Photo: /Joe Flood CC BY NC ND

Potential to step up global climate ambitions

Right now, several parallel evaluation processes are under way that could lead to higher ambitions in global climate negotiations.

In 2010 the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) agreed on a long-term global goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and limit the rise in global average temperature to below 2°C above pre-industrial levels. In addition, it was decided to periodically review two themes:

  1. The adequacy of the long-term global goal in the light of the ultimate objective of the Convention, which is to achieve stabilisation of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.
  2. Overall progress towards achieving the long-term global goal, including consideration of the implementation of the commitments under the Convention.

The first periodic review was tasked to consider a strengthening of the long-term global goal. This process led to the decision to upgrade the long-term global goal: to hold the increase in global average temperature to well below 2°C and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature rise to 1.5°C. The decision recognises that this would significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change. In relation to theme 2, the UNFCCC decided that Parties should act urgently and ambitiously under the Convention while recognising the technological, economic and institutional challenges.

Subsequent reviews shall take place following the adoption of an assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), or at least every seven years, as decided by the UNFCCC in 2010. In 2015, the UNFCCC decided to consider the scope of the next periodic review by no later than 2018 and that it should take into account the results of relevant work conducted under the Climate Convention and its Kyoto Protocol and the subsidiary bodies.

COP 21 decided to convene a facilitative dialogue in 2018 to consider progress towards the long-term global goal. This includes a review of whether the nationally determined contributions of all countries will deliver a global peak of greenhouse gas emissions fast enough, recognising that peaking will take longer for developing countries. COP 21 concluded that further rapid reductions will then be needed, in accordance with best available science, to achieve a balance between anthropogenic emissions from sources and removals by sinks of greenhouse gases in the second half of this century, on the basis of equity, and in the context of sustainable development and efforts to eradicate poverty in order to achieve the long-term global goal of well below 2°C or 1.5°C.

The Paris agreement has its own review mechanism called the global stocktake (GST). The GST is a process whereby progress towards implementing the Paris agreement is assessed based on achievement of its purpose and long-term goals. This must be done in a comprehensive and facilitative manner, considering mitigation, adaptation and the means of implementation and support, and in the light of equity and the best available science. The first GST is due in 2023 and it will be repeated every five years thereafter unless otherwise decided by the CMA1. Furthermore, the outcome of the GST shall inform countries on how they best can update and enhance their national action plans, in accordance with the provisions of the Paris Agreement, and should also enhance international cooperation for climate action.

Intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs) is the term used for the pledges countries have made under the Paris Agreement. The UNFCCC secretariat was requested to prepare a report on the aggregate effect of the INDCs. The analysis, which was updated in 2016, indicated that much greater emission reduction efforts than those associated with the INDCs will be required in the period after 2025 and 2030 to hold the temperature rise below 2°C above pre-industrial levels with a “likely” probability of 66 per cent.

In response to an invitation from the UNFCCC, a special report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5ºC above pre-industrial levels and related global greenhouse gas emission pathways will be produced by the IPCC. The final draft will be considered by the IPCC for approval at its plenary session in September 2018, three months prior to the facilitative dialogue.

Source: UNFCCC
1 CMA = Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement



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