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Bonn Climate Talks: Environmental integrity must withstand new round of text consolidation

UN_BonnWith merely four weeks of negotiating time left before the conclusion of the Paris meeting to agree a new global climate agreement, the ongoing climate talks in Bonn that will conclude tomorrow, could either be a step forward or help bring about a needed step change in progress.

New on the table since the Bonn session in June is a co-chairs’ text. While it doesn’t seek to remove any options from the Geneva text, it for the first time makes some assumptions on the legal instruments that different elements will be included in the Paris agreement. Many assume that there will be a core treaty, accompanied by a series of decisions made by the Conference of Parties (“COP decisions”).

The text currently has no official status, and one outcome of this Bonn session will be to get agreement by Parties that it can be used as the basis for negotiations, and that each element is in the ‘right’ place. Agreement on this would definitely be progress, because the legal form question is one that has not been discussed in the official negotiations since the mandate of the agreement was decided in Durban in 2011. However, if this could be accompanied by progress in narrowing down some of the options, that would indeed start to mark the step change that is needed to refine 83 pages of current text into a treaty and workable COP decisions needed as the Paris outcome.

This new co-chairs’ text is divided into three sections: the first containing core elements of the legal agreement, the second the COP decision issues and the third the controversial ones that will need to be placed in one or the other. Provisions related to carbon markets exist in all three sections. However, the two references in the legally binding section 1 are rather perfunctory, one option calling for a greater share of proceeds for climate finance from market mechanisms and the other a mandate to elaborate rules. Part 2 (COP decisions) looks briefly at elaboration of rules, including for transparency and includes provisions for key guiding principles to be included in COP decisions. The controversial nature of carbon markets is reflected in the fact that most of the relevant text is in the third section.

Reasons for this are ideological for some, and political for others. The Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) of many developed countries, and some developing ones, assume access to international carbon markets. If other countries oppose markets at this stage of the negotiations, acceptance of carbon market provisions could be exchanged later for some of their priority issues as part of the negotiations.

The Paris agreement should uphold environmental integrity, and one important means to achieve this will be defining principles for the eligibility of use of markets to achieve a country’s Nationally Determined Commitment, in the body of the treaty. Such principles should include that markets must reach standards that deliver real, additional, verifiable, permanent emissions reductions, avoiding double counting of effort, result in a real mitigation benefit and that deliver sustainable development co-benefits.

the news signiture



INDC headline mitigation contribution

Intended use of international carbon markets

Climate action tracker rating

Switzerland ·         -50% by 2030 from 1990 levels

·         -35% by 2025 is expected, but given only for  international comparability

·         Economy wide

International credits will be used, anti-double counting measures listed


EU ·         -40% domestic target for 2030 from 1990 levels

·         Economy wide


No international credits


Norway ·         -40% economy-wide by 2030, based on 1990 levels

·         Will be developed into a carbon budget

·         Aims to be carbon neutral by 2050

Intends to do collective delivery with the EU, including the ETS MEDIUM
Mexico ·         Unconditional 25% reduction for 2030 compared to a BAU baseline

·         Possible increase to -40% subject to a global deal and means of implementation support

·         This means 22% GHG reduction and 51% black carbon

Expects market mechanism will be essential, but unconditional INDC will not rely on international credits MEDIUM
US ·         -26-28% by 2025 from 2005 levels No international credits MEDIUM
Gabon ·         Reduction against BAU, at least 50% by 2025

·         Base year 2000, to cover 2010-2025, but is doing analysis for 2030 and 2050

·         Covers CO2, N2O, CH4

No international credits


(not assessed)
Russia ·         -70-75% from 1990 levels by 2030 “might be a long term indicator” [this allows emission growth]

·         Target subject to maximum possible account of absorbing capacity of forests

Liechtenstein ·         -40% economy-wide by 2030, based on 1990 levels


Assumes being able to achieve emissions reductions abroad, but primary focus on domestic emissions (not assessed)
Andorra ·         Absolute reduction against BAU, -37% by 2030

