Countries find common ground on road through Paris


Amongst stark warnings that half a billion people are threatened by rising seas and more than one hundred million at risk of poverty, that greenhouse gas levels are at record highs and global temperature rise is set to hit 1DegC this year, nearly 70 ministers met in Paris this week to make progress towards a deal to limit climate change. With just three weeks to go before the UN climate summit at which a new, universal climate agreement is due to be signed, ministers at the ‘pre-COP’ found common ground on some crunch issues such as regularly reviewing and increasing climate pledges and reaching the promised $100 billion per year in climate finance. As one high level meeting gives way to the next, the world will be watching to see whether heads of state can build on the pre-COP outcome, and ratchet up the ambition and clarity in the draft text – notably in terms of a roadmap on increasing post-2020 climate finance and the inclusion of a long-term decarbonisation goal – to reach a strong and meaningful climate agreement in Paris next month.


Key Points

  • Ministers are finding common ground on road through Paris. The politicians meeting at the ‘pre-COP’ made progress on the regular reviewing and increasing of national climate pledges and the central role of climate finance in the Paris agreement. With 150 climate pledges now on the table, research on their impact shows keeping global warming under the 2DegC danger threshold will require governments to strengthen and clarify their support for a mechanism to ramp up country pledges in line with a long-term target of the complete decarbonisation of the global economy.
  • Political and business leaders are uniting behind climate financing ambition. While climate finance was a sticking-point at the final round of official negotiations in Bonn, the roll-call of figures calling for a credible financial package includes International Monetary Fund head Christine Lagarde, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon and Pope Francis, as well as global business groups. The EU committed today to increase climate funds, adding momentum to those calls, but leaders of the most vulnerable nations meeting in Manila will be waiting for further clarity, details and commitments from the EU and other developed countries that observers say are needed in the coming weeks.
  • A renewable future is around the corner. Renewable energy is growing and fossil fuels are dying; the UN climate pledges will slash emissions with massive benefits for global health, security and the economy, although not enough to stop the world heating over 2DegC, much less the 1.5DegC demanded by the most affected. World leaders can use their next meetings, such as the G20 this weekend and the upcoming Commonwealth heads of government meeting, to unlock greater ambition and arrive in Paris ready to sign an agreement that closes the emissions gap and makes the clean energy future today’s clean energy reality.


With just a few short weeks until the Paris climate change negotiations kick off on 30 November, the so-called ‘pre-COP’ meeting was seen to be a key opportunity to make progress towards a text that could form the basis for a meaningful global deal at COP21. Bringing together nearly 70 heads of state over three days, the French COP21 presidency had set an agenda that included finance, pre-2020 action and the responsibilities of richer and poorer countries.

During official negotiations in Bonn last month progress was made on issues like mitigation, adaptation and transparency, countries failed to find common ground on some key issues. One of these was loss and damage, with developing countries proposing a strong mechanism and developed countries sidelining the concept which would support countries affected by impacts they can no longer adapt to. But the most significant divisions were on the issue of climate finance, with developing nations calling for wording in the text that clearly establishes the responsibility of developed countries to achieve the goal of $100 billion in climate finance by 2020 and lays out a plan for continual scaling up of post-2020 financing. Developed countries proposed a much less detailed option, which shifts some degree of participation to developing nations and private or non-UNFCCC funds.

These diverging positions on key issues such as climate finance and loss and damage meant the role of ministers and heads of state at meetings such as this week’s pre-COP and the upcoming G20 summit are crucial.

Coming out of the pre-COP, French minister Laurent Fabius said progress had been made in several areas, including the principle of all countries regularly presenting new climate pledges – or INDCs – and a regular stock-take and increasing of efforts. In terms of finance, developed countries appeared ready to make new finance offers to reach the annual $100 billion promised to help poorer countries deal with and adapt to climate change by 2020. At the same time as the pre-COP was drawing to a close, EU finance ministers in a separate meeting agreed to ramp up their climate financing, although observers said this was not strong enough to support the most vulnerable in adapting to and coping with climate change.

