Domestic preparations for dirty oil prevention

Domestic preparations for intended nationally determined contributions may, at first glance, seem an unpromising subject for an article. The issue couldn’t be more important, though. The contributions that countries plan to submit, ahead of Paris, and the terms by which they’ll do so, remains firmly at the forefront of ECO’s mind. We’re quite sure that the same is true for many negotiators.

ECO could spend many pages outlining details of what countries should submit, but for a change of pace, let’s talk about something that one particular country shouldn’t submit.

That’s right, we’re talking about the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.

As the US considers its plans to increase ambition, and as it moves (we hope) towards emissions reductions in line with the science, the only proper role for the Keystone XL pipeline is rejection.

But don’t just take ECO’s word for it. A new study by the financial analysts at the Carbon Tracker Initiative suggests that building the pipeline would incentivise growth in the Canadian tar sands production equivalent to the emissions from building some 46 new coal-fired power plants. Besides undermining American climate action, a presidential permit for the Keystone XL pipeline would also mean substantial emission increases in Canada, moving the Maple Leaf even further away from the targets committed in Copenhagen.

International luminaries such as Desmond Tutu recently signed a letter stating, “The verdict on whether to approve or reject the Keystone XL pipeline could, in just one stroke, confirm or condemn America’s prospects for climate leadership.”

As we walk the road towards Paris, it’s imperative that all Parties take steps to build trust and show commitment to achieving the most ambitious outcome possible. One key step on the road must certainly be the rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline, don’t you think?

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CAN Statement On Allegations of Spying During Copenhagen Talks

CAN Statement On Allegations of Spying During Copenhagen Talks

The world's largest network of NGOs working on climate change, Climate Action Network (CAN), today called on the United States and other governments accused of spying on climate negotiators during the Copenhagen summit in 2009, to publicly renounce such underhanded tactics.

CAN condemns such actions. The work currently underway to secure a comprehensive, global plan to save the climate – which is supposed to be delivered in 2015 and include all countries - already suffers from a dearth of trust between nations. If we are to achieve this monumental deal for the planet, all countries must work on repairing these burnt bridges.

Governments of the world must acknowledge that climate change will only be solved when they all work together – openly and honestly – towards a common goal that reflects the planetary emergency facing us, rather than in the interests of fossil fuel corporations.

The IPCC's recent first installment of the fifth assessment report – released in September – said that in to have a good chance of avoiding the very worst impacts of climate change, carbon pollution would need to peak in the next few years, and that if we failed to reduce emissions, we were on track to use all of our remaining carbon budget in the next 30 years.

The countries who have been accused of spying – including the US, UK, Canada and Australia – are among those who have done the most to cause the climate crisis and can also be leaders in delivering solutions.

But we need a radical shift in ambition and trust to tackle the planetary emergency – and that starts with the attitudes of the governments to this problem over the next two crucial years for the climate.

The allegations come off the back of President Barack Obama's State of the Union address this week which failed to raise to bar on climate action. 

Civil society is watching and we expect these governments to close the gap between current levels of inaction and what climate science is saying needs to be done.

Please contact Ria Voorhaar for more information on rvoorhaar@climatenetwork.org or  +49 157 317 355 68.

 
 
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Colossal Fossil for Australia’s New Government

This year’s Colossal Fossil goes to Australia. The new Australian Government has won its first major international award – the Colossal Fossil. The delegation came here with legislation in its back pocket to repeal the carbon price, failed to take independent advice to increase its carbon pollution reduction target and has been blocking progress in the loss and damage negotiations. Aussie Aussie Aussie Oi Oi Oi!

Canada is dishonored with a special Lifetime Unachievement Fossil Award for its long-standing efforts preventing this process from making a sufficient contribution to the fight against climate change. As long as Canada and the Harper Government puts their addiction to the tar sands first, Canada will continue to be a Fossil champion.

Canada’s record is in indeed unsurpassed – it is the only country in the world to withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol. And it did not event meet its pitifully lowered emissions reduction target announced in the lead-up to the Copenhagen COP. Canada’s stance is also rubbing off on other countries at the negotiations. Following Canada’s Kyoto “lead,” Japan abandoned its own 2020 target, and when Australia proposed to cut its carbon price, Canada cheered instead of staging an intervention. Canada you truly are a climate laggard... again... and again.

Singapore slinks to first Fossil for stingy stance on 2015 deal

The first place Fossil of the Day goes to Singapore for strongly opposing the inclusion of the clear elements of a roadmap to the comprehensive global climate action planned that needs to be agreed in 2015. The island city-state is blocking the development of framework to fairly divide climate action between countries. Furthermore, Singapore is promoting weak language in the text on the post-2020 carbon pollution reduction commitments, preventing national actions being integrated in a rules-based multilateral system. Despite being a member of AOSIS, Singapore is blocking progress towards the 2015 deal because of their unwillingness accept they must contribute to the solution.

