Visualization through word clouds and analysis of the positions of industralized countries ahead of the next round of climate negotiations.
This post constitutes the second part of an analysis of countries and coalitions’ positions on the 2015 global climate agreement currently under negotiations at the UN climate negotiations. The visualizations below are based on the written submissions provided by countries ahead of the Warsaw climate conference.
This second section provides short analyses of the positions of industrialized countries (NB: these categories are only used here in order to structure the analysis).
For additional background information – incl. a short introduction to the art of reading “word clouds” – and a commentary on the positions of developing countries, please refer to the first part of this analysis.
← return to Part 1 of this analysis
Part 2: Industrialized Countries
US: a “race to the top” lacking a goal post
The submission of the United States builds on the country’s proposal for a “race to the top” building on nationally determined pledges and the hope that ambitious action by some will emulate others. The submission acknowledges that this approach provides no guarantee to deliver the level of commitment required to reach the common objective but suggests that pressure will ultimately build on parties to do so.
The country calls for the ongoing negotiations to deliver a concise agreement in 2015 with some details on the rules allowing for a transparent assessment of national action and a mix between binding and aspirational commitments. Mitigation commitments would be registered in a separate schedule, after a consultative phase to begin in March 2015. The submission lists the information that should be provided by parties in order to enable countries to compare their efforts.
Finally, in relation to the role of finance in the post-2020 framework, the US emphasizes the importance of redirecting investment flows and the role that climate finance can play to provide positive incentives for this to happen.
EU: trust as the driver of ambition
The submission of the European Union (on behalf of 34 countries) emphasizes the need to accelerate the negotiation process. The EU calls for the adoption in 2015 of an ambitious, legally binding protocol with global participation and informed by science. The protocol should be applicable to all on the basis of their “fair share” (defined by the EU as based on evolving responsibilities and capabilities). It also emphasizes its expectation that the negotiations will result in a comprehensive package addressing not only mitigation but also adaptation, means of implementation and transparency.
Where the US and some other developed countries see flexibility and pragmatism as a driver for ambition, the EU emphasizes trust (through the implementation of a robust rules-based system) as the key to delivering stronger mitigation action. It therefore calls for the adoption of a legally binding reporting and accounting framework building both on the Kyoto Protocol and on the processes adopted after the Cancun Agreements, including through capacity building when necessary in relation to reporting obligations.
The block calls for further discussion in November on the operationalization of finance. It suggests that all parties make initial offers in 2014 in relation to their mitigation commitments thus allowing for a step-by-step review process afterwards. Such commitments should be economy wide emissions reductions targets for countries already having such obligations or other types of commitments based on national circumstances for other parties with the objective of seeing all countries eventually converge towards the first type of commitments.
The Environmental Integrity Group (Liechtenstein, Mexico, Monaco, Rep. of Korea, and Switzerland) is straightforward about its expectations: a legally binding instrument with sufficient ambition, comprehensive participation and effective compliance mechanisms. The five countries emphasize their vision of the principle of common but differentiated responsibility & respective capacities (CBDR/RC) as an enabler for further ambition, based on a “dynamic and flexible framework”.
In relation to mitigation, their submission emphasizes the need for all commitments to take the same legal form and be under the same rules, with the type, stringency and timing of actions varying based on CBDR/RC and equity. The EIG provides additional information in relation to its expectations on accounting, verification and compliance of the commitments. While the group emphasizes the importance to make progress in Warsaw on the modalities and timeline of the consultative phase which would allow the review of national commitments, the countries did not provide further detail their views on this matter.
New Zealand: an ambitious dismantling of the multilateral framework
New Zealand’s position is based on a hybrid approach between a bottom-up approach and a top-down regime, with flexibility as the key word. The limited top-down elements envisioned by the country are an obligation to adopt mitigation actions and a commitment to respect transparency requirements in the reporting of domestic actions. Accordingly, the 2015 agreement would also contain a global aspirational goal and a general commitment for all countries to improve ambition over time. New Zealand rejects any equity formula to assess the adequacy of national actions.
