Negotiators disagree over scrutiny of climate pledges

17th December 2014

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Chris O'Dwyer

National climate pledges will not be formally scrutinised as the negotiators at the latest round of climate change talks failed to reach agreement on a formal assessment process.

The latest round of climate change talks in Lima, Peru led to a draft outline of a new global deal to tackle climate change, known as the "Lima call for climate action". However, the document is over 40 pages long, with some points containing as many as 10 different options.

One of the main things that negotiators were aiming to pin down was how national pledges would be assessed. Countries need to set out what action they will take towards meeting the internationally agreed goal of limiting global temperature rises to 2°C above industrial levels, presenting their plans six months ahead of the Paris talks in December 2015. These national pledges, known as "intended nationally determined contributions" (INDCs), will be assessed and reported on by the UN a month ahead of the Paris talks.

Some countries had called for a formal review process, under which the UN would scrutinise the pledges and have the power to challenge those countries whose commitments were deemed inadequate. But this was vetoed by countries including China and India, according to Leo Hickman, chief climate change adviser at WWF. "How do you compare all the country pledges fairly? There will only be one short month to do that, and no time to digest the UN's report before Paris," he said. Organisations such as WWF will now have to independently review the INDCs to calculate whether the action pledged in them will be enough to meet the 2°C target, he said.

But Jonathan Grant, assistant director of the sustainability and climate change team at PwC, believed that this type of third-party review would be effective. "If a country has a weak plan it will be criticised; if it has a bold plan it will be celebrated. A UN review process of the INDCs is unlikely to add much."

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