Negotiators at COP25 are poised to move on text to coordinate action on oceans.
As the 2019 annual UN climate change negotiations enter their second week, all eyes are on whether the ocean-climate nexus will become an official process under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). For the past few years, a plethora research reports, civil society groups, state actors, and NGOs have called for more coordination and cooperation for oceans and climate change. The official UN climate change agendas for COP25 negotiations, however, have yet to address oceans. It seems that may finally be about to change.
After more than a year of intense work led by nations including Fiji, Indonesia, Chile, and Costa Rica, it appears a high-level process will result in specific text to be introduced this week. The text that is being explored is largely procedural, as these meetings tend to be. In fact, some of the most consequential UN climate change decisions have been procedural ones.
Leading up to the UNFCCC SB50 meetings in Bonn, Germany in June 2019, the Carbon Institute wrote a briefing with several other organizations on the Introduction of a COP25 Agenda Item to Facilitate the Coordination of Measures on Oceans, Coastal Zones, and Climate Change. This briefing was widely circulated over the summer to contextualize the ocean-climate nexus and suggested the legal steps that could be taken to make oceans a formal part of the COP25 agenda.
However, the current COP25 ocean-climate text has come through a high-level process of ministerial meetings instead of being a formal COP25 agenda item, but the specific decision under consideration is very similar to the one laid out in the original memo.
This first ever UNFCCC ocean text notes the importance of increasing ambition at the ocean-climate nexus and calls for countries and organizations to submit specific topics and systems that could be explored by the Paris Agreement Parties. The draft text also has language which would task one of the subsidiary bodies of the UNFCCC to convene in the summer to develop formal recommendations that would again come back to the Conference of the Parties.
The final version of the draft text is not yet out, but this is a historic step forward for working to fill the “great blue hole” in the UNFCCC. Look for updates in our next blog on the content of the text as it develops.