The submission then details the bottom-up elements that the country advocates for: the national determination of actions, based on methodologies chosen at the discretion of each countries, and coupled with the possibility for additional “op-ins” (flexibility mechanisms) and “op-outs” (to exclude one sector from its accounting). In relation to the negotiations timeframe, the country suggests that national commitments be registered sometime after 2015, once a set of conditions is met. No reference is made to guaranteeing that such a hybrid approach would guarantee that countries deliver the final objective of the convention.
Japan: a flexible regime
The Japanese submission suggests taking into account the G8 “proposal” of reducing global emissions by 50% in 2050 (developed countries reducing their own emissions by 80%). The vision of the country for the post 2020 climate agreement is defined as a flexible hybrid system with nationally determined commitments based on internationally-agreed rules. The submission of these commitments would then be followed by an international review process.
The country’s submission provides detailed information on expectations for the “ex-ante” consultation allowing the review national commitments internationally before their inscription in the new agreement as well as on the “ex-post” review of the progress made by countries to implement their commitments. Additional flexibility is suggested by the country in relation to the timeframe for the submission of commitments as well as with the possibility to demonstrate a country’s actions on climate change through other criteria than emission reductions.
The submission by the Independent Alliance of Latin America and the Caribbean (“AILAC”, composed of Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Panamá & Perú) focuses on the role of two core elements: the importance of a new framework for adaptation and the role of means of implementation (financial and technological support as well as capacity building) in the new framework. The coalition provides a useful reminder of the role that these resources play in the intergovernmental process: contributing to the achievement of the global goals as facilitating the increase of ambition as well as enabling compliance, for instance in providing resources for countries to implement adequate reporting of their actions. The group suggests that both of those aspects should be considered when defining provisions related to means of implementation in the post 2020 regime. AILAC also emphasizes the importance for negotiations related to means of implementations to follow the same timeframe as the discussions focused on mitigation commitments.
As one of the richest countries falling outside of the scope of the Annex 1 to the climate convention, Singapore reiterated the importance of building on the structure provided by the Convention and its Annexes in the post 2020 regime. Its submission emphasized the importance of the participation by all countries to the new climate framework as well as the key role of acknowledging national circumstances in achieving this universal participation. The country proposes that national determined mitigation commitments be submitted in 2015. No mention is made in the country’s position to any type of review of these commitments before those are registered in the 2015 climate agreement, thus suggesting a purely “bottom-up” approach.
The author would like to thank those having provided comments since the publication of the first part of this analysis.
Disclaimer: additional parties have also submitted their written position on the 2015 climate agreement. The Coalition for Rainforest Nations’ submission focuses mainly on REDD+ related elements. The Russian position is sadly available only in Russian language. Finally Uzbekistan and Turkey have also contributed in written to this process.
At the time of the publication of this analysis, neither China nor AOSIS (the Alliance of Small Islands States) had provided their written input.
Visualization through word clouds and analysis of the positions of industralized countries ahead of the next round of climate negotiations.Read post →
Over the last months, key countries and coalitions have shared their expectations on the outcomes of the ongoing negotiations towards…
Over the last months, key countries and coalitions have shared their expectations on the outcomes of the ongoing negotiations towards the 2015 UN climate agreement to be adopted in Paris. These written submissions play a particularly important role in the negotiation process this year due to the absence of an additional negotiating session between the June meeting and the November Warsaw Conference. In this context, they offer a good overview of the fault lines one can expect to see emerge or widen between the positions of countries at the Warsaw climate conference.
The timing for the submission of national commitments, the role of the international review of these commitments, the degree of differentiation between different countries and the level of compliance enshrined in the 2015 deal are perhaps the four most importance points of disagreement among countries, indicating some difficult discussions ahead on the road to Paris.
An introduction to the art of reading Word Clouds
Reading “word clouds” can provide more reliable results than tasseography (tea-leaf reading) provided one does not take the word clouds at face value. Still, the graphic visualization of countries’ negotiating positions can offer useful hints if one knows what information to look for in each visualization:
- What is the balance between references to “national” or “circumstances” compared to “global” and “international”?
- Or the balance between “flexibility”, “facilitation” on the one hand and “legal”, “compliance” on the other hand?
