THE POST-COPENHAGEN ROAD
A fair, ambitious and binding deal is needed more urgently than ever. Climate science is more compelling by the day. Impacts are coming harder and faster. Disastrous flooding in Pakistan, heat waves and forest fires in Russia and hottest recorded temperatures around the globe, amongst other devastating climate-related events, all point to the need for urgent action. Levels of warming once thought to be safe, may well not be, 1.5˚C is the new 2˚C.
Copenhagen was a watershed moment for public interest and support for climate action – and people have not lost interest. More people in more countries than ever have put their governments on notice that they expect a fair,
ambitious and binding global deal to be agreed urgently. Trust-building is essential after the disappointment of Copenhagen. Developed country leadership must be at the core of trust building efforts. Countries must show
their commitment to the UNFCCC process by driving it forward with political will and flexible positions, rather than endless rounds of repetitive negotiations. Many countries are troublingly pessimistic for Cancun, and are working to lower expectations. While others, including countries most vulnerable to climate change, maintain high expectations.
Challenges ahead of Cancun
There are many challenges to getting a full fair, ambitious and binding deal at Cancun, including:
- Lack of a shared vision for the ultimate objective of the agreement, and the equitable allocation of the remaining carbon budget and emissions reduction/limitation commitments;
- Sharp divisions on the legal form of an eventual outcome;
- Failure of the US Senate to pass comprehensive legislation this year; and
- Current economic difficulties facing many countries, which make it difficult to mobilize the substantial commitments to long-term climate finance needed as part of any ambitious agreement.
Positive moves afoot
However, more and more countries, both developing and developed, are stepping up their efforts to pursue low-carbon development and adaptation, despite the absence of an international agreement. This can be seen in a variety of ways:
- Investments in renewable energies have continued their exponential growth, increasing to 19% of global energy consumed;
- Progressive countries are working to move the negotiations forward;
- There is a growing perception that low-carbon and climate-resilient development is the only option to sustainably ensure the right to development and progress in poverty reduction.
So, what does a pathway forward look like?
Firstly we must learn the lessons of Copenhagen. The “nothing’s agreed until everything’s agreed” dynamic from Copenhagen could mean that nothing would be agreed in Cancun. An agreement in Cancun should instead be a balanced and significant step toward reaching a full fair, ambitious & binding deal at COP 17 in South Africa. This will require parties to work together in good faith to create sufficient gains at Cancun, and a clear roadmap to South Africa. This paper outlines how that could be achieved.
Dear Madam Chancellor,
2015 will be a decisive year for setting the course for climate policy. Germany is addressing the implementation of its Climate Action Program 2020 and the design of the power market while the EU is discussing how to put its emissions trading system on track again. At the international level a new global climate agreement is to be concluded at COP 21 in Paris in December. In view of this we very much welcome that “climate action” has been chosen as a key topic for the G7 agenda. Climate Action Network International, the broadest civil society coalition aiming at overcoming the climate crisis, kindly asks you to consider the following proposals for your G7 presidency.
Many countries have already started transformational processes at the national level, including increasingly basing their economic development on renewables and improved energy efficiency instead of fossil energy sources. Since renewable energies have undergone significant price declines in recent years, they have become competitive in many regions of the world thereby creating new development opportunities and expanding access to energy. These developments have to be strengthened and expanded by providing favorable political framework conditions.
In this context, the international climate negotiations play an important role. Decisions made within the context of the UNFCCC attract worldwide attention. They provide long term orientation and can give clear signals to investors that low carbon development is not only inevitable but also a real economic opportunity. During your last G8 presidency you were instrumental in defining the “2°C limit”. This has been a groundbreaking first step. We call on you to consolidate the achievements of the past during your current G7 presidency:
- Based on the L’Aquila declaration from 2009, and taking into account the G7’s particular responsibility, the G7 should make the next step and commit to a more specific and actionable long-term goal. In accordance with the high probability scenario of IPCC to limit global warming to two degrees Celsius or even 1.5 degrees Celsius it is necessary to phase out fossil fuel use and to phase in 100% renewable energies by 2050, providing sustainable energy access for all people.
- This long-term goal should be backed up with a substantial increase in efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, both in the run up to 2020 as in the post-2020 period for which countries are currently making pledges that seem insufficient to avoid dangerous climate change. For example, G7 countries should commit to deadlines for phasing-out domestic use of coal.
- The G7 should confirm its commitment to the goal of mobilizing $ 100 billion in climate finance by 2020, as enshrined in the Copenhagen Accord. This should be backed with a corresponding pathway including increasing annual public contributions until 2020.
- G7 should commit to a global goal of ensuring climate resilience to all people by developing, implementing and financing developing country National Climate Adaptation Plans and respective robust and effective national and international frameworks to reduce and manage climate risks and losses that go beyond adaptation capacities. We welcome that Germany plans to enhance the G7 commitment to strengthen climate risk management in vulnerable developing countries. We ask you to ensure a strong focus on the needs of particularly vulnerable people and communities, espeically women.
However, in CAN’s opinion, initiatives taken by G7 states should not only be limited to the UNFCCC process. While the above steps could in particular support progress in the UNFCCC process, the G7 should take complementary initiatives aiming at fostering trust building between developed and developing countries by launching projects and initiatives to facilitate the transformation process towards a low carbon and climate resilient future. Therefore, we call for your support to:
- Terminate the international financing of coal and lignite fired power plants including related infrastructure through the G7's development banks, other public banks and export credit agencies.
- Initiate new or significantly strengthen existing initiatives and financing instruments to promote capacity building, technology transfer and investments in renewable energies and energy efficiency in developing countries with ambitious climate and energy strategies.
