Reforming the COP process to deliver real climate action

Reforming the COP process to deliver real climate action

Early this year, the Club of Rome shared An open letter to the UN Secretary General and COP Executive Secretary: Reform of the COP process – a  manifesto for moving from negotiations to delivery signed by a group of experts, scientists, and policy leaders, calling on UN Secretary General António Guterres and UNFCCC Executive Secretary Simon Stiell to reform the COP process to ensure it can deliver results. The group believes that the suggested reforms would help the UNFCCC achieve the core objective of COP gatherings which is “to avoid dangerous climate change by delivering the Paris Agreement.”

“After 27 COP summits, the negotiation of all essential components of the global climate agreement has been finalised, all efforts must now be focused on one thing, delivery, to enable a safe climate landing for humanity on Earth and ensure that current crises do not delay progress and further exacerbate the disconnect between science and action. Successful delivery requires a reform of the COP process – focused on transforming the COP meetings from closed negotiations of annual statements and “accord” documents and legal text, to becoming multistakeholder platforms for delivery, accountability, finance, and exchange of experience/lessons. It requires that the United Nations re-adjust the current COP process to reflect the need for urgency and put in place a structure that ensures and enables continued ambition, delivery and accountability of COP decisions during this time of growing complexity and poly-crisis.”

The suggested reforms, critical inputs as another COP begins next month, are summarized as follows:

  1. COP needs to be able to act in, and respond to, our current emergency situation and to respect the goal of Paris of 1.5. The focus now needs to be on delivery and action, sharing best practice, holding countries to account, and financing the transition.
  2. COP should be based on science and all delegations should be regularly updated about new developments. Science shows urgent phasing out fossil fuels is vital to achieving climate targets in addition to the protection of nature and must be at the heart of discussions under the aegis of the COP.
  3. Instead of one huge annual COP, the letter calls for smaller, more frequent meetings to keep up momentum, focus on targeted deliverables and ensure governments are not the only voices heard during official discussions.
  4. The current structure with different zones separated from the negotiations should be abandoned and the COP meeting repurposed to be reporting, accounting and working sessions. Non-state actor solutions and ideas need to be brought into the COP negotiations and not be siloed in sideline events, including indigenous peoples voices and young change actors.
  5. Multilateral banks and financial institutions should have a central role in working sessions to ensure pledges become tangible, deliverable workplans.
  6. All decisions and discussions should account for regional differences to ensure a just global transition. The COP process can set an example for transformational leadership by supporting localised transition pathways, knowledge exchange and technology co-development and international collaboration based on equity and empowerment.

The full letter can be read here.


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