Leipzig in September: Birth of a new G2?

In March 2017, Amb. Bo Kjellen (Sweden) and I wrote a Strategy Note (“Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more”), focussing in particular on what would enable China to continue taking a global lead after the demise of the 2014 Xi-Obama ‘G2’ that is widely credited as having paved  the way for the success at Paris.

Our analysis was based on what we considered a fundamental maxim (‘red-line’) of Chinese climate change policy: as concerns issues related to the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities (such as expressed in Art. 3.1 of the UNFCCC: “developed country Parties should take the lead in combating climate change and the adverse effects thereof.”), China considers itself firmly to be a developing country, and will not allow itself to be pushed into situations that could be interpreted otherwise.

This is why we advocated that the EU should take up the role of developed country partner in a new G2 with China, and the hope is that the EU-China climate summit meeting in Leipzig in September could have a similar catalytic effect as the 2014 Beijing meeting between Presidents Xi and Obama. One concrete outcome could be an agreement with respect to enhancing ambition.

The EU has already announced that it will enhance its 2030 ambition in Glasgow. Given China’s CDBR sensitivities, it seems unlikely to me that they will follow suit at the same time. But it seems conceivable that they could agree to consider enhancing in 2025. Indeed, it would seem to be reasonable that this could be done in the context of a general invitation to Parties to do so, such as issued in the proposed ”Glasgow Ambition Cycle” language (see below, Para. 2). Given the highly significant nature of the year 2035 for China, it was pointed out to me by a Chinese colleague that the request (Para. 1) to communicate a 2035 NDC by 2025 should also be, in principle, acceptable to China.

In light of recent developments (see FT Headline below) the EU also seems to be moving towards a position compatible with the DCC, which means that Leipzig could be the locus where China and the EU are demonstrating joint-leadership and decide to complete the Ambition Mechanism of the Paris Agreement by adopting the DCC as their ambition position for Glasgow.

Mehreen Khan in Brussels FEBRUARY 29 2020

The Glasgow Ambition Cycle

Para. 1. Requests Parties to communicate by 2025 a nationally determined contribution with a ten-year time frame up to 2035, and to do so every five years thereafter.

Para. 2. Invites Parties to consider in 2025 (2030) updating their nationally determined contributions with a time frame up to 2030 (2035), in line with Art. 2.2 and Art. 4.3 of the Paris Agreement, and to do so every five years thereafter.

Art. 2.2. This Agreement will be implemented to reflect equity and the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, in the light of different national circumstances.

Art. 4.3. Each Party’s successive nationally determined contribution will represent a progression beyond the Party’s then current nationally determined contribution and reflect its highest possible ambition, reflecting its common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, in the light of different national circumstances.

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