  • DYNAMISM AND UNIVERSALITY

The paper proposes a clear process for regularly updating and strengthening national commitments. The climate regime needs to move out of continuous negotiation and into a framework of continuous implementation. The paper proposes no explicit differentiation of countries. Rather countries would propose nationally determined commitments, guided by the multilaterally agreed phase out goal and the international review. This would maximize participation. The Agreement should also include provisions for recognizing the actions of parties unable to ratify and for deterring egregious cases of free-riding.