Tag: Bonn UNFCCC

Statement regarding cost recovery policy on behalf of all observer constituencies

Even though the Secretariat and Parties keep saying that civil society plays a critical role in the negotiations, there’s very little they’re doing to help us participate effectively. The proposed cost recovery policy for side events and exhibits is a case in point. The following is the collective response on behalf of all non-governmental observer constituencies, which offers to work with the Secretariat and Parties to find a real and sustainable solution. Why not give us more than four days and an open and participatory process to do so.

On behalf of the constituencies representing business and industry, research groups, indigenous peoples organisations, environmental groups, women and gender, trade unions, local government and municipal authorities, farmers and youth, we would like to express our concern regarding the policy on cost recovery announced in the Secretariat’s information note dated June 4th. This policy threatens to undermine the quality of observer participation in the UNFCCC process.

From its beginning, the UNFCCC has recognised the value of observer participation, most recently during Thursday’s Article 6 dialogue on public participation. Within the SBI negotiations and workshops, numerous ministerial statements and today’s discussion, the Secretariat and Parties have repeatedly acknowledged the “crucial and integral” role of observers in and the value of our contributions to this process. 

Despite this widespread recognition, the proposed cost recovery policy would effectively exclude many voices that cannot afford to pay the new costs, and threaten the credibility and legitimacy as well as mutual trust that have been established within this process. It would also undermine our ability to share diverse views and to present current research and innovative solutions to this complex problem. 

This policy – which essentially shifts the burden from Parties to observers – would have significant impacts on our ability to engage in, inform and influence the process. Many observer organisations face significant resource and capacity constraints and, as recognised by the Secretariat, have limited opportunities to share their views and perspectives. The voices of civil society, in particular organisations from developing countries and regions and other groups representing those most vulnerable, will be further marginalised if the right to speak is premised on the ability to pay.

As we’ve demonstrated in the past, we are committed to working with the Secretariat and Parties to find solutions together. We are willing to work with the Secretariat to find a real solution that doesn’t link financial contribution to the ability of observers to effectively participate in this process.  In the interim, we urge you to put this policy on hold until other options have been considered through a transparent and participatory process, involving the constituencies, which is critical to protecting diverse points of view and ensuring legitimate outcomes.

Let us work together to find a solution.

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Sorry, LDCs

ECO realised, with much dismay, that yesterday’s article “The Visionary Few” missed the important statement by Uganda’s minister on behalf of the LDCs. We are sorry for this oversight, but were excited to hear that the LDCs are taking IPCC science as seriously as environmental NGOs when talking about their long term mitigation goal where: “Total emissions need to reach zero between 2060 and 2080. This means we need urgent actions by all countries to reduce emissions.” Thank you minister, thank you LDCs, and welcome in the club of The Visionary Few.

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Missing Persons Bulletin

Parties might be wondering about those empty seats in the recent ADP contact-group meetings and noted the absence of NGO observers.

ECO doesn’t want you to worry, NGOs were there… well, two of them, representing Climate Justice Now! and Climate Action Network. Both have been allotted a grand total of 2 (yes, that’s two) seats for the ADP contact-group meetings, on behalf of more than a thousand member organisations. Two (luckily very committed) note-takers have been there to observe, what will shape the future of everyone, what’s going on inside and reporting back to the rest of the world locked out of negotiations.

In order for you to identify the CAN observer in the room, ECO has this handy photo for you, although, it probably wouldn’t have been hard to spot amongst all of the empty seats anyway…

ECO finds this to be extremely unfortunate, to say the least. Space constraints have been cited as the reason, and civil society participation has been downsized to fit within the designated space. ECO believes it should work the other way round: the space should be sized according to the overall need, which includes civil society participants just as much electricity, bathrooms, the stale sandwiches and over-priced coffee required for talks to function effectively. At least, that’s how civil society participation in the UN system has worked for many decades.

Observers’ suggestions to use CCTV in an overflow room have not been taken up, on grounds of, again, alleged budget and space availability. ECO notes that, for at least yesterday, the plenary hall wasn;t in use during the late afternoon’s ADP contact-group meeting in Room Bonn. ECO has heard rumours that smaller rooms, with little civil society participation, are being seen by some as more conducive to constructive discussions. ECO agrees there may be times when such closed-door meetings can help,but that reasoning mustn’t be used as a pretext to establish a general practice of excluding all but two colleagues of environmental NGOs from regular contact-group meetings.

ECO suggest that Parties look, again, into their purses to ensure that at the next session there are no holes in the budget holes. Come on, you want to be scrutinised. That’s what you’re always telling us!

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Finance in the INDCs – a guide for the perplexed

On the eve of the finance discussion in the ADP today, ECO has been hearing a common refrain in the hallways of the Maritim: “What could countries possibly put in the INDCs on finance (and isn’t it better to just drop the whole idea)?”.

Of course, the INDCs are not the only place in the 2015 agreement to discuss finance commitments. Parties can express collective commitments, aggregate levels and burden-sharing approaches in the agreement itself too. History has shown that aggregate targets aren’t enough, especially when they’re vague and full of loopholes. Individual countries have to commit to concrete actions that reflect their share of global efforts to stay below 2°C.

ECO will count some of the ways this can be done:

1) Developed countries and others with high capability and responsibilities could come right out and commit themselves to a concrete level of climate finance for the period in question. Most countries routinely deal with all sorts of long-term commitments as part of their budgeting process, so why not do this in the context of responding to a planetary emergency?