- What words are missing (Which countries have mentioned “science”, “IPCC” or “equity” among the most cited words used in their submission)?
Part 1: Developing Countries
The BASIC paths to a 2015 agreement
The submissions from Brazil, India and South Africa provide perhaps the most interesting lessons from this analysis as they highlight three sets of priorities among the members of BASIC – including some striking divergence of views on differentiation (as of October 22, China had not provided any written submission).
INDIA: differentiated obligations and differentiated compliance
Recalling its earlier position on the matter, India emphasizes its strong expectation that the negotiations respect the current structure of the convention and its annexes. Countries should thus remain divided into two categories on the basis of the annexes to the convention, the country warning that any attempt to categorize countries in a different manner that it of 1992 would constitute a violation of the mandate of the negotiations.
The Indian submission also points at the fact that the process towards the 2015 climate agreement should address all four pillars of the convention (mitigation but also adaptation, financial and technological support) as well as capacity building.
In terms of compliance, India calls for a mechanism based on the Kyoto Protocol that would ensure the respect by Annex 1 (industrialized) countries of their obligations, these obligations being based on science. For Non Annex 1 countries (developing countries and emerging economies), it only suggests the provision of positive incentives to enhance compliance.
BRAZIL: assessing historical responsibility & launching national debates
Brazil also argues for a differentiation based on the annexes to the convention, suggesting a legal distinction between the commitments of both groups. According to the country, the layout of the new agreement should ensure: ambition, effectiveness, fairness, and provide flexibilities. Its submission contains two main proposals.
Firstly, the country suggests that cumulative historical emissions should play an important role in defining the responsibility for mitigation. The country suggests that emissions from 1850 should be considered in this assessment and calls for the adoption of a short term process which would include the IPCC. This process would enable countries to present simplified evaluations of their historical emissions at the UN climate summit organized by Ban Ki-Moon in September 2014.
As a second step, Brazil calls for the organization of national debates – starting after the Warsaw conference – to discuss domestically each country’s commitment to the 2015 climate agreement. It argues that only such national debates could provide strong mandates for governments to commit in 2015 to a Paris climate agreement.
SOUTH AFRICA: one legally binding protocol for all
The position articulated by South Africa in its September submission is quite different from its BASIC allies. The country is very explicit about its ambition of seeing the current negotiations results with the adoption of a new protocol (an option that India has opposed vehemently) and about the need for all parties to accept legally binding obligations. These legally binding obligations would include economy-wide emission reduction targets for industrialized countries and relative emission reductions for developing countries. These commitments would be registered in the new agreement on the basis of successive commitment periods and would be accompanied by a compliance mechanism (hence following a similar approach as in the Kyoto Protocol).
South Africa also proposes a step-by-step process to define the targets of each country. Next year, countries would make initial offers, followed by quantified targets in 2015. The Paris climate conference would review these targets and suggest adjustments based on an Equity Reference Framework and on the outcomes of the 2013-2015 review of the global goal. Updated targets would then be inscribed in the climate agreement in 2017.
AFRICAN GROUP: a balanced outcome based on the convention’s principle
The South African proposal is also at odds on several elements with the content of the submission of the African Group. The African Group position constitute in a mix of top-down and bottom-up proposals. In relation to the former, the group advocates for the adoption of new global goals, not only related to limiting temperature increase but also on emission reductions, adaptation, finance and technological support. It calls for the review of the adequacy of national commitments of all countries on the basis of a reference framework that would include both scientific and equity elements (including the principles of the convention related to historic responsibility, respective capacities and development needs).
The group however suggests only a facilitative compliance mechanism for industrialized countries (or rather – those contained in Annex 1), referring to the weak elements of the Bali Action Plan rather than to a more robust and enforcement-focused tools provided in the Kyoto Protocol. It also suggests that national consultations defining each country’s commitment would only start in winter 2014, with the scientific and equity-based review taking place after 2015.
