Back to the day job: Implementing the Paris Climate Agreement

Posted by Chris Dodwell on 14 December 2015


As the dust settles on the weekend’s historic climate agreement in Paris, negotiators are returning home to get some well-earned rest, but also to start the urgent task of implementing the details of the agreement.  In my meetings with officials at COP21, they already wanted to talk about their plans for delivering their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs)[1] submitted in the run up to Paris.

Equally, it was clear from our side event on INDC implementation, that donors and development partners were on the same page, with a number of new initiatives and funds announced at the COP aimed at building institutional and technical capacity at the national level and financing policies and projects.  

As I said before the COP, the real test of Paris will be how effectively the Agreement supports the achievement of countries’ national climate plans. From that perspective, the detailed provisions pass the test, delivering across each of the key pillars of implementation - governance, mitigation, adaptation, finance and transparency - identified in the Ricardo Energy & Environment paper ‘Implementing the Paris Climate Agreement: Turning Action Plans into Achievement’ 

- Political will and effective governance: COP21 not only demonstrates that the international community is committed to a low carbon, climate resilient future. It sets up a governance regime to oversee the effectiveness of national actions, with five yearly milestones for submitting steadily more ambitious national plans and undertaking global stock-takes. The first of these in 2018 will provide an opportunity to build international political momentum for the next set of INDCs, just as the UN climate summit in last September did before Paris.  

- Long term mitigation strategies: The Paris Agreement includes ambitious long-term temperature goals, with commitments to peak emissions as soon as possible and to achieve net zero emissions this century. Together, these will act as a Pole star to guide countries in preparing both long-term low emissions development strategies and medium term NDCs.  The Paris COP decision also lays out a strengthened process to encourage more immediate action before 2020.  

- Integrated adaptation planning: The issue of adapting to climate change is now on an equal footing with mitigation.  A global goal of enhancing adaptive capacity, strengthening resilience and reducing vulnerability has been established with adaptation included in future NDCs in the 5 yearly global stocktake. 

- Climate finance frameworks: Finance lies at the heart of the new agreement, with its own objective, and commitments to provide scaled up financial resources and capacity building to support country-driven strategies.  Paris is already being heralded by private investors as a game-changer in terms of mobilising low-carbon investment. Their role and that of carbon pricing will be vital in funding national projects and programmes.  

- Measurement, reporting and verification systems: An enhanced transparency framework will include reporting of emissions via greenhouse gas inventories, and t racking of progress on national action.  Developing countries will be supported in this by a new Capacity Building Initiative for Transparency.  


The five pillars of INDC implementation, when appropriately tailored to national circumstances, can transform the momentum built up in the INDC process into achievement

The Paris Agreement will act as a firm foundation for actions by individual countries focussed on the short, medium, and long term. Some actions can deliver benefits immediately, others will deliver the promises for 2025/2030, and yet others must set the strategy for 2050 and beyond. In the short term, countries can take early actions in line with their national priorities, and thereby demonstrate immediate returns from their investment so far in the Paris process. Encouragingly for the medium term, some countries are already indicating they will increase ambition before they convert their INDCs into NDCs. As part of their comprehensive plans on how they intend to achieve their 2025/2030 goals, they will need to develop ‘climate investment plans’ to attract funding from development banks and the private sector. Finally, in light of the ambitious long term targets also agreed in Paris, countries will need to consider options for low emission development strategies, to deliver a peaking in emissions followed by carbon neutrality in the second half of the century.  

The responsibility now lies with officials and governments across the world to get on with the day job of implementing the agreement. The most important element in this will be harnessing political will within countries to take ambitious transformative action to stimulate low carbon climate resilient development. Paris provides the strongest possible signal of our collective political will to tackle climate change: this will no doubt create short term momentum for change: but on its own, it won’t be enough.

For me, the most encouraging aspect of the entire Paris process is the buy-in at the national level to the visions set out in the INDCs.  The INDCs are country-driven and country-owned, articulating how actions to tackle climate change fit with national development priorities. The actions identified will deliver local benefits – such as energy access, improved air quality, climate-resilient agriculture, ecosystem services – and it is these which will sustain support for implementation of the Paris Agreement in the longer term. Yes, greater ambition is needed to keep global temperatures well below 2degreesC. But by supporting the implementation of INDCs, the Paris Agreement provides the launch pad for action across the world - by national, state and city governments, by the private sector and civil society - to keep our long term climate objectives within reach. Ricardo Energy & Environment’s climate change team has supported more than 15 countries, with a combined population of more than 500 million people, by helping them to develop their INDCs. To find out how Ricardo Energy & Environment and its teams are providing support to help countries to develop, implement and monitor their INDC policies, visit: http://ee.ricardo.com/cms/INDC/  

Read more of our specialists' reactions from COP21 and find out their thoughts on what the Paris Agreement means for the future at 'Review of the Paris Climate Agreement'

 

[1] Eagle-eyed readers will be aware that INDCs will be known as Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement.

