The year is poised to be full of important milestones where more detailed policy is to be put in place that can unleash higher ambition and stronger action now and in the future.
These relate to catalysing increased climate action before 2020, coordinating an important international conversation to check progress and negotiations to unlock the full potential of the Paris Agreement.
Given the importance of reaching these milestones, UN Climate Change (UNFCCC) began assisting countries and chairs of specific negotiating forums as early as January to plan their work and map out the year.
“With countries clearly in the driving seat of the climate change process, we look forward to supporting nations towards the 2018 milestones throughout the year and at the 24th Conference of the Parties (COP24), to be held in Katowizce, Poland, in December 2018,” said Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary of UN Climate Change.
Following the adoption and early entry into force of the Paris Climate Change Agreement, many may understandably ask why there is yet again talk of milestones in the climate change negotiations. The short answer is that the negotiations need to enable the implementation of ever more decisive and defining climate action, including through policies. The long answer below will attempt to shed more light on this and to explain the milestones.
Action before 2020
Action before 2020 is critically important. This is mainly because countries want continuous action without any gaps given that their climate action plans (nationally determined contributions – NDCs) will likely be fully implemented from 2020 onwards. But it is equally important because strong action now lays the foundation for stronger action later. To this end, the climate change negotiations have put in place the extension of the Kyoto Protocol up to 2020, a process known as the Doha Amendment. The Doha Amendment is subject to ratification at the national level. In the run-up to 2020, the Protocol remains an essential vehicle for many developed countries to make more rapid and urgent cuts in their greenhouse gas emissions.
The protocol, since its adoption at COP3 on December 11, 1997, has become a beacon of climate action and an inspiring precursor to the 2015 Paris Climate Change Agreement, because it demonstrated that international climate change agreements can bring the countries of the world together to address a global problem.
As of March 1, 110 parties have deposited their instrument of acceptance. To enter Doha into force requires 144 of the 192 parties to the Kyoto Protocol.
“Thanks to Kyoto, we have built a solid foundation, paving the way for even greater action in the context of the Paris Agreement,” said Ms Espinosa,. “I urge those countries which have not yet done so to deposit their instruments of acceptance as soon as possible,” she added.
To further boost action before 2020, a special forum will take place at COP24 in Katowice in December. In preparation for this, countries may make submissions around strengthened action before 2020 by May 1, 2018. These submissions will serve as valuable input for the forum. Lastly, it is very important that developing countries receive assistance to act.