Blog Posts

IEA: Where’s the 1.5°C Energy Roadmap We Need?

As countries make plans to ramp up their NDCs,
they need a 1.5°C scenario to help them chart a course away from fossil fuels.
On Tuesday evening, the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) Executive Director
Fatih Birol took to the plenary stage for the Energy Day Ministerial meeting.
Energy ministers from around the world shared the (still largely inadequate)
actions their countries are taking to decarbonize the energy sector.

Sadly, right now, the IEA is fueling
inadequate levels of ambition. The IEA has rebuffed growing calls to develop a
1.5°C scenario. Instead, the IEA, in its scenarios, prolongs our dependence on
fossil fuels — especially fossil gas. It’s so-called Paris-aligned scenario
only reaches net-zero by 2070, at least 20 years too late. The IEA’s World
Energy Outlook (WEO) is frequently used to justify major new fossil fuel
infrastructure, including coal in Australia, tar sands in Canada, fracking in
the Permian, and offshore drilling in the Arctic. All of these new developments
are incompatible with 1.5°C.

“Energy decision-makers need to make hard
decisions… The aim is not to increase our egos, but to decrease our energy
emissions,” said Birol. ECO couldn’t agree more. Now it is time for the IEA to
put egos aside and heed the science, the needs of its own members, the growing
calls from the financial community and the climate movement and create a 1.5°C

On Thursday, a civil society coalition
interrupted an IEA side-event to deliver a petition signed by 12,000 people
demanding that the IEA create a 1.5°C-compatible scenario. Their voices were
amplified by leaders within the halls of IFEMA.

no paradise for the world’s most vulnerable countries. It is a compromise that
will still cost lives and livelihoods,” said Renato Redentor Constantino,
advisor to the Climate Vulnerable Forum. “There should be no question that a
1.5℃ scenario should be the centerpiece of the World Energy Outlook. It is what
we have all agreed on in the Paris Agreement, and it is a matter of life and
death. The IEA is a tool of wealthy, developed
countries that talk a big game on climate, and it is high time that they step

“Climate science clearly tells us we needed to
drop fossil fuels yesterday. And in the Permian Basin where I live, it’s not
just climate. Oil and gas expansion harms our health with toxic air pollution,
our property with earthquakes, and our lives with explosions. In every sense,
the Permian is a carbon bomb, and rather than defusing it, the IEA is holding
the match,” warned Lori Glover, Earthworks organizer & longtime Permian

If the IEA and Energy
Ministers start taking 1.5º seriously — as a life-or-death limit — ECO is
confident that they’d STOP excusing and permitting new fossil fuel
infrastructure; get moving on the necessary transition to 100% renewable,
regenerative economy; and cast off false solutions like “cleaner” fossil fuels.
If we don’t start planning for the energy transition needed for 1.5°C right
now, then the challenge will only grow steeper, imperiling our chances to
manage it in a fair and just way.

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Ray of the Year

The Ray of the Year goes to Scientists of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

CAN does not often award Rays of the Day; to receive such an award requires a significant step forward on climate action and these happen lamentably infrequently. However, there is a body that CAN has decided deserves not only a Ray of the Day, but Ray of the Year.

  The winner of this prestigious award is…the Scientists of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)!

  This award aims to recognize the amazing work of this Nobel Prize winning group of scientists. They produced three key reports in the past two years that provided the basis for all the work civil society is doing to pressure governments to accelerate climate action and decarbonize the economy. 

We applaud these scientists for providing the solid truth that we need to do more and we need to do it faster to save humanity and the planet fromm devastating climate change.

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Fossil of the Day

Our voices are being silenced and it´s not funny. 

Despite emptier hallways this evening, we continue to hold space even as our colleagues are shut outside in the cold simply for raising their voices for a better future and climate justice.

Today, the UNFCCC security deserves a fossil but we had previously decided to give it to a few nasty countries and we won’t let the UNFCCCs bad behaviour derail us from commenting on the negotiations.

Today we award the first place fossil of the day award to Japan for rejecting the opportunity to commit to climate ambition and coal phase out.

It is hard to describe how deeply disappointed we are with Japan’s announcement — or  lack thereof — today. 

Japan’s Environment Minister, Shinjiro Koizumi, said Japan rejected yet another opportunity to improve its “highly insufficient” emission reduction target and to end financing for coal.

Since 2012, Japan has built 15 new coal plants; an additional 15 NEW domestic coal-fired power plants are currently under construction. This deadly buildout would make it impossible for Japan to achieve its already insufficient target, let alone raise ambition.

