Tag: COP19

Polish Government's Coal Addition Has a High Cost for People's Health and the Climate

At the half way point of the major climate change negotiations of the year, attention turns to the Polish Government's overt attempt to use this meeting to push its own agenda on coal. 

Polish coal activist Kuba Gogolewski will reveal why the the Polish Government is addicted to coal despite  the fact it needs to import much of its supply and burning it costs its people their health. In a recent study by the European Environmental Agency, Poland's second city, Krakow,  has the third worst air quality in the world.

The Polish Government backed International Coal and Climate Summit, being put on by the World Coal Association and which opens today, will attempt to secure a future for coal. But 27 scientists will release a joint statement on how we cannot continue to burn coal and secure a safe climate. Dr Bert Metz will detail how the most of the world's coal reserves must stay in the ground, if we are to stay within the 2C threshold. 

Despite the Polish Government's attempts to hijack this meeting with its pro-coal agenda, the negotiations at the stadium roll on. Ministers will arrive on Tuesday, where the attention will turn to finance and the extra efforts countries need to be making to reduce carbon pollution in the short term. Ruth Davis, from Greenpeace, will reflect on the first week of the negotiations and look forward to the final five days.

 
Who:
• Ruth Davis, Greenpeace
• Kuba Gogolewski, CEE Bankwatch
• Dr Bert Metz, former IPCC Scientist and European Climate Foundation fellow
 
What: A CAN policy expert gives media a briefing on updates in the climate negotiations in Warsaw, while others speakers detail to costs of continuing to burn coal. 
 
When: 12.30pm CET, today Monday November 18th.
 
Where: COP19 Venue, National Stadium Warsaw, Press Conference Room 2 located on Level -2/Zone E6, right next to Plenary 2. The press conference will also be webcast live here: http://unfccc4.meta-fusion.com/kongresse/adp02/templ/ovw_live.php?id_kon...

Note:

As you arrive at the COP venue today, please look out for this stunt being staged by Friends of the Earth, Oxfam, ActionAid, WWF, Greenpeace and Christian Aid 

 
Venue: at the entrance of the COP conference at the Warsaw National Stadium (just before the security)
 
Time: 8:30-9:30am  
 
Date: Monday 18th November 
 
Background
The UN climate negotiations are taking place in Warsaw against a wave of scientific evidence for the central role that fossil fuels now have as the main source of climate pollution. This is in particular true for coal. Yet the Polish government has been persistent in pushing its pro-coal agenda, including supporting the staging of a provocative Coal and Climate Summit at the same time of the COP19.
 
Stunt Description
There will be two carpets, one red and one green. The carpets will be unveiled by two activists wearing traditional Polish folk clothes (representing the Polish Government). Delegates will be asked to walk on the green carpet (representing clean energy) while the activists will walk the red carpet, wearing masks in the shape of coal power plant tower. The red carpet will symbolise the warm welcome the Polish government has extended to the fossil fuel industry at this COP. Supports will line the sides with one big banner.
 
For further information, please contact:
 
Katja Ferbezar (Greenpeace) at +386 40 235 949    katja.ferbezar@greenpeace.si
 
George Smeeton (WWF) GSmeeton@wwf.org.uk, mobile: +44 (0)7917 052 948

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Don't Drop the Ball, Japan!

Even with help from friends and governments around the world, ECO can’t quite convey its outrage at Japan’s latest actions. The newly revised 2020 target announced by Japan yesterday is a 3.1% increase of carbon emissions compared to 1990 levels. That’s a huge increase from Japan’s Kyoto first commitment period target (-6% from 1990). The new target allows Japan to revert to business-as-usual by 2020. Forget about climate – welcome to the race to the bottom.

Even more surprising is that Japan seems to consider the target ‘ambitious’ based on its announcement materials. ECO wonders if Japan forgot the qualifier ‘raising’ that goes along with the ‘ambition.’ It’s simple maths, really. Targets should be in line with reducing the risk of devastating climate change (staying well below 2°C). When Japan decreased its target, it abdicated its ambition, further widening the gigatonne gap and leaving it for others will have to fill.  
A growing number of people are fasting with a hope to have meaningful outcome from this COP, but Japan is betraying them and putting vulnerable countries in greater danger.

