SBSTA Chair Calls for Rapid Implementation and Climate Ambition at COP25

The UNFCCC’s Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) is preparing for its 51st session (SBSTA51) in Madrid from 2 to 9 December, during the UN Climate Change Conference (COP25). The Chair of SBSTA, Paul Watkinson (France) has published a reflections note with important information to help Parties prepare the upcoming session, outlining approaches to organise work so as to deliver strong results on all issues on its agenda in Madrid.

In the note, Paul Watkinson recalls the “Keeling curve” that shows the evolution of CO2 emissions since 1958 as measured at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii. He notes that the underlying upward trend in concentrations of CO2 – and other greenhouse gases – will continue until we achieve the balance between emissions and absorptions. Until then, the international community cannot limit future temperature increases and impacts will be harder and harder to deal with. For now, however, global emissions continue to rise.

Paul Watkinson expresses hope that the work of the SBSTA will continue to help make it possible to transform that situation and that a future Chair of SBSTA – in not too many years – can present a “Keeling Curve” that no longer shows an underlying rise in concentrations of CO2. He suggests that, in parallel, all stakeholders must contribute to successfully addressing the consequences of climate change and ensuring that the world can make the necessary transition in a way that is just and equitable. If the international community keeps those aims at the forefront of all discussions and activities at COP25, we can make a difference!

In his reflection note, Mr. Watkinson also highlights the central role of SBSTA in supporting strengthened implementation of action and support and ambition, in particular through two broad sets of tasks: being the interface with the scientific community to help improve the understanding and knowledge of climate change in the broadest sense – the causes, the impacts, but also responses to climate change; and providing a forum to develop, to review and to improve the methods and tools available to Parties to help them improve their implementation of mitigation and adaptation actions, dealing with loss and damage, mobilising support and means of implementation, and raising ambition to meet the long-term goals of the Convention and the Paris Agreement.

The SBSTA Chair points out that as well as structuring work under the different negotiation streams, a number of mandated and special events will be organised during the session. 

These include:

  • Earth Information Day, a valuable opportunity for exchanging information on the state of the global climate system and developments in systematic observation;
  • two Special Events organized jointly with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to unpack the recent Special Reports on Climate Change and Land and on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate
  • the second meeting of the Katowice committee of experts on the impacts of the implementation of response measures
  • activities of the Local communities and indigenous people platform
  • the second meeting of the Facilitative Working Group of the LCIPP
  • a workshop under the Koronivia joint work on agriculture
    the 13th Nairobi Work Programme Focal Point Forum on oceans
  • the 2019 WIM review event and
  • background briefings to support the negotiations on certain topics.

The aim is to build capacity, to strengthen action on climate change and to build synergies beyond the “climate silo.”

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