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. 

NGOs say new IPCC report shows climate action delivers benefits, not burdens

Berlin, April 13, 2014: Members of Climate Action Network have welcomed the third installment of the IPCC's Fifth Assessment Report which lays out the solutions to the climate crisis, giving governments a clear case for urgent action.

Members of Climate Action Network provide the following comments on the launch of the report: 

"The IPCC's working group three report to be released here in Berlin tomorrow confirms it is not too late to act to prevent catastrophic climate change. We can keep average global temperature rise to the 2 degrees threshold agreed by the countries of the world. But effective action will only occur with strong international cooperation. Luckily, leaders like Angela Merkel have an opportunity to show they have received this message from the world’s peak body of climate scientists when they attend the United Nations Secretary General’s Climate Summit in New York in September. As a German, I expect Frau Merkel to lead the Heads of Governments to a breakthrough in international climate politics which delivers a robust climate action plan in Paris in 2015."
Sabine Minninger, Senior Adviser, Climate and Energy Policy, Bread for the World. 
 
"The IPCC is clear that acting on climate change is possible, beneficial and affordable. If we act now, costs will be only a very small fraction of global economies. Those who say it's too hard and too expensive are wrong. But it is very urgent – without immediate action, costs will rise and and impacts will too. The first, critical step is changing investment flows. Any investor who looks at this report will have to reach an obvious conclusion: It's time to pull your money out of dirty fossil fuels and put it into renewable energy and energy efficiency."
Samantha Smith, leader, Global Climate and Energy Initiative, WWF International.

"Science has spoken: climate action is no burden, it’s an opportunity. As renewable energies are growing bigger, better and cheaper every day, the age of dangerous and polluting coal, oil and gas is over. The only rational response to this report is to start the phase out of fossil fuels immediately. It's simple: the more we wait, the more climate change costs us. The sooner we act, the cheaper the transition to a renewables future for all will be. China, more than anyone, has the potential to become a game-changer in global climate action. China’s coal consumption limits and massive investments in renewable energy not only provide hope for Chinese citizens to breath clean air again but could also end the relentless growth of global climate pollution. China must now lead the world to new climate treaty by presenting an ambitious new target with binding emission cuts. If they act, the US and EU will also be embarrassed into the urgent action we need."
Li Shuo, Climate and Energy Policy Officer, Greenpeace China.

Notes:

1) Audio available here - speaking order: Sabine Minninger, Li Shuo, Samantha Smith. 
2) Full speaking notes available on request 
3) The audio, speaking notes and this press release are under embargo until 11am CEST (09.00GMT), Sunday April 13, 2014.
4) NGO experts are available for one-on-one interviews after the report release. 
 
Contact:
Please contact Climate Action Network International’s communications coordinator Ria Voorhaar on +49 (0) 157 317 35568 or rvoorhaar@climatenetwork.org

Climate Action Network (CAN) is the world’s largest network of civil society organizations working together to promote government action to address the climate crisis, with more than 900 members in over 100 countries. 
 

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Post-2020 contributions -- information needed!

ECO appreciates the efforts made by several countries in their submissions this month to address the issue of the types of information Parties should submit with their initial post-2020 nationally determined mitigation contributions. A paper launched this week by the World Resources Institute outlines how this information could vary for countries whose contributions are in the form of economy-wide GHG mitigation goals, versus for those countries putting forward intensity-based or sectoral contributions, policy-based contributions, or contributions consisting of discrete projects or NAMAs.

Clarity and transparency of contributions is important to:

- Build confidence in the robustness of the economic, technological, and policy assumptions underlying the proposed national contributions;

- Enable comparison with other Parties;

- Improve the assessments of individual country and collective global emissions reductions resulting from the proposed contributions; and

- Foster a constructive dialogue amongst Parties on the principles of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, and how they translate into the level of ambition and effort undertaken by each Party.

ECO underlines the need for Parties to make substantial progress on this issue at the next Bonn session in June, as many countries are already starting to prepare their national contributions. The earlier that Parties have clarity on what information is going to be expected of them, the better.

ECO also notes that most of the discussion thus far has centred on information requirements for mitigation contributions. To have any chance of meeting the collective level of ambition needed on post-2020 emissions reductions, developing countries will need to take ambitious mitigation actions with enhanced international climate finance, technology transfer, and capacity building. Developed countries must also put forward their finance contributions to facilitate this ambitious action by developing countries.

If there is not greater clarity and confidence soon about the expected magnitude of such support in the post-2020 period, developing countries will understandably be reluctant to inscribe potential additional emissions reduction actions in the final agreement in Paris.