Eyes now turn to the next high-level meetings in the coming weeks to see if the steps forward can be consolidated and increased. Above all, the G20 meeting in Turkey 15-16 November, and the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Malta on 28 November will be key opportunities for progress. Observers are calling on leaders to keep ambition and fairness in the front and centre of their discussions. Above all, providing financial support to help poorer countries take climate action and prepare for and protect their people from climate impacts is key to reaching an agreement that can support and speed up the ongoing transition from fossil fuels to 100 per cent renewable energy.

Elsewhere, the signs of the demise of fossil fuels and growth of renewable energy were stronger than ever. Fossil fuel firms’ futures are fading, they are under investigation for spreading false information about climate change, and cities and institutions are pulling trillions of dollars of investments in dirty energy.

The real world momentum will be shown even more clearly in the coming days and weeks at planned mobilisations, concerts, action days and more, from this week’s 24 hours of reality televised events and Stop Funding Fossils action day to marches in Paris and other cities around the world on 28-29 November, on the eve of the summit. There will be many more actions and demonstrations throughout the COP and on the last day, 12 December.



Tools and Resources


Climate finance and EU commitment


UNFCCC and the road through Paris



  • “The EU has failed to offer a credible financial support package for the Paris agreement. EU finance ministers were unable to guarantee that support for developing countries will continue to grow after 2020. They also failed to ensure that funding streams will be predictable and reliable, while this is needed for poor countries to build resilience to climate impacts and plan their own energy transition away from dirty fossil fuels. This decision will weaken the EU’s alliance with those most vulnerable to climate change”. – Wendel Trio, director of Climate Action Network Europe
  • “We are glad that the EU has made progress towards reaching the goal to mobilise USD 100bn per year by 2020. However, a lack of clarity on what is actually included in the figures, the inconsistent accounting method between donors – including between the EU donors themselves – and the absence of reassurances that increased climate finance is not the result of diverted development aid, play against EU efforts to build confidence ahead of Paris. It is ironic that the EU is calling for a transparent, robust and common framework for measuring, reporting and verification of climate finance flows to be agreed at global level and yet seems content with the existing mix of methodologies at EU level.” – Geneviève Pons Deladrière, Director of WWF European Policy Office
  • “With today’s decision, EU finance ministers are jeopardising a strong deal at the Paris climate conference. Finance ministers continue to drag their feet in spite of the rapidly increasing urgency to deliver the billions of euros needed for adaptation measures already necessitated by today’s warming. EU funds for climate adaptation in developing countries continue to be taken  from development aid commitments without intention to seek money elsewhere. For success in Paris, the EU should show how it will ease the pressure on stretched aid budgets by tapping into additional financing sources such as revenue from financial transaction taxes and the EU’s polluter-pays system, the EU ETS.” – Lies Craeynest, EU Climate Lead for Oxfam International
  • “The momentum for success and ambition in Paris has grown throughout this year. But it is vital that we have a united political support for Paris and for its ultimate goal of decarbonising our economy.  What we need now is strong leadership from finance ministers to deliver effective national policies for the low-carbon economy to thrive, based on a strong global policy framework. With this letter we wish to ensure that finance ministers from around the world are clear that there is powerful business support for this transition and a Paris agreement.” – Philippe Joubert, Chair of the Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group (CLG) and former President of Alstom Power
  • “Finance Ministers play a fundamental role, not only to ensure a robust climate agreement in Paris, which includes key issues such as carbon pricing, technology transfer to developing countries and transition to a low-carbon economy, but also to operationalise, at local level, public policies and other financial mechanisms for the transition to a low-carbon economic model.”- Denise Hills, Head of Sustainability of global Latin American bank Itaú Unibanco, member of the Brazilian business organisation Platforma Empresas pelo Clima (EPC)

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