The Paris Agreement: mission 2018

 A regular session of the UN climatic negotiations was over in Bonn (Germany). In the opinion of public environmental organizations’ representatives, all countries, including Russia, should strengthen their climatic activities: reduce greenhouse gas emissions in a more active manner, introduce low-carbon technologies, adapt to climate change, and help the most vulnerable countries.

For two weeks, negotiations participants from 184 countries had been elaborating on the rules for implementation of the Paris Agreement and discussing the possibilities for reconsideration of national goals on the greenhouse gas emissions. The Bonn conference was an intermediate meeting where no significant resolutions were to be adopted; however, it should have worked out the documents to make the basis for decision-making at the Conference of Parties COP-24 in Katowice (Poland).

In Poland, in December 2018, the "Book of Rules" of the Paris Agreement should be adopted at the highest level. Since it turned impossible to prepare a draft for politicians during the Bonn session, it was decided to hold an additional round of talks in early September in Bangkok. 

The difficulty of harmonizing the set of rules for the Paris Agreement is that all parties must agree on consistent rules. With that, the economic and social difference between the developed and developing countries is so huge that it is often virtually impossible to harmonize their approaches. In the course of the Bonn negotiations, they managed to transform the text of the "Book of Rules" editorially and to reduce its volume. However, the document in its present form   has no uniformity; it is just a compilation of countries’ opinions, not to mention the “informal notes” added to the text.

Despite the fact that progress in several directions has been achieved in Bonn (for example, the “roadmap” for agriculture has been formulated), acute political disagreements could not be lifted, especially so in the part concerning financing. One of the most complicated topics which did not allow to move forward proved to be the “transparency of allocation and expenditure of funds.” The article, which is also called “predictability,” prescribes the developed countries to reconsider their policies every two years and inform the developing countries regarding their financial commitments.

It is presumed that the developed countries should accumulate USD 100 billion annually for the prevention of climate change and adaptation up until 2020. At that, participation in the Paris Agreement does not require any individual legal obligations from the countries, neither moneywise, nor on emissions reduction. This “not obligatory obligation” causes confusion in the climate process and prevents the parties to reach a consensus.

One of the important events of the Bonn meeting was the Talanoy Dialogue; its participants shared their stories, presented their ideas, and demonstrated their commitment to increase ambitions on the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. A distinctive feature of the Bonn dialogue is that as of this session, all involved parties of the climate process, be it cities, regions, enterprises, investors, and NGOs, can participate in it.  “The Talanoy Dialogue presented a broad and realistic picture of where we are and brought the conversation to a new level,” said the President of the Conference of Parties in Katowice Mikhail Kurtyka. 

An important issue for many countries, including Russia, is the discussion of sustainable development mechanisms, i.e., economic instruments for implementation of climate commitments. According to the experts’ data, within the frame of the Kyoto Protocol implementation in Russia, nearly 100 projects had been executed; they brought the country financial and environmental benefits. Within the frame of the Paris Agreement, the parties of the climate convention must determine the most effective tools which will allow to organize actions for emissions reduction in both industrialized and developing countries in the nearest future.  

For many years, the most important thing for climate negotiations has been the issue of the level of ambitiousness of national plans on the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions (Nationally Determined Contributions, NDC). As the matter of fact, the present level of reductions, which our countries have assumed commitments for, leads the humanity to the 3-4 degree temperature increase, while no more than two, preferably, 1.5 degrees are necessary for the reduction of climatic intensity.

In the experts’ opinion, significant corrections of NDCs towards increased ambitiousness is possible even for the developed countries, such as Canada, New Zealand, Norway, South Korea, Russia, etc. The prerequisites for this have already ripened.

Presently, 176 countries have already ratified the Paris Agreement.  Only the U.S. and Turkey declared their refusal to take part in the Agreement for financial reasons. Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Iran, Iraq, and Russia are among the countries which have not yet ratified the Agreement. 

“Russia should not delay the process; it is necessary to ratify the Paris Agreement already in 2018. For RF, hi-tech and competitive economic development automatically presumes greenhouse gas emissions reduction,” representatives of the Russian Social and Economic Union are sure. 

They wrote in their Position: “Presently, the national goals of countries on the greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 do not follow the ‘2C’ way. For limiting the global warming with two degrees, the goals should be strengthened by 20-30%. The national goals had been developed three years ago, and during this time, many changes have taken place; particularly, RESs have become cheaper, global emissions got stable, and the abandonment of coal energy has started… Our country needs active actions on adaptation to inevitable consequences of climate change. Decarbonization of the economy, i.e., replacement of fossil fuels with diversified renewable energy sources, energy efficiency measures, and release of the ‘pure energy’ at this account, is the way to the future and the pledge of competitive development of the national economy; this is the money for the development that lie underfoot”…