India and developing countries scored an important victory at the climate change conference here, with some of their key demands on ‘pre-2020 actions’ getting agreed upon and included in the draft decisions that will be adopted at the end of the two-week meeting.
Right from the first day of the conference, India, and ‘like-minded developing countries’, a negotiating group of more than 20 countries, had demanded that ‘pre-2020 actions’ – a reference to obligations mainly of the developed countries under the 1997 Kyoto Protocol that still has three years to run – be included in the official agenda of discussions. They had also been asking for a deadline for the ratification of 2012 Doha amendments to the Kyoto Protocol to give a legal shape to the ‘pre-2020’ commitments.
After a week of squabbling, the solution that came out was not exactly what the developing countries had been demanding, but still addressed their issues adequately enough. It was agreed that the next two climate conferences, in 2018 and 2019, will have special ‘stock-taking’ sessions on the ‘pre-2020 actions’ being taken by different countries. This stock-take would include not just the efforts that countries were taking to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions but also the kind of progress that developed nations were making on their obligations to provide finance and technology support to the developing countries in helping them deal with climate change.
‘Pre-2020 actions’ would also be included for discussion in another scheduled review meeting at next year’s conference where countries have to assess whether all the climate actions they are planning to take was commensurate to keeping the global temperatures from rising beyond 1.5 or 2 degree celsius from pre-industrial times, which is the goal of the Paris Agreement.
In addition, it was also decided that the head of the conference, currently Fiji, and the secretary general of UN Climate Change would send joint letters to all the countries that have still not ratified the Doha Amendments to do so “as soon as possible”. Countries have been asked to submit, by May 1 next year, to provide written information on steps they were taking to fulfil their ‘pre-2020’ obligations and to ratify the Doha Amendments.
“It is a very satisfactory outcome for us…. A strong message was communicated to developed countries that post-2020 climate action as part of the Paris Agreement cannot be divorced from pre-2020 commitments,” Environment Secretary C K Mishra said.
“The year 2018 is an important year for the climate change negotiations as it would help finalize the Paris Agreement rulebook and perhaps would also be the last opportunity to close the emissions gap by developed countries,” he said.
The breakthrough came on a day that heads of states and ministers gathered in Bonn to give the final touches to decisions that would be taken here. In the last two days, countries have also reached separate agreements on issues related to agriculture, loss and damages, integration of gender in climate policy. All these agreements, including the one reached on ‘pre-2020 actions’, would be reflected in the final decisions to be adopted at the end of Bonn meeting.
A number of other issues, including those related to finance, and preparation of the rulebook for the Paris Agreement, are still under discussions.