Paris Agreement boycott looms unless developed countries fulfil promises

Developed countries including the UK and the US could be pressured into delivering pre-2020 climate agreements, after an influential think tank urged developing countries to boycott the Paris Agreement signing ceremony.

The Third World Network has laid-out a five-page briefing which implores developing countries ‘not to rush’ when signing the Agreement at next month’s (22 April) New York Ceremony, warning that countries would lose the political leverage that is ‘critical’ to ensuring that developed countries pull their weight.

“If developing countries rush into signing the Paris Agreement, thus indicating their readiness to give effect to the treaty through their domestic ratification process, they lose the political leverage in the current negotiations to get developed countries to meet their existing commitments in the pre-2020 timeframe,” the briefing states.

“Not signing now keeps the pressure up on developed countries to deliver on their promises and to leverage the outcomes and positions that are vital for developing countries in meeting their obligations under the Paris Agreement.”

The Third World Network, which covers developing countries including China, India and Iran, identified five beneficial reasons that these nations should consider before signing the Paris Agreement.

According to the briefing, a potential boycott of the ceremony would secure the political leverage that these countries need, while also ensuring that developed nations fulfil existing commitments.

Waiting to sign the Agreement would allow for the construction of a roadmap on the $100bn per year climate finance funding as well as creating a new ‘loss and damage’ mechanism covering extreme weather. The final point would allow developing countries to assess effectiveness of the ‘transfer efforts’ in regards to technology sharing.

Next month’s ceremony was structured by UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon, who invited world leaders to formalise their support for December’s historic climate agreement through an official signing ceremony.

The deal cannot become legally binding until countries ratify the Agreement. This could come into force this year if 55 countries that make up 55% of global emissions receive approval from lawmakers.

According to a report from research group Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) and sustainability non-profit Ceres, more than $12trn will be needed to meet the Paris Agreement. While developed countries are not expected to cover the entirety of this cost, there are calls for more developed countries to increase their climate commitments.

Papa starts to preach

Today’s call from Third World Network comes on the same day that the UN climate change secretariat (UNFCCC) announced it had launched a new website to capture Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC) from countries.

Once these pledges were logged onto the website, they would no longer class as ‘intended contributions’ and would appear as National Determined Contributions (NDC). The first NDC to appear on the site came from Papua New Guinea.

The UK Government has been advised to stick with a 57% carbon emissions reduction target for the fifth carbon budget, despite the Paris Agreement calling for efforts to limit global warming to 2C.

As part of DECC’s new five-year plan, the Department will provide £2bn of the UK’s £5.8bn funding pledge through the International Climate Fund between 2016 and 2021, to help the world’s poorest countries adapt to climate change. This builds on the £50m funding pledge to help encourage investment in renewable energy projects in developing countries.

The signing ceremony of the Paris Agreement in New York on 22 April –

Matt Mace

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