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COP24: Progress on Article 6 of the Paris Agreement
The Paris Climate Agreement in 2015 was by far the most ambitious effort yet made to strengthen the global response to the increasingly urgent challenges of climate change, with headline commitments to limiting global warming to below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and to make efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C.
However, the agreement went far wider and deeper then these headlines. It also introduced nationally determined contributions (NDCs), to be submitted regularly to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), for a binding international review of progress made. In Article 6, the Convention provided for international and direct bilateral cooperation and new market-based mechanisms, as well as methods of promoting mitigation and sustainable development.
The Agreement also called on countries to increase their ability to adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change without threatening food production, and to make finance flows consistent with a pathway to low greenhouse gas emissions and climate-resilient development.
The Paris Agreement was a memorable diplomatic achievement but it needs substantial extra work to clarify and agree the guidance, rules, modalities, and procedures of the Agreement to succeed in practice. This work is ongoing, and the intention is to adopt the Paris ‘rulebook’ at the 24th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 24) in Katowice, Poland by the end of 2018.
Article 6 encourages international cooperation and allows countries with higher emissions or higher ambition to acquire emission reductions (Internationally Transferable Mitigation Outcomes, or ITMOs, Article 6.2) or other kinds of mitigation outcomes (Article 6.4) from transferring countries. This can help to mobilise climate finance and technology from one country to another and any such financial transfers will help towards the Parties’ commitment to mobilise $100 billion per annum by 2020. Articles 6.2 and 6.4 require the quantification of emission reductions, the avoidance of double counting, net mitigation, environmental integrity and a calculation of the reductions achieved against targets set Nationally Determined Contributions.
The African Development Bank is also leading efforts to develop a “non-market mechanism” under Article 6.8 called the Adaptation Benefit Mechanism. This is designed to channel private sector finance into adaptation projects. These and other mechanisms demonstrate innovative ways in which African countries can attract climate finance.
So far, there is limited clarity on issues such as scope, governance and infrastructure for the implementing provisions under Article 6. Informal documents are still being discussed and a significant amount of work remains to resolve and agree upon the options as well as their corresponding intricacies.
The Article 6 rules are potentially complex and may be harder to apply in countries with lower capacity. It is important to note that the Paris Agreement makes provisions and special conditions for Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and Small Island Developing States (Africa is home to 33 out of 47 LDCs) which could help these countries to compete on climate finance with countries such as Brazil, China and India.
It is up to the African negotiators and African civil society and stakeholders to ensure that African countries get a fair chance in the ongoing discussions on the Article 6 mechanisms. Complicated as these discussions may be, they hold the key to ensuring that Africa gets a fair deal on climate finance.