It is no secret in the world of international politics that 2015 brings together two key processes that will significantly influence the wellbeing of people and planet over the coming decades.
However the Post-2015 framework and the UNFCCC have until now been treated as quite distinct, led by different negotiators and government departments. This is despite the fact that they will be agreed within weeks of each other (end of September and beginning of December 2015); have significant overlap in the issues covered (see below); will both need to be implemented through national development plans and will be seeking finance from similar (existing, new and innovative) sources.
A new report by international environment and development organisations including CAFOD, WWF, ODI, Oxfam, Christian Aid and CAN International argues that only by treating the Post-2015 and UNFCCC processes as complementary, rather than unrelated, separate or competing, can they raise the necessary ambition for climate action. In fact, UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon has convened a Climate Leaders Summit in September 2014 aiming to raise ambition for both processes.
It goes without saying that the Post-2015 framework has a much wider remit than just climate action. It covers all of sustainable development including issues such as health, education and jobs. However, when it comes to addressing climate change both processes address all the key issues, even if in different ways, as shown below. For example, the UNFCCC focuses on mitigation targets, whereas the post-2015 framework focuses on drivers of sustainable, low carbon development in different sectors such as energy, transport and agriculture.
The complementarity of the processes is clear when we consider the timescales for implementation. The Post-2015 framework can make significant contributions to building low carbon development in the years leading up to 2020, before the UNFCCC climate deal comes into play, and by when global emissions are meant to have peaked and started to rapidly decline. This is also the case for specific accountability mechanisms where the binding nature of the UNFCCC can be complemented by ambitious voluntary commitments in the post-2015 framework. However, a broader challenge here is for coordinated donor finance and accountability mechanisms to enable smoother and more effective implementation.
If the processes continue to be treated separately, these make or break issues of implementation, financing and technology transfer could fall through gaps and lead to trade-offs and ineffective agreements.
While recognising it is no easy challenge, the paper concludes with some recommendations for how these processes need to be approached coherently:
1. Integrate climate action into the heart of the Post-2015 development framework in a way that complements the UNFCCC process.
2. Ensure international and national-level political coordination to reach a successful outcome in both UNFCCC and Post-2015 negotiations in 2015.
3. Secure new and additional sources of finance for the implementation of both processes, ensuring that there are sufficient additional public funds and innovative sources of finance, as well as private finance.
4. Ensure coherent implementation through national low carbon development plans coordinated across government departments.