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UN releases ‘multiple choice’ of options for 2015 climate deal

Released document outlines various pathways towards global carbon cutting package due to be agreed in Paris

Nearly 200 countries are working towards a UN emissions reduction deal to be signed off in 2015

Nearly 200 countries are working towards a UN emissions reduction deal, set to be signed off in 2015

By Ed King

The UN has released a set of options that envoys working on a global climate change deal believe could form the basis of an agreement next year.

These include the potential legal framework behind any treaty, the future role of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and possible sanctions against countries who fail to cut carbon emissions.

The 20-page document, written by Kishan Kumarsingh and Artur Runge-Metzger, co-chairs of the negotiating process, aims to kickstart a June round of talks in Bonn.

“It summarizes our understanding of what Parties have elaborated and proposed to see reflected as elements for a draft negotiating text,” they write, stressing that all enclosed ideas are those of participating countries.

The chairs indicate they see the June session as a chance to identify a “limited number of options”. But the huge variety of suggestions outlined by today’s document indicates this in itself will be challenging.

There appears to be no resolution over who expected to take the greatest burden of emission cuts, a key point of conflict between some developed and developing countries.

The proposed legal nature of any deal still seems vague,with options for international, domestic or some form of obligation to contribute all on the cards.

Negotiators also seem undecided over whether they should aim to limit warming to 1.5C, a target favoured by climate vulnerable states, or 2C, a level agreed in 2009.

The UN wants a draft agreement to be presented at the main climate summit of 2014, which takes place in Lima this December.

National and regional ‘pledges’ to cut carbon pollution are then expected to start falling into place at the start of 2015, although it remains unclear what will happen if they are deemed insufficient to avert dangerous levels of warming.

Below are some of the more interesting aspects of the release. You can read a full version at the bottom of the page.

The 2015 agreement is to:

- Be under the Convention and guided by its principles and objective
- Be applicable to all Parties
- Be durable, flexible and effective
- Aim for and incentivize universal/broadest possible participation
- Strengthen the multilateral rules-based regime
- Respect/not compromise the right to development, as well as the right to survival
- Protect the integrity of Mother Earth

Common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities (CBDR-RC):

- To be applied according to the provisions and annexes of the Convention. In the context of historical responsibility and capabilities, taking into account national circumstances
- Bold action is required from all Parties based on their CBDR-RC
- To be applied in a dynamic way; all Parties to participate over time in accordance with their evolving responsibilities and capabilities
- A binary approach is untenable in the light of shifts in countries’ emissions and economic profiles; it might place a ceiling on what Parties could do

What are capabilities?
- Current capacity and responsibilities are important
- Different levels of capacity and resources are to be considered
- Capabilities evolve over time

Who takes the lead?
- To be taken by developed countries, due to their historical emissions and the wide gap of per capita emissions/due to their capacity and historical responsibility
- To be global
- To be taken by those with greatest responsibly and highest capacity

What levels of carbon cuts are necessary?

- Collective mitigation efforts should be adequate for staying under 2/1.5C of global warming and should combine near-term quantified commitments/contributions with long-term ambition
- The 2015 agreement should include a global goal to limit temperature increase to well below 1.5C
- Anchoring the 2C long-term global goal in the agreement to increase its status and to use it for future reviews of the adequacy of countries’ obligations under the agreement
- A long-term mitigation goal for 2050 should be in line with the pathway to 2C based on most recent science
- Identify a global goal for 2025
- Developed countries to identify zero emissions pathways and define a 2050 carbon neutrality goal
- Substantial emission reductions are needed to stay under 2C, with negative emissions after 2080; financial and technology support is required
- Use the Brazilian proposal to look at the global temperature goal in terms of the principles and provisions of the Convention

On legal form – contributions will be:

- The basis for legally binding commitments
- Of the same legal force for all Parties
- Legally binding for developed countries, voluntary for developing countries

Options for legal force to be considered:

- Legally binding at the international level
- Legal obligation to put forward a contribution
- Recognize domestic legally binding character

How can the UN enforce the deal?

- Measures should range from assistance to sanctions
- An enforcement branch/punitive measures for developed country Parties/compelling measures, different set of elements for different sets of Parties
- A facilitative branch/incentive measures to assist developing country Parties/facilitative measures
- Should involve expert review teams to review MRV [measuring, reporting and verification] of mitigation effort and financial support
- Define the relationship of the compliance mechanism with contributions in terms of means of implementation

Who else should be involved?

- Need to consider how the work of local governments, sub-regional entities and the private sector can be taken into account
- On adaptation, the agreement should strengthen the linkages with organizations and institutions outside the Convention, in particular the private sector
- Private-sector resources and action should be leveraged and mobilized by public-sector actions

UN’s ‘Reflections on progress’

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