The Paris Agreement is built on the fundamental premise that climate action should be enhanced over time, informed by key moments to take stock of progress and identify new opportunities for action. Forming an arc of ambition over the next several decades, this process enables the world to stay on track to achieve the agreement’s goals of keeping global temperature increase well below 2 degrees C (3.6 degrees F) above preindustrial levels and further aim to limit temperature rise to 1.5 degree C (2.7 degrees F).
The first step in this arc of ambition will take place next year. Referred to as the Facilitative Dialogue or FD 2018, it will be the first opportunity post-Paris for all Parties to the agreement to take stock of progress and explore opportunities to go further faster and enhance their NDCs by 2020.
At COP22 in December 2016, the Moroccan and Fijian governments – in their roles as current and upcoming COP presidencies – were asked to undertake inclusive and transparent consultations with Parties on the FD 2018 and to jointly report back at COP23. To that end, Morocco and Fiji’s representatives have been consulting with governments and civil society groups over the past year to produce an initial proposal for how to shape the facilitative dialogue.
We discuss highlights from the COP presidencies’ preliminary approach to the FD2018 released last month and insight on how it can ensure that 2018 will see stepped-up climate action.
How the Concept of Talanoa Can Strengthen FD2018
For this dialogue to be facilitative and solution-oriented, Fiji plans to apply the concept of talanoa. This Pacific island term describes a process of sharing stories, building empathy and making wise decisions for the collective good. Pacific island societies have throughout their histories relied upon the talanoa process to build better understanding and cooperation within and across societies.
This strongly aligns with the purpose of FD2018, which is to have a dialogue about our common journey towards enhanced collective efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions under the Paris Agreement while acknowledging the urgency and challenges faced. Talanoa sends a strong signal in this regard.
What is the FD2018?
The facilitative dialogue, which will be conducted over the course of 2018, includes both a technical phase and a high-level political during COP24 in December 2018. These phases will seek to answer three central questions on climate action:
Where are we?
Where do we want to go?
How do we get there?
The first two questions aim to give an accurate picture of how much temperatures have risen now and what we want them to be in the second half of the 21
st century. The third question is just as crucial if we are to get from where we are to where we want to go – net zero emissions after 2050. Thus, the dialogue in 2018 must be aimed at finding solutions. There are significant opportunities to strengthen climate action in a way that can provide substantial economic benefits and supports sustainable development objectives. FD2018 should identify meaningful and timely ways for countries to accelerate climate action that can seize those opportunities.
The FD2018 Will Rely on a Broad Spectrum of Information
Answering the questions posed by FD2018 will require new information. A special IPCC report on the impact of a 1.5 degree C global temperature rise will be a vital source of information for the dialogue, but it won’t be available until late 2018.
To ensure that the FD 2018 can capture the latest science, opportunities and ideas, the Morocco and Fiji have proposed creating an online platform to gather inputs to the dialogue, including from Parties to the dialogue as well as observers, such as scientists, policy experts and business and urban leaders. Such an open, inclusive approach to the collection of relevant information will provide a strong foundation for the facilitative dialogue. To manage such a wealth of information effectively, the Presidency should be able to rely on the UNFCCC Secretariat (for an updated synthesis on the aggregate effect of the NDCs, and outputs from the existing UNFCCC measurement, reporting and verification system), the Global Climate Action Champions (production of the yearbook capturing the efforts from non-state actors), UNFCCC bodies on thematic areas (such as the Standing Committee on Finance).
In seeking inputs, it will also be important to capture the key messages and outcomes from the many events taking place during 2018, including the Global Climate Action Summit in September 2018, that can inform the FD2018 discussions and ensure government decision-makers are aware of and can seize the shifts already occurring in key sectors, such as rapidly declining prices of renewable energy and the emergence of electric vehicles. Inputs from events and initiatives of a range of multilateral and UN agencies could also help inform the dialogue.
Signals Coming out of the FD2018
Morocco and Fiji have highlighted the importance of sending clear forward-looking signals. This means that FD2018 should be designed to answer a fourth question: What do we do about it?
What governments choose to do with the information and key messages coming out of FD2018 will be hugely influential in supporting the implementation of the Paris Agreement. All countries should collectively agree to take the key messages from FD2018 home with them, reflect on what it means for their own actions, and how governments and non-state actors can work together to enhance their climate commitments by 2020.
FD2018 will be the first crucial step towards meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement. The vision shared by the Presidencies already includes core ingredients to make the Facilitative Dialogue a success. The challenge remains on how to ensure the UNFCCC process connects with the shifts already occurring in the real world. It will be critical for FD2018 to start the momentum toward enhanced climate action by 2020, demonstrating that it is possible and that there is the political commitment to do so.