Japan also continues to be the world’s second largest financier of coal-fired power plants overseas. The country argues that its “highly efficient” coal-fired technologies contribute to the lives of people in developing countries, however,  the science is clear: coal has to be immediately phased out everywhere in the world if we are to have any hope of limiting warming to 1.5ºC. 

As a rich country, Japan had a golden opportunity to show leadership in responding to the science and charging ahead with transforming and decarbonizing an industrial economy.    

Japan’s continued conduct and support for dirty coal is an international embarrassment. Let us say: “How dare you, Japan?.”

The second Fossil of the Day award goes to Brazil for legitimizing land grabbing and deforestation.

Bolsonaro rewards criminal gangs and ignites a carbon bomb.

  Elected under the promise of bringing law and order to his country, Brazil’s far-right leader Jair Bolsonaro gave criminal gangs quite the Christmas present last night; he sent Congress an executive decree that grants a wide amnesty for land grabbing, the single most important driver of deforestation (hence carbon emissions) in Brazil. The new legislation, which still has to go through Congress, states that if you invaded and clear-cut public land as of 2018 you can still get land titles. 

In the best possible case, the move will allow the additional deforestation of 1.6 million hectares (the size of England) and the emission of 650 million tonnes of CO2 in the next seven years. What’s worse, this sends a political signal that crime pays. We simply can’t control deforestation if we don’t stop criminal land grabbing. In the past, Brazil managed to drive deforestation down by controlling the invasion of public land. It appears that Brazil has become the country where environmentalists go to jail — if they are not killed — and criminal land invasions get the stamp of legality. 

And as if that wasn’t enough, upon hearing that Greta Thunberg tweeted about Indigenous Brazilians assassinated for protecting their land, Bolsonaro called her a pirralha, or “brat”. It seems like there are no limits to the idiocy of this President and his Ministers.

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To the Responsible Parties of the Paris Agreement, From the Youth of Australia

Right now, the youth of Australia are not being listened to by our government, even though the impacts of the climate crisis are here now. Sydney and regional NSW are blanketed with smoke from catastrophic bushfires, with fires all across the country, and air quality 11 times what are hazardous levels.

Yet our government is trying to use an accounting trick to get out of acting on the driver of these devastating fires, climate change. Energy Minister Angus Taylor has continuously made misleading claims about the government’s reduction in emissions. Taylor claims Australia will meet its targets 7 years ahead of schedule, which is untrue.

A meaningful global target for Australia would be at least a 45% reduction. Yet Australia’s target under the Paris Agreement is 26-28% by 2030, and net zero emissions by 2050. The Morrison government wants to count surplus emission reductions credits earned as Kyoto Credits. With these credits, Australia’s expected emissions reductions will be just 16% - not at all our fair share. We need to do something about this. We need to stop countries like Australia from being able to “cheat” their way out of real action on climate change.

Climate change is causing unprecedented drought and resulting in our bushland and forests drying out like never before, even in ancient World Heritage Listed rainforests that have never been subject to bushfire. We students have long lives ahead of us, and we don’t wish for this to be the new normal; but if sufficient action is not taken, it may well be the reality.

Climate change is already affecting us all and will continue to get worse, especially for those on the front lines and for Indigenous peoples. They are dealing with food shortages, land loss, water shortage, and loss of connection to their culture. All while the Australian government takes their land and sells it to mining companies for their own profit.

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Adaptation Has To Be in the Mainstream

After a frustrating series of negotiations leading to bland compromises on unblocking funds for poor countries to make plans, a toothless criticism of the committee charged with ambition, and an unseemly struggle for control over the accounts, adaptation has been stranded at this COP.

The clue is in the name: climate change. When things change, we have to adapt to the new circumstances. What could be bigger than a change in the climate? Albert Einstein once described the environment as ‘everything that isn’t me’. Change that, and I have to adapt everything I think, plan, and do.

Of course, mitigation would be best. But, where we find ourselves today, adaptation has to happen. Millions of people are already faced with fundamental challenges: more frequent droughts, flooding, and storms threaten food security, ways of life, and basic rights. US$13.3 billion in adaptation finance is far below the $50b goal. The Adaptation Finance Gap report from 2016 tells us that adaptation costs could increase up to $300b by 2030.

Without a concerted effort by international institutions like the UN, adaptation will be a piecemeal effort with insufficient resources used inefficiently and ineffectively. The Global Commission on Adaptation is a start, but 1 year of action is certainly not enough. The theme should be more action, every year. We need long-term and predictable action. 