According to the Climate Action Tracker, the revision of the target will add another 356 MtCO2e/year to the atmosphere and widen the global emissions gap by 3-4%. That is a measurable burden for all those who live with the reality of climate change every day, when the world instead needs decisive and immediate actions to raise ambition, not to lower it.   

The Government of Japan attributes the rollback of ambition to the shutdown of nuclear power plants, but that isn’t the real story. There are plenty of options such as energy efficiency and renewable energy that can reduce Japan’s greenhouse gas emissions in order for Japan to keep its 25% reduction pledge.

What’s missing in Japan is political will and a heart to care; in its place, a soul-less industrial lobby. The official responses to Japan from the EU, AOSIS and the UK declared deep disappointment and cautions about the ramifications on international mitigation action. People rushed to Japanese embassies to show their condemnation.

Japan should know this will render it being considered irrelevant in these talks.  It’s heading in the direction of its Brolly colleague Canada.  It no longer has skin in the game, nothing to play with and no political leverage.  Japan needs to reconsider its target immediately, upward and forward.

Still, there is one more thing. This has been announced as a "tentative" target. In due course, a chance remain for Japan to come back with a truly ambitious target in order to build momentum to close the gap – and not relying on or making excuses because of nuclear. Don’t drop the ball, Japan!

 

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Equity: Building With Brazil

No one will be surprised to hear that the Brazilian Proposal – which is to say Brazil’s move to reintroduce its classic 1997 analysis of historical responsibility – has been a bit controversial. But as a proposal to kick off a formal work program on Equity Indicators, Brazil’s move should be welcomed.

Historical Responsibility, after all, is a keystone Equity Indicator. In fact, it is one of five – Ambition, Responsibility, Capability, Development Need and Adaptation Need. Any serious attempt to operationalize equity must take them all into due and proper consideration.

Not that this will be easy. While it’s clear that there can be no acceptable road to climate stabilization that doesn't take into account both responsibility and capacity, and both development and adaptation needs, it’s equally clear that there’s no precise agreement on the meaning of these terms.

Reasonable people can disagree about the proper definitions of responsibility and capability, and the relationship between the two. Which is exactly why we need an expert process to study the proper formulation of equity indicators, and why that debate must be mainstreamed into the ADP.

We’re long past the point where historical responsibility, taken alone, can usefully stand for the overarching problem of climate equity. And this is why Brazil’s reintroduction of its old proposal – though helpful – is also a bit limited.

The real challenge before us is to find a new approach to equity, one that’s actually robust enough to be helpful when evaluating pledges. And this requires an entire set of core equity indicators, not just historical responsibility.

And there is really no choice but to take this challenge head on. We finally have reached an important moment: all agree that equity cannot be ignored. Ambition cannot be achieved without equity, and equity is beyond our grasp without ambition.

The way forward must include an open exchange on equity indicators, one that clarifies the trade-offs, builds consensus and prepares the ground upon which Parties will soon make pledges of action that are both strong and fair.

So we welcome Brazil’s proposal on historical responsibility. Responsibility alone is not a sufficient basis for meaningful equity review, but Brazil’s proposal provides a well-considered starting point and responsibility is a necessary pillar of any such review.

The challenge now is to build upon Brazil’s proposal, expand it into a larger process designed to clarify the core, measurable characteristics of pledges, assessing the extent to which they are fair enough to pass muster in the challenging years ahead.

 

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Adaptation Fund: The Litmus Test

As delegates are reorganizing their first week notes for ministers back home, ECO offers the chart below for inclusion in their briefings. It shows the gap that developed countries should fill next week to meet the US $100 million fundraising goal for the Adaptation Fund.

We are confident that the goal can be met – how can we believe the claims that the long-term goal of mobilising $100 billion a year is within reach if they can’t provide even this much.
We will keep track of forthcoming announcements and update the chart as needed. Developed countries eager to be included in the chart with their contributions are invited to contact the ECO email.

 

Bunkers: No More Evasive Maneuvers

The way things are going, ships and airplanes will be able to cruise the seas and skies without serious emissions control measures for some years to come. Earlier this year the International Maritime Organization (IMO) indefinitely suspended its consideration of market based measures (MBMs) that can put a cap and a price on emissions in line with the polluter-pays principle.

