COP28 update: Day 9, 9 December

The mood turned even more serious on Saturday as negotiators continued to try to whittle away at options and brackets in the many draft texts being discussed.

But once again the general mood at COP was soured, this time by reports that OPEC’s secretary-general had circulated a letter among the group’s energy ministers, calling on them to “proactively reject any text or formula that targets energy i.e. fossil fuels rather than emissions.”

The tone of the letter is consistent with oil producing countries’ long-standing position that fossil energy is an essential part of the energy transition, and that any phase-out would harm their economic development. It generated some anger among delegates, and a great deal of column inches in the media.

COP President Sultan Al-Jaber has been chivvying Parties along, having set an ambitious deadline of midday Sunday for the consultations to produce clean text, and it seems as though few of the negotiation tracks will meet the cut-off point.

The consultations on the Global Stocktake text continued all day behind the scenes as negotiators worked to stitch together the various components of the draft into a coherent whole.

The section of the GST text on the phase-out of fossil fuels, which is coupled with the widely-agreed pledges on trebling of renewable energy and energy efficiency, remains the core issue within the GST draft.

Al-Jaber has left progressive options in the text and observers hope the next iteration of the text reduces the number of options and refines the language. There are some efforts to craft language that refers to an orderly transition away from fossil fuels and maintaining social equity, that may be enough to blunt the opposition.

Adding their voices to the GST discussion were the High-Ambition Coalition, whose spokesman Teresa Ribera (Spain’s environment minister) said today that “We need to phase-out fossil fuels. And of course, this may just happen by a phase-down…taking into consideration equity. It’s up to the most industrialised, high-income countries to bear a greater share of responsibility.”

Colombia’s minister Susana Muhamad was even more uncompromising: “”If countries are opposing goals on adaptation, but at the same time opposing a fossil phase-out, they need to be held accountable financially. If emitters will not bring down their emissions, they need to start paying for adaptation and loss and damage.”

Negotiators working on some of the other texts – such as implementation of measures to reach the Global Goal on Adaptation – have not reached agreement, and so their draft decisions have been passed up to the Presidency for further work.

Parties met for an informal stocktake on the progress of talks on Saturday evening, though ministers’ reports back did not reflect a great deal of progress.

The President said he was committed to closing COP by Tuesday lunchtime, and to delivering a “paradigm shift” that keeps 1.5 degrees within reach.

“There are still more areas of divergence than agreement,” he said. “The window is closing to close the gaps. My message to Parties is very simple: work faster, work smarter, work harder.”

“Now is the time to put aside self-interest for the common interest, to show maximum flexibility, to find common ground. I am convinced there is a balanced package out there; I can facilitate, I can continue to support, I can advise, but you must do the work.”

“It is decision time.”

Al-Jaber read out a laundry list of agenda items that are still being hammered out with the help of ministers, as well as a significant number of technical matters that are proceeding under the leadership of co-facilitators.

Some progress has been made: there’s been agreement on reporting and review under the transparency framework, and on the COP/CMA guidance to the Green Climate Fund.

The plenary also heard that the Article 6 co-facilitators have carried out “constructive engagements”, and the presidency has given Parties until Sunday evening to finish their work. Article 6 negotiators were still meeting late into the evening (see below).

The ministerial pairs will continue to work on their respective files tomorrow morning to find options for consensus, before the talks will move into a “majlis” (council) format at 3pm. The majlis will be a single setting format that will “set the stage for our final political agreement” on equity, mitigation, adaptation and support.

The plan is then to present a draft final political text to the COP at 11am on Monday morning.

One piece of recent news from outside the COP that might be of interest: the Financial Stability Board’s Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosure has been formally disbanded, and its work will be carried on by the International Sustainability Standards Board. The TCFD was set up in 2015 by the FSB and the G20.

And a final note: the COP29 soap opera may finally have been settled, after Russia’s envoy was quoted by Bloomberg as saying his country had no objections to Azerbaijan hosting next year and the Eastern Europe group was said to have reached agreement. So, Baku it is!

Article 6

The Article 6.4 co-facilitators dropped a new text early on Saturday morning which, was the subject of intense consultations throughout the day.

