Tag: Mitigation

CAN Submission: Cancun Building Blocks, October 2010


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. 

WS2 and Adaptation: The Talk of the Talks

ECO hears rumours that Parties have discussed the possibility of having a Technical Examination Process (TEP) on adaptation, and we’d be delighted if this was true. After all, there are more gaps in these negotiations than even ECO can keep track of, from gigatonnes to dollars. Adaptation appears to be one of the victims of process, and seemingly never has its time to shine. Finance for adaptation remains grossly insufficient, and more action is needed to increase the resilience of vulnerable communities and ecosystems.

An adaptation TEP might just be the match made in heaven to ensure that there is  both a technical conversation with concrete recommendations and political commitment, which would in turn increase adaptation actions. It’s high time to  kickstart  action on the ground.

However, while Workstream 2 can be a great vehicle to get adaptation off the ground, it needs to be done in earnest. An adaptation TEP has a lot to offer to vulnerable people by engaging experts and catalysing action. But it must not become a topic that slows down the good pace of WS2 that has been evident this past week.  Nor can it become a delaying tactic for the remaining thorny bits, including the many pivotal mitigation elements.

Even with the prospect of happy union between TEP and adaptation on the table, these precious elements should not fall by the wayside. Parties need to stay engaged with the issues at hand: accelerating the implementation of mitigation in the pre-2020 period, appointing high-level champions, and ensuring the necessary support is provided. Only after we’ve locked down these essential elements of WS2 should we export other possibilities.

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ECO: Your Wingperson

Setting up a first date is a nerve-racking process. ECO has been there: spending hours overanalysing the details of what your crush did or didn’t say, writing vague texts that don’t express what you really mean, trying to play it cool by acting non-committal…

Always keen to give out relationship advice, ECO couldn’t help noticing that Parties’ discussions on the first date of the global assessment (still called a “stocktake” for  the moment) are in dire need of a helping hand—not to mention their caginess around further developments for the ambition mechanism. Here are ECO’s top tips for Parties on setting a date with destiny for a long-lasting relationship based on mutual understanding and trust:

Dont delay! It might seem scary, but someone has to initiate and suggest a clear date for your first get together. Why wait? You’re only delaying making your dreams of a fossil fuel-free future a reality! Don’t let all the intensity that’s been building up before Paris go to waste. ECO reckons the first date for an assessment to raise ambition should happen well ahead of 2020. Who’s going to seize the day and suggest 2018? Don’t forget, you need agreement on this in Paris to avoid being stood up!

Be clear about your intentions. If you want things to progress, don’t be shy about these ambitions! Put it down, in writing, that you’re keen to take things to the next level with each successive date. Having the confidence to say how quickly you’ll kick your dirty habits (like that fossil fuel addiction) is a true sign of commitment.

Make a good impression. Don’t be shy in showing your wide range of interests in adaptation and finance at these assessments, too. This will show you can make informed decisions and plan for all eventualities. What a keeper!

Regular communication. Make time for regular check-ins to communicate how you’re feeling about your current level of commitment. Be forthcoming about your expectations for robust transparency and MRV, but don’t be afraid to ask for support. Global assessments to review and raise ambition should take place every 5 years. It’s important to put this in your diaries now. Could there be a more romantic location than Paris to seal the deal?!

Look for your match. Learn about each others’ needs. Are you a developed country looking to support greater decarbonisation? Are you a developing country with a conditional INDC just needing some support? Try establishing a match-box where Parties with reciprocal needs can achieve common goals.

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The European Illusion

Delegates, you well know that ECO has lamented, time and time again, that the EU’s reduction targets for 2020 and 2030 are inadequate, below business as usual, and in general an embarrassment to the continent that once was the leader in global climate action.

