Tag: Mitigation

Cancun Building Blocks - Oct 2010

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

Negotiations Post-Copenhagen
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. 

Europe becomes second party to lodge Paris climate action commitment

Climate Action Network released the following statement upon the release of Europe's commitment towards the Paris agreement on climate change today. 

European environment ministers have today agreed on the EU’s first climate action commitment towards the Paris agreement. The pledge translates its previously announced target to reduce carbon pollution by at least 40% by 2030. After Switzerland, the EU will be the second party in the world to lodge its plan to speed up the transition away from fossil fuels towards renewable energy with the UN. Commitments from other major countries including the United States and Mexico are expected later this month. Together, these pledges will signal the start of what will be the world’s first collective step on climate action. 

Europe has in many ways been spearheading the global transition, and it has only last week presented a domestic energy strategy that makes clear that Europe’s move towards a decarbonized economy is well underway. That’s why some observers want Europe’s first offer to go further in harnessing progress towards a fossil fuel phase out and Europe’s vision to be the world leader in renewable energy. For example, Denmark has already committed to make 100% of their electricity supply renewable and party leaders in the UK have committed to phase out coal. Accelerating this transition makes sense because it can deliver more and better jobs, improved public health and more robust economies.

Today’s announcement leaves open the tricky question of how to deal with forests when counting emission reductions. If not handled well, accounting rules could dilute the EU’s commitment. Progressive Member States are working to reach a decision that ensures environmental integrity and retains ambition. Furthermore, despite calling for countries to renew their pledges under the Paris agreement every five years, the EU does not outline a 2025 target in its offer.

The EU’s plan stayed silent on the amount of additional support they'd provide to developing countries who are expected to take their own climate action under the Paris agreement. Scaling up support will be vital if we're to secure a comprehensive global climate agreement in Paris in December that builds resilient communities and helps vulnerable people cope with unavoidable climate impacts. In a bid to shore up Europe’s leadership on climate, European foreign ministers can step up and explicitly outline their offer to help communities adopt renewable energy and adapt to climate change.

Undoubtedly, this offer will not be the final word from Europe on climate action towards the Paris agreement. Indeed, the EU’s pledge document says it looks forward to working with other countries to find “ways to collectively increase ambition further”. And European NGOs will continue to push member states to do more to unlock the “at least” part of their 2030 commitment.  The European Commission has already outlined plans to hold a conference in November to review collective commitments, providing the impetus for all countries to consider what more they can do to accelerate the transition away from fossil fuels. To give that agreement a smoother landing, Europe can reassert itself as a leader on climate diplomacy giving countries confidence in the collective steps we’re taking on climate action.

Contact: Ria Voorhaar
Head - International Communications Coordination 
mobile: +49 157 3173 5568

 
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Homework between now and Bonn

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.

Differentiation

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.

Mitigation

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.

Finance

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.

Long-Term Goal

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.

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INDCs for Parties

INDCs Image

Parties: as you return home to do your INDC homework, ECO reminds you that sequencing is important. Remember to do so on your commitments on finance, mitigation and adaptation assignments, and to do so with fairness and equity in mind. For the first batch of students with submissions due in March, your tasks are clear:

  1. Ensure that the INDC presents enough information so that you can determine the amount of greenhouse gas emissions that will be emitted over the entire commitment period. Ask yourself: “Can I tell how many tonnes my country is going to emit over this period?”. Then add more information until the answer is: “Yes!”
  2. Ensure that the type of the mitigation INDC fits your country’s profile. All developed countries capable should provide an economy wide GHG emissions carbon budget to 2025. Other countries in a position to join them should do so—the more the merrier!
  3. Ensure that the INDC provides clear and transparent information on the role of the forest and land sector. A full proof way is to count the tonnes that the atmosphere sees.
  4. For countries with high responsibility and capability, the INDC should include a finance contribution. For countries that will require financial support, the INDC should indicate financing needs.
  5. Ensure that you provide a description on how your INDC is fair and ambitious. Here’s a simple way to do this is to answer the following questions. 1) In your opinion, what’s left of the carbon budget, and is it compatible with 1.5°C and 2°C and the objective of the convention? 2) How many tonnes of this budget do you do you intend to claim? 3) Why is this your country’s fair share? Before getting too creative, reflect what would happen if other countries applied your criteria.
  6. Outline what your country is doing to cope with the ever-increasing impacts of climate change, and if you are a developing country, describe your needs for finance and capacity building to implement adaptation strategies that are up to this challenge.
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In Defence of an objectives section