- Mobilize new and innovative sources of climate finance including a Financial Transaction Tax (FTT).
- Accelerate efforts to end subsidies for fossil fuels by 2015 in the G7 countries, which have all signed the respective G20 agreement in 2009.
Madame Chancellor, we are looking forward to further exchange views on these issues and remain at your disposal.
The Geneva session ends today—step one on the road to Paris. Ten months and just three more negotiating sessions to go! The world is eagerly awaiting an international agreement that represents a turning point and brings us significantly closer to keeping warming below 1.5°C, ensures protection for the most vulnerable by ramping up adaptation to climate change, and helps countries cope with loss and damage — the impacts of climate change that go beyond adaptation.
ECO looks forward to continuing the collegial atmosphere here in Geneva at the next session in Bonn, building on what we are sure will be frequent formal and informal consultations, within groups and between groups, over the next three months. Of course, Parties, listening to your commitment to transparency, civil society expects to be engaged in these discussions and is ready to provide constructive input.
So how can Parties best use the time between now and Bonn? First and foremost, they must talk to each other, so that they come to Bonn with a clearer understanding of what each others’ proposals mean, where they see options for “editorial streamlining”, and how to maximise ambition in the Paris agreement.
The elements text is peppered with options for differentiation, in which “developed”countries are required to do one thing and “developing” countries are required to do another. In practice, there are two matters at stake here: (1) should there be multiple groups that have different requirements for target types, finance obligations, and reporting requirements? and (2) how do we determine, numerically, when countries are doing their fair shares in terms of domestic mitigation on the one hand and international means of implementation on the other?
On the first question, national fair shares on mitigation and finance should be judged in terms of a basket of equity indicators: adequacy, responsibility, capability, adaptation need, and development need. For the second question, we’d like to hear from the Parties. Should the existing Annexes be kept? Kept but not operationalised? Redefined as dynamic annexes that are based on equity indicators, as in the Ethiopian proposal? Should we introduce more groups, as in the Brazilian proposal? Or should we just give up on having any overarching grouping system, and accept that we’re in a purely self-differentiated world (which seems to be the default path that we are on)? It’s clear to ECO that a constructive discussion is needed on these issues at the Bonn session in June.
Adaptation and loss and damage
There are plenty of good proposals in the text on guiding principles, the global adaptation goal, the link between mitigation, adaptation and loss and damage, national contributions and their communications, and institutional arrangements on loss and damage. Parties should spend the next few months making sure they understand these proposals better. Perhaps a Google hangout on the proposed institutional arrangements on loss and damage is in order?
As regular readers will have noted, ECO has spent some time this week emphasising the importance of both adaptation and loss and damage in the Paris agreement. When the schedule and focus of informal meetings between now and Paris is being decided, the importance of adaptation and loss and damage should be fully reflected.
There are several events in the weeks to ahead where Parties can build further consensus on these issues, including the April meeting in Bonn where LDCs and other countries come together to take stock of progress on their National Adaptation Plans, as well as the first meeting of the Warsaw Loss and Damage Mechanism Executive Committee. When putting forward their INDCs, Parties should outline their adaptation plans and the support required to implement them.
In order to get us on a pathway compatible with keeping warming below 1.5°C, we need cycles and timeframes that will help to increase ambition over time. ECO recommends a five-year cycle for mitigation linked to a cycle for support, as well as regular, robust reviews, all guided by a clearly defined long-term goal.
And as any regular ECO reader will know, increasing ambition after 2020 is not enough to avoid dangerous climate change. We need action now, and we actually have a workstream for that purpose.
Parties should communicate to the co-chairs their priorities for the technical examination process; ECO suggests renewable energy, energy efficiency, and fossil fuel subsidies reform. The technical examination process (TEP) needs to consider concrete actions, barriers, and support needs. It is also time to start thinking about how an ambition mechanism that builds on the experiences from Workstream 2 can continue after Paris.
On climate finance, ECO is pleased that several helpful suggestions made it into the text, including five-year-cycles for setting, reviewing and updating collective targets for the provision of financial support, a requirement that developed countries and others [in a position][willing][happy] to do so contribute to achieving these targets, and that they regularly communicate what they are providing. The text also includes a proposed process through which developing countries would be enabled to identify what support they need to enhance action, again, in cycles.
Although not on the ADP agenda, many corridor conversations in Geneva circled around pre-2020 finance. Even the most stubborn developed country delegates seem to understand that clarity on the $100-billion-promise is a must-do for success in Paris. So here’s a friendly warning: the roadmap to $100 billion must not be a cheeky accounting exercise, but must reflect a real scaling-up of public finance on top of levels that were already being provided or mobilised in 2009 when the promise was made. ECO hopes this issue will be on the menu when finance ministers meet at the spring World Bank/IMF meetings in April, and that positive movement will be evident well before Paris — perhaps even by the June session in Bonn.
Last, but not least, ECO expects Parties to appropriately respond to the accumulated insights coming from the conclusion of the three year-long Structured Expert Dialogue (SED). Here’s a quick summary: there is evidence for dangerous climate change even with 2°C warming, and we are not even close to on track to stay under that limit. And if you prefer, a tweet:
#TimeForClimateAction WAKE UP, PEOPLE! We are heading for a horrible climate catastrophe, and we really, really need to act.
Starting in Bonn, countries must work towards language in the Paris agreement that clearly expresses our need to phase out fossil fuel emissions by mid-century, and to build a global economy based on 100% clean, renewable energy resources. The science is clear: to stay below a temperature increase of 1.5°C, we must do no less.
So there you have it: five easy pieces. If Parties come to Bonn prepared to engage on these issues, the prospects for the deal we need in Paris are bright indeed.