It’s essential that in June, Parties not only deepen the discussion started here this week but that they also start to intensively engage on the information that they (in particular, developed countries) will need to provide on the finance, technology transfer, and capacity-building elements of their intended national contributions. 

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ECO: An open letter from ECO

 

Dear developed countries, and other Parties,

With all this talk of reviews and ratcheting during Bonn, ECO would like to strongly remind developed country Parties that the first opportunity to in fact test these mechanisms would be during the forthcoming session in June. With the KP and ADP Ministerial’s looming large, ECO wants to send a take-home message to all developed countries: now is your moment to demonstrate that developed countries are going to show leadership through presenting more ambitious pledges, both emission reductions and finance. This does not only apply to KP parties; ECO strongly urges the US, New Zealand, Japan, Russia and Canada to step up to the plate and start walking the talk by presenting comparable ambitious commitments as well.

If developed countries fail to capture this important political moment, there could be serious implications for a new agreement in 2015. There is no logic to developed countries demanding more from developing countries when they have thus far been unwilling to fulfil their own responsibilities. The ambition gap is large. It needs to be filled. The best way for this to happen is through the ratcheting up of existing emission reduction and financial commitments from developed countries.

ECO supports the efforts to look at other concrete actions, such as scaled up renewable energy and energy efficiency actions, that can help close the gigatonne gap. That said, we are also weary of these being used as a means to circumvent the basic responsibility for developed countries to lead. Coming back to Bonn in June with revised pledges will send the signal that this process so sorely needs - that developed country governments are serious about climate change and that they are willing to take their fair share of effort in dealing with the crisis. It will also send an important signal to developing countries that so desperately want to see concrete signs of good faith in these negotiations.

To the US, EU, Canada, Russia, Australia, New Zealand and Japan - come to June with Ambition or take the responsibility for placing at risk a future global agreement.

Yours truly,

ECO

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See you in Bonn, with your homework done!

ECO hopes that the climate gets what it needs in 2014, a year of ambition as we delivered a good draft text for Paris. After this year’s first UNFCCC meeting, it’s clear that much more effort will be needed for 2014 to be a success. Below a few things ECO hopes delegates will focus on as they return home from Bonn and prepare for the next session back here in June.

In Workstream 2, you have identified the significant potential of renewables and energy efficiency to help close the gigatonne gap. ECO suggests you now turn to concrete additional actions you can take to realise that potential and present them at the next session. You should also think about which decisions you can take at the end of the year to ensure that existing UNFCCC institutions, such as the Climate Technology Centre and Network and, the Green Climate Fund support those efforts.

Another piece of homework is to accelerate the preparation of your nationally determined contributions and to prepare concrete proposals on the information requirements for such proposals.

After all the frustration expressed over the slow progress towards the 2015 outcome, ECO is confident that negotiations under the shiny new Contact Group will get off to a flying start at the June session. We need to ensure that clarity on the shape of the 2015 deal emerges from Lima, which requires countries to focus on developing the specific elements through elaboration of a tight and manageable negotiating text. More importantly, we need to be getting ambitious commitments and other contributions on the table. Ones that will actually shift the world to a below  1.5℃ pathway.

ECO recognises that Parties will want to see their initial positions reflected, no matter how far apart and incompatible they are. However, Parties also have a responsibility to create the conditions for a draft elements text that will allow structured negotiations to begin the resolution of these issues systematically.

Our co-Chairs will need to play a strong and proactive role in helping to bridge differences and shaping successive versions of the text based on party input. ECO, and our Fossil of the Day friends, will have little patience for procedural shenanigans this June. The process is full of skilled and able negotiators. They need to use their abilities for good, and not for delay, obstruction and protecting narrowly defined and outdated national interests and polluting industries.

So, ECO hopes all Parties are eager to get back to their capitals to begin the work that needs to be done over the next 12 weeks on closing the gap, preparing post-2020 commitments and elaborating elements of a draft text.

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Domestic preparations for dirty oil prevention

Domestic preparations for intended nationally determined contributions may, at first glance, seem an unpromising subject for an article. The issue couldn’t be more important, though. The contributions that countries plan to submit, ahead of Paris, and the terms by which they’ll do so, remains firmly at the forefront of ECO’s mind. We’re quite sure that the same is true for many negotiators.

ECO could spend many pages outlining details of what countries should submit, but for a change of pace, let’s talk about something that one particular country shouldn’t submit.

That’s right, we’re talking about the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.

As the US considers its plans to increase ambition, and as it moves (we hope) towards emissions reductions in line with the science, the only proper role for the Keystone XL pipeline is rejection.