Second place Fossil goes to U.S.A. We have been hearing that the Americans came here with a mandate to play a constructive role in the negotiations, which is not currently being reflected. They are blocking progress on a Long Term Finance pathway as well as an agreement on the relationship between the COP and the Green Climate Fund (GCF), which are critical issues for developing countries. The U.S. is also being difficult around the establishment of an international mechanism on loss and damage, which was agreed at COP 18 last year. This is complete backtracking and a betrayal to the millions of poor and vulnerable people around the world.

Saudi Arabia wins the third place Fossil of the Day. Saudi Arabia wants to introduce the issue of “Response Measures” into the 2015 agreement. Response Measures is the about how countries like Saudi Arabia would be compensated for any loss in oil sales if the world decides to reduce the use of fossils fuels to solve climate change. It would be surprising to many to see Saudi Arabia asking governments for financial compensation when they have one the highest GDPs in the world for selling the substance that caused climate change in the first place. But Saudi Arabia is not interested in financial compensation. They just want to poison the negotiations. They are not fooling anybody.

Ray of the Day goes to Chile. The Alliance of Independent Latin American and Caribbean States (AILAC) has proven itself to be the gold standard in civil society engagement, moral integrity and simple logic by championing youth in the ADP and putting forward Intergenerational Equity. 

What is the proper role for private finance?

You may have noticed the developed countries’ increasing  enthusiasm for having private finance substitute for their direct support as part of meeting the the promise of mobilizing US $100 billion per year by 2020.

This year, two US-hosted ministerial meetings and the pre-COP finance discussions focused almost exclusively on the role of private finance, whilst the glaring uncertainties around the provision of public finance were barely discussed. And the invitation letter from the COP presidency to today’s finance ministerial encourages civil society organisations to ‘present their own ideas on possible ways of mobilizing sources of finance in the private sector’ as if to silence calls on the urgent need to scale up public finance.

So you be the judge: are developed countries sliding back on their side of the bargain and using private finance to sidestep the need to increase public finance?  Today’s Finance Ministerial is an opportunity to highlight that whilst private finance has a role to play in the global climate transition, it is not a substitute for scaling up  crucially needed public support.

Public finance has a critical role to play in mitigation by helping to catalyse larger private investments,. The real need is estimated to exceed $1 trillion globally,  if we are to limit the temperature increase below 2 degrees Celsius. Developed countries are kidding themselves if they think limiting the provision of public finance to a minor proportion of the $100 billion will leverage this scale of change.  If we are serious, it’s obvious that far more than $100 billion in public finance  is needed for mitigation alone. Now as for adaptation, the world’s poorest countries and communities will require public finance since private finance will favour mitigation. This will increase  the already neglected  adaptation gap in the world’s poorest countries.

Last month the US special climate envoy said, ‘No step change in overall levels of public funding from developed countries is likely to come anytime soon. The fiscal reality of the United States and other developed countries is not going to allow it’. 

But let us remind the developed country Parties of three other ‘fiscal realities’.  The first is the devastation caused by Typhoon Haiyan, which should serve as a wake-up call that scaled up public finance is vital to support resilience in the world's most vulnerable countries.

The second is that developed countries are subsidising fossil fuel energy with by at least $58 billion each year, which could instead be channelled for international climate finance.   The money is there, what’s lacking is the political will to drive  solutions forward.

Finally, developed countries urgently need to grasp the reality that their myopic focus on private finance will not help build trust and momentum. Instead, failure to scale up public finance is a source of considerable unease among developing countries, and risks derailing an effective 2015 outcome.

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HFCs: Finally Phasing Out One Man-Made Problem?

 

ECO was pleased to wake up Sunday to the news that Presidents Obama and Xi had agreed to work together to combat climate change by phasing down the super greenhouse gases, hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), under the Montreal Protocol. An agreement under Montreal could prevent emissions of 100 billion tonnes CO2e by 2050. First that great party on Saturday, and then this?!

For a while now, the EU has been busy pushing a COP decision at Warsaw that will urge Parties to begin this exact same process under the Montreal Protocol, and they are clearly excited to have China and the US in agreement. As Connie Hedegaard tweeted Saturday, “Welcome on board!” All eyes are now on the next intersessional meeting of the Montreal Protocol happening in a few weeks, hoping it will turn this political arrangement into concrete, short-term action, which must not stop at phasing down, but start phasing out with appropriate finance and technology support to developing countries.

HFCs are human-manufactured chemicals, primarily used in refrigeration, air conditioning and foam blowing, which were commercialised to replace the high-Global Warming Potential, ozone depleting, human manufactured chemicals phased out by the Montreal Protocol over the past 25 years. Yet, HFCs are also extremely harmful to the climate, with global warming potentials much higher than carbon dioxide. Fortunately, commercially available, climate friendly natural alternatives exist for most of their uses, and developed countries should ensure that these are provided to developing countries at an affordable cost to enable them to take a faster phase in.