Like-Minded Group of Developing Countries (LMDCs): reaffirming the convention’s principles and the role of the 1992 annexes
Building on its previous submission, the LMDCs (composed of Bolivia, China, Cuba, Ecuador, Egypt, India, Mali, Malaysia, Nicaragua, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, and Venezuela) emphasize mainly their opposition to any deviation from the current differentiation between annex 1 and non-annex 1 countries, reaffirming their commitments to the respect of all principles of the convention. The LMDCs suggest that only such an approach could deliver a win-win-win situation, securing benefits from people, the climate and development.
In relation to mitigation commitments, the submission calls for the adoption of enhanced economy-wide targets for annex 1 countries – with the objective of minimizing the adverse impact of such policies on other countries. Non Annex 1 countries would participate through the implementation of National Appropriate Mitigation Actions with support from annex 2 countries.
The LMDCs also highlight the importance of the balance between both workstream (short term and post 2020 ambition) and between the different elements within each of these discussions, emphasizing the obligation of industrialized countries (“annex 2”) of financial and technological support (including through the removal of Intellectual Property barriers).
Least Developed Countries (LDCs): an ambitious outcome addressing (non) compliance
The submission by the LDCs (see here for the list of the 48 Least Developed Countries) contains several interesting elements. Firstly, it is the only coalition to refer to the importance of raising the level of ambition of the global goal to limiting the increase of temperatures up to 1.5 degrees (AOSIS not having submitted any written views up to October 22). LDCs call for the adoption of a legally binding protocol ensuring the respect of rule-based commitments that would be collectively agreed and based on latest available science. The coalition provided the only submission referring to the vulnerability of a global regime to a key country acting as a free rider. It therefore calls for the development of compliance provisions, including in relation to non-parties (a subject currently taboo in the negotiating halls).
In relation to mitigation commitments, LDCs suggest flexibility for developing countries allowing for the factoring in of national circumstances, such countries transiting over time from a variety of action to relative emission reduction targets (deviation from business as usual scenarios).
Disclaimer: many parties have submitted separate written submissions on adaptation in the 2015 agreement. These separate submissions were not included in these visualizations in order to maintain the focus of this post on the architecture of the 2015 agreement. Some parties choose to address both questions with only one submission, their views on adaptation was in this case included in the text that served as a basis for these word clouds. Hence no implications should be read from these word clouds on the importance that parties allocate to adaptation in the post 2020 framework.
Over the last months, key countries and coalitions have shared their expectations on the outcomes of the ongoing negotiations towards…Read post →
The note released by the facilitators of the climate talks highlights the need for negotiators to adopt a more constructive approach to the negotiations. Otherwise there will be little hope for a global agreement to be adopted in 2015 in Paris as expected.
This is, in one line, the message that the top UN climate negotiations officials have attempted to send to governments in their “note on progress” circulated this week. Before passing on the baton to the new co-chairs (EU’s Artur Runge-Metzge and Trinidad’s Kishan Kumarsingh), the current officials highlighted the most crucial element that will determine whether governments can successfully adopt a global climate agreement in 2015: the willingness to engage in constructive negotiations.
Since the 2011 reset of the climate negotiations, the discussions have been often described as in a “conversation” or even “meditation” phase. While retiring from their function as facilitators of this process, the co-chairs already shared their frustrations with the pace of the negotiations at the end of the June session. Jayant Mouskar (India) highlighted that “it is time to have some activities into more formal operation [...] because I have noted a little bit of repetition“. Harald Davland (Norway) concluded the session with a very undiplomatic remark: “I am a little fed up with all finger pointing that’s going on when we walk about climate change. I would hope that you can find a more constructive tone to solve perhaps the most important problem in the world“.
In order to ensure that every country will remain engaged in the process, the priority of the climate talks has recently been on avoiding major arguments between countries. While this brainstorming format has been successful in lowering the tensions between delegations, it has however done little to provide concrete responses to some of the hard questions that will need to be answered before the end of 2015.
In a their “note on progress”, the two co-chairs offered thus only few concrete elements that can be harvested from the past eighteen months of negotiations. Content wise, its most interesting elements are perhaps the emphasis on the need for the new climate framework to consider mitigation, adaptation and financial support as equally important. It also emphasized the importance for the negotiations to take into account the key findings of the 5th Assessment Report prepared by the IPCC (to be released in September). But the most important elements of the new co-chairs’ note focus on the process leading to the 2015 deal.
