Elements emerging for an effective Paris climate agreement

Press release
July 15, 2015
Contact: Laura Rehrmann, rehrmannl@c2es.org, 703-516-0621
Report outlines emerging elements of climate agreement
Year-long dialogue of senior negotiators produces ‘Vision for Paris’

The emerging elements of a Paris agreement are outlined in a new report based on in-depth discussions among senior climate negotiators from leading countries. The report foresees a durable legal agreement that sets binding commitments for all parties, holds countries accountable, and works to progressively strengthen global ambition.

Vision for Paris: Building an Effective Climate Agreement was prepared by Valli Moosa of South Africa and Harald Dovland of Norway, co-chairs of a year-long dialogue among negotiators from China, the United States and 20 other European, Asian, Latin American and African countries. The Toward 2015 dialogue was organized by the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES).

Drawing on nearly 100 hours of discussions among the negotiators, who participated in the dialogue in their personal capacities, the report outlines the co-chairs’ vision of the new agreement under the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to be reached this December in Paris.

“Our discussions were frank, substantive, and productive. We saw strong convergence on many of the key issues for Paris,” said Mr. Moosa, former environment minister of South Africa. “This was a rare opportunity for genuine dialogue and the spirit throughout was very constructive.”

“Certainly there are tough negotiations ahead, but the broad outlines of a deal are becoming clear,” said Mr. Dovland, former lead climate negotiator for Norway and co-chair of several UNFCCC negotiating bodies. “We’re encouraged because behind the scenes we see a real desire to find common ground.”

The co-chairs’ report foresees a “hybrid” agreement in Paris that combines top-down and bottom-up elements to achieve both broad participation and strong ambition. It says the Paris outcome should:

  • Reaffirm the goal of limiting global average temperature increase to below 2 °C, and acknowledge that this requires the progressive decarbonization of the global economy.
  • Include a core legal agreement with binding commitments by all parties to submit and maintain nationally determined contributions (NDCs), report on implementation of their NDCs, and be held accountable.
  • Reflect differentiation not on the basis of explicit categories of countries, but by respecting parties’ varied starting points, and committing all parties to put forward their best efforts, and strengthen them over time.
  • Require periodic updating of NDCs (e.g., every 5 years), with parties expected to progress in the type, scope and/or scale of their efforts, in line with their circumstances.
  • Establish a common transparency and accountability framework, with flexibility for varying national capacities.
  • Establish a stronger vision for adaptation under the UNFCCC; commit all parties to implement and report on national adaptation efforts; and establish a process to periodically assess adaptation progress and priorities.
  • Set a collective aim of mobilizing finance and investment; commit all parties to invest their own resources domestically and provide enabling environments for investment; enable enlargement of the circle of contributors; and establish a process to regularly track flows and assess needs.
  • Recognize commitments and actions by non-state actors – including subnational governments, businesses, international institutions and civil society organizations – in support of countries’ nationally determined contributions.

The Toward 2015 dialogue included participants from Australia, Brazil, China, the European Commission, France, Gambia, Germany, Grenada, Japan, Mali, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Peru, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, the United States, Venezuela, and the Independent Association of Latin America and the Caribbean (AILAC).  The list of participants is available here.

Mr. Moosa, South Africa’s environment minister from 1999 to 2004, was a leader of the African National Congress and supported President Mandela in negotiating the transition from apartheid to democracy. He serves as chairman of WWF (South Africa), chairman of Anglo American Platinum, and a director of Lereko Investments, Sun International, Sanlam and Imperial Holdings.

Mr. Dovland previously served as co-chair of the UNFCCC Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform, and chair of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Kyoto Protocol. He retired from the Norwegian Ministry for the Environment in 2011 and is currently Climate Policy Director for the consulting firm Carbon Limits.

The dialogue was directed by C2ES Executive Vice President Elliot Diringer and received financial support from the governments of Australia, Germany, New Zealand, Norway and Switzerland.

Read the report

More about the Toward 2015 Dialogue and its participants.

About C2ES
The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES) is an independent, nonprofit, nonpartisan organization promoting strong policy and action to address our climate and energy challenges. Learn more at www.c2es.org.