Tag: Eastern Europe and Eurasia

CAN responds to Russian government's baseless charges against member Ecodefense

Climate Action Network is calling for the Russian Government to end its persecution of our member organization, Moscow-based environmental NGO, Ecodefense. Recently, the Russian Ministry of Justice accused Ecodefense of being a 'foreign agent' -  meaning the organization may get shut down.

Ecodefense is under attack from the Russian authorities because it is campaigning against the construction of the Baltic Nuclear Power Plant, according to Irina Stavchuk, coordinator of Climate Action Network in Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia (CAN EECCA). 

“Charges of falling foul of the law on foreign agents are often levelled against independent organisations which criticise the actions of the Russian government,” Stavchuk said.

“The charges against Ecodefense are baseless - they are being made to smooth the way for Russia’s nuclear lobby, and to steamroll over public opposition to the new nuclear plant.”

According to this Law, civil society organizations funded by foreign sources and engaged in "political activities" can be registered as 'foreign agents', which not only discredits them in the eyes of the public but also allows authorities to shut down entire organizations. 

Ecodefense is one of the oldest members of the Climate Action Network in the region and is renowned  for its climate and anti-nuclear campaigning. Ecodefense publishes a popular newsletter which provides one of the only outlets for civil society in the region to criticize governments for failing to take sufficient action to protect the environment.  

“Ecodefense is defending the interests of the Russian citizens and their rights to a healthy environment by opposing the importation into Russia of nuclear waste, construction of nuclear power plants and other dangerous projects,” Stavchuk said. 

The campaign against the construction of the Baltic NPP is an illustration of the Organization acting in the interests of the Russian citizens and the entire Baltic region.

To successfully combat climate change, Russia along with the rest of the world, needs massively upscale investment in renewable energy. Nuclear energy has been shown to be a false solution to the climate crisis as it is expensive and dangerous - as the Chernobyl nuclear accident which occurred nearby proved. Polling has shown residents in the regions around where the power plant is planned oppose its construction. 

Contact:

Climate Action Network: Ria Voorhaar,  +49 157 3173 5568, rvoorhaar@climatenetwork.org

Ecodefense: Vladimir Slivyak, +7 903 2997584, ecodefense@gmail.com

 

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Countries Must Commit at Warsaw to put numbers on the table in 2014

Friday, June 14, Bonn – Germany:  Climate Action Network called for nations to agree a 2014 deadline for releasing their new carbon pollution reductions pledges before the close of the main climate talks in Warsaw this November.

The call came as the latest round of talks closed in Bonn today having made incremental progress on the shape of a comprehensive climate deal to be agreed in 2015.  But Greenpeace UK political advisor Ruth Davis said a deadline for pledges was vital for the negotiations to remain on track.

“This deadline is needed partly to give enough time to assess the pledges against the latest climate science, and partly so that countries can compare their efforts,” Davis said. “Having enough time to negotiate these targets is vital to avoiding the kind of last minute scramble that made the 2009 Copenhagen summit such a disaster.”

These negotiations were held against a backdrop of the worst-on-record flooding in Eastern Europe and extreme weather in the US. German and New York officials stated this week that they would spend billions fortifying their cities against future extreme weather, showing that the costs of climate change are already being tallied in rich countries as well as poor.  

With climate change already impacting millions across the world, the Climate Action Tracker initiative said this week current pledges put the world on track for 4 degree C warming. This would result in devastating impacts for the planet and its people.

With that in mind, Lina Li, from Greenovation Hub in Beijing, said the Bonn talks failed to make major progress on an international mechanism to cover the loss and damage caused to communities by the effects of climate change. Also missing in action was substantial progress on the review  which would assess whether the agreed global temperature limit of 2 degrees Celsius was adequate.

Areas for substantial discussion in Warsaw include the thread that pulls the climate negotiations together: financial support for developing countries to adopt a low carbon development strategy that reduces emissions and helps them adapt to climate impacts. 

“While most countries have shown a cooperative spirit in the talks so far this year, the Warsaw negotiations will be a test of whether this can be maintained as we move towards more substantial discussions,” Li said.

Dorota Zawadzka-Stępniak, from WWF Poland, said the Polish government needed to invite the holders of the purse strings - finance ministers - to Warsaw to discuss real commitments to increasing financial pledges.

