Review mandate in the Cancun Agreements

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Date produced: 04/10/2011

1. How tight is the mandate for a review of the long-term global goal, as set out in the Cancun agreement (paragraphs 138-140, FCCC/CP/2010/7/Add.1)? Are its provisions exclusive, or does it give scope to widen the range of issues under discussion, how they are discussed, and any inputs (and inputters!) that may be able to contribute to the review?

2. How does the mandate to review temperature goals relate to other issues in the negotiations, including (a) shared vision, including 2050 target and global peak and (b) need for long term finance (currently agreement is for $100bn by 2020)?

Summary:
1. The Cancun agreement uses open-ended and non-exclusive language and offers very little guidance/limitations on the elaboration of the review to be made at COP 17. Pending further refinement at the COP17 it is clear that the current wording of paragraphs 138-140 leaves ample room for involving a wide range of issues and inputs (and inputters) in the review process.

2. (a) The mandate to review the temperature goals is closely linked to the shared vision, including 2050 target and global peak. The temperature goals review process is in a way a mechanism to institutionalise the discussions regarding shared vision and the global goal. (b) The Cancun agreement decouples the fundamental discussion on shared vision from the practical issue of long-term finance.

As a preliminary note, it must be observed that the FCCC/CP/2010/7/Add.1 is a COP decision which does not as such create internationally binding obligations, but rather constitutes a political declaration, guiding the further negotiation process. This is evident from the language used throughout the text. For instance, in paragraph 98 it is stated that developed country Parties ‘commit (…) to a goal of mobilizing jointly’ USD 100 billion per year by 2020 to address the needs of developing countries. This is a clear example of a political commitment that is not prone to judicial enforcement. In other words, the commitments laid down in the Cancun agreement are not carved in stone, but depend on the political will of the Parties and on further implementation in concrete rights and obligations.

1. As for the mandate for a review of the long-term global goal (par. 138-140), the Cancun agreement uses open-ended and non-exclusive language. As a matter of principle, it decides to organise a periodic review of the adequacy of the long-term global goal. How that review will be organised in practical terms is left for the COP17 to decide (on the basis of a proposal of the AWG-LCA). This implies that if no agreement can be reached at the COP17 as to the modalities of the review, the review will remain dead letter. Otherwise, the text of the Cancun agreement offers very little guidance/limitations on the elaboration of the review (except that it relates to the long-term global goal). It lists a number of elements to be taken into account, albeit stressing that the list is not exhaustive (‘inter alia’). The agreement also states that the first review should start in 2013 and be concluded by 2015 – again, however, whether this is feasible depends on further implementation of the decision at COP17 and beyond.

Pending further refinement at the COP17 it is clear that the current wording of paragraphs 138-140 leaves ample room for involving a wide range of issues and inputs (and inputters) in the review process, including, for example, the Fifth Assessment Report of the IPCC, if the Parties agree to this.

2. Cancun mandate – temperature goals

a. The mandate to review the temperature goals is closely linked to the shared vision, including 2050 target and global peak. This is reflected in the reference in paragraph 138 to paragraph 4, dealing with the global goal, and, conversely, in the reference in the latter paragraph to the review process. The temperature goals review process is, in a way, a mechanism to institutionalise the discussions regarding shared vision and the global goal. This is also illustrated by the fact that paragraph 139 explicitly makes the link to the suggestion of strengthening the long-term global goal (incl. to a temperature rise of 1.5 °C).

b. By contrast, there is no direct link between the mandate to review temperature goals and the efforts regarding long-term finance. The Cancun agreement indeed decouples the fundamental discussion on shared vision (to be discussed in the context of the review process – the modalities of which are to be decided at COP17) from the practical issue of long-term finance (to be organized in part by the Green Climate Fund – currently prepared by the Transitional Committee and to be further given shape at COP17). However, since the COP is required to take appropriate action based on the review (par. 139(c)), it would be open to the COP, after the review, to decide whether more long-term finance is required to help meet the long-term global goal.