Tag: Mitigation

Staying Below 1.5oC Is Not Just About Science. It Is a Moral Imperative.

 

All countries questioning the urgent need to include a long-term goal to keep temperatures below 1.5°C should check their conscience.

For countries that have suffered the wrath of climate-related extreme events due to the current 1°C temperature increase, any attempt to negotiate a further increase in temperature is a violation of the right to life of many human beings and threatens the existence of ecosystems and species. Countries that have already been impacted by the hazards of climate change often do not have the time to adapt. They are therefore are at risk of loss and damage. Their realities must be reflected in the Paris Agreement.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations, in recognition of the risks faced by its member countries, is calling for accelerated investments in disaster risk reduction and adaptation. Support for inclusive resilience and risk management needs to be scaled up. It also needs to be sensitive to gender, culture and the needs of the most vulnerable. This is what ECO calls for in the decisions on loss and damage and adaptation for COP21.

Changes in the global climate system have already triggered enormous hazards. These have cost thousands of lives and put significant assets at risk in the most vulnerable countries. The scientific community responded to the calls of civil society organisations and the vulnerable countries, particularly the Climate Vulnerable Forum, by assessing the feasibility of keeping the temperature rise below 1.5°C through mitigation. ECO says that to hold your head high at COP21, you need a clear conscience. We will be watching for bowed heads in Le Bourget.

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Game Over For Hot Air?

ECO understands that several Parties are trying to get the high score for the new video game CAPMAN–our cute climate superhero fighting against Hot Air villains. Today’s winners are five EU countries (Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden and the United Kingdom) that decided to remove hot air by cancelling 634.9 million surplus units (AAUs) from the Kyoto Protocol’s first commitment period. They also promised to cancel significant additional amounts from the period up to 2020. These units result from the countries overachieving their Kyoto targets. Cancelling them is a welcome contribution to pre-2020 ambition.

The Kyoto Protocol is suffering from an 11 gigatonne hot air loophole. Under the current rules, the surplus AAUs cannot be used after 2020. However, there is still a risk that the use of other out-of-date carbon units, such as carbon offsets, dilute post-2020 mitigation efforts if Parties would allow them to be carried over.

ECO hopes that, in the race of who takes the most carbon out of the game, today’s initiative will be extended to all surplus units that could harm post-2020 climate commitments. The Paris agreement should incentivise climate actions that are new, additional and not recycled from the past.

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Lame Danes Win Fossil for Undermining Ambition

Oh, Denmark! In a not too distant past, Denmark was an inspiration to many–setting ambitious targets and rolling out renewables such as wind energy. But today we are not talking about great Danes, we are talking about lame Danes. That’s because today the Danish government is aiming to cut climate targets and shrink climate finance contributions.
The new minority Liberal government of Denmark came into power in July and clearly thought there was too much climate leadership going on. So they decided to dial it down—waaaaaay down.
As negotiators in Paris worked to deliver a durable and ambitious climate regime, Danish Minister Lars Christian Lilleholt declared his preference to scrap Denmark’s  ambitious carbon reduction target of 40% by 2020. This signalled his government’s intent to put the handbrake on Denmark’s ambition, evan as other countries around the world take the opposite approach and gear up to accelerate the transition to a renewable energy future.
While looking to cut their own ambition, the Danish government seemed to want to restrict the ambition of developing countries as well. The new government has a steady stranglehold on climate finance—squeezing the budget from an initial 500 million Danish Krone, which is around 72 million US dollars, to only a projected 39 million US dollars next year. Skammeligt!
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Cycling Together

ECO has no doubt that parties came to Paris with the best of intentions, and are keen to make sure we stay below 2°C. The party spoiler is that we’ve been warned that we are on a more-than-3°C track. And ECO knows that even 2°C is too much. How can we increase the stakes to avoid settling for a 3°C world? ECO believes that many Parties, especially developing countries, can and are willing to go further than their current INDCs. But many will need extra support to do that.

The facilitative dialogue described in Paragraph 20 of the COP Decision Text is a great place to start influencing current INDCs before 2020.

After developed countries increase their pre-2020 ambition, wouldn’t it be so much more interesting and effective if all countries come up with improved INDCs? Developed countries would lead the way with mitigation, and support developing countries by identifying additional conditional contributions they could make with such support. This would be the embryonic beginning of a 5-yearly process that links the gears of finance cycles closely to those of mitigation reviews. The finance cycles would set targets for support in 5-year intervals, while the mitigation review cycles would start with the revision of INDCs and need to happen as soon as possible before 2020. Mere ‘preparation’ of subsequent INDCs is not enough–the current initial commitments must be revised and resubmitted to put us onto a 2°C path and keep 1.5°C in reach.

