The formal processes of the UNFCCC (UN climate body) will mosey on to plot the structure and lay out the policy options for the 2015 agreement. But it is the informal processes which have the most potential to shape the national interest debates in many critical countries.
In the past, the political dividends created from the informal processes have remained invisible to the naked UNFCCC negotiator eye until the ‘grand finale’, often resulting in considerable levels of frustration for those of us who track the COPs (annual UN climate summit) and intercessionals (smaller UN meetings).
Whilst it’s the informal processes (underpinned by national actions) that help shape the politics of the international climate regime, these fora receive less attention and management than their more formal counterparts.
The run up to Copenhagen was a prime example where climate was woven into a variety of informal venues only to create confusion about how to capture the momentum.
There will be lots happening in the run up to Paris. Choreographing is required to construct and prioritise the right dialogues, with the right audiences and venues at the right time.
Two critical audiences are Leaders and Real-Economy decision makers. In the run up to 2015, Leaders will deal with many issues and trade-offs relating to climate change.
In order to secure more ambition, there are some critical issues Heads of State and Government must internalise in order to inform the trade-offs and ambition. It is essential that Leaders understand their strategic interest for a successful 2015 agreement, and critically understand the consequences of failure.
What would failure mean for the future of multilateralism, their bilateral relations and for their prosperity? Several informal processes throughout 2014 provide an opportunity to craft this understanding.
In addition to the multiplicity of informal processes, 2014 also hosts a range of domestic elections in Brazil, South Africa, India, European Parliament, European Commission and Indonesia which provide an opportunity to shape the national interest debate on climate change, and create more political shifts internationally.
The potential for political dynamism in 2014 makes next year distinct. A plan to harvest the politics will be essential, as it will not happen organically.
Marry Christmas and Happy New Year!!