Let’s start with the big questions: Why are we here? Is it the beautiful mountain panorama overlooking a magnificent lake, the long working days or the joy of spending more money, than average, for just about everything? No, ECO doesn’t think so either. We’re here to save civilisation, secure our children’s future, keep global warming below 1.5 C; and to pave the path to get there.

The agreement needs to send a signal to the rest of the world that we’re heading in the right direction towards a transition to a carbon-free future. It’s not rocket science that putting the common objectives section at the beginning of the document sends a signal that this is exactly what we will do.

Clarity at the start of the document will give structure to the text and establish the overall goal supported by all of the subsequent elements of the agreement. Ergo, ECO will defend Section C until it runs out of ink to voice our never-ending support. It’s Section C that will provide a clear direction knitting together all the pieces, outline the drivers and our shared aspirations.

Section C on objectives must:

  • Set the direction towards a resilient world in which we phase-out fossil fuel emissions and phase-in renewable energies, as soon as possible, and no later than 2050.
  • Reflect requirements for finance, technology and capacity building for creating that resilient world and outline the MOI for developing countries; to help them peak their emissions before subsequently reducing them, ensure human rights, indigenous rights, gender equality and a just transition to decent work opportunities for all.
  • Make clear that Parties understand the need for adaptation and preparedness will depend on on how fast emissions may be reduced.

We all know climate change is a systemic challenge. An agreement that does not start with a frame to enable a systemic response simply wouldn’t work. We need to get this right from the start.

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The emissions abyss

The main focus here in Geneva is on shaping the Paris agreement for the post-2020 period. Nevertheless, it is critical that we do not lose sight of the need to increase our climate actions from now up to 2020 as well.

Even if a global climate agreement is reached in Paris this December, most of the proposals and targets for cutting emissions won’t kick in until after 2020. But the coming five years are absolutely vital in the battle against climate change.

During these five years global emissions should be peaking and then falling, or at the very least, levelling off. At the moment the pre-2020 period doesn’t seem to have much priority in most countries, despite the fact that emissions must peak within this decade to keep global warming below 2°C. It is no secret that with current emission trends we are heading for a 3.6 to 4°C scenario; just check the IPCC’s work. We can’t allow emission figures to drift ever upwards — otherwise the long-term goals will become even harder to meet.

We know that many countries have already started taking actions on climate change at the national level. But we also know that these have not gone far enough. The arguments that action on climate change will negatively affect growth or poverty eradication are no longer valid. Many things can be, and should be, done right now. From scrapping coal-fired power stations and reducing deforestation, to increasing renewables and improving energy efficiency, there are plenty of ways to limit pre-2020 emissions and close the gigatonne gap.

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What’s this about streamlining?

It’s Wednesday, and the spirit with which we began the week seems to be vanishing. And quickly at that. ECO wants Parties – facilitated by the ADP Co-Chairs – to continue negotiating with the same spirit they started off with, robustly and with purpose. It’s great that Parties feel ownership of the text, and this can be gauged by the inputs made to the text. Now is the time to begin identifying ways to streamline the text, while ensuring all inputs for an ambitious Paris agreement are retained.

The draft contains some promising ideas that must be nurtured and developed further in order for the text to remain ambitious. ECO knows Parties are busy this week, so we wanted to remind them of these core ideas so they don’t get lost in the streamlining. In the context of reminding Parties of the need to have a long-term goal within the text, ECO is particularly happy to see references ensuring we stay on a 1.5°C trajectory. This trajectory can only be achieved through a phase-out of fossil fuel emissions and phase- in of 100% renewable energy, enabling sustainable energy access for all, no later than 2050. This goal should be complemented with commitments by Parties to close the short-term mitigation gap, and to operationalise enablers like finance, technology and capacity building to fill in the foundation for achieving this goal.

