The Talanoa Dialogue process, launched at the start of this year, represents the international community’s first attempt to take stock of progress under the Paris Agreement.
Recognizing that current efforts are not sufficient to limit global warming and protect our communities from the devastating impacts of climate change, the Dialogue was established to identify how countries can step up and enhance action. It is a year-long process, structured around answering three core questions:
Where are we?
Where do we want to go?
How do we get there?
The next milestone in the Talanoa Dialogue process will occur during the next round of climate negotiations in Bonn in May. Parties and non-Party stakeholders will come together for a day of in-person, Talanoa-style discussion focusing on each of the three questions at hand.
The Dialogue will culminate in a high-level event at COP24, to be held in Katowice, Poland in December 2018, where leaders will have the opportunity to respond to the key messages that have emerged from the process and detail their plans for moving forward. The world will be watching to see whether countries step up and signal their intention to update the ambition of their current NDCs by 2020.
The first milestone in the process has been reached, with over 417 submissions from Parties (signatory nations) and non-Party Stakeholders (including cities, local and regional governments, business, investors, academics, scientists and civil society). 48 Party submissions represent the views of 178 countries, and 369 submissions are from non-Party stakeholders.
The following key messages have started to emerge – pointing the way towards key opportunities for enhanced climate action.
1. A lot has changed since NDCs were first developed.
The first round of national climate plans (known as nationally determined contributions, or NDCs), were prepared in 2015, before the Paris Agreement was complete. Now, with the Paris Agreement in force and implementation guidelines to be finalized at the end of this year, Parties are in a better position to determine targets, actions and measures for NDCs that are aligned with the Paris Agreement’s goals. The United Kingdom is the first country to conduct a review of its NDCs .
Since 2015, significant technological innovations and reductions in the costs of renewable energy have changed some of the underlying assumptions in NDCs, which could mean that many countries will be able to achieve their targets much sooner. Ethiopia, speaking on behalf of the Least Developed Countries, raised this point in their submission.
The good news: many countries have already made substantial progress, and some appear to be on track to exceed the targets in their current NDCs.
2. We need enhanced ambition in NDCs to close the emissions gap.
Current NDCs contribute significantly to reducing warming—but are not enough. In their absence, we would see 4-5 degrees C of warming. They still fall far short of the global goal to limit warming to well below 2 degrees C (3.6 degrees F) or even to 1.5 degrees C (2.7 degrees F). Even if fully implemented, the existing NDCs imply 2.7-3.7 degrees C of warming, according to a range of studies. As the Least Developed Countries noted in their Talanoa submission, “current NDCs are grossly insufficient” and a “collective increase in ambition is required.”
The world needs to enhance the ambition of the current round of NDCs in order to close the emissions gap—we can’t wait until 2030. We need to enhance ambition now. The impacts we see in the future will be determined by our actions on emissions and resultant level of temperature increase. The warmer it gets, the greater the impacts—and the more limited our ability to adapt.
3. Early progress is already being made, and it can be scaled.
A majority of submissions responding to the third question—how do we get there?—address ways that on-the-ground actions can be scaled to further enhance climate action.
Some submissions provide sector-specific examples, while others focus on cross-sectoral progress. For example, several submissions include examples on urban mobility, including increasing electric vehicles and sustainable public transit opportunities. On cross-sectoral opportunities, others noted the importance of national planning and policymaking and the importance of just transition (ensuring plans and support for communities currently tied to the high-carbon economy make the transition as the world shifts to a low-carbon economy).
Learning what works through other nations’ experiences can serve to further enhance future actions. As highlighted in the submissions, sector-specific opportunities for scaling action abound.
4. Key sectors offer significant potential for enhanced ambition.
Specific economic sectors, including land use, energy, transport, human settlements and agriculture and forestry, hold particular promise for enhancing NDCs.
Many submissions highlighted the potential for utilizing natural climate solutions, such as forest and landscape restoration, for climate mitigation. Other inputs frequently discussed opportunities in the energy sector, such as expanding energy efficiency efforts and modern technologies like renewables and carbon capture and storage.
5. Collaboration is the key to success.
The need for greater collaboration—not only between countries, in terms of finance, capacity building and technology transfer, but also within countries—was highlighted as an essential part of unlocking greater ambition. The important link between public and private action, which is becoming increasingly evident, was also cited as necessary for progress. In addition, greater cooperation between national and sub-national actors will help to deliver more climate action; this will involve a much more integral participation of sub-national actors in climate policy making and implementation.
Greater collaboration with national stakeholders is not only a means to an end, but a vital part of building a shared vision for a future and ensuring action.
6. Long-term strategies must guide near-term decisions.
The development of long-term strategies is central to realizing the transformative potential of the Paris Agreement. Long-term strategies can be the catalyst for taking a multi-sector, multi-stakeholder approach to re-thinking national policy, development, and technology pathways to advance climate goals in a manner that is compatible with the Paris Agreement. They do more than present an opportunity to bring national action in line with needed ambition; they also ensure that countries avoid costly investments in the wrong technologies and lock themselves into high-emission pathways. Without such plans and the associated multi-stakeholder engagement that comes with their development, ambitious near-term actions and plans may fail to prepare for the long-term transitions and trends associated with decarbonization.
In their submissions, both Australia and the European Union recognized the value of using long-term strategies to review and revise their NDCs, in order to shift development trajectories towards alignment with the goals of the Paris Agreement.
We expect the discussion in Bonn to continue to amplify the key messages highlighted above. The Dialogue can help to build a clear and consistent drumbeat for world leaders to pick up at COP24 and take forward in the years to come, in the form of updated, more ambitious NDCs and strengthened implementation on the ground.