But don’t just take ECO’s word for it. A new study by the financial analysts at the Carbon Tracker Initiative suggests that building the pipeline would incentivise growth in the Canadian tar sands production equivalent to the emissions from building some 46 new coal-fired power plants. Besides undermining American climate action, a presidential permit for the Keystone XL pipeline would also mean substantial emission increases in Canada, moving the Maple Leaf even further away from the targets committed in Copenhagen.

International luminaries such as Desmond Tutu recently signed a letter stating, “The verdict on whether to approve or reject the Keystone XL pipeline could, in just one stroke, confirm or condemn America’s prospects for climate leadership.”

As we walk the road towards Paris, it’s imperative that all Parties take steps to build trust and show commitment to achieving the most ambitious outcome possible. One key step on the road must certainly be the rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline, don’t you think?

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When will Australia increase its pre-2020 ambition?

The independent review by the Australian Government’s Climate Change Authority (CCA) is clear that Australia’s current 5% target is “woefully inadequate”. Instead the CCA has recommended that Australia’s fair share would be a target of a 19% reduction of emissions below 2000 levels. 

So Australia - what will it be? Will you stay on ‘woefully inadequate’ or listen to what your own Authority is saying and increase your ambition to at least a 19% reduction in emissions? Because, let’s face it — as the OECD country with the highest per capita emissions, your weight is pretty hefty…

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From Expert Meetings to Action Agendas

Everyone has been waiting for today: the technical expert meetings will conclude with an entire session dedicated to “The Way Forward”. The last two days of presentations have demonstrated that there are many examples of successful ways to deliver clean renewable energy and the enormous potential for scaling up action. However, we haven’t even discussed how the ADP process will help to close the gigatonne gap between now and 2020. That’s what Workstream 2 is about still, right?

ECO suggests that today’s session should focus on areas of common interest, barriers to scaling up renewable energy, and how the UNFCCC could spur on cooperative action and overcome the barriers.

There are key questions to respond to tomorrow: what do we need the Technology Mechanism, the Standing Committee and the Green Climate Fund to do to realise the potential of renewable energy and energy efficiency? What decisions are needed in Lima to enable implementation?

UNFCCC institutions can be tasked to contribute in different ways. For example, the Technology Executive Committee could analyse renewable energy (RE) technologies highlighted by the Technology Needs Assessment process and synthesise lessons learned and best practices. The Task Force could also identify RE technology gaps or aid country planning by tracking the price trajectory of promising technologies.

ECO asks that Parties focus on defining areas of homework, ensure that sufficient time is allocated in June to develop detailed strategies, and then use the institutions to deliver on the potential.

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Renewable energy, let’s do better

ECO spent yesterday, excitedly, following the renewable energy (RE) workshop. There’s a lot of activity in different countries and a global recognition about RE’s current and future potential. 

Presentations from various experts made it clear that this potential is not being fully utilised though. We can double the realisation of RE globally by 2030, as pointed out by IRENA, but there is lack of will. Social gains from RE, like jobs and increased access to electricity, make the need to deploy it at scale an obvious approach. 

What was missing yesterday were the concrete actions and decisions that the UNFCCC can take to act on this this potential. Maybe this lack of discussion came down to a scheduling issue, but with limited time ahead Parties should always bear this question in mind. We await the support of UNFCCC-led action is needed to accelerate the deployment of RE if we’re to close the gap.

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The race to Lima is on

The sun is shining, the starting pistol has gone off, and the race for a draft negotiating text by Lima is on. As the Parties race towards the finish line, they’ll have to navigate the racecourse (otherwise known as the Convention) and the three key hurdles that they all face: contributions, contact groups and elements.

The Convention is a racecourse that needs careful navigation. There are a number of things that Parties will have to be aware of as they work towards Lima. For some Parties, following this course through until the end is key, whilst some others may want to avoid it all together. It looks like we all might need a little more training and preparation for Parties on this one. 

All Parties want the same thing on contributions — more progress on what the information requirements are. The EU’s set a good example by kick-starting their preparations already. They’ve still got a ways to go if they want to set a strong and steady pace. We’ll have to tune in to Tuesday’s workshop to hear more on how this is progressing.

Contact groups have the support of many in the crowd but, the call for formal negotiations is being met with caution. Are the runners ready for this yet? 

And last but not least, there are the elements of the 2015 agreement. A mega hurdle and there’s lots to contend with – mitigation, adaptation, finance, technology, capacity building, means of implementation and transparency of support. 

But with a deep breath, remember that “open-ended” consultations are not “endless”! And the race continues...

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