Climate Change Authority

B Post-2020 targets

Sections 3.2 and 3.6 discuss targets and their legal form. This Appendix examines different ways targets could be included in the post-2020 framework, considering both how they are captured and how they could be presented and supported by different countries.

Appendix B.1 Capturing post-2020 targets

Table B.1 summarises the range of options currently being considered internationally on how national targets could be captured in the post-2020 framework. It defines whether the target would be binding (at an international or domestic level), the impact the option would have on a country’s flexibility to increase ambition and its overall effectiveness. The effectiveness of the international framework is a function of three related elements—stringency of action, whether it promotes broad participation by major emitting countries, and compliance measures (including political and reputational risks) (Bodansky 2012). For simplicity, the term ‘treaty’ in this table refers to an internationally binding legal instrument that the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC is empowered to adopt; for example, a new Protocol. An implementing agreement may or may not be legally binding. Decisions made as part of the Paris process are ‘soft’ international law and, while operationally significant, are not legally binding in the absence of explicit treaty authorisation.

Table B.1: Options for capturing targets in the post-2020 framework

 

How national target is captured

Legal status

Impact on flexibility

Impact on effectiveness

Target set in the body of international agreement or set out as an integral part of a treaty (for example, Annex B to the Kyoto Protocol).

Internationally binding.

Generally requires consensus of Parties to agree that target is included, which can create delays in bedding down details.

Can be difficult to amend as change generally requires a consensus of the Parties; similar process to making the treaty.

However, the Kyoto Protocol second commitment period targets can be voluntarily strengthened.

Stringency—nationally determined. International binding may reduce ambition in short term.

Participation—would likely lead to very limited participation by major emitting countries.

Compliance—may or may not have strong compliance measures. Reputational risks higher for non-compliance.

Target included in a ‘schedule’ to a treaty or implementing national agreement.

Internationally binding if an integral part of a binding international agreement (similar to World Trade Organisation tariff measures).

If schedule is not integral to agreement, it may not be internationally binding.

If internationally binding, may be subject to international amendment procedures (see row above).

Non-binding schedules would be subject to domestic processes.

Stringency—nationally determined. International binding may reduce ambition in the short term.

Participation—internationally binding would likely lead to very limited participation by major emitting countries. Non-binding schedules may promote greater participation.

Compliance—may or may not have strong compliance measures. Reputational risks higher for non-compliance under binding schedules.

Commitment in a treaty or implementing national agreement to include targets in domestic law and/or requires maintenance of national plans to meet target.

Internationally binding to enact domestic legislation or plans (for example, the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons).

Determined by flexibility of domestic processes.

Stringency—nationally determined.

Participation—may promote greater participation.

Compliance— nationally determined.

Target attached to and set out in UNFCCC decisions.

Not binding at domestic or international level (for example, Cancun Agreements) unless UNFCCC gives decision legally binding status.

Very flexible.

Stringency—nationally determined.

Participation—may promote greater participation.

Compliance—nationally determined.

Types of targets and information about them

Table B.2 depicts how targets for different countries might show up in a hypothetical post-2020 arrangement, although is not intended to prescribe categories of differentiation or redraw the current Annex arrangements.

Table B.2: Target types and supporting information in a post-2020 framework

 

Type of country →

 

 

Rule ↓

Developed countries (including all current Annex I countries)

Major emitting countries, developed and developing

Non-major emitting countries

Least developed countries

Agreement to take on targets and emissions reduction actions

Contribute to the extent possible.

Type of targets

Budget-based targets strongly encouraged.

Budget-based or point targets strongly encouraged, intensity targets encouraged.

Any target encouraged.

Any action encouraged and supported.

BAU targets

Strongly discouraged.

Discouraged.

Any action encouraged and supported.

Underlying information on targets including base year, included sectors

✓ Must include information using common rules, deviations from rules permitted if adequately documented.

✓ Must include information, encouraged to conform to common rules where possible, deviations from rules permitted if adequately documented.

Encouraged to include as much information as possible and draw on common rules where convenient.

Provision of information to be supported.