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Ambition reality check for the Article 6.2 Titanic

We couldn’t agree more with one of the Article 6 negotiators: the negotiations on Article 6.2 are like being on the Titanic, moving towards the tip of an iceberg. So, negotiators, let’s zoom out. How did this ship get here? Why are you on this ship in the open ocean? And what was your destination anyway?

The Paris Agreement was the initial harbor. You set off from there, on a course for 1.5ºC, and chose Article 6.2 as part of your fleet to reach this goal. But the Article 6.2 Titanic is drifting off; it seems that part of the crew never wanted this ship to be part of the 1.5ºC fleet anyway, and they have thrown out the compass. Now we’re steering between the icebergs of technical intricacies, and those negotiators who still want to reach 1.5ºC are trying desperately to make the best of a bad situation. We hate to break the news, but Article 6.2 is adrift: without a major course correction, it will enshrine an offsetting instrument with weak oversight, leading to Spurious Hot-air Internationally Transferred Mitigation Outcomes. 

Redirecting the Article 6.2 fleet won’t be easy, but luckily we brought its sonar to spot the hidden icebergs ahead and get us through safely. Disclosing core information about Parties’ cooperative approaches in a standard authorisation form, which is clearly reviewed before ITMOs are transacted, is a no-brainer for transparency and for a minimum check on quality. 

The review of cooperative approaches must go beyond a box-ticking exercise, to ensure ITMOs are compliant with environmental integrity and based on sufficient information, not just vague reporting obligations. If issues (‘inconsistencies’) around the quality of ITMOs are detected, then these need to be publicly flagged and addressed with real corrective measures such as halting ITMO actions. Without upfront information being mandatorily disclosed and a real process to identify and resolve inconsistencies, these Spurious Hot-air ITMOs will drag Article 6.2 (and the integrity of the Paris Agreement) to the dark depths where 1.5ºC is no longer in sight.  

Most of all, without a clear compass that prioritises climate mitigation, environmental integrity and human rights over offsetting, Article 6.2 is not going to contribute to climate ambition — far from it, it could ram all the other ships in the 1.5ºC fleet. Indeed, we can already see a number of suspected hazardous ITMOs in the appropriately named Article 6.2 “pipeline” and encourage negotiators to take a look. 

After years of offset discussions that delayed real action, elements under Article 6 that endanger the long term guarantee of overall mitigation of global emissions are simply not acceptable. We therefore call on negotiators with good intentions to bring the ambition compass back into Article 6. All hands on deck!

This article was prepared in collaboration with the Climate Action Network and edited by the ECO newsletter team. It first featured in ECO 5, on 7 June 2024.

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