In early October, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) decided to ‘develop’ (the text neglected to commit to actually ‘adopt’ or ‘implement’) an MBM by 2016 – not a particularly noteworthy achievement after well over a decade discussing these very measures. And the only emissions target mentioned in the agreement (but still in essence bracketed by party reservations) is carbon neutral growth after 2020. Meanwhile, under intense pressure from airlines and many governments, the EU is severely scaling back its ETS coverage of international air traffic, the only measure in the world that regulates aviation emissions.

The shipping and aviation industries must be very pleased with themselves. Thanks to their intensive lobbying of transport ministries and the tendency by governments to treat these sectors as a proxy for the broader negotiations, countries seeking action on emissions from these sectors have practically thrown in the towel.

Giving the IMO and ICAO free rein to pursue emissions from these sectors with no real accountability is not likely to turn out well for people or the planet. The owners of ships and airlines have much more direct influence over transport ministries that represent parties in these bodies. These sectors have benefitted from their unique access to tax-free fuels for too long to be willing to start paying their way now. Ambitious emissions reduction targets and anything resembling carbon pricing for these sectors is highly unlikely.

The UNFCCC must ensure that the international shipping and aviation sectors contribute their fair share to global efforts. They should be included in any considerations of equity, such as calculation of historical responsibility and other applicable indicators. The ADP and the COP must adopt decisions that either set emissions limits directly, or provide guidance to ensure a sufficient level of ambition in emissions reduction efforts, particularly in emissions limits set as part of global Market Based Measures. The new legal agreement to be finalized in 2015 must contain provisions that ensure these sectors contribute their fair share to global efforts.

To ensure accountability and adequate consideration of these sectors, the ADP must receive regular reports from ICAO and IMO on efforts to control GHG emissions from these sectors, including progress towards implementation of market based measures that can put a cap on emissions, put a price on emissions, and generate finance for climate action.

 

Brazil Goes in Reverse

There was rather astonishing news from Brazil this week. A report by the National Institute for Spatial Research (Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas Espaciais - INPE) reveals that deforestation in the Amazon region has increased by 28% from August 2012 to July 2013. This is the third largest rate of deforestation ever registered.

The real number is surely larger if you take into consideration cloud cover -- and that the bad guys on the ground are getting smarter and cutting the forest in a greater number of ever smaller areas.
Although the Minister for the Environment is trying to put the blame on the States that make up the Amazon region, we are hearing that it’s really the Federal government that  bears the major responsibility.

For years, Brazil has showcased deforestation in these meetings as the main component of its voluntary mitigation commitment/promise. But the new forest law the government pushed through Congress last year included major concessions to the agro-business lobby.

And to be clear, no other sector of the Brazilian economy has contributed to emissions reductions – ever. So greenhouse emissions are on the rise everywhere. The momentum from the very substantial reductions of forest emissions in recent years is being reversed by Brazil’s accelerated economic growth plan and the return of increased deforestation.

Although the Environment Minister emphatically denies that the government has reduced the budget to combat deforestation, the former President of INPE resigned last year out of frustration with the lack of resources and ever-increasing restrictions on investments. Monitoring of the Amazon region will continue, he said, but it will not improve: “The system is full of holes.”

The head of the Brazilian delegation made two important points in a press briefing the other day. First, he said that Brazil would honor its commitment to reduce deforestation because that commitment has now become law. Second, Brazil insists that those developed countries historically responsible for creating the climate problem must take the lead.

So considering all this, here are some questions for Brazil:
• If reduced emissions from deforestation is now a law, who is to be accountable?
• What does Brazil intend to do to reverse this dangerous trend?• Given these developments, what leverage does Brazil have to bargain for more ambition in reducing the mitigation gap in the 2015 agreement and post 2020 implementation?

The world needs Brazil to be a protagonist in the battle against Climate Change.

But it seems that Brazil is stepping back further and further from the front lines and into the muddy post-logging trenches.

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EU: When 40 Is Only 33

Coming to Warsaw, ECO was feeling somewhat optimistic. Fresh statistics suggested that global CO2 emissions growth has slowed a bit, which could be the first sign of an approaching emissions peak. In September, China announced took a major positive step -- a direction change in its coal policy. Three key industrial provinces must peak and decline coal consumption by 2017 and ban new dirty coal plants.

But then came the damaging announcements by Australia and Japan, whose shifts are in the negative direction.
After a week like this, we certainly don’t need more bad news.  But according to rumours, the European Commission is preparing a proposal for a 2030 climate target of a meagre 40% reduction against 1990 levels.