Time is precious. At the end of the 2013 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Warsaw, half of the lifetime of the ADP will have passed. In order to meet the deadlines established at COP 17 and 18 and to reach the agreed milestones, the ADP will need to start recording its progress more formally in written form.
The co-chairs are not the only ones to note the slow pace of the negotiations… At the most recent meeting of the Major Economies Forum, high level officials have begun to cast some doubts regarding the capacity of the climate talks to deliver on its timeframe.
Concerning the negotiations under the UNFCCC, participants discussed their respective expectations concerning the Paris Conference of the Parties. […] Some considered that it would not be feasible to complete the process by 2015, because countries need to reach agreement on ground rules and on relevant text before putting down their nationally determined mitigation commitments. Others considered that it would be feasible, as well as important, to include such commitments in the 2015 outcome.
The next two steps of the climate negotiations will tell whether governments will be able to “shift gear” appropriately. In early September, countries are invited to submit written views on their expectations for the new agreement. These submissions will then serve as a basis to the annual UN climate conference – “COP-19” – organized in Poland in November. The new co-chairs highlighted what would be required for these discussions to become productive.
Finally, we would like to state that, although the Co-Chairs of the ADP can help Parties to focus their discussions and bring ideas forward, they depend on the Parties to bring focus to the work of the ADP. Focus needs to come from all participants [...]. At the same time, Parties will need to move beyond elaborating their preferred positions and work with each other to find and formulate a balanced and effective outcome that everyone can support.
To come to an agreement in Paris in December 2015, delegates will now need to move beyond their comfort zone and consider credibly opportunities to compromise and cooperate.
The president of the COP-19, Polish minister Korolec, placed the upcoming conference under the motto “where there’s a will, there’s way”. We all need to hope to his message and it of the new co-chairs will be heard in due time by negotiators.
The note released by the facilitators of the climate talks highlights the need for negotiators to adopt a more constructive approach to the negotiations. Otherwise there will be little hope for a global agreement to be adopted in 2015 in Paris as expected.Read post →
Being minister of energy and environment seems to have become most politically dangerous position in Paris. On Tuesday 2nd of July, President François Hollande announced his decision to sack Delphine Batho, minister for energy and the environment.
Being minister of energy and environment seems to have become most politically dangerous position in Paris. On Tuesday 2nd of July, President François Hollande announced his decision to sack Delphine Batho, minister for energy and the environment.
During the past two days, Batho had publicly questioned the cuts foreseen in 2014 in the budget of her ministry. With a reduction by 7% of the funds allocated to her services – the second most severe cut for any ministry, the minister expressed disappointment and questioned whether the environment was a priority for the government.
The response could not be more straightforward, as the minister was dismissed within the following 36 hours and replaced Philippe Martin, a member of the parliament with the socialist party. This decision seems even more sudden as it is not unusual for ministers to defend actively their portfolio during budget arbitrations. In relation to environmental matters, other ministers had also called into questions some of the promises of the president and vocally opposed against some of the governmental environmental priorities, standpoints, without facing much political consequences.
Since he arrived in power in May 2012, President Hollande has taken the drastic step to terminate the mandate of a minister for political reasons twice. In June 2012,as the Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development was still ongoing, the president already sacked the then minister for the environment Nicole Bricq, despite her being widely recognized as very competent for this position. Her only fault had been to revoke offshore oil drilling licenses. The suspension of the licenses was, according the former minister, necessary in order to wait the reform the national Mining Law, an outdated framework that does not take into consideration the environmental impacts of oil drilling. Following a brief but intense lobbying by the companies concerned, the minister was replaced without advance notice and only five weeks after being nominated to the position.
