(2016-11-24)The United Nations COP22 climate talks in Marrakesh which ran from November 7-18 saw some incremental forward movement on setting out the rules for how the Paris Agreement on climate change will work, the International Emissions Trading Association said Thursday.
While the outcome of the US election on November 8 caused much speculation over the impact on the Paris Agreement, attendees said the deal's legal entry into force on November 4 helped to focus minds on setting out the detailed rules for operationalizing the agreement.
Donald Trump's victory in the US election "cast a deep pall over the tent city COP site on the first Wednesday," Geneva-based IETA said in a report, noting Trump's well-publicized previous threats to tear up the Paris Agreement.
"The future of the US' participation in Paris was a common source of speculation, but it should be pointed out that whether or not the US is involved, Paris will continue as it is now legally in force," IETA said.
The summit in Marrakesh was the 22nd Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, under which 195 countries agreed on a global deal to limit greenhouse gas emissions at last year's meeting in Paris.
"Regardless of the distractions from beyond Marrakesh, it became obvious very quickly that the speed with which Paris was ratified had taken most Parties to the UNFCCC by surprise and many Parties were not ready at this COP to move towards making decisions on the implementation of the Paris Agreement," IETA said.
"When discussions over the market mechanisms of the Paris Agreement got under way, Parties reverted to traditional positions -- underlining common but differentiated responsibilities, linking finance to [emissions] mitigation commitments -- rather than admit they were not yet ready to put on the table concrete and detailed suggestions on how the structures of Paris should operate," it said.
"Nonetheless, Parties made a start -- just a start -- on developing the guidelines and institutions that will operate the entire Paris Agreement. They identified key issues and started to exchange ideas on how best to address them," IETA said.
INTERNATIONAL EMISSIONS TRADING
Article 6 of the Paris Agreement set out the principle of sovereign emissions trading, allowing countries to meet their national emissions reduction commitments through the trade of emissions units across borders -- forming the bedrock of a system of international emissions trading for countries that want it.
The Marrakesh summit came too soon after ratification of the Paris Agreement for material progress to be made on agreeing its operational rules, IETA said, meaning most of the work remains outstanding between now and late 2018, when decisions are due to be adopted on Article 6.
"So much technical work on Article 6 needs to be completed in two years -- compared with the four it took to craft the architecture of the Kyoto Protocol -- that the scale of the task seems intimidating," IETA said.
The framework for international emissions trading needs to include work on accounting rules, emissions registries and criteria to establish additionality (verifying that emissions reductions are additional to business as usual), IETA said.
"And with very relevant legacy issues such as the destinies of the CDM and JI overhanging this and future meetings, the process may not be straightforward," it said, citing the UN's Clean Development Mechanism and Joint Implementation -- the UN systems that create credits from emissions reduction projects in developing and industrialized countries, respectively.
"Yet many remain optimistic, pointing out that much of the intellectual property created under Kyoto can be usefully 'ported' into the Paris Agreement," IETA said.
"The Parties are not starting from scratch when it comes to design of the 'emissions mitigation mechanism' described in Article 6.4. The question is how to take the best from the past and upgrade the mechanism to the structure of the Paris Agreement, where every Party makes its own national contribution," IETA said.
"In the end, COP 22 can be seen as a meeting that managed to gather Parties' forces together, point them in the right direction and set a program and deadlines for the work ahead," it said.
IETA is a non-profit business organization representing the interests of a broad cross-section of industries seeking a functional international framework for trading in greenhouse gas emission reductions.
Its members include banks and exchanges, brokers and trading companies, major energy providers, heavy industrials, law firms, consulting groups and verification and certification companies.