The EU has long been seen as setting a global high water mark on ambition.  Yet now it is undermining its own objective to keep global temperature below 2°C.

Yes, 40% seems like a lot – so let’s explain what this means.  A 40% target for 2030 would in practice bring the EU on a pathway towards real emission cuts of merely 33% by 2030 due to the amount of surplus emission allowances in the system.  Indeed, in order to accommodate the huge oversupply of surplus pollution permits in the EU’s carbon market, any 2030 target would need to be 7% stricter.

Instead, the proposed level would be inadequate to steer the EU’s energy system away from coal, or to drive transformational investments into renewables and energy savings. Instead of investing in clean technologies, EU industries can largely escape meaningful pollution pricing and rely on the overhang of surplus emission allowances on the EU’s carbon market well into the next decade. Fortunately, 40% is not the only number in the mix. The UK has called for an EU target of 50% by 2030, while Finland’s environment minister stated the EU’s fair share is between 40% and 60% emissions cuts by 2030.

The EU “Green Growth” group, consisting of the UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, The Netherlands, Belgium, Portugal, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Slovenia, Slovakia, Romania and Estonia, have called for an ambitious EU emissions reduction offer to be put on the table before Ban Ki-moon’s leaders summit in 2014.

So when the European Commission publishes its policy proposal in January and EU leaders discuss it during the EU summit in March 2014, they must insure that the rumour of 40% (remember, that's effectively 33%) doesn’t turn into any kind of reality.

The spotlight is really on Germany, where coalition talks are also rumoured to be considering a minimum 40% climate target by 2030. Germany, of all countries, should know how important it is to get the incentives and infrastructure correct across Europe in order to deliver its own Energiewende – and a 40% target wouldn’t do that. Climate Action Network Europe is calling on the EU to commit to at least 55% domestic emission cuts by 2030, on top of which would come the EU’s international effort. Moreover, a binding EU renewable target of at least 45% and an energy savings target of 40% are needed to provide certainty for investors and drive  true transformation of the energy system.

Does the Commission have in mind any kind of equity indicators whatsoever when planning for a 40% target?  And how big a global emissions budget is assumed? It doesn’t sound like the EU is assuming anything that would give a reasonable chance of staying below 1.5/2°C.  

To be sure, the EU has a long-term emission reduction goal of 80 to 95% reductions from 1990 levels by 2050. Achieving this would be in the EU’s own economic interests as well as inspiring others to follow suit – a real ‘ambition driver’. But 40% by 2030, with all the loopholes in the system, would take the EU off track. We will hear reassuring voices next week as ministers arrive, but what will they be assuring us?  We need to see the EU we have until recently known – all about ambition, action and the clean energy future.

 

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Global Civil Society Responds to Japan’s New 2020 Target

Japan announced its new 2020 emissions reduction target today at the UN climate negotiations in Poland. While parties are negotiating to raise the level of ambition during this year’s meeting, Japan has now abandoned their 25% reduction target from 1990, and proposed 3.1% increase compared to 1990 levels.

Wael Hmaidan, Director of CAN International said in a statement, “Japan's new targets are outrageous. This will have a serious and negative impact on the negotiations. Withdrawing from climate action is like a slap in the face of those suffering from the impacts of climate change such as the Philippines.”
 
Civil society was expecting more from the world’s third largest economic country, but instead they are racing to the bottom.
 
According to Japanese Climate Action Network spokesperson, Kimiko Hirata “Stopping nuclear power is not a legitimate reason for lowering their target. There are countries putting ambitious targets shifting their energy source from nuclear to renewables.”
 
To abandon the 25% emission reduction target and put forward a target with increased emissions is a betrayal to the international community. One of the most important issues at this year’s negotiations is to address the gap between the mitigation pledges of Parties and the emission reduction needed to keep the average global surface temperature rise to 2℃ from pre-industrial levels.
 
Another problematic country at these negotiations has been Australia, which tabled legislation to repeal their price on carbon.

Australian civil society is taking to the streets on Sunday to oppose their government’s announcements.

ON DEMAND WEBCAST of  'COLOURFUL STUNT' DURING PRESS CONFERENCE AVAILABLE HERE:  http://unfccc4.meta-fusion.com/kongresse/cop19/templ/play.php?id_kongres...

Contact:  Ria Voorhaar, Email: rvoorhaar@climatenetwork.org, +49 157 317 355 68.