Under the Montreal Protocol, all 197 Parties have accepted firm reduction commitments. These commitments are based on the legal principle of common but differentiated responsibilities that incorporates a grace period for developing countries and financial and technology transfer support. This allows them to implement mandated phase-out schedules after developed countries, in recognition of developed countries’ larger historical contribution to ozone depletion and developing countries’ right to continued growth and development. In addition, the Montreal Protocol has financially supported the phase-out of ozone depleting substances in developing countries through developed country contributions administered by the Multilateral Fund (MLF).

On Monday, the EU held a side event to discuss how to deliver progress on HFCs in practical terms. A far cry from some of the more theoretical debates happening elsewhere, this took a packed room through a demonstration of what the Montreal Protocol has achieved in terms of climate mitigation and technology transfer. A whopping 220 Gt CO2e have been avoided since the early 1990s alone, with the $3 billion channelled through the MLF. The message came across loud and clear: if you’re looking for bang for your buck, look no further than the Montreal Protocol. This led more than one participant to ask why we’re not using the tried and tested mechanisms already in place to get rid of these super greenhouse gases.

ECO wonders the same thing, and hopes Parties will stop their politics and get to work. ECO also calls upon developed countries to ensure that support is provided to financial and technology transfer to ensure these technologies are available at affordable costs to developing countries, and encourages a faster phase out to better technologies.

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How Much Climate Finance Will Developed Countries Provide in 2013 and Beyond?

 

Based on pledges/statements made in UNFCCC…

Finland, France, Germany, Denmark, Norway, Sweden and the UK were first off the blocks in making financial pledges in Doha.  This was welcome. But the adequacy and the clarity of these pledges vary significantly and need to be pinned down.

And then there’s the rest…

No developed country Party should be coming back to this process empty handed! ALL developed countries need to urgently commit to what climate finance they will provide in 2013 and beyond, in a way that is transparent, comparable and makes clear how finance is new and additional.

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Climate action takes on split personality ahead of first UN talks of 2013

With this year’s first session of the UN climate negotiations to open on Monday, international politics surrounding the planetary climate crisis were taking on a split personality, according to NGO experts speaking at a press briefing today by Climate Action Network-International and the Global Call for Climate Action. 

According to Alden Meyer, Union of Concerned Scientists' director of strategy and policy, on the one hand, there are some signs of progress on climate action.
 
More developing countries appear keen to adopt low carbon development plans, renewable energy costs continue to decline, and the US and China just launched a process to develop a set of joint actions that “set the kind of powerful example that can inspire the world."
 
In addition, several key high-profile political actors, such as IMF chief Christine Lagarde and World Bank president Jim Yong Kim, are calling for increased action on climate change.
 
But on the other hand, there are several signs that the world is not coming to grips with the severity of the situation, Meyer said, such as continuation of some US$1 trillion a year in fossil fuel subsidies, increasing efforts to develop unconventional oil reserves and expand coal exports, and the growing gap documented by UNEP between the reductions in emissions required by 2020 in order to keep global temperature increases below 2 degrees Centigrade, and the much higher level expected as a result of current national pledges of action. 
 
"To top it off, we aren’t seeing the bold leadership needed by our political leaders to deal with the climate crisis, particularly those from developed countries,” Meyer said.  “This must change – and soon – if we are to get the much more ambitious set of international and national actions that are required to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.” 
Hope in the face of the climate threat was coming increasingly from developing countries. 
 
Lina Li, climate policy researcher from the Greenovation Hub in Beijing, said after some positive domestic developments on the climate front, there was potential for China to do more on the international stage. 
 
"The North-South paradigm that underpinned the international development and environment agenda is posing more questions than answers. Conventional wisdoms are being challenged while new imaginations are yet to be articulated. China’s new role, with the ongoing geographic power shift, will be identified within this context. This is one of the key questions that need to be addressed if we are going to achieve a fair deal in 2015," Lina said. 
 
Meanwhile, this year's major climate negotiations will be held in Poland in November, a country renowned for blocking further climate action in the EU, according to Julia Michalak, climate policy officer for Climate Action Network, Europe. 
 
"It’s difficult for the country that keeps looking back-ward to move the international process forward. Poland keeps mentioning its past achievement and has no vision on how to design its own climate policy, so it’s difficult to imagine it can offer a lot to international process."
 
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NGO experts updating on the progress of the negotiations


Photo Credit: Issam Abdallah

 

UPDATE on today's press briefing at 11.30am

With political energy leaching out into the desert air, CAN International will hold a press conference calling for the Qatari Presidency to show leadership at this vital point in talks, in order to produce a good outcome here in Doha. CAN will also comment on how US is blocking climate finance negotiations, a key element at COP18.

WHAT: NGO experts updating on the progress of the negotiations

WHEN: Thursday, December 6, 2012, 11.30am local Doha time.

WHERE: Press Conference Room 2, Qatar National Convention Centre, Doha, Qatar.

WEBCAST LIVE: http://unfccc4.meta-fusion.com/kongresse/cop18/templ/ovw_live.php?id_kon...

WHO: Speaking will be Liz Gallagher from E3G, finance expert Steve Herz from the Sierra Club and Wael Hmaidan, director of Climate Action Network - International. 

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