LDCs and other developing countries are called to submit their NAPs by 2020, yet, there is still a lack of support in conducting this important but resource intense process. At COP26, adaptation should no longer be beached, but be swimming along in the mainstream of climate action.

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Just Transition Needs Fast-Tracking, Here in Madrid

Well, after already delaying a year, it looks likely that the 6-year work-plan for the Forum on the Implementation Response Measures has stalled, though discussion continues, facilitated by a pair of Ministers. 

While it sounds nice to include “recalls the imperative for a just transition,” in the draft decision, let’s be honest, there is NO action in remembering something. That is just unacceptable. 

This round of negotiations started out promisingly as countries began to discuss issues related to a fair, equitable, and just transition from a dirty fossil-fuel energy economy to a 100% clean, renewable one. But, they also demonstrated how difficult and critical these issues are, particularly if countries want to ensure (as they should) that the transition protects the rights of Indigenous communities, workers and unions, youth, women and gender constituents, people with disabilities, frontline communities, and other structurally oppressed groups. 

A just transition - if done right - will jumpstart new social and economic development with a more resilient and democratic economy, while increasing climate ambition. It is, therefore, central to every country’s effort to decarbonize. Yet, equity and justice continue to be divorced from ambition goals, NDCs, finance, and other commitments, siloed inside one single forum. The fact that Response Measures continues to stall underscores the need to address just transition issues head-on in all actions that need to happen to combat the climate crisis. 

ECO therefore urges the Conference of the Parties to include just transition goals in ambition and finance, and in the Decisions of the Parties, urging all Parties to incorporate within their revised NDCs just and equitable transition plans for and led by all workers, labour unions and communities impacted by the energy transition. We cannot afford to wait any longer as just transition and economic diversification discussions under the UNFCCC continue to be kicked down the road. They must be treated with the same level of urgency as other elements of the COP agenda.

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Voices from the Frontlines: Fleeing the Climate

Have you ever thought about what you would do if the climate changed the place where you live? When climate impacts hit, impacting your life and livelihood, you have to decide: stay or go. In the driest corridor of Central America, it has been years since rainfall catastrophically decreased.

When the El Niño and climate change made life unsustainable, Yensi Marisela and her husband decided to move to Tegucigalpa. There he found work, and she joined a factory in a special economic zone. Some time after, the son of one of her friends was murdered in a shootout. The insecurity caused by gang activity, cost of living, and the lack of dignified work meant Yensi returned home, while her husband stayed and sent money home.

The drastic change in rain patterns have ruined the harvest in the Dry Corridor, where 60% of people already live under the poverty line and rely on subsistence agriculture. This is a humanitarian crisis aggravated by climate change in which migration is often the only viable option. Migration often occurs within country borders or towards Costa Rica and El Salvador, and more recently, there are increased migration flows towards other international destinations. 

Studies on the gendered impact of climate change show an increased flow of female migrants toward Spain and the US as housekeepers. Others migrate towards urban centers and work in factories under harsh conditions, and some families migrate seasonally to harvest coffee beans; schools in Honduras have even adapted their calendars to accommodate student absences from December to March.

In El Salvador and Guatemala, climate migrants are largely men who migrate to cities to find work and send money back to their families; women at home must take on additional duties to take care of their families and farms. Not owning the land that they work on adds extra stress to the situation. Water wells have dried up, increasing the workload, and when these women participate in adaptation projects like seed banks, agricultural cooperatives, and water reserves, they are not consulted and often end up doing more work than before. The Gender Action Plan would support these women – this is one more reason to ensure it is unlocked here in Madrid.

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Scale up Adaptation Finance!

ECO would like to remind developed countries of the US$100 billion climate finance commitment they promised to deliver annually by 2020. We are not sure whether you have noticed that there is actually not much time left to hit the target, as 2020 is getting closer.

ECO especially worries about the slow progress on the adaptation finance share of your commitment. The climate crisis is already hitting hard on many people, especially those who are the most vulnerable. Those people rely on you to live up to your promises by 2020.  But some developed countries seem to have forgotten the fact that they promised that half of their $100b promised would be for adaptation action. The recent OECD update made us doubt that developed countries are on the right track... In 2017, adaptation finance only rose to $13.3b. What is your plan to get to at least $50b for adaptation action by 2020?

ECO would like to suggest one concrete option available: contribute to the Adaptation Fund (AF)!