 

 

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A Tale of Two Transparencies

There is much on the Warsaw agenda for enhancing the current MRV system from Cancun as well as enabling the ex ante equity and adequacy review of post-2020 targets.
But the lack of progress regarding the review guidelines for developed country biennial reports and developing country International Consultation and Analysis (ICA) reports is disheartening. In both cases, the importance of a strong technical assessment is crucial, though the purposes are different.

For developed countries, expert review should be able to assess progress on fulfilling commitments as well as identifying potential problems.

At the same time, for many developing countries, the new biennial update reports and the process to analyse them were significant improvements on previous reporting efforts, especially since it was the first time they agreed to be subject to some sort of scrutiny.

However no one expects these reports will be perfect from the beginning. It would be very beneficial for the technical expert teams to recommend further improvement in these reports – after all, they are called ‘experts’.

Looking forward to the post-2020 tabling and assessment of commitments, Warsaw needs to set up a clear process to generate the most ambitious and fair offers by the time we reach our final destination in Paris. This needs to be underpinned by guidance that will: (a) help countries to prepare and submit their offers; (b) assess how equitable these offers are and how close those offers get to emissions levels needed to stay below 1.5/2°C; and (c) explore how a basket of equity indicators could facilitate the evaluation of the offers.

The procedures and outcomes for both the preparation and assessment processes must be equitable. This means including credible elements to assess whether countries are doing their fair share, in line with science and a set of equity indicators.

In the next 10 days, Parties face the challenge of agreeing on a template for recording their proposed commitments, including enough information – on gases, sectors, GWPs, base year, etc. – to enable comparability of efforts and assess whether they add up to a 1.5/2°C goal, whilst still acknowledging different national circumstances and capability. This must be agreed in Warsaw in order to generate offers in 2014.

For developed countries, this should be a relatively straightforward task as their commitments must be in the form of economy-wide, absolute, 5-year, emission reduction targets.

The window for adopting the guidelines for the assessment of offers is also narrow. We urge Parties to consider building upon existing institutions and procedures, whilst paving the way for designing a more systematic, robust assessment over time.

We cannot repeat the mistakes of Copenhagen with late and vague ‘commitments’ – the history is fresh enough that we should not have to repeat it.

 

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Close the Gap!

The Energy Report: 100% Renewable Energy by 2050, published by WWF
in association with Ecofys, clearly shows how the gigatonne gap can be closed and emissions
reduced for a total carbon budget preserving a strong likelihood of no more than 2° warming

On Wednesday the second Structured Expert Dialogue of the 2013-2015 review began to assess overall progress towards achieving the long-term global goal, including the implementation of commitments under the Convention.
The IPCC authors conclude that there is a 1000 Gt carbon budget for humankind from the starting point of the fossil fuel era. Within that budget there is a 66% likelihood of staying below 2 degrees.

We have already used half of that budget and, taking into account other greenhouse gases, only 270 Gt can still be emitted to remain within the safe lines.  That’s a shockingly small carbon budget to stay with a climate that is relatively safe – and even then substantial impacts will still occur.

Most numbers from the IPCC are associated with uncertainties. From a risk assessment perspective (or common sense, depending on how formal you want to be), higher uncertainty requires a lower carbon budget. So remember, even a 66% likelihood means a one-third chance of going beyond 2 degrees.

Furthermore, action on short-lived forcers like methane cannot replace or ‘buy time’  on long-lived greenhouse gases, especially CO2.  We need substantial reductions of them all.

However, while the Structured Expert Dialogue did not formally draw conclusions, it is clear that the overall progress made so far towards achieving the long-term global goal is small and far less than what is necessary.  

That point was underscored by the side event on the UNEP Emissions Gap Report 2013, which followed shortly after the conclusion of the dialogue. This third update of the now-famed gigatonne gap report shows that the actual trajectory of global emissions is much higher than emissions pathways needed to keep global temperature rise below 1.5/2°.

We are now at annual emissions of 49 Gt CO2e, when we should be at no more than 44 Gt. On current trends, the gigatonne gap could increase from 5 Gt per annum to 12 Gt or more unless the world takes effective action.

But all is not lost. The UNEP report shows which measures should be implemented to close the gap and reap substantial co-benefits at the same time.
Borrowing a famous quotation, ECO’s advice is: Make it so!

 

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