“For the Polish presidency to be a success, Poland must stop blocking enhanced climate action in the EU and adopt a progressive attitude towards its domestic climate and energy policy,” Zawadzka-Stępniak said. “We need to embrace a low carbon pathway and make a strategic shift in the Polish energy system in order to be a credible partner in the negotiations.”  

Contact:

Ria Voorhaar
International Communications Coordinator
Climate Action Network – International
mobile: +49 157 3173 5568

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No love lost on Russia as climate talks delayed for fifth day

                 

Climate Action Network (CAN) has slammed blocking moves by Russia which have stalled progress during the first week of the UN climate negotiations in Bonn, Germany. 

 
CAN - a network of over 850 NGOs all working together to combat climate change -  voted to give Russia the nation the weekly fossil award for the country which does the most to block progress in the talks a day early.
 
Kaisa Kosonen, senior political adviser from Greenpeace International, said so far five days have been wasted as Moscow insisted the rules on agreeing laws in the UN climate process be discussed  - meaning many negotiation sessions could not begin -  and all efforts at compromise so far have been blocked.  
 
“It’s in everybody’s interest that the rules of the game are respected, but frankly, the Russians broke the rules first by pulling out of the Kyoto Protocol and by not taking any climate action even though they are a major emitter,” Kosonen said. 
 
Moscow’s actions seem to stem from their anger over the way their objections to the Doha Decision - which quite rightly removed tons of poor quality emissions permits from the system -  at last year’s major climate talks was ignored. 
 
However, governments have as few as five negotiating sessions left before the 2015 climate agreement has to be signed.  This behavior derails progress towards this deadline. 
 
It comes as science finally re-enters these political negotiations with the kick off of the First Periodical Review to measure the adequacy of and the progress towards the global agreement to limit temperature rise to 2 degrees C.
 
Scientists told country delegates that the 2 degree limit was still achievable - but its clear there remains a huge gulf between the action governments have currently committed to and what the world needs. 
 
Furthermore, with deadly climate impacts already being felt around the world and the carbon concentration breaking through the 400 ppm landmark, scientists said the world is currently experiencing the “worst-case climate change scenario” envisaged by the IPCC in 1990. 
 
The kind of progress that Russia is blocking includes workshops that would help developing countries do more on climate. For example, unable to proceed are:
 
  • a workshop designed to help developing countries prepare and implement emissions reduction targets
  • efforts to help developing countries implement forest related emission reduction efforts more effectively
 
This process has the real potential to change lives on the ground by agreeing a global agreement that provides assistance to countries looking to use technology to adapt to the impacts of climate change and reduce their emissions, but right now the interests of a few are holding back its potential to move forward. 
 
Contact:
For more information or for one-on-one interviews with the NGO experts, please contact Climate Action Network International’s communications coordinator Ria Voorhaar on +49 (0) 157 317 35568 or rvoorhaar@climatenetwork.org
 
About CAN: The Climate Action Network (CAN) is a worldwide network of roughly 850 Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) working to promote government and individual action to limit human0induced climate change to ecologically sustainable levels. 
 
About Fossil: The Fossil of the Day awards were first presented at the climate talks in 1999, in Bonn, initiated by the German NGO Forum. During United Nations climate change negotiations (www.unfccc.int), members of the Climate Action Network (CAN), vote for countries judged to have done their 'best' to block progress in the negotiations in the last days of talks.
 
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In Hot Pursuit of the SBI

FCCC/CP/1996/2...*sigh*...is a document close to ECO’s heart! While there is no denying that clear rules of procedure – finally formally adopted and adhered to – would be an important development, ECO should be forgiven for doubting the sincerity of the sudden, but independent, interest of Russia, Belarus and the Ukraine in the matter. 

ECO has been around since 1972 (if you forgot to send us a birthday present this year, see yesterday's issue for some suggestions). However, one’s institutional memory need not stretch that far back. In fact, one only needed to be in Doha, to understand where our scepticism comes from. 

