Earth Diplomacy Leadership – Summary of SB58 Session 2: The Stakes
Report from the second 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 2: The Stakes – Tuesday, May 23, 2023
What is at stake in the SB58 round of United Nations Climate Change (UNFCCC) negotiations?
A background list might be:
The possibility of successful climate-resilient development;
The future of integrated and holistic approaches to human development, trade, and international relations;
The pace of innovations that can transform food systems and bring nutrition security for all;
How mitigation, adaptation, loss and damage, and resilience-building—will be financed and measured;
Whether the rights and dignity of the human person will be central or peripheral in coming decades;
What level of construcitve cooperation there is to make shared sustainable prosperity a reality.
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
Session 2 of the SB58 cycle of Earth Diplomacy Leadership Initiative workshops opened with a brief review of Session 1, including select emerging insights:
The UNFCCC process is necessarily complex, because the ramifications of climate change touch every area of human experience; embrace that complexity to be better prepared to navigate the process.
There are five broad formal segments to the process: The Conference of Parties (to the 1992 Convention), Subsidiary Bodies for Advice (SBSTA) and Implementation (SBI), and Meetings of the Parties for Kyoto Protocol and Paris Agreement action.
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.
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.
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.
Rachel Kyte, Dean of The Fletcher School at Tufts University, laid out six areas of the negotiations to watch closely, each with material consequences for nations, people in community, and overall progress on climate crisis response:
Food and Health
Global Stocktake – We are going to overshoot 1.5ºC; plans in place now, and which will be active in the next few years, are not adequate to prevent this. How will nations respond? What national and multilateral actions might be taken to upgrade ambition and accelerate implementation?
Mitigation – There is widespread recognition of the need to phase out fossil fuels, but negotiations have failed to deliver agreement on phase-out. Will negotiations on the way to COP28 build consensus on phasing out fossil fuels? There is pressure to focus on aggressively boosting renewable energy; the Presidency can play a unique role in signaling the need for an agreed phase-out.
Adaptation – Though the COP27 reached an agreement to create a Loss and Damage Fund, the Global Goal on Adaptation was not agreed, and language was not sufficiently ambitious to drive transformative action. Can negotiations get closer to an agreed high-ambition adaptation goal that includes building resilience and preparedness, keeps people and communities safe, and supports ecosystem health and resilience?
Food and Health – Food systems and human health are deeply intertwined with the climate system and affected by climate change impacts. Improving both can be a driver of climate action. The COP28 Presidency has cited these as priority areas: Can the negotiations make real progress toward climate-related action in food systems and for human health, as part of an integrated and holistic approach to national planning and investment?
Accountability – The High-Level Expert Group on Net Zero Commitments, convened by the United Nations Secretary-General, published its report 'Integrity Matters' last year. The report calls for high standards to guard against greenwashing and to ensure pledges turn to action. Will nations support actionable net zero goals with monitoring, verification, and incentives?
Finance – The perennial golden thread running through the negotiations, affecting mitigation, adaptation, resilience, and loss and damage response. There are rumors of financial innovations supported by the COP28 Presidency; It is expected the world will meet the $100 billion goal this year for the first time. Countries facing debt distress need help, and we still need to shift trillions in public and mainstream finance.
Marcelo Mena, CEO of the Global Methane Hub, highlighted the interconnections between climate change and poverty. He noted fossil fuel emissions are still rising, when we need to be rapidly accelerating overall mitigation of global emissions. Nations need to strengthen their Paris commitments (Nationally Determined Contributions, or NDCs). There has been major progress since 2018 on major economies adopting net zero emissions targets; now, they need to be realized.
He highlighted the Climate Risk Index, which brings into focus the cycle of climate-related destruction and debt. Reform of international financial institutions and targeted debt relief have a critical role to play in climate-resilient development. One example is the unprecedented debt-for-nature swap, which will reduce Ecuador's debt by $1 billion, and support conservation of Galápagos Islands ecosystems.
Mr. Mena, who has also worked at the World Bank and served as Minister of Environment for Chile, also reviewed promising climate solutions, including: hydrogen-fueled and electric vehicles, mitigation of methane emissions, noting climate benefits, and benefits to health and livelihoods, and to equity and justice.
Progress on economic incentives and structural financial change are also important, including the move toward climate budgeting, the work of the Coalition of Finance Ministers for Climate Action, the spread of carbon pricing policies, and the issuance of green bonds. Sovereign green bonds mobilize private capital to support climate outcomes, and can carry sophisticated conditions for verifying action.
The session closed with further discussion with Dean Kyte, focusing on structural signals of the need for comprehensive transition to climate-resilient practices. The salient insight she suggested negotiators need to come to terms with Bonn is that:
The path to safety and prosperity will only become more difficult and more expensive, the longer we wait.
The Global Stocktake will find national and global plans remain inadequate; plans need to be significantly upgraded; the world will need to collectively, intelligently, and constructively respond to overshooting 1.5ºC, to avoid further heating and related impacts.
Climate disruption and related impacts are compounding and accelerating: many nations are already caught in a spiral of worsening destruction and rising debt.
Finance ministries and central banks have a direct interest in changing this dynamic, reducing harm and cost and creating fiscal space for real-world resilience-building.
Vulnerability-sensitive debt relief is a critical piece of the climate solutions puzzle; globally, we must reverse widespread debt distress and create fiscal space for sustained, high-value climate action.
Integrity Matters – The report of the High-Level Expert Group on net zero commitments signals the urgency of developing and deploying high standards for ensuring net zero commitment are credible, active, and verifiable.
The International Monetary Fund has identified macroprudential risks, related to climate disruption—the risk that budgets, economies, and nations can be destabilized by compounding risk, harm, and cost.
The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission and Financial Stability Oversight Council have also recognized climate change as a structural threat to the financial sector.
The mainstream financial sector can benefit from clear requirements for disclosure of risks related to climate, nature, and technological transition.
Nature restoration, conservation, climate change mitigation, and effective investments in adaptation and resilience measures, can optimize national development pathways; an integrated and holistic approach to national economic development should account for these overlapping areas of value creation.
Small states, and low and middle-income countries, can compel large economies to agree to higher ambition and faster timelines for implementation than they would on their own; inclusive multilateral processes should be used to support acceleration.
Integrated and holistic climate policy planning creates efficiencies that allow for higher ambition, more productive international cooperation, and faster timelines of implementation.
The SB58 in June and COP28 in December need to set the world on course for climate-safe human development, food systems, international trade, and national economic development, in line with maximum global heating of 1.5ºC and as little as possible climate-related harm and cost, including for the most vulnerable.
Session 3 will focus on Transformational Outcomes
How can the SB58 round of negotiations set up the COP28 annual climate conference for high ambition consensus and transformational outcomes that come to life in people’s everyday experience?
To answer this question, we will hear from:
Carlos Alvarado Quesada – 48th President of the Republic of Costa Rica; Professor of Practice of Diplomacy at The Fletcher School at Tufts University
Georg Børsting – a member of the Transitional Committee on Loss and Damage and long-time member of the Standing Committee on Finance
Josefina Achaval Torre – Global Coordinator of the Good Food Finance Network Secretariat