Climate Change Authority

Conclusions

Since the UNFCCC was signed in 1992, the relationship between international and domestic climate change action has changed significantly. The UNFCCC developed in advance of most domestic actions to reduce emissions. Today, domestic actions are advancing in parallel with or, in many cases, ahead of the international negotiations. The measure of the success of the post-2020 framework is therefore whether it encourages, inspires and supports stronger national action to reduce emissions.

All the elements discussed in Chapter 3 interact to help drive emissions reductions efforts, and the Authority considers that an effective post-2020 framework will embrace several themes:

  • Sharing best practices and inspiring domestic actions among countries. Past international climate negotiations have been framed negatively around cost- and burden-sharing issues. Those issues will persist, but by providing a forum to promote the positive aspects of emission reductions and their broader benefits, the post-2020 framework could help to generate greater emissions reductions.
  • Facilitating participation by all countries and, in particular, the major emitting countries to reduce emissions.
  • Providing greater certainty and confidence to implement domestic policies and national targets towards longer term decarbonisation.
  • Increasing transparency about emissions reductions (both collectively and individually) to help assess how the world is tracking towards its collective goals.
  • Regular assessments of shared objectives against the latest science and the implications for further collective and individual action.

These themes can be expected to recur in Paris and ongoing discussions about the post-2020 framework. Table 4.1 summarises possible outcomes of the Paris meeting and other areas that could be developed over time.

Table 4.1: Summary of conclusions

  Paris outcome Features that could Encourage further emissions reductions Areas for longer term elaboration
Collective goals
  • Maintain the collective 2 degree goal.
  • Clarify the 2 degree goal, through, for example, defining a probability of meeting it.
  • Consider additional positively framed goals such as a global decarbonisation rate.
  • Consider strengthening the goal to 1.5 degrees should the UNFCCC 2013–15 Review recommend this.
  • Adopt regular reviews of targets or budgets to refine the 2 degree goal (section 3.5).
  • Integrate a collective goal into the operative parts of the post-2020 framework through, for example, an ongoing assessment process for national targets (section 3.5).
Targets
  • Agreement, including from all major emitting countries, to set targets with accompanying information to explain those targets and facilitate comparability within the post-2020 framework.
  • Encouraging budget-based targets from all developed countries, and budget-based or point targets from most, if not all, major emitting countries. Discouraging BAU reduction targets.
  • Short commitment periods (for example, five years) are preferable, with regular target reviews (section 3.5).
  • Encouraging countries to prepare long-term targets in addition to shorter term national contributions.
  • Developing a common template to improve comparability of information across countries.
  • Integrating targets into a system of regularly reviewing and revising national contributions, with reference to the agreed collective goal (section 3.5).
  • Supporting targets with clear information and tracking of inventories and progress (section 3.3).
  • Expanding areas of commonality for targets types and rules (for instance, baselines, sectors included, gases covered) and requiring clear documentation where countries deviate from these rules.
Transparency
  • Agree a common framework will be applied post-2020.
  • Bed down current UNFCCC systems for reporting on emissions inventories, policies and policy impacts, to improve transparency.
  • Agree to provide more standardised, detailed and frequent information (including projected impacts of policies), noting that many developing countries may need more time and support to adjust to any strengthened reporting requirements.
  • Clearly link reporting to reviews of collective and individual target objectives (section 3.5).
  • Expand common templates for information to facilitate better comparisons of country efforts.
  • Provide a forum that encourages countries to adopt new policies to reduce emissions by encouraging cooperation to share best practices, policy experiences and expertise.
  • Promote accessibility of information, within and outside the UNFCCC.
International markets
  • Recognise existing agreement that international trade may be used to help meet national targets.
  • Recognise the agreed common principles relating to the international trade of units will be implemented in UNFCCC and non-UNFCCC transactions.
  • Countries stating that they will purchase or cancel additional credits from the CDM to help increase the current ambition.
  • Elaborate transparent accounting procedures for international trade and include independent verification of the role of international trade in meeting targets.
  • Development of new market mechanisms that promote broader (not project-based) emissions reductions.
  • Existing institutions develop voluntary standardised best-practice approaches, for instance, for tracking international trade in units.
  • Implement processes to develop standardised reporting requirements, baseline and emission benchmarks, measurement, reporting and verification protocols, and possible international compliance units to back domestic actions that countries can opt into.
Assessment
  • Agreement on the ongoing review of collective goals.
  • Creating processes to assess individual targets, including the provision of relevant information.
  • Linking assessment of targets to collective goals and strengthening this link over time.
  • Building on existing processes to assess more information; for instance, countries’ conclusions on how their own efforts are a credible and ambitious contribution to collective goals.
Legal form
  • A package including an agreement with legal force supported by implementing decisions and nationally determined targets (see Table 3.3).
  • Outcome includes an internationally binding agreement to enact targets and emissions reductions plans in domestic legislation.
  • Targets become an integral part of a legally binding agreement (negotiation post-2020).
  • Enforcement mechanisms for national targets could develop through time (negotiation post-2020).