Russia, Belarus and Ukraine opposed the overwhelming consensus on a COP decision in Doha. But their reasons were completely different from those of Bolivia's similar objections in Cancun. Bolivia objected a COP decision on the grounds that the deal on the table was not ambitious enough. ECO notes a clear difference here. In Doha, Parties made progress on improving the environmental integrity of the Kyoto Protocol by getting rid of some of the hot air in the system. ECO was delighted with this development as – after all – important things in this process (emissions, hot air, the gap in financing commitments) are supposed to go down and not up. But Russia, Belarus and Ukraine did not agree. In fact, a number of targets that were on the table in Doha from the economies in transition would have increased the total amount of hot air in the system.

There have been ample opportunities to discuss ways forward on the rules of procedure – the Mexico and PNG proposal being a prime example – and ECO does not remember strenuous and vocal support from the current proponents back then (in fact, Russia seemed more interested in its other proposal to amend Art. 4.2(f) of the Convention). So why raise concern now?    

Improving decision making procedures in the UNFCCC is appreciated. And if Russia, Belarus and Ukraine want to help, ECO encourages them to team up with Mexico, PNG and others to make real progress on this issue at COP19.  Even better, there is already a place holder on the provisional agenda for the COP to discuss it! A fast-start step towards improving procedures would be to get on with the SBI work now. Though the negotiations and their rules may seem surreal to some, climate change is very real to millions across the planet, and there is strong consensus that we need urgent action.

 

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COP 18: a transition

Andrey Zhelieznyi, Ukraine
The National Ecological Centre of Ukraine (NECU)

COP18 in Doha was literally a transition event – defining the track of further climate change fight and if the world is ready to act toward a common goal. Actions on commitments accepted here will determine if we will stay below the 2C warming range in the next five to eight years.

Hospitable Qatar accepted nearly 17 000 people, inspired to see big accomplishments from all over the world. In fact, politicians, governors and civil society were all full of hope, wanting to abolish 'old' legal agreements for emission reduction and agree to a new plan of reaching a fair and legal global deal.

Action on the prevention of anthropogenic emissions in the atmosphere has become vital for the survival of humanity in the way that we know today. But what we saw during two weeks of international negotiations was that both north and south clashed on non-negotiable survival. Basically, environmental topics became big political aspects and were not even economical. Every party in the negotiations resisted taking the lead, despite their available capability in many cases.

Consensus on global agreement is required. I'm asking myself if we really need formal agreements on paper with weak targets or how to urge the world to take on domestic mitigation activities beyond international agreements. I’m still not sure what the right answer is. To mobilize political will and follow the only ambitious plan is the only way.

Large number of civil society representatives joined together to make their voices heard, to voice concerns to decision makers about the world they expect to live in. We bring a lot of environmental and social issues to the climate agreement agenda but this is not enough. We have to continue our work further to ensure that voices are heard.

This year’s UNFCCC negotiations have come to an end with the world at a crossroads. There is only one right way, but the question remains: how much we will need to adapt if we don’t choose the right path now? 

A Hot Blast of Hot Air from Doha Delivers Fossils to Poland and Russia

 

The First Place Fossil is awarded to Poland. Back home in Poland, Environment Minister Korolec, revealed the country's position on the Doha talks -  claiming the carryover of AAU credits is NOT a priority issue, but that the length of the second commitment period and the obligations contained in the Kyoto Protocol are. We should remind the minister that carryover of AAUs influences the level of ambition in CP2. 

Moreover, Poland does not want to give up even one tonne of their huge surplus of AAU emission allowances to contribute to the environmental integrity. Why? Warsaw believes their AAU surplus is a strictly national issue. Hello…!! Carbon emissions know no national borders and the issue is a key element of the CP2 negotiations!

The Second Place Fossil of the Day goes to Russia. The Russian vice Prime Minister confirmed on Wednesday following ministerial talks that the country will not sign on to the Second Commitment Period of the Kyoto Protocol. Next week, Russia will announce its emissions reduction targets, but they will not be attributed to the Second Commitment Period, which Russia strongly opposes. This also means that Russia will lose the chance to take part in JI (Joint Implementation) projects in the future, something that the country was striving to be involved with. This will have a negative effect on both the economy and low-carbon development in Russia.