 

Chris Dodwell
International Director;
chris.dodwell@ricardo.com

As the dust settles on the weekend’s historic climate agreement in Paris, negotiators are returning home to get some well-earned rest but also to start the urgent task of implementing the details of the agreement.  In my meetings with officials at COP21, they already wanted to talk about their plans for delivering their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) submitted in the run up to Paris. Equally, it was clear from our side event on INDC implementation [hyperlink XXXX to blog], that donors and development partners were on the same page, with a number of new initiatives and funds announced at the COP aimed at building institutional and technical capacity at the national level and financing policies and projects.   

 

As I said before the COP, the real test of Paris will be how effectively the Agreement supports the achievement of countries’ national climate plans.  From that perspective, the detailed provisions pass the test, delivering across each of the key pillars of implementation - governance, mitigation, adaptation, finance and transparency - identified in the Ricardo Energy & Environment paper ‘Implementing the Paris Climate Agreement: Turning Action Plans into Achievement’ (hyperlink link XXXX).   

 

-           Political will and effective governance: COP21 not only demonstrates that the international community is committed to a low carbon, climate resilient future.  It sets up a governance regime to oversee the effectiveness of national actions, with 5 yearly milestones for submitting steadily more ambitious national plans and undertaking global stock-takes. The first of these in 2018 will provide an opportunity to build international political momentum for the next set of INDCs[1], just as the UN climate summit in last September did before Paris. 

-           Long term mitigation strategies: The Paris Agreement includes ambitious long-term temperature goals, with commitments to peak emissions as soon as possible and to achieve net zero emissions this century. Together, these will act as a Pole star to guide countries in preparing both long-term low emissions development strategies and medium term NDCs.  The Paris COP decision also lays out a strengthened process to encourage more immediate action before 2020. 

-           Integrated adaptation planning: The issue of adapting to climate change is now on an equal footing with mitigation.  A global goal of enhancing adaptive capacity, strengthening resilience and reducing vulnerability has been established with adaptation included in future NDCs in the 5 yearly global stocktake.

-           Climate finance frameworks: Finance lies at the heart of the new agreement, with its own objective, and commitments to provide scaled up financial resources and capacity building to support country-driven strategies.  Paris is already being heralded by private investors as a game-changer in terms of mobilising low-carbon investment.  Their role and that of carbon pricing will be vital in funding national projects and programmes. 

-           Measurement, reporting and verification systems: An enhanced transparency framework will include reporting of emissions via greenhouse gas inventories, and tracking of progress on national action.  Developing countries will be supported in this by a new Capacity Building Initiative for Transparency. 

 

The Paris Agreement will act as a firm foundation for actions by individual countries focussed on the short, medium, and long term.  Some actions can deliver benefits immediately, others will deliver the promises for 2025/2030, and yet others must set the strategy for 2050 and beyond. In the short term, countries can take early actions in line with their national priorities, and thereby demonstrate immediate returns from their investment so far in the Paris process.  Encouragingly for the medium term, some countries are already indicating they will increase ambition before they convert their INDCs into NDCs. As part of their comprehensive plans on how they intend to achieve their 2025/2030 goals, they will need to develop ‘climate investment plans’ to attract funding from development banks and the private sector.  Finally, in light of the ambitious long term targets also agreed in Paris, countries will need to consider options for low emission development strategies, to deliver a peaking in emissions followed by carbon neutrality in the second half of the century.   

 

The responsibility now lies with officials and governments across the world to get on with the day job of implementing the agreement.  The most important element in this will be harnessing political will within countries to take ambitious transformative action to stimulate low carbon climate resilient development.  Paris provides the strongest possible signal of our collective political will to tackle climate change: this will no doubt create short term momentum for change: but on its own, it won’t be enough.



 Eagle-eyed readers will be aware that INDCs will be known as Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement.


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