2) They could make commitments to the Green Climate Fund, either absolute levels, or a commitment to continue scaling up beyond a certain level in 2020.

3) They could say what kinds of new sources of climate finance they would be willing to work on developing – such as carbon pricing for international transport, financial transaction taxes, etc.

4) They could commit to enabling the reduction of a certain number of tonnes of emissions beyond their own borders, through provision of financing.

5) They could commit to shifting private and public investments away from polluting technologies and into activities consistent with low-carbon, climate-resilient development paths. This could involve creating enabling environments (in both developing and developed countries) for investment shifts, for example, through regulating pension funds and other pools of finance, etc.

ECO is confident that negotiators and financing experts will come up with many other meaningful ways to express Parties’ future finance contributions. It’s not rocket science, but it does take a willingness to commit.

No one said saving the planet would be easy.

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Energy Access for All

ECO was jumping for joy during the ADP ministerial when some of the Parties and groups echoed CAN’s call for phasing out all fossil fuel emissions and phasing in a 100% renewable energy future, as early as possible, but no later than 2050.

Phasing-out fossil fuel emissions is of fundamental importance to secure the right to zero-carbon development for all – especially for those whose lives, homes and cultures will be at existential risk even at 1.5°C warming.

ECO is sure that you, Dear Reader, agree that this goal must be met in a way that secures the rights of the world’s poorest people to water, food, health and sustainable energy access, as well as the right of countries to fulfil those. Protecting these universal sustainable development human rights is the key challenge in a world that is desperately striving to drive carbon pollution down to zero in its bid to stave off the worst climate change impacts.

ECO suggests – and we know our friends agree – that full decarbonisation must include achieving 100% renewable and affordable Energy Access for All.

Replacing current energy systems everywhere with renewables by mid-century will be ambitious and challenging. But, quite frankly, the escalating costs of runaway climate impacts mean that not doing it would be even harder, particularly for the most vulnerable.

We have – as anyone familiar with these negotiations knows – a double challenge that must be solved hand-in-hand. While we must phase out fossil fuel emissions across the global economy – and fast – we must at the same time ensure that all people can follow a pathway towards dignified and sustainable standards of living. In practice, only a human-centred and right-based approach to sustainable energy access for all can ensure a zero-carbon development pathway for the world’s poorest.

Here at the UNFCCC, the challenges of zero-carbon development are taking a very real and immediate form. If these negotiations are to succeed, there will have to be a real breakthrough on the provision of means of implementation, most notably international climate finance, at a scale that makes a just transition towards 100% renewable energy for all by 2050 possible. Without such a breakthrough, there will be no chance for the sort of rapid phase-out of fossil fuel emissions that preventing climate chaos and guaranteeing affordable sustainable Energy Access for All requires.



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The Visionary Few in the ADP Ministerial

Something revolutionary happened in the ADP ministerial yesterday even though most Parties repeated worn out positions, there were a visionary few that outlined a vision for Paris in line with what science demands! 

First, the Marshall Islands, supported by Grenada, noted the “need to fully decarbonise our economies by the middle of century”. AILAC entertained the notion of “possibly [going] carbon neutral” by mid-century to stay below 2°C, while Norway said “we need to approach zero net emissions by the middle of the century”. The Netherlands, Germany and others made similar comments. Clearly, some governments have taken the findings of the IPCC’s AR5 to heart (or was it ECO’s opening article on Wednesday on the need to phase out all fossil fuels by 2050 and phase in 100% renewables?). Over the coming days - and in those UN Climate Summit statements! - ECO looks forward to hearing more countries outlining their vision for a fossil-free world.

It is necessary to turn this vision into concrete action. Countries like Norway need to drop their double-standards on climate action and get the state-owned company, Statoil, to leave fossil fuels in the ground.   All countries need to increase their efforts pre- and post-2020. However, ECO was really excited to hear China say it would table its proposed post-2020 contribution by the March 2015 deadline. Others, like Brazil, who noted that it would only be ready sometime “before Paris” clearly need to pick up their pace.  ECO wonders if countries like Brazil are concerned about having their contributions considered in a civil society review? ECO is even more confused about the idea that some Parties only want to “commit to submit” at the Climate Summit. Of course, ECO would prefer that Parties submit what they will commit.

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[A]daptation in the [A]DP

ECO would like to remind Parties that “adaptation to climate change” represents an immediate and urgent global priority. The 2015 agreement must make a significant contribution to deliver an adaptation approach that adequately responds to the immediate needs of, and future threats to, the most vulnerable developing countries and ecosystems. This can only be achieved if the agreement recognises that insufficient mitigation ambition directly increases adaptation needs as well as loss and damage.

The Cancun Adaptation Framework (CAF) has given adaptation a strong voice under the UNFCCC. For the 2015 agreement, Parties need to continue to pursue the CAF principles and this begins with a review of the CAF in light of what has been, and will be, delivered on the mitigation front. This directly determines adaptation needs.

The National Adaptation Plan process is one of the major elements of the CAF that should be part of the 2015 agreement. For that to be achieved, substantive progress on further development and implementation must be made well in advance of Paris.

ECO welcomes Parties’ proposal to include global adaptation goals in the 2015 agreement, especially on specific actions and finance.

Adaptation needs to be treated with the same priority as mitigation when it comes to finance and means of implementation. Do you remember when developer countries pledged USD$100 billion per annum by 2020 in Copenhagen? ECO does. Making $50 billion of public finance available must remain a key ask for developing countries and the steps towards achieving it should be taken NOW!


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