A Hot Blast of Hot Air from Doha Delivers Fossils to Poland and Russia

 

The First Place Fossil is awarded to Poland. Back home in Poland, Environment Minister Korolec, revealed the country's position on the Doha talks -  claiming the carryover of AAU credits is NOT a priority issue, but that the length of the second commitment period and the obligations contained in the Kyoto Protocol are. We should remind the minister that carryover of AAUs influences the level of ambition in CP2. 

Moreover, Poland does not want to give up even one tonne of their huge surplus of AAU emission allowances to contribute to the environmental integrity. Why? Warsaw believes their AAU surplus is a strictly national issue. Hello…!! Carbon emissions know no national borders and the issue is a key element of the CP2 negotiations!

The Second Place Fossil of the Day goes to Russia. The Russian vice Prime Minister confirmed on Wednesday following ministerial talks that the country will not sign on to the Second Commitment Period of the Kyoto Protocol. Next week, Russia will announce its emissions reduction targets, but they will not be attributed to the Second Commitment Period, which Russia strongly opposes. This also means that Russia will lose the chance to take part in JI (Joint Implementation) projects in the future, something that the country was striving to be involved with. This will have a negative effect on both the economy and low-carbon development in Russia.


Photo Credit: Miljømagasinet Putsj/Vilde Blix Huseby

Will Doha Burst the Hot Air bubble?

A staggering 13 billion emissions permits are left over from the first Kyoto commitment period. Hot air is looming large – and threatens the viability of CP2 and any future climate deal.

ECO would like to remind delegates that the problem is the result of extremely weak CP1 emissions targets well above what countries were projected to emit. Poland, for example committed to a 6% reduction from their 1988 emission levels, despite the fact that in 1997, when the Kyoto targets were set, Poland’s emissions were already about 20% below 1988 levels. ECO warns the distinguished delegates not to fall for the bogus claim that the existence of hot air is the result of dedicated action. It’s not – and the economic downfall of the nineties cannot lead to inherited rights in the climate change process.
 
But memories are short. ECO can’t help but notice that Parties are about to make the same mistake again: Low pledges for CP2 mean that another surplus of 3 to 10 billion tonnes will accumulate by 2020. Add to that the 13 Gt surplus from the first phase and you have rendered any Kyoto targets quite meaningless. Yet Russia, Ukraine and Poland, the largest surplus holders, insist on keeping the right to sell their hot air. ECO has looked into it and found this is a vain hope. Pledges for CP2 are so weak that no one will buy their surplus! Prices for AAUs have dropped from 13 EUR in 2008 to less than 0.5 EUR in 2012.
 
The problem is so big that even if developed countries were to increase their CP2 pledges, they could meet their more stringent targets by simply buying more surplus and without actually cutting their emissions.
 
For those delegates that are interested in returning a little bit of environmental integrity to the system, ECO would like to emphasise that they’ll need to burst the hot air bubble. Raising ambition and closing loopholes go hand in hand. ECO therefore suggests to start looking seriously at the proposal by the G77 and China. It effectively minimises the use of CP1 hot air in CP2, does not allow for trading, and, most importantly, cancels the surplus permanently by the end of the second commitment period.
 
Is it worth it? Look, we are now on a pollution path that could lead to warming of 4oC or more. In addition, impacts associated with even 2oC of warming have been revised upwards and are now considered “dangerous” and “extremely dangerous”. A world beyond 2oC will threaten the very existence of civilisation as we know it. Heard of it? Worried? Then go burst the hot air bubble.
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What’s wrong with Poland?

The Polish government lives in the past. Because of that it believes Poland should be treated as a special case forever. It fails to acknowledge that a lot has changed in the country since the 1990s. Poland is a developed country now. But instead of strengthening Poland’s climate policies to further enhance competitiveness, its government blocks any action on climate change and threatens the country’s future.

So far, Poland has done everything it can to be the lone bad guy in the EU. Poland already stood alone thrice in opposing European efforts to take more ambitious climate action for  2020 and beyond. ECO understands that Poland wants to be seen as a strong EU country. But domestically, the Polish authorities have done everything but be an equal partner, such as failing to fully enforce important EU laws. And to top its opposition to stronger action by the EU, it plans to build new coal and nuclear power plants, open new lignite mines and extract shale gas. This when most European countries are transitioning to a low-carbon economy based on renewables and energy efficiency.
 