The AF is effectively channelling adaptation finance to people and communities most vulnerable to climate change. With its small, localized, mainly direct access projects, it serves as an important niche in the international climate finance architecture. That's why last year you have decided that the AF is now serving the Paris Agreement. So, now you should ensure it can truly live up to its mandate. To lift the country cap and to scale up its actions, the Fund needs to have financial predictability.

Sometimes we hear developed countries saying that the reason for them to not spend adequate resources on adaptation action is that there are no eligible projects. But let us tell you: a great number of developing countries have a long pipeline of adaptation projects they would like to submit to the AF as soon as it lifts its country cap, eases access, and scales up its actions. But the Fund won't be able to do so without financial predictability Sweden got that, and provided a 4-year pledge of about $53 million to the AF, or about 0.01% of their 2017 GDP. Sweden then called on other countries to do the same and join them. Norway followed the example set by Sweden, and will put a 2-year pledge of $15m into the AF.

ECO was a bit worried to hear that Germany, a devoted supporter of the AF, was unfortunately not able to put forward a multi-year pledge and decreased its contribution to less than half of last year's pledge. ECO knows that Germany provides about half of its climate finance for adaptation actions, which is great. And we also know that you have been a big fan of this important Fund. So why are you channelling such a small amount of your adaptation finance provided through the AF? 

But ECO also calls on other developed countries: Scale up your adaptation finance contributions (e.g. to the AF) to fulfil what you promised.

On a happier note, we heard a rumour that Switzerland will also contribute to the AF! After Switzerland’s last contribution to the AF in 2013, we were already worried that it forgot about the Adaptation Fund. ECO hopes Switzerland will follow the example of Sweden and provide a 4-year pledge amounting to at least 0.01% of its 2017 GDP (about $68m).

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A Modest Proposal: Share of Proceeds From Aramco IPO

Yesterday, Saudi Aramco, the Saudi state-owned oil company, floated 1.5% of its shares on the country's stock exchange in the world's largest Initial Public Offering. The IPO is expected to raise at least US$26 billion for the company, and potentially up to $29b - which is the largest influx of financing for fossil fuels since the Paris Agreement was signed. Aramco is also the largest single corporate source of carbon emissions since 1965.

Here in Madrid, negotiators are stuck on how to finance loss and damage. So here's a modest proposal: a [2][5]% share of proceeds levied on trading in Aramco and other oil companies' shares to provide funding for addressing loss and damage in the most vulnerable countries. This would operationalise the Polluter Pays Principle, and directly link financing for loss and damage to the companies most responsible. This is what we call climate justice!

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Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

ECO [welcomes] [recognizes] [notes] the publication of the triad of chapeau decisions, known to all you negotiating lovelies by the melodic monikers 1/CP.25, 1/CMP.15 and 1/CMA.2.

There are good elements in the current drafts, but there is still room for improvement in the remaining [2][3][4] days of COP.

ECO welcomes the strong thread of scientific recognition, especially in 1/CP.25. Indeed, for climate change, it is imperative for our survival that politics is led by science. It is evil for politics to play fast and loose with the facts, and the fact is, much greater mitigation action is needed. An explicit mandate for all Parties to revise and enhance their NDCs — both mitigation and adaptation intentions — by October 2020 should be included. And since the decision text includes recognition of the gap, it should also include a mandate for the secretariat to calculate the size of the gap, based on NDCs received, in time for COP26. The potential of nature for helping deliver resilience and mitigation aims is already well explored, and now should be the time to realize this potential. Regarding nature: while the importance of ocean ecosystems is well reflected in the text, it seems odd that land does not receive similar recognition. 

1/CMP.15 is welcome for its brevity in its succinct and to-the-point calls for urgent delivery of per-2020 promises and for further ratifications.

The strong focus of 1/CMA.2 on adaptation issues is very welcome, but the text seems rather light on mitigation and means of implementation. The NDCs should be ‘enhanced’ and not merely ‘updated’ (notwithstanding the Paris Agreement’s requirement that each NDC should be a “progression” on the previous one). We have the IPCC trio of reports to underscore why there is such a need for rapid and speedy decarbonization. For many Parties, this requires the support from developed countries – the text should reiterate this fundamental pillar of the UNFCCC architecture. 1/CMA.2 does a good job of recalling human rights, but it would be so much more powerful a statement if included in the operational language, along with recognition of the importance of environmental integrity.

In short, the draft texts are a good start, but have the potential to be even better.

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