Cities and regions will continue pressing for higher climate ambition

On Saturday 15 December, in an unprecedented achievement to collectively address climate change at the global level, the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) adopted the Paris rulebook, the set of rules and guidelines to operationalise the Paris Agreement as from 2020, including the transparency framework in addition to climate finance, mitigation and adaptation.

The Paris rulebook ‘Invites Parties to consider the outcomes of Talanoa Dialogues in preparing their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and in their efforts to enhance pre-2020 implementation and ambition.” The inclusion of this paragraph in the Paris rulebook was defended and addressed by Cor Lamers (NL/EPP), CoR ENVE Chair and Mayor of Schiedam to the COP23 and COP24 Presidencies at the closing session of Cities and Regions Talanoa Dialogues on December 12

As a concrete achievement for cities and regions worldwide, the Paris rulebook therefore opens the door to reinforced multi-level climate governance by inviting national governments to cooperate with local and regional authorities in the definition of their NDCs, climate strategies and action plans. Amongst the inputs of Talanoa dialogues, which the Paris rulebook recommends national governments to consider, is the CoR’s call for the “integral participation of subnational actors in climate policy making and in the implementation of nationally determined contributions.”

Markku Markkula (FI/EPP), CoR’s first Vice-President “While it is clear that national governments worldwide have failed in sufficiently raising their level of climate ambition, the Katowice agreement nevertheless remains a turning point in our collective efforts to win the fight against global warming. We must therefore not undervalue the great achievement of having agreed on common guidelines to implement the Paris agreement. Neither must we take complaisance in rapidly engaging to set up market mechanisms and tailored financed mechanisms that contribute to global CO₂ reductions. Undoubtingly, local and regional authorities have seen their voice increasingly heard in international climate talks. COP21 explicitly recognised the crucial role cities and regions play in fighting climate change for the first time. Three years after, the Paris rulebook calls on the Parties to further integrate subnational actors in the design and implementation of their climate strategies. It is a clear success and we are confident that effective multi-level cooperation will progressively improve as the Paris agreement is implemented.”

Cor Lamers (NL/EPP), CoR ENVE Chair and Mayor of Schiedam said: “From the European Committee of the Regions, we look forward to engaging further with Parties, as shown through Talanoa Dialogues, to build a stronger partnership for multi-level action and to have it reflected in future decisions. We expect the Paris rulebook to foster the inclusion of local and regional governments in the definition of NDCs, in particular in the context of the next global climate action stock-taking in 2019. We still need to agree on fair and flexible carbon markets to reduce GHG emissions in a cost-effective way and to explore the opportunities of carbon taxes to encourage investors and consumers to choose lower-carbon paths. Together, we can maximise the potential of the much needed clean energy transition. Through flagship initiatives such as the Global Covenant of Mayors, the local and regional level will continue both delivering and pressing for higher climate ambition.”

Andrew Cooper (UK/EA), member of the UK’s Kirklees council and rapporteur of the CoR opinion on Climate Governance after 2020 said: “We welcome the direct call to Parties to consider the proposals included in the Talanoa Dialogues as it opens the door to sub-national contributions in the preparation of national climate inventories, strategies and action plans. We nonetheless stand firm in our call to formally integrate Regionally and Locally Determined Contributions (RLDCs) as to ensure the integral participation of subnational actors in climate policy-making and implementation, including in the preparation and implementation of NDCs.”

The call for Regionally and Locally Determined Contributions (RLDCs) to complement national pledges in the Paris rulebook has multiple goals: to provide cities and regions with a formal role in the implementation of the Paris agreement, to raise local and regional government’s accountability in climate action, to increase data accuracy in the global stocktake process and to contribute to bridge the current emissions gap.

The next global climate action stock-taking is planned for 2019. Global stocktake is a process to assess collective progress towards achieving the Paris Agreement and its long-term goals. It considers climate mitigation, adaptation, finance and implementation support.

Cities account for 70% of world GHG emissions, with local governments being responsible for more than 70% of climate change reduction measures and up to 90% of climate adaptation actions

To incentivise climate action in urban areas, the UNFCCC 2019 Forum of the Standing Committee on Finance will focus on climate finance and sustainable cities.

COP24 failed to agree on the global rules for market mechanisms such as carbon markets, an instrument to reduce the costs of cutting emissions. The discussions to operationalise market mechanisms will continue in the coming year and global guidelines are to be adopted at COP25, to take place in Chile from 11-22 November 2019.

Source:  United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change