The Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate (MEF) held a meeting in Krakow, Poland July 18, 2013. It was attended by ministers and officials from the 17 major economies, as well as the United Nations, with New Zealand, Norway, Peru, Poland, Saudi Arabia, and Singapore also participating in the session. Barbados and the Democratic Republic of the Congo were also invited.
Participants broadly supported the concept of a MEF Action Agenda, which would consist of concrete efforts on a voluntary, cooperative basis to accelerate the transition to low-carbon economies. Participants generally agreed that a MEF Action initiative could focus on improving the performance and energy efficiency of buildings. The conversation built on advances made over two previous MEF Ministers meetings and two Working Group meetings.
Buildings are the largest single source of energy demand and account for approximately 40 percent of the global total of CO2 emissions. MEF participants discussed how an initiative could best capture this opportunity. Many participants noted that efforts will not be “one size fits all;” that countries have differences in existing energy services and building stock; and that, in many countries, a variety of building issues are administered at the sub-national level.
The participants also discussed the options for legal force regarding mitigation provisions of the 2015 agreement in particular and other provisions as well. Regarding mitigation, they noted that there will be several different types of provisions and that their treatment in terms of legal force does not need to be uniform. Options for legal force were evaluated in light of their ability to promote ambition, as well as inclusiveness in terms of countries’ participation.
Concerning the negotiations under the UNFCCC, participants discussed their respective expectations concerning the Paris Conference of the Parties. In particular, they discussed whether mitigation commitments would be finalized at that point after a process for consulting on/analyzing them or whether Paris would launch such a process. Some considered that it would not be feasible to complete the process by 2015, because countries need to reach agreement on ground rules and on relevant text before putting down their nationally determined mitigation commitments. Others considered that it would be feasible, as well as important, to include such commitments in the 2015 outcome.
In any event, there was broad support for putting forward commitments with ex ante clarity. There was also discussion about how to address the potential situation where aggregate commitments fall far short of the necessary ambition, with different views on whether there should be a second step of a “top down” nature. With an eye on ambition and inclusiveness, they also considered whether there should be any “bounds” on the flexibility accorded to countries to come up with their nationally determined commitments, such as with respect to timeframe, quantification, transparency, etc.
Participants also had a good exchange on expectations for Warsaw and Lima. They agreed that these conferences are critical steps for progress on pre-2020 ambition and toward a successful agreement in 2015. A number of countries highlighted the importance of fostering a constructive transition to a more focused set of work in 2014.
MEF countries agreed to follow up these discussions at their next meeting, to be convened in September 2013 on the margins of the United Nations General Assembly meetings in New York.