At the UNFCCC negotiations the Polish government has been blocking the EU from finding a constructive, unified position to address the 13 billion AAU surplus. It is unashamedly claiming a full carry-over of AAUs to CP2 as a price to agreeing to continue into it. The Polish government does not even seem to mind aligning itself with Russia on this issue. ECO would like to ask the Polish government why it insists on full carry over, since AAUs will have zero value in CP2 given there will be no demand because of the low level of ambition by developed countries. Is Poland really willing to derail the international negotiations over this?
 
Poland wants to host COP19. But is it responsible enough to do so? Hosting a COP comes with many political responsibilities, including being able to constructively engage in finding solutions. It is not just about calling on others to act, it is about showing leadership and committing oneself to more ambitious action. Poland has yet to show the world that it is able to do so. Instead of vetoing, the Polish government has to learn the art of compromise. Poland, are you ready?
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Keep up your end of the bargain, Parties.

In Durban, Parties agreed to a package – the adoption of a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, a successful conclusion of the LCA, urgent action to close the pre-2020 mitigation gap between the 2 degrees goal and the collective pledges now on the table, and collective movement toward a fair, ambitious and binding agreement in 2015. Parties must honour this political bargain.

Let's start with the KP. Those trying to get another bite of the negotiation cherry by dragging out submitting their carbon budgets (QELROs) have to understand that this will be perceived as acting in bad faith. Australia – ECO remembers the brinkmanship with your QELRO last time. So for you, as well as New Zealand, Ukraine and others on the fence on the Kyoto second commitment period, ECO demands to see your QELROs up front. And, of course, just any old KP second commitment period won’t suffice. We must have a robust, ratifiable agreement that respects the original intention of the KP to raise ambition and create real environmental integrity. The AOSIS and Africa Group proposals will facilitate this endeavour. Effectively eliminating surplus AAUs and ensuring the environmental integrity of the CDM is also essential – you can’t have your cake and eat it too.

On to the LCA. There are a number of elements that jump to the head of the queue in importance. We need a positive decision on finance – including ensuring that the discussion on scaling up Long Term Finance following the report of this year's work programme, among others, has a home in 2013 and beyond. And who needs an empty fund? We hear that the EU, Australia, Japan and Canada already have budgets they could allocate. Don’t be shy!

Enhanced post-2012 climate finance is essential to enable developing countries to implement low-carbon development strategies and facilitate desperately needed adaptation. Deciding to hold back on finance until the last moment – or not coming forward at all in Doha – will undermine confidence and faith in moving the climate negotiations forward.Japan, Canada, Russia and the United States, do not think that by jumping overboard from the Kyoto Protocol that you’re diving into balmy waters. You're still on the hook to do your share of closing the gigatonne gap, by putting forward quantified economy wide emissions reductions AT LEAST as stringent as the QELROs of Kyoto Protocol parties, and using common accounting to an equal standard as the Kyoto Protocol. We also expect to see your QEERTs well before Doha.

On these and the other LCA issues, it is essential that the LCA Chair, and the spin-off group facilitators, be supported to develop text proposals to put forward in Doha. Finally, on the ADP, you all need to do your homework between now and Doha on the ADP work programme. Doha must agree to a plan of work, including a clear timeline and milestones. So let’s take inspiration from our setting here in Bangkok – these milestones can incorporate a period of “contemplation” on some issues. How equity and CBDRRC will apply in the 2015 protocol will require a work stream that allows discussion and agreement on principles before being applied to all of the elements that will constitute the final deal. On other elements, including ways to urgently enhance short-term ambition, Parties must pick up and start negotiating immediately in Doha and beyond.

Leaving the workplan “loosey goosey” will result in a repeat of the Copenhagen tragedy. Rather, parties must agree on specific issues to manage each year while ensuring compilation text by COP19, complete negotiating text by COP20 and draft a fair, ambitious and legally binding protocol to be circulated by May 2015.This is indeed an ambitious agenda for Doha. But it is the least the peoples of the world demand, and expect their political leaders to deliver at a time when the impacts of climate change – and the costs in terms of both human suffering and economic development – are more evident than ever.

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