The year 2018 will be an eventful one for the climate change negotiations. Negotiators regard the year as the most important one since the signing of the Paris Agreement. Parties to the UNFCCC are preparing to finalise the Paris Rule Book, a set of governing rules to the agreement, and to participate in the Talanoa Dialogue to “take stock of the collective efforts of Parties in relation to progress towards the long-term goal” of the Paris Agreement.
To highlight the busy schedule of the climate negotiations this year, Parties have requested an additional session. The African Group of Negotiators has been preparing for the year’s negotiations since February when it held its first strategy meeting in Egypt’s resort town of Sharm El Sheikh. The meeting was the inaugural event under the leadership of Egypt as the new Chair for the Group, Mr. Mohamed Nasr.
The meeting was a unique opportunity to discuss the outcomes and achievements of COP23 and to provide for strategic discussions on the Group’s work plan and their hopes for the forthcoming sessions.
The AGN also recently held a lead coordinators strategy meeting in preparation for the inter-sessional in Bonn (SBI, SBSTA). The upcoming session will also bring with it a fresh approach to engaging negotiators through a Fijian consensus building process, the Talanoa Dialogue, formally referred to as the Facilitative Dialogue, which is premised on telling stories around three key issues identified during COP23: where we are in relation to the implementation of NDCs; where we want to be and how we want to get there. The African Group regards the Talanoa Dialogue as a critical step towards the Global Stock Take in 2023 and has been preparing its contribution to the process by outlining key narratives inline with the guiding questions of the dialogue. Key issues for the continent include responsibility for the Greenhouse Gas emissions; the impacts of climate change on the continent and their worsening situation; access to finance and highlighting some of the actions the continent is already undertaking to contribute to the collective responsibility outlined in the Paris Agreement.
A second key issue for negotiations in 2018 is the Paris Agreement work programme. The African Group, in its strategy meeting in February discussed its input to the Paris work programme with the objective to equip AGN negotiators on the key aspects of this broad scope of work. This session will hopefully contribute to the momentum needed to ensure a successful outcome at COP24 in Katowice, Poland.
In preparation for COP24, the AGN will be continuing their work on ensuring coordination between lead coordinators and developing positions that reflect a balanced approach to the themes in the negotiations, while exploring possible outcomes that reflect the priorities of the AGN. The lead coordinators in particular have been preparing for the Bonn intersessionals and have made formal submissions on; National Adaptation Plans, on arrangements for intergovernemntal meetings and the engagement of non-party stakeholders, as well as on the LDC Work Programme as well as on APA Agenda item 3,on further guidance in relation to the mitigation secion of the decision 1/CP.21.
In addition to preparation for the negotiations, the AGN has been occupied with advancing its own regional initiatives, including the Africa Adaptation Initiative (AAI). https://www.africaadaptationinitiative.org/. A high level partners strategic meeting of the AAI was held in Libreville, Gabon in March 2018. In terms of the negotiations, this initiative also contributes towards providing the basis for galvanizing the African position in relation to the need for support in scaling up adaptation action and addressing loss and damage on the continent. The Africa Renewable Energy Initiative (AREI) is another of the AGN’s key initiatives, which seeks to accelerate and harness Africa’s renewable energy potential to achieve low carbon development strategies. (For more information on AREI see http://www.arei.org/)
Adaptation remains a critical issue for the AGN and in the lead up to Bonn in May, this is one of the issues which it is hoped sufficient progress will be made in the discussions that will lay the groundwork for a successful COP24. Of course other key issues are on the table including finance, and the need for COP24 to provide a signal for raised ambition but at the same time recognizing the gaps in the means of implementation, not only finance, on the African continent. Ambition is also a key issue for Africa. In this regard, the Paris Agreement needs to achieve a balance between both action and support. This includes as a core element, consideration of the predictability and accessibility to the means of implementation, which is key to enhancing ambition. There is a real need to address both the current and short-term adverse climate impacts that African countries face, and this constitutes part of the vision for the AGN, that is, to ensure that the interests, and special need and circumstances are considered in the outcomes of the negotiations and decisions relating to the Paris work programme.