An adaptation goal reflecting the co-dependency between mitigation ambition and subsequent adaptation needs is crucial, as is incorporating a public adaptation finance goal. Related but separate, remember Parties: a loss and damage mechanism should be given enough breathing room in the text to accommodate the growing needs of vulnerable communities, and should also be given its own source of finance.

ECO hopes it is clear that the ambition called for by science requires major scaling-up of finance. A clear pathway with milestones for reaching US$100 billion annually by 2020 would be a start. That treatment must be just the beginning though. Also important is a clear understanding of innovative financial mechanisms, as well as a plan for continued scaling-up of public finance. These are key elements that must be reflected within the text alongside a broad public finance target.

Last, and by no means least, a review mechanism enabling timely, 5-year assessment periods and an increase in ambition across various elements is critical to guarantee accountability and environmental integrity in the new agreement.

ECO has flagged only a few of the key elements here; there are many others requiring elaboration and a common understanding as the streamlining process proceeds. We look forward to Parties keeping these key elements in mind as the text is reviewed.

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It’s no mystery: scale it up!

Workstream 2 is great: without it, no long term goal matters, however it’s expressed. 2020 is simply too late unless parties take bold actions in the next 5 years. ECO was thrilled to see all of yesterday devoted to the 2015 technical examination process.

It is high time to move beyond identifying promising options and admiring great examples to the question of how we can scale up, replicate and implement. We need an effective mechanism to harness opportunities for additional ambition in the 2015-20 period. Here are a few simple suggestions:

  • Focus the next TEMs of the solutions that have garnered the most support so far and those offering the largest potential benefits (deployment of renewable energy and energy efficiency at scale as well as on those that cut fossil fuel subsidies);
  • Move beyond identifying options and examples, instead focus on implementation: how can existing barriers be overcome and and needs addressed?;
  • Get specific about how existing institutions such as the TEC, the CTCN and the GCF should support best practices identified in Workstream 2;
  • Create new partnerships and recognise existing initiatives that bring together pioneers and deliver significant additional mitigation results.

There also need to be criteria to distinguish meaningful initiatives from the greenwash. To ensure initiatives really help close the emissions gap; quantify their contributions, and allow for regular follow-up. Thursday’s session on Workstream 2 gives delegates another opportunity to focus on on such outcomes as well as well as opportunities for countries can increase their current targets.

Avoiding further action until the post-2020 period is not an option. Why so many parties seem convinced it might be remains a mystery.

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Reduce coal technology exports, MFN!

Parties in the Workstream 2 Technical Expert Process yesterday coined a new acronym: MFN, “More, Faster, Now.” ECO is not a fan of acronyms for acronyms sake but this one could prove useful, particularly for those parties with a dirty coal habit.

It emerged that a number of OECD parties—Japan, South Korea, and Germany among them—have spent nearly US$15 billion over the past 10 years on exports of coal technologies abroad. This has made these fossil fuel projects cheaper than clean and renewable energy solutions.

Renewable energy solutions have innumerable benefits: the MFN mantra is more action on climate change at a faster pace, starting now. Spending billions on technology exports to advance the use of the world’s dirtiest fossil fuel does exactly the opposite.

ECO hopes this misunderstanding can be cleared up, ASAP, starting at the OECD Export Credit Group deliberations later this year.

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Not on track

The Structured Expert Dialogue (SED) finished up yesterday. The EU delegate surmised things aptly: “We are not on track.”

With over 19 presentations, the message was loud and clear. We are, unfortunately, on a path that sees warming going well above 2˚C. And there were 70 presentations many of which documenting that even 2˚C warming is intolerable. We need to limit warming to 1.5˚C.

ECO is confident that these findings will be among the prominent results of the SED report coming out on March 20. And ECO hopes that policymakers will recognise the unique value of a dialogue informed by science and act accordingly.

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