Stepping up the Adaptation Committee

ECO is pleased to see that adaptation negotiators are getting busy with detailed discussions on the Adaptation Committee. Since this is the only adaptation issue currently on the LCA agenda here in Panama, we expect progress towards taking a decision in Durban, especially before negotiators start enjoying the train ride along the Panama Canal (Tourist advice of the day!). ECO would like to thank Parties for agreement to provide access to the informals and consequently was able to follow some of the discussions. ECO heard that all Parties seem to support getting the Adaptation Committee up and running in Durban, including a work programme for the first year. That is the right approach, and we hope that no one falls back into a “taking hostage” mood linking the committee to other negotiation issues.

ECO understands that there are some controversies about the link of the Adaptation Committee to the entities of the financial mechanism, in particular the Green Climate Fund. The Adaptation Committee could become a key institution, galvanizing and synthesizing knowledge and experience on different aspects around adaptation, and providing technical guidance on planning and implementation at programme and policy levels. Then existing and emerging institutions like the Green Climate Fund could build on their work, such as guidelines for funding, on the recommendations of the Adaptation Committee in order to ensure adherence to the adaptation framework, and take into consideration the growing adaptation sciences and emerging issues.

 This however does not mean that the Committee should trespass into the core business of the GCF Board (or other institutions). A soft link will be a way to increase the overall coherence which is so demanded by everyone.

ECO suggests that negotiators review a recent study published by the Earth System Governance Project. It reviewed experience from multilateral institutions from a variety of areas with regard to participatory approaches and the inclusion of stakeholders in its governance structure.

Whilst ECO appreciates that there seems to be convergence towards allowing observers to attend the Adaptation Committee meetings, the lessons learned from this and other studies suggest that adding representatives from stakeholder constituencies to the governance structure of the Committee, either voting or non-voting, could add much needed expertise, insights and credibility to the work of the Adaptation Committee.

We surmise that this was also proposed by some Parties in the negotiations. There is no doubt that stakeholder constituencies would have to ensure appropriate representation from developing countries combined with adequate expertise. Now is the time to put the Adaptation Committee on the right track, to be ambitious and to converge as soon as possible.


Building Capacity Building

Just as CAN's approach to mitigation has always been for Parties to focus on the reality of "What the atmosphere actually sees", so CAN's approach to capacity building (CB) in the LCA has always been for Parties to concentrate on the realities on the ground.  These realities are four-fold:

1) The vast majority of Parties are mid to small sized developing countries with under-developed economies containing immense potential for human and economic development;

2) Most of these economies are already in the frontline of initial climatic impacts that their populations are already experiencing, can witness, and can understand;

3) Governments and populations of these countries understand the implications of established science;  things will only get worse without action, and mitigation action capable of limiting warming to 2 degrees or less will require: a) robust action from wealthy economies and b) deviation from business-as-usual high-carbon development pathways for developing countries;

4) Very few of these countries have the political, economic or institutional capacity right now to rapidly design and build low-carbon development pathways on their own and unassisted;

Unfortunately, up to now the CB negotiations in the LCA have largely turned around almost anything else except these basic realities - despite CAN's insistent pressure and constant calls for focus. (With the significant exception of a short period during the Bangkok and Barcelona sessions before Copenhagen when CB was negotiated on its own and suddenly started to make significant progress.)

The Panama session is crucial for CB in the LCA.  By contrast to progress on both technology and finance, negotiations on institutional arrangements for CB were almost completely unproductive at Cancun. Some forward movement was established at Bonn this June. However that progress now needs a new sense of purpose and focus if we are to get a decision at Durban.



ECO thanks the government and people of Panama for hosting the final negotiation session before COP 17 in Durban. For the first time in 20+ years of negotiations, Central America is hosting a UNFCCC meeting. Delegates should know that the region is severely threatened by climate change impacts: four Central American countries are among the 10 most affected countries worldwide, according to the Global Climate Risk Index 2011 of Germanwatch. ECLAC (the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean) estimates that the cumulative costs induced by climate change for Central America by 2100 will be as much as 73 billion dollars. Climate change is clearly a problem relevant to all of Latin America; the region's negotiators should do their utmost to make this meeting in Panama a success.



ECO just found (under a delegates desk) the draft final decision on LULUCF for Durban. In the interest of full transparency, we reproduce it here.

Decision -/CMP.7

Land use, land use change and forestry

Acknowledgingthat we have been working on this subject far too long and may have lost all sense of proportion,

Recallingthat we made a real mess of this last time as well,

Affirmingthe need to generate credits and hide debits from LULUCF activities,

Recognisingthe need to change jargon frequently, as with force majeure natural disturbance,

Hidingforest management emissions beneath unrealistically inflated reference level projections,

ForgettingArticle 4, paragraph 2 (a) of the Convention, which states that “Each of these [Annex I] Parties shall adopt nationalpolicies and take corresponding measures to mitigate climate change, by limiting its anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases and protecting and enhancing its greenhouse gas sinks and reservoirs,”

Overlookingthe urgent need to reduce emissions in all sectors,

Underminingthe ultimate objective of the Convention,

Wonderingif we will get away with this,

Decidesthat each Party in Annex B can account for LULUCF activities however it likes,

Further decidesthat other Parties shall not use this transparent accounting scam as an excuse to fiddle their own LULUCF or REDD accounting .


Charting a new course on shipping emissions

Panama could not be a more fitting place to reboot the negotiations on controlling the high and rising emissions from international shipping. Last month’s G20 finance ministers’ discussions on raising climate finance from international transport suggest there is a huge opportunity to do so.

The magnificent sight of the Panama canal is a reminder of the scale of emissions from the international maritime fleet. Shipping is already responsible for 3% of global emissions – more than those of Germany, and twice those of Australia. Without urgent action, emissions could triple by 2050, likely ruining any chance of keeping global warming below the 2°C target agreed in Cancun, let alone the 1.5C target needed. Tackling the emissions from this sector is a vital part of the efforts needed to close the emissions gap.

A step in the right direction was taken this June when governments in the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) established energy efficiency design standards for new ships. But welcome though this was, it will only reduce shipping emissions by around 1% below business-as-usual levels by 2020.

It is clear that weak efficiency standards alone are not enough. A carbon price for shipping is needed to drive emission cuts at the scale needed – applied either through a bunker fuel levy or the auctioning of emissions allowances in a new sectoral emissions trading scheme.

As the preliminary report of the World Bank and IMF shows, a carbon price of $25 per tonne would raise the cost of global trade by approximately 0.2% - or $2 for every $1000 traded – and would raise $26 billion per year by 2020. The report suggests that to make a global agreement stick, this revenue should be used to compensate developing countries for the economic impact of higher shipping costs – ensuring they face no net incidence as a result – and as climate finance.

Even after some revenues are used as compensation, this should still leave at least $10 billion per year to be directed to the Green Climate Fund. That would be a significant step towards the $100 billion per year that developed countries have promised to mobilise by 2020, which – unlike Fast Start Finance pledged to date – should be genuinely new and additional to existing promises of development assistance.

The World Bank and IMF report shows the way to a new approach to tackling shipping emissions which Parties meeting in Panama must seize. Building on the work in the G20, a decision in Durban on the key principles of this approach would give the IMO all the guidance needed to get to work on designing and implementing a scheme that delivers a double dividend for the climate. By helping to close the emissions gap, and fill the Green Climate Fund, such a deal on could be a flagship of success in Durban.


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