Civil society “dismayed” at C.O.P.24 outcomes

The Executive Director of O Le Siosiomaga Society, Fiu Mataese Elisara, has described the outcomes of this month’s United Nations Climate Change Conference in Poland as “weak and full of loopholes”.

The Conference of the Parties to the Framework Convention on Climate Change wrapped up mid-December after two weeks of fraught negotiations, postponed decisions and concerns that the Paris Agreement rulebook would not be finalised.

Fiu, Executive Director of Samoa’s first environment focused non-governmental organisation said that from a civil society perspective, the results of the conference, known as COP24 did not meet expectations.

“In terms of general analysis of the outcomes of COP24: the whole outcome is not only weak but there are a lot of loopholes in it,” Fiu said.

“It’s a retreat from the level of ambition that was expected, that is needed to genuinely combat climate change."

“We were hoping the Paris rulebook will provide strong framework for the implementation of the Paris Agreement, but we find that the texts on nationally determined contributions (NDC’s), and the transparency framework fell far short of expectations,” he said.

An absence of human rights being honoured in the outcomes is also of grave concern to Fiu, who said the postponing of a decision on how to implement Article 6 of the Paris Agreement is evidence of this shortcoming.

“There is virtually none of the concerns of the most vulnerable people impacted such as small island developing states, which are basically ignored in the outcome,” he said.

Article six is about market-based mechanisms to combat climate change. The disagreements, which led to no decision being made, were over who gets to count emissions reductions and whether “double counting” should be allowed.

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Reuters reports that under the article, “countries should agree to rules to ensure they do not double count emissions reductions, when one country is allowed to pay another to lower emissions but count those lower emissions toward their own emissions cut targets.”

If a rule was in place where the emissions reductions generated in one place cannot be counted both by the party generating the cuts and the country using those reductions toward its own target, the double counting would be avoided.

A draft should be submitted to and voted on in next year’s conference of the parties in November.

According to Reuters, Brazil obstructed movement on this issue, to the extent that it will no longer host next year’s COP25. 

According to Fiu, this is a huge issue. Rich countries must show leadership on tackling climate change, but the Article 6 debacle shows they will not.

“If there is some leadership in these rich countries to tackle climate change, there are expectations there will be some giveaway in their pursuit of economic development at the peril of the countries that don’t have the capacity to not only adapt but mitigate the disaster,” Fiu said.

“Brazil walking out of its hosting offer for next year reflects that."

“When it’s frustrated about getting what it wants, it walks out.”

Climate change discourse should be about addressing the rights of the most vulnerable, Fiu said, and COP24 did not demonstrate that enough.

“To ignore those concerns is basically to say that you don’t matter even if you go under sea level rise."

“But we have a sovereign right under United Nations charter to continue to exist."

“It’s dismaying to see no reference to human rights in the outcomes,” he said.

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