During the “Environmental Conference” – a periodic national multi-stakeholder process organized by the government in September 2012, the president Hollande had promised to make France the country of “environmental excellence”. Moreover the president also announced during the event his ambition for the country to take a leading role in the climate negotiations leading to a new UN global climate agreement and suggested that the signing of this new framework could take place in December 2015 in Paris. However, the intense turnover at the head of the ministry of environment is unlikely to contribute to strengthening the ability of the country to perform this role effectively. While the French minister of the environment is not expected to preside the conference (a role attributed to the higher ranking minister of foreign affairs), its position is crucial in relation to EU internal climate policy, itself described by many stakeholders as a key to the future global agreement.
In relation to environmental questions, the incoming minister Philippe Martin is known so far mainly for his opposition to GMOs and for a parliamentarian report that he delivered in 2011 on the issue of shale gas. In his personal conclusions, Mr. Martin supported the national moratorium on shale gas exploitation. The new minister also noted that, if the country was serious about the European commitment to climate action, it needed to actively oppose the development of the practice across the continent, noting that “being neutral with Poland on the question of shale gas, it is to be a supporter of a climate laisser-faire at the scale of the planet“.
While the new minister could bring an interesting perspective on the need for the country to be more coherent in its climate policy – including when dealing with regional partners, there is however little doubt that his mandate will be extremely narrow. Having fired two ministers of environment for being too committed to their task, the French president will have a hard time to convince of the credibility of his commitment to an ambitious environmental agenda.
Photo Credit: Leila Mead/ENB climate , philippemartin-gers.net
Being minister of energy and environment seems to have become most politically dangerous position in Paris. On Tuesday 2nd of July, President François Hollande announced his decision to sack Delphine Batho, minister for energy and the environment.Read post →
To get a better understanding of what happened during the Bonn climate talks and what we can look forward to at the end of this year and in 2014, Sébastien interviewed representatives of the two largest networks of NGOs involved in the climate negotiations.
To get a better understanding of what happened during this past session and what we can look forward to, I talked with representatives of the two largest networks of NGOs involved in this process.
Asad Rehman, Friends of the Earth
Asad Rehman, Friends of the Earth, highlighted for us why the lack of progress in the Subsidiary Body on Implementation is particularly frustrating as it prevented the issue of ongoing climate impacts from being discussed. Asad noted however a positive development in the fact that the energy transformation advocated by civil society is now championed in the negotiations by the Alliance of Small Islands States (AOSIS).
Looking forward, Asad is particularly hopeful that momentum will continue to build outside of the UN climate talks (and most specifically in the EU) to move away from fossil fuels and transit towards clean energy. Friends of the Earth will contribute to this movement with a Global Month of Dirty Energy organized before the conference.
Wael Hmaidan, Climate Action Network
Wael Hmaidan, director of Climate Action Network, shared this general assessment. Wael highlighted that the impossibility for the SBI to resume its work meant that more work could actually be done more rapidly on other tracks of the negotiations.
He also reminded us that this session was only preparatory with decisions to be adopted later this year at the annual climate conference in Warsaw.
Similarly to Asad, Wael emphasized that the main opportunity for climate action this year will not lie in the UN process but in parallel to it, the presence of the COP in Poland offering a unique opportunity for Poland to adopt a more adequate position, shows leadership and accept a more ambitious climate policy for the EU.
Enrique Maurtua Konstantinidis – Climate Action Network: Latin America
Looking ahead, the past weeks also provided more information who will be the key actors contributing to the facilitation of the negotiations in 2014 (this year, the COP will take place in Warsaw, in November). As the conference will take place in Latin America next year, I asked Enrique Maurtua Konstantinidis to give us a short update on the two countries (Peru and Venezuela) involved in hosting the negotiations next year. Enrique works with Climate Action Network – Latin America.
He also provided us a little bit of background on the alliances that both countries are part of and listed the two key outcomes that we would need to see next year in order to make progress towards the 2015 climate agreement: adequate mitigation pledges and commitment by developed countries to deliver climate finance.
To get a better understanding of what happened during the Bonn climate talks and what we can look forward to at the end of this year and in 2014, Sébastien interviewed representatives of the two largest networks of NGOs involved in the climate negotiations.Read post →
About the authorSébastien Duyck
Passionate environmental advocate, PhD student (Human Rights and Environmental Governance). Following particularly UNFCCC, UNEP and Rio+20 processes