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Earth Diplomacy Leadership – Summary of SB58 Session 1: The Process
Report from the first session of the SB58 cycle of Earth Diplomacy Leadership Initiative workshops, co-coordinated by Citizens’ Climate International and The Fletcher School at Tufts University
Earth Diplomacy Leadership Initiative – SB58 Cycle
Session 1: The Process – Thursday, May 18, 2023
How do the United Nations Climate Change negotiations work? Who participates? What are their roles? How can stakeholders’ voices be heard? How does negotiated language turn into real-world climate action?
This session will provide a broad overview of the UNFCCC process, and help participants learn how to navigate the complex formal agendas, and often overlapping schedule of negotiations and substantive side meetings.
The goal of this session is to prepare participants to navigate the process, read between the lines and develop a deeper understanding of what is happening in negotiating rooms and how that conditions outcomes.
Joseph Robertson — Executive Director of Citizens’ Climate International and Senior Advisor Sustainable Finance for the EAT Foundation
Dr. Isatis Cintrón — Citizens’ Climate International Board Member, Volunteer Coordinator for Latin America, and Co-Director of the ACE Observatory
Session 1 of the SB58 cycle of Earth Diplomacy Leadership Initiative workshops opened with an overview of the UNFCCC process, highlighting:
The 1992 Convention mandate to “prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system”;
The 2015 Paris Agreement mutual commitment of 197 Parties to deliver nationally determined contributions to the global climate response, in line with science-based targets and sustainable development;
The 2018 IPCC Special Report demonstrating that 1.5ºC is the threshold for unacceptable danger;
The formal agendas, online at unfccc.int/sb58;
The complexity of the process and the value of embracing that complexity, accepting that meetings move, that much of the language will appear coded due to decades of technical negotiation and evolution, and that sharing constructive insights to help others navigate the process can sometimes be the highest-value contribution.
We also reviewed a select list of key areas of work:
OMGE: overall mitigation of global emissions, through cooperative implementation
NCQG: new global climate finance goal
GGA: Global Goal on Adaptation
GST: The Global Stocktake
Finance (mitigation, adaptation, loss and damage)
Transitional Committee on the Loss and Damage Fund
Non-market approaches (to international climate cooperation) under Article 6.8 of the Paris Agreement
ACE: Action for Climate Empowerment
Dr. Isatis Cintrón — a founding member of the CCI Board, volunteer coordinator for Latin America, and Co-Director for Research for the ACE Observatory — reviewed the six elements of Action for Climate Empowerment (ACE), grounded in Article 6 of the Convention and Article 12 of the Paris Agreement:
Public Access to Information
She also reviewed the common but differentiated responsibilities (CBDR) standard, how it applies to the process both in structure and substance. Justice and equity are critical for addressing climate change — both because the most vulnerable are often those least responsible for creating climate change and its devastating impacts, and because we cannot reduce climate damage overall if we allow vulnerability to deepen and proliferate.
We looked closely at Article 6, paragraph 8 of the Paris Agreement, which outlines non-market approaches to international climate cooperation, and reads:
Parties recognize the importance of integrated, holistic and balanced non-market approaches being available to Parties to assist in the implementation of their nationally determined contributions, in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication, in a coordinated and effective manner, including through, inter alia, mitigation, adaptation, finance, technology transfer and capacity-building, as appropriate. These approaches shall aim to:
a) Promote mitigation and adaptation ambition;
b) Enhance public and private sector participation in the implementation of nationally determined contributions; and
c) Enable opportunities for coordination across instruments and relevant institutional arrangements.
The text of Article 6.8 exemplifies the subtle, complex, and catalytic way in which international climate policy language works. It is especially important, because it points to a vast and underutilized landscape of incentives, financing, and trade relations, that can make climate-aligned practices mainstream.
The process is necessarily complex; embrace this, develop an intentional way of navigating it, and treat relationships as opportunities to learn, and to create conditions for effective consensus.
Select 2–3 segments of the formal agendas that are essential for you to follow and layer in additional areas as secondary, so you can focus, but also keep an eye on the bigger picture.
Plan to learn from others — no matter your level of experience, there will always be more information moving through the process than you can possibly master; this is a sign of wider climate transformation, and those involved can make you smarter.
The highest value role for Observers is sharing constructive insights that help others understand the integrated and holistic landscape, making consensus around high ambition more likely.
Local communities hold needed knowledge — traditional, experiential, and sometimes technical — that can be invaluable for designing and deploying the most effective and durable climate solutions.
Integrity matters — The same governments are making commitments on climate, biodiveristy, food security, the ocean, human rights, and across the Sustainable Development Goals; they should honor those commitments and actively seek co-benefits wherever possible.
Article 6.8(c) of the Paris Agreement calls for “coordination across instruments and relevant institutional arrangements”; discussion highlighted the fact that this is a grounding for working across Conventions.
The work of overcoming loss and damage from climate disruption must be shared work, and real-world benefits for all; compounding vulnerability and fiscal instability create risks and pressures that all nations have a material interest in avoiding.
Successful climate resilient development — which the IPCC warns could become inaccessible without immediate widespread action — requires international financial reform, including vulnerability-sensitive debt relief.
Non-market approaches can include almost any area of international cooperation (except emissions trading) and so provide a workspace for sharing science, data, finance, and technical capability, to make possible the optimal climate resilience pathways.
Climate change negotiations can benefit from clear and defined, but also creative and evolving linkages across the SDGs; the integrated and holistic approach makes more resources available to achieve more of the desired outcomes.
Go beyond agencies to Agency — public participation is critical, but consultation on intended plans is not enough; the most effective participatory processes involve stakeholders and communities in design and implementation of climate solutions.
Session 2 will focus on The Stakes
What is at stake in the SB58 round of United Nations Climate Change (UNFCCC) negotiations?
To answer this question, we will hear from:
Rachel Kyte — Dean of The Fletcher School at Tufts University; former Special Representative of the Secretary General and CEO Sustainable Energy for All, and former Vice President and Special Envoy for Climate at the World Bank
Marcelo Mena — CEO of the Global Methane Hub; former Minister of Environment for Chile
Georg Børsting — a member of the Transitional Committee on Loss and Damage and long-time member of the Standing Committee on Finance
For an updated overview of the SB58 cycle of Earth Diplomacy Leadership Initiative workshops, and to register, go to good.ctzn.works/diplo