·         Covers CO2, N2O, CH4 and SF6

No international credits


(not assessed)
Canada ·         -30% on 2005 levels by 2030, economy-wide May use international mechanisms to achieve the targets, subject to robust systems to ensure emissions are real and verified INADEQUATE
Morocco ·         -32% by 2030 compared to BAU, economy wide, contingent on access to new sources of finance and support

·         -13% unconditional against BAU by 2030

·         = 401MtCO2e for 2020-2030

·         Covers CO2, CH4 and N2O

International market mechanism vital to reduce reduction costs, dos not exclude possibility of using these mex for un/conditional targets


Ethiopia ·         Net GHGs emissions in 2030 to 145MtCO2e or lower: -64% from BAU in 2030

·         Long term goal of carbon neutrality

·         Covers CO2, CH4 and N2O

·         Focus on afforestation and land rehab, and clean and RES energy

Serbia ·         -9.8% by 2030 on 1990 levels, economy wide

·         Does not cover NF3

Harmonizes with EU climate policies (not assessed)
Iceland ·         Part of EU -40% by 2030 on 1990 levels – Iceland’s specific contribution will be negotiated with EU Will participate in EU ETS (not assessed, but if compared at same as EU, MEDIUM)
China ·         Peak emissions by 2030, making best efforts to peak early

·         Reduce CO2 intensity by 60-65% from 2005 levels

·         Increase share of non-fossil fuels in primary energy consumption to ~20% and enhance clean use of coal

·         Increase forest stock by ~4.5bn m3

Build on existing carbon emission trading pilots, steadily implementing a national carbon emission trading system


MEDIUM for all measures in INDC, INADEQUATE for 2030 intensity target
South Korea ·         -37% from BAU by 2030, economy wide

·         = 850 MtCO2e

·         Decision on whether to include LULUCF will be take at a later stage

Intends to use credits from international market mechanisms


Singapore ·         Reduce emissions intensity by 46% from 2005 levels by 2030, peak emissions by 2030 Currently plans to act domestically, but will study potential of international markets MEDIUM
New Zealand ·         -30% on 2005 levels by 2030

·         -11% on 1990 levels

·         Provisional pending agreements on LULUCF and access to carbon markets

Unrestricted access to global carbon markets with credits integrity and guards against double counting/ claiming


Japan ·         -26% on 2013 levels by 2030 Joint Crediting Mechanism will be counted towards Japan’s reduction INADEQUATE
Marshall Islands ·         -32% on 2010 levels by 2025

·         -45% on 2010 levels by 2030

·         Economy-wide

·         Aim for net zero by 2050

·         Covers CO2, CH4 and N2O (other gases negligible)

(not assessed)
Kenya ·         -30% compared to BAU (143MtCO2e) by 2030

·         CO2, CH4 and N2O prioritized

Does not rule out market mechanisms (not assessed)
Monaco ·         -50% by 2030, compared to 1990 levels

·         Kyoto-style contribution [assume carbon budget]

Aims to achieve goal domestically, but does not rule out market mechanisms for truing up (not assessed)
Macedonia ·         Reduce fossil fuel emissions by 30%-36% against BAU by 2030

·         This covers >80% of national emissions

(not assessed)
Trinidad and Tobago ·         -15% in three sectors by 2030 from BAU (103MtCO2e)

·         Covers power generation, transportation and industrial sectors

·         Conditional on international finance (estimated to cost $2bn overall)

·         Covers CO2, CH4 and N2O

(not assessed)
Benin ·         Sinks already bigger than sources

·         Will reduce emissions from production and consumption of energy, including transport, transport and LULUCF

·         120MtCO2e through avoided emissions and 163 MtCO2e from sequestration 2020-2030

·         Covers CO2, CH4 and N2O

(not assessed)
Australia ·         -26-28% from 2005 levels by 2030 unconditional, to be developed into an emissions budget INADEQUATE





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