COP28 update: Day 8, 8 December

After the all-too-brief pause yesterday for indoor skiing, shopping or just plain sleep, week 2 of COP28 got underway with a plenary session, at which COP president Sultan Al-Jaber set out the work flow for the coming days. The chairs of SBSTA and SBI, who had led the work during week one, reported back and outlined areas that remain to be agreed.

As is usual at the half-way point, there remain a great number of agenda items on which it has been difficult to achieve consensus: the Global Stocktake, mitigation, adaptation, means of implementation and of course Article 6. And again as usual, these issues will now be taken up by pairs of ministers to try to unlock agreement.

Discussions over the text relating to the Global Stocktake will be overseen by Barbara Creecy, South Africa’s environment minister and Dan Jørgensen, Denmark’s global climate policy minister. They’ll be assisted by lead negotiators from Singapore and the UK, who were asked to prepare a new version of the “building blocks” that will form the basis of the GST decision.

This third iteration of the text duly appeared in mid-afternoon, and at 27 pages it’s longer than the Paris Agreement under which it operates!

There are numerous alternative options for most key issues – particularly the phasing out of fossil fuels – and the most contentious issues all have options for “no text”, which demonstrates the gulf that presently separates Parties.

There are references to phasing out unabated coal, fossil fuel subsidies and on cutting non-CO2 greenhouse gas emissions, and a particularly hopeful item that “notes that 87% of the global economy in terms of share of GDP, is covered by climate neutrality, carbon neutrality, GHG neutrality or net zero emissions targets, which provides the possibility of reaching below 2°C when taking into account their full implementation”.

The ministerial pair was consulting with Parties in the evening and will continue tomorrow. The COP president will hold an informal stocktaking plenary on Saturday evening to review the progress on all outstanding issues.

Article 6 talks are still somewhat fraught at the moment, and we’re waiting to see what progress the co-facilitators make overnight (see below).

One of the undercurrents during the last week has been the absolute soap opera over where next year’s COP will be held. According to the UNFCCC’s rotation schedule, COP29 is due to be held in Eastern Europe, but Russia has rejected the nomination of any EU member state from the region, and Azerbaijan and Armenia had blocked each other’s candidacy thanks to their conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Earlier in the week, there were reports that Moldova might offer to chair – but not host – next year’s talks, and we then heard talk that Serbia might be ready to take on the job. However, late on Thursday a joint statement from the leaderships of Azerbaijan and Armenia appeared to bring an end to their conflict and Armenia withdrew its COP29 candidacy in favour of Baku. Great!

However, on Friday it appeared that Russia had also put the kibosh on Azerbaijan, so we are back to square one.

So, Bonn, perhaps? It’s generally thought that the UAE are not keen to host a second COP in a row, but some experienced observers think this might just be ceremonial reluctance.

Finally, IETA held its Annual General Meeting this afternoon, at which the new Council was presented. After two years in the post, our chair Lisa DeMarco is stepping down and will be replaced in the second half of next year by Enric Arderiu of Mercuria. Our vice-chairs will be Mary Grady of American Carbon Registry and Federico di Credico of ACT Commodities.

We’ll also be welcoming two new Council members, Julie Mulkerin Ortiz of Chevron and Sandeep Roy Choudry of VNV Advisory Services. They will replace Arthur Lee of Chevron and Belinda Ellington of Citi who are stepping down.

Article 6

Parties discussed Article 6.4 in the morning and Article 6.2 in the afternoon.

At the start of week two, the Article 6.2 consultations will continue to be led by their familiar co-facilitators, Maria Al-Jishi of Saudi Arabia and Peer Stiansen of Norway, while co-facilitators Sonam Tashi of Bhutan and Kate Hancock of Australia will continue to take charge of the talks on Article 6.4.

Co-facilitators got a mandate to work on a new 6.4 text, which will be published overnight. This may include changes to the recommendations from the Article 6.4 Supervisory Board which were agreed before COP.

Divisions on Article 6.2 remain significant. The EU made a conciliatory intervention, making clear that sequencing (i.e. having the initial report approved by the UNFCCC review process before authorising ITMOs) is their priority, They said they will “exercise flexibility” on other things.

The Like-Minded Developing Country group and the whole Umbrella Group still disagree and emphasised that the priority should be the finalisation of reporting requirements.

The Environmental Integrity Group and African Group (who are expecting to use Article 6.2 in the short term) now seem to side with the latter camp.

The session was also notable for Bolivia’s intervention, in which the country called for a moratorium on carbon markets within the UN process, and proposed bracketing the text relating to both Articles 6.2 and 6.4.

Bolivia is mostly unhappy at the relative lack of progress in elaborating Article 6.8 (non-market mechanisms), and its bracketing proposal is regarded in the same light as its interventions at previous COPs.

There have in fact been Article 6.8 consultations during the first week of COP under the Glasgow Committee on Non-Market Approaches. During the discussions some developing countries suggested language that referred to “carbon pricing”. We understand this was meant to suggest taxes and levies rather than market-based mechanisms, but nevertheless it received a very cool response.

Saturday at the IETA Business Hub

IETA’s COP28 side event programme resumes on Saturday morning. Many of the events hosted at the IETA Business Hub will be webcast – just click on the link by each event to participate! All event times are listed in Gulf Standard Time, which is three hours ahead of Central European and two hours behind Singapore time.

0930-1100: Jurisdictional & Project Approaches: Navigating an Evolving Market for REDD+, with Ellen Lourie (IETA), Angela Foster-Rice (Everland), Angelo Sartori (Verra), Edit Kiss (Integrity Global Partners), Eron Bloomgarden (Emergent) and Jessica Orrego (Mercuria). Event webcast.

1100-1230: Leveraging Blended Finance for Decarbonization, with David Ungar (Climate Finance Labs), Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan (Indonesia) and invited speakers. Event webcast.

1230-1400: Synergies Between Carbon Market Instruments: How Brazil can Best Use Markets for Climate, Nature and People, with Pedro Venzon (IETA), Janaina Dallan (NBS Brazil Alliance), Aloisio Lopes Pereira de Melo (Brazil), Utkarsh Agarwal (BP), Enric Arderiu (Mercuria) and Gabriella Dorlhiac (ICC). Event webcast.

1400-1530: What is End-To-End Integrity in the Voluntary Carbon Market?, with Jonathan Shopley (Climate Impact Partners), Edit Kiss (Integrity Global Partners), Mark Kenber (VCMI), Dinesh Nithyanandam (CAD Trust) and Duncan van Bergen (Calyx Global). Event webcast.

1530-1700: Taking Stock of the Stocktake: What Comes Next?, with Richard Newell (Resources for the Future), Andrew Garbarino (U.S.), Chrissy Houlahan (U.S.) and Jonathan Pershing (Hewlett Foundation). Event webcast.

1700-1800: COP28 Climate Finance Hour: Can Long-Term Durability Removals Insure Risks Associated with NBS?, with Ingo Puhl (South Pole), David Ungar (Climate Finance Labs), Rowan Douglas (Howden Group), Brice Perombelon (EDF Trading). Event webcast