After a year of dialogues around the world, the Talanoa Dialogue concludes this month, at the UN climate negotiations in Katowice, Poland (known as COP 24). SEI has been engaged with the Talanoa process throughout the past year – through its submission, Aligning fossil fuel production with the Paris Agreement – and will be one of 12 civil society members participating in a COP 24 Ministerial-level Dialogue on 11 December.

Below, we answer the most common questions on the Talanoa Dialogue.

  • Q

    What is the Talanoa Dialogue?


    As underscored by the IPCC’s recent 1.5°C report , the world is not on track to keep global warming below 2°C, let alone 1.5°C. Even if countries achieve their current plans to reduce emissions – which is not guaranteed – the global average temperature is set to rise by more than 3°C this century, compared to pre-industrial levels.

    The Talanoa Dialogue is the UN’s attempt to tackle that problem. It is organised around three questions: Where are we in terms of climate action? Where do we want to go? and How do we get there? This is designed to motivate countries to increase their climate ambitions – and give them a wealth of ideas on how to do it.

    The Dialogue responds to an earlier decision to organise a “facilitative dialogue” in 2018. The aim is to take stock of collective action, and inform the preparation of the next round of national climate plans, or “nationally determined contributions” (NDCs), which are due in 2020.

    Led by Fiji and Poland, the Dialogue is intended to be inclusive and participatory. It has included an online submissions platform, in-person dialogues that include representatives from both governments and civil society, and more than 50 regional events worldwide.

    The Dialogue will culminate at COP 24. On 11 December,  ministers and other high-level representatives – along with 12 civil society representatives – will come together to discuss the critical question, “How do we get there?”

  • Q

    Why does the Dialogue matter?


    One of the core principles of the Paris Agreement is to increase climate ambition over time. Starting in 2023, this will be done through a process known as the global stocktake, a check-in that will occur once every five years. The stocktake will enable countries to account for what still needs to be done to achieve the Paris Agreement’s long-term goals, and to revise their national climate plans accordingly.

    The Talanoa Dialogue is, in some ways, a test-run for the stocktake, and should therefore lead countries and other stakeholders to step up their climate action before 2020.

    Specifically, the Dialogue should produce three key outputs:

    • A decision from Parties that recognises the need to step up ambition in their current NDCs, and to review and enhance their NDCs by 2020. Earlier this week, five former Presidents of the UN Climate Change process sent an unambiguous message about the need for enhanced action to keep the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C and well-below 2°C targets within reach.
    • Commitments from countries to enhance their NDCs by 2020. Countries like the Marshall Islands and Fiji have already committed to doing so, sending an important political signal. But the urgency of the climate crisis requires many larger emitters to get on board as well. In addition to individual statements, such commitments could also take the form of a strong political declaration from a group of countries.
    • A toolbox in the form of the rich range of submissions to the Dialogue. Hopefully, countries and other stakeholders will benefit from the ideas and lessons in the Dialogue submissions, leading them to adopt more effective and equitable policies. The COP Presidencies could support this through a call to action that includes recommendations for all stakeholders – including governments, civil society, and the private sector – to enhance climate ambition.

    None of these outputs can be effectively realised without enhanced support. COP 24 therefore also provides a critical opportunity for developed countries to announce upscaled support for climate action in developing countries.

  • Q

    What is SEI’s contribution to the Dialogue?


    Our scientists have highlighted research that points to the need to align fossil fuel production with the Paris Agreement goals.

    While it is widely recognised that over two-thirds of proven fossil fuel reserves need to stay in the ground to meet the international community’s climate change goals, the question of how to address oil, coal and gas production has historically been missing from UN climate negotiations.

    SEI’s work on this topic, primarily through our Initiative on Fossil Fuels and Climate Change, shows not only that limiting production is essential to meeting climate goals but also that it is possible through the Paris Agreement’s current architecture. Earlier this year, Georgia Piggot, a social scientist at SEI, shared this research at the Talanoa Dialogue in Bonn, Germany.

    As our Talanoa submission highlights, countries can use the opportunity to revise their NDCs and submit long-term low greenhouse gas emissions development strategies in 2020 to map out a managed decline in fossil fuel production. Policies to support such targets, such as fossil fuel subsidy reform, moratoria on new exploration, and transition plans for fossil fuel dependent workers and communities are already gaining traction around the world. High-income countries and financing institutions could direct support to developing countries to facilitate a transition away from fossil fuels.

More information

Our COP 24 side event on 10 December will spotlight good practices from governments and other stakeholders already working towards a managed decline of fossil fuel supply. SEI’s Michael Lazarus will then outline the benefits of supply-side action at COP 24’s Ministerial-level Dialogue on 11 December.