This week’s news from the European Environment Agency has again proven our point: the latest EU numbers show that greenhouse gas emission fell 4% between 2013 and 2014. This brings the EU’s domestic emissions down to 23% below 1990 levels, and will most likely lead to below 30% by 2020. ECO reminds delegates that the EU’s current 2020 reduction commitment is 20% below 1990.

Done. Many years ahead of time.

“What should the EU do now?” you may ask. As far as ECO can see, the only action the EU is taking in response is to engage in self-praise and nothing more. We all know that there is more to be done, so, EU, listen up:

  • Commit to implementing your conditional 30% by 2020 target (which will happen without any extra effort).
  • Cancel the vast surplus of emission allowances weighing down your carbon market to ensure that the 2030 target will not be made meaningless with carry-over of old reductions.
  • Do more! We need to phase-out global emissions by 2050 and the EU could be the ones to lead the way.
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Bring Back Full Decarbonisation by 2050

There’s one particularly valuable piece of mitigation text that got lost in the co-chairs’ pressure cleaning of the text. Namely, the text that called for full decarbonisation by 2050.

ECO urges Parties to bring it back into the first paragraph of Article 3.


Because the Paris agreement needs to be a phase-out agreement, rather than another emissions management agreement.

In light of the latest IPCC findings and the carbon budget it outlines, fossil carbon emissions must simply be phased out. And that needs to happen fast, by mid-century at the latest, if we are to have a good chance of staying below 2°C, not to mention 1.5°C.

Those who believe we have more time for the phase out, even until the end of the century, are betting on  hypothetical and highly problematic ”negative emissions”.

That’s not a plan. That’s just reckless gambling with our future.

A goal of full decarbonisation by 2050 would reflect the true urgency of the situation. It would make it increasingly difficult for businesses to justify investing in high-carbon emitting infrastructure, because the energy systems we’ll need to have in place by 2050 are being built now.

On the other hand, a long-term goal of decarbonisation by end of the century would have the opposite effect. It would create the dangerous illusion of having all the time in the world to change.

The solutions are already here. The renewable energy revolution has already started. What the world needs from Paris is a clear signal that the age of fossil fuels is coming to an end and that the direction is now towards a world powered by renewable energy for all.

ECO therefore urges Parties to make this message clear in the draft agreement and is happy to help with inspirational text.

Your task, dear delegates, is not to foresee the future, but to enable it.

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Canada: the End of a Fossil-Filled Era?

Seasoned negotiators among you will recall that there was a time when Canada was not a shoe-in for the Fossil of the Year awards. While never perfect, Canada once had a reputation for punching above its weight when it came to the climate talks—a reputation that began to fracture in Nairobi, was crumbling by Bali, and a distant memory by the time Copenhagen rolled around.

Even bad things must come to an end.  In a dramatic election yesterday, Canada threw out the near-decade long rule of climate laggard Stephen Harper. Incoming Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has his work cut out for him. To be sure, his party’s election platform pushed some of the right buttons: promising to contribute Canada’s fair share to keep the world below 2°C; working with the premiers of Canada’s provinces to come up with a new INDC target and a strategy to meet it (within 90 days after Paris); phasing out fossil fuel subsidies; and investing $2bn in green infrastructure.

Sounds great, eh? Not so fast. ECO’s Ottawa correspondents report that Trudeau also talks about building new tar sands pipelines to get Canada’s dirty oil to market. It seems Trudeau is not yet the boldest when it comes to making the tough calls on Canada’s carbon bomb, the tar sands. However Paris might just be the push he needs to tell the world that his parliament will be stepping up to do Canada’s fair share in tackling the climate crisis.

Trudeau must come to Paris with a firm commitment to enshrine 2025 and 2030 targets in domestic law. These targets should include phasing out dirty energy and phasing in 100% renewable energy by 2050. They should also include providing Canada’s fair share of international finance.

The process must start with a meeting between Trudeau and the provinces’ premiers before they all leave for Paris. Then we can truly and loudly say in Paris: Welcome back, Canada!

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