If ECO had a magic wand, it would make the same cycle apply to the identification of adaptation finance needs and set 5-yearly targets to meet them. This ‘axle of ambition’ would connect cycles of mitigation and adaptation, accelerated by finance and linked to the adequacy of mitigation ambition. This process should continue through the Article 10 post-2020 global stocktake, starting in 2023 and repeating and scaling-up every 5 years until a robust long-term goal is met. This sturdy connection allows these wheels to move fast–we’re talking Tesla on the Autobahn.

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An EU of (WS)2 Minds

Did you know ECO can be in several rooms at the same time? Usually, ECO finds this quite helpful. Sometimes, though, it just leaves us thoroughly confused.

Take the case of the EU yesterday. In the contact group discussions, the EU stressed that Parties’ targets are not strong enough and ambition needs to be increased to respect the 2°C guardrail, suggesting textual changes accordingly. ECO could not agree more on this point. In a different room at exactly the same time, the CMP was meeting, and ECO heard other Parties stressing that targets are not strong enough and ambition needs to be increased to respect the 2°C guardrail. So Parties suggested a contact group to consider pre-2020 targets and guess what: the EU forcefully rejected this proposal, even though they supported increasing ambition just down the hall.

Can you please just make up your mind?

Now, the EU might be concerned that a CMP contact group would only look at commitments under the KP, meaning those of a limited number of developed countries and not all Parties. If that were the case, ECO would be even more confused. Why has ECO not heard any support from the EU for a process on accelerated implementation in the Workstream 2 negotiations, which would be exactly the forum to discuss this?

We all know emissions need to peak before 2020 to stay below 2°C, so ECO hopes it will hear the EU and other Parties who opposed the CMP group (looking at you, Norway and Australia) support this process in the Workstream 2 decision today.

 

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Where Is the Bridge Builder? 

 

Yesterday, the Climate Vulnerable Forum declaration sent a resounding call to make the 1.5°C target real. Today, we continue to focus on the reality of climate impacts. 

Developing countries are at risk of acute climate damage and enormous adaptation costs. The European Union has a major role to play in ensuring the Paris agreement is fair and strong on this crucial issue. The EU has traditionally been a bridge builder in the negotiations. The EU needs to put its engineering skills to work. The EU should work closely with CVF countries to build unity and improve climate ambition. 

That means ensuring the Paris outcome truly supports countries to be resilient to climate impacts. A long-term goal on adaptation and a commitment to setting 5-year quantified financial targets are core elements. Our global resilience depends on the long-term target we set, so decarbonisation by 2050, and rapidly increasing ambition until we get there, are essential. 

No one is immune to the impacts of climate change. EU citizens are already experiencing severe floods and heat waves. In the last 30 years, Europe has seen a 60% increase in extreme weather events. Even in the EU, the poorest suffer most. Global solidarity must start in Le Bourget–ECO is looking to the EU to bring us together.

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Truly Transformational: African Renewable Energy Initiative 

The Africa Renewable Energy Initiative (AREI) was launched yesterday, representing a breakthrough on renewable energy development. AREI could help Africa leapfrog into low-carbon development. As one African dignitary said at the launch: ‘Sunshine should do more than nourish our crops, it must power our homes.’
The goal of AREI is to build at least 100GW of new and additional renewable energy generation capacity by 2020, and 300GW by 2030. That’s double the entire current electricity generation in Africa, which is roughly 150GW!  
AREI shows what can be achieved when there is political will and collaboration among key stakeholders. The African Ministerial Conference on the Environment, the New Partnership for Africa’s Development, the African Group of Negotiators, the African Development Bank and  UNEP have all worked together to bring this initiative off the ground. ECO can only hope that this Africa-grown initiative will receive the financial and technical support it deserves from developed countries.
   
ECO remembers when the idea for a renewable energy initiative in Africa was first proposed in a Technical Experts Meeting. We hope that yesterday’s launch will inspire similar ambitious action in other countries and regions, as well as broad support for an action agenda in the ADP. AREI is a perfect example of what ECO loves: transformative initiatives that contribute to closing the emissions gap, while realising development co-benefits. Workstream 2 could help launch other such initiatives and match them with finance and other support to ensure that they can be scaled up, replicated and tracked. 
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