The draft document does not explicitly adopt the 6.4 Supervisory Body’s documents covering both methodologies and removals, but it mandates the SB to develop more detailed rules for both in 2024. It also requests the SB to continue work on the sustainable development tool.

The provisional document also decides that afforestation and reforestation projects that have been registered under the CDM “may transition” into Article 6.4 as long as a request is made before June 30, 2024.

The 6.4 talks have not yet managed to bridge divisions over whether to include emissions avoidance and conservation enhancement as either reductions or removals, though our observers say an agreement is nearing.

And following on from Bolivia’s intervention on Friday, there is still an option that brackets the entire text, and calls for a “moratorium in the functioning of markets” which would be reviewed every three years by the IPCC.

A new Article 6.2 draft appeared towards the end of the day, and generated considerable unhappiness among negotiating groups.

The African Group expressed deep dissatisfaction, saying their requests have been ignored. The group wants to bring back several elements in the next iteration on issues including authorisation, inconsistencies and sequencing.

The ⁠EU also said the new text was deeply disappointing, to the point of being surprising. The group believed the draft is deeply imbalanced, as it reflected the views of some Parties but not others. Europe, too, wants text on sequencing, definitions, inconsistencies brought back.

The Coalition for Rainforest Nations echoed the African Group and the EU, saying the text has no balance, not even a minimum common denominator, and it too wants restored text on authorisation, definition and inconsistencies.

The ⁠Environmental Integrity Group said it was disappointed that agreement on the Agreed Electronic Format seems to be out of reach, as this was a core mandate for this COP. It agreed that application of first transfer is important to avoid double counting.

The AILAC group also believes the text is not balanced and wants sequencing brought back in.

The U.S. still thinks some reporting requirements in the authorisation statements and the work programme are too onerous.

The ⁠Argentina-Brazil-Uruguay group appeared reasonably happy, having only asked for small fixes.

As we closed the email for Saturday, the consultations were still going on, but our team expects the meeting would close shortly and delegates would go into huddles and bilaterals.

Negotiating groups have been asked to provide comments on the 6.2 text by 1000 on Sunday, and the co-facilitators will produce a new text by midday.

Elsewhere, the discussions over the future of the Clean Development Mechanism produced their own updated text this morning, which offers two options for the mechanism’s glide-path into retirement; one sets a series of deadlines for various project- and methodology-based requests, while the other delays any such decisions to COP29.

The text also tackles the subject of what to do with the money currently administered by the CDM Trust Fund; there had been some talk that at least some of it might be put towards Article 6 administration, but the text only shows options relating to a $45 million contribution to the Adaptation Fund.

Sunday at the IETA Business Hub

Sunday is the last day of events at IETA’s Business Hub, though the Hub will remain open until Monday 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.

0900-1030: Carbon Finance for Agriculture, with Ellen Lourie (IETA), Emily-Pearce Rayner (Nutrrien), Gabriela Burian (Bayer) and Kate Newbury-Hyde (WBCSD). Event webcast.

1030-1200: Unlocking Opportunities in the MENA Region’s Evolving Carbon Markets, with Sandeep Roy Choudhury (VNV Advisory Services), Lina Osman (Standard Chartered), Nicolas Thevenot (APICORP), Stuart Donald  (Al Dahra) and Suleiman Nasser Al Akzami (Oman). Event webcast.

1200-1330: Evolution of the Carbon Market: Launch of IETA’s GHG Market Report 2023, with Alessandro Vitelli (IETA), Dirk Forrister (IETA), Jonathan Shopley (Climate Impact Partners), Lisa DeMarco (Resilient), Pablo Fernandez (Ecosecurities) and Stephanie Russo (Carbon Growth Partners). Event webcast.

1330-1500: Water Action Agenda: Towards a Sustainable Planet, with Urmi Goswami (Economic Times), Shubha Thakur (India), Matthias Berninger (Bayer) and Nidhi Nagabhatla (CRIS). Event webcast.

We’d like to take this opportunity to thank all of our partners and side event sponsors for helping making this year’s IETA Business Hub the best yet!