Paris Climate Conference: Left Opportunity to Save Ourselves

Paris climate change conference must deliver a 'Protocol' to develop a path to limit the global average temperature rise to below 1.50C, as compared to pre-industrial level, based on science and demand of climate vulnerable countries, in particular t

Nov. 27, 2015, 5:45 p.m. Published in Magazine Issue: Vol 09, No 10,November 27,2015 (Mangsir, 11,2072)

Paris climate change conference must deliver a 'Protocol' to develop a path to limit the global average temperature rise to below 1.50C, as compared to pre-industrial level, based on science and demand of climate vulnerable countries, in particular the Least Developed Countries (LDCs). To achieve it, developed and developing countries must ensure significant reduction of greenhouse gas (GHGs) emissions in the atmosphere.

Climate change and climate-induced disasters will continue to accelerate the loss of lives and property and adversely affect ecosystems if corrective actions are not taken timely. Frequency of recent disasters urges developed and developing country to take immediate actions to stabilise GHGs concentration in the atmosphere. This realisation will hopefully be demonstrated by GHGs emitters in Paris by adopting a 'Protocol' that ensures collective actions on GHGs emissions reduction and help climate vulnerable communities to adapt and build resilience to climate change impacts. Global call is to adopt this 'Protocol' during the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties (CoP 21) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) which will be held in Paris from 30 November to 11 December 2015.

Parties to the UNFCCC in CoP17 in Durban, South Africa, established an Ad Hoc Working Group on Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP) to launch a process for a new legal agreement applicable to all Parties. Under the ADP, workstream 1 focuses on the 2015 agreement to be entered into force from 2020, and workstream 2 on GHGs emission reduction before 2020. Parties in Paris will hopefully agree on Agreement and decision on workstreams 1 & 2 of the ADP in addition to decisions related to the implementation of the UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol.

Parties were invited to submit their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) to realise their voluntary commitment for GHGs emission reduction. Based on INDC submissions from 155 countries, current ambition puts a world on a 2.70C pathway and the proposed Paris Agreement will not contribute to maintain temperature below 20C. It requires recommitment for GHGs emissions reductions by 'high GHG emitters'.

In order to enhance the implementation of the Convention and with the principles of common but differentiated responsibility and respective capabilities, the Paris Agreement should, inter alia, make strong commitments on substantial reduction of GHGs emissions as dictated by science, establish global goal to enhance adaptive capacity, strengthen resilience and reduce vulnerability to climate change and help people survive and ecosystem function to the adverse impacts of climate change. The Agreement should establish a mechanism to address loss and damage, and provide support to climate vulnerable countries with new and additional, adequate, predictable, accessible, sustained and scaled-up financial resources. The Paris Agreement will include provisions to promote technology development and transfer, capacity building and ensure transparency of actions and supports. The draft Agreement also focuses on provisions to facilitate implementation and compliance, and to periodically take stock of the implementation of the Agreement.

Being a Party to the UNFCCC in 1994 and Kyoto Protocol in 2005 and also being a most climate vulnerable mountain LDC, Nepal is actively engaged in implementing the adaptation actions since 2012. Nepal's NAPA, LAPA and Climate Change Policy, including the newly drafted Low Carbon Economic Development Strategy, national REDD+ Strategy and launching of the NAP process directs to pathways to help climate vulnerable communities to mitigate, adapt and build resilience to climate change impacts. Also being a Chair of the LDC Coordination Group for 2013 and 2014, Nepal has demonstrated its coordination leadership in UNFCCC negotiation processes.

Paris conference will receive required political guidance right from beginning as the Heads of the States or the Governments of Morethan 100  countries will likely attend the opening session of the CoP21 on 30 November unlike the CoP15 in Copenhagen where over 110 world leaders met for the two final days. This will provide political impetus to reach to the Paris Agreement and hence, Paris must deliver a clear path for limiting temperature rise, financing adaptation and capacity building to protect our people and resources. It should learn from Copenhagen Summit of 2009.

As mentioned above, the draft Paris Agreement opens avenues to take concrete actions on mitigation, adaptation, finance, technology development and transfer, capacity building and transparency of actions and support. As Nepal's GHGs emission is less than 0.027 percent of the total global emission, its contribution to GHGs emission reduction will be very insignificant. Hence, our effort should be on 'adaptation' as a 'development agenda' and a 'survival strategy'. In view of this, Nepal may wish to prioritise its engagement during the negotiation process such as on adaptation, finance and REDD+ issues.

Realising Nepal's adaptation needs, concerted efforts in implementing climate adaptation actions, and her recognition in localising adaptation (NAPA) by engaging over 50 percent women and marginalised communities as target beneficiaries in Nepal Climate Change Support Programme, popularly known as LAPA project, and also a commitment to allocate over 80 percent of the total climate fund for field level activities, this article lists few key issues on adaptation for the Paris Agreement and/or CoP 21 decisions.

Nepal should, inter alia, focus on the establishment of the global adaptation goal, adaptation funding to bridge the gap for NAPA implementation and NAP preparation and implementation, difficulty in accessing climate finance, urgency of building country capacity, and technology needs. Existing funds under the Convention are voluntary and irregular pledge-based which resulted to make the LDC Fund (dedicated to LDCs) 'empty'. LDCs are facing difficulties to implement NAPA prioritised adaptation actions and directly access Green Climate Fund as well due to stringent accreditation procedures. The Paris Agreement should make special provisions to LDCs so that 48 LDCs will be in a position to adapt and build resilience and protect their people, property and resources from climate change impacts. It should equally ensure the capacity building in the LDCs at institutional and individual levels to identify, plan, implement and monitor adaptation actions, and access climate finance and adaptation technologies.

Although, CoP 17 in 2011 decided to adopt a 'Protocol, another legal instrument or an agreed outcome with legal force under the Convention, applicable to all Parties' in 2015, Nepal should continue to favour for a legally-binding 'Protocol' that will enter into force by 2020 after its ratification by Parties to UNFCCC.

Expert Member, Nepal's Climate Change Council. Email: upretybk@gmail.com  

Batu Uprety111.jpg

Batu Uprety

Former Joint-Secretary and Chief of Climate Change Management Division, Ministry of Environment (then), and former Team Leader, National Adaptation Plan (NAP) formulation process. E-mail: upretybk@gmail.com

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