As the SBSTA opens today, ECO would like to remind delegates of a crucial item on the agenda: the proposal for a technical review of the science relating to long-term temperature increases of more than 1.5° C above pre-industrial levels.
What’s this all about? It’s about clarifying what is really at stake here. It’s about urgently bringing in the latest science to inform the ongoing negotiations, and spelling out the choice that governments now face – a choice between raising ambition to a level high enough to avoid climate chaos, or accepting the devastating consequences of a failure to act in time and at scale.
This issue was first put on the agenda in Bonn in June. There, AOSIS – alarmed by recent reports suggesting that the future of their nations could be at risk even if global temperature rise is stabilized at 2° C – proposed that the Secretariat produce a summary of recent scientific studies.
During the negotiations in Bonn it was clarified that this task lies well within the mandate and capabilities of the Secretariat, and that this by no means would be duplicating the work of the IPCC. With these common understandings in place, the vast majority of governments supported the proposal from the small island states.
In the end, however, a few governments still resisted the idea of an overview of recent science. One even went so far as to suggest that vulnerable countries who wanted to know more about the impacts they are facing from climate change could just use Google.
Cancun must not be the COP where governments decide to stick their heads in the sand and ignore the latest science relating to the consequences of the path they are now taking.
Furthermore, governments must remember that while some countries are confronting imminent threats to their very existence, every last one faces severe climate risk. AOSIS and the rest of the world’s most vulnerable countries are standing at the front of the line, but the rest of the world is right behind.
Clarifying the scientific realities about climate change must not be an issue just for AOSIS to push. Dear governments – speak no evil – don’t block a technical review to clarify the impacts facing us all if we exceed a long-term temperature rise of 1.5° C. Sooner or later all countries are highly vulnerable, and we all have a right to know.
Many parties commented in the COP plenary about this year’s record temperatures and extreme weather events. This comes as ECO reflects on the Royal Society’s recent treatise on a rapidly warming +4 degree world . . . the kind of world resulting from a lack of ambition. The need for dramatic action on mitigation has never been so clear.
Which brings us to the LCA. ECO welcomes the work by the Chair this year. Her approach to helping parties reach consensus is to be commended. In a spirit of mutual support, we present the following recommendations on the Chair’s possible elements.
The Shared Vision must safeguard the planet for future generations. Limiting warming to 1.5° C is necessary to avoid severe impacts, such as a loss of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System, a small part of which is off the shores of Cancun, the second longest in the world and a locale for priceless biodiversity. Parties must aim for a 1.5° C temperature threshold, commit to a process that examines this objective, and agree a global peak in emissions no later than 2015. Mere preparation of a review in 2015, as currently proposed, would not be a call to action but a homily to squander a once-only opportunity.
The Finance section of the Chair’s note is useful in streamlining the text and identifying potential middle ground in some areas. It is also missing some crucial elements, such as a proper balance between mitigation and adaptation finance, participation of vulnerable populations, civil society and women. And yet it is a very promising basis to build on. With additional refinement, it can provide a way forward to a substantive decision on creation of a new fund under the COP, establishment of an effective oversight body, and a process to decide on sources of funding, including innovative sources of public finance.
The text on Technology unfortunately does not ensure that the technology mechanism will be under the authority of and accountable to the COP. This weakens the objectives of setting up the architecture of cooperation through the Technology Executive Committee and Technology Network Centres, as there is no rules-based multilateral mechanism proposed. It also allows an ad hoc set of arrangements to emerge that invites prominent roles for the World Bank and regional development banks. Just to be clear, they still fund fossil fuels over conservation, energy efficiency and renewables. Even US clean energy companies are sceptical of the role of the World Bank. They and others would benefit from institutional arrangements that are clearly under the COP’s guidance.
CRP.1 as drafted effectively sidetracks CAN’s proposed building blocks for Capacity Building. The text drops the proposed CB Technical Panel, which should be the front end of a design-and-build programme for new, real and integrated CB to start happening in real places, in real time, backed by real and new resources. Without the front end the entire pathway essentially vanishes. Additionally, the text drops a proposed legal lock creating an obligation on developed countries to adequately support new CB.
The establishment of a strong Adaptation Framework for Implementation is essential and within reach. While not perfect, the Chair’s text lays out steps for a post-NAPA process for developing country parties and for loss and damage. The text also demands a decision on an Adaptation Committee but remains weak on linking the provision of finance to adaptation actions, a necessary connection. ECO is most pleased that references to response measures have been removed from the text.
Ironically, while Mitigation is arguably the most important element of a climate agreement, progress has seemed beyond reach. While the Chair’s text delivers only a very general and concise outline of the expected outcome, agreement on specific elements of mitigation is an essential part of the outcome from Cancun. Elements could include the creation of a mitigation registry to track action and provide support, recognition of the Gigatonne Gap that exists between targets and the level of action required, a process for addressing the gap, and preparation of zero and low carbon action plans.
Given the complexity of issues related to Mechanisms (both market-based and non-market-based), the Chair’s suggestion to establish formal processes to examine them is sensible.
The principles laid out in the Annex V include some useful language such as ‘moving beyond offsets’ to ‘net decrease in global GHGs’ and ‘preventing double counting’ of emissions. However, Parties should bear in mind that there is no room – or indeed need – for offsets with the current inadequately low pledges by developed countries.
The MRV text remains a blank canvas. A mere 36 words are dedicated to an issue that has blocked progress in these negotiations. Robust MRV is crucial for environmental integrity, but it must be equitable. Critical issues such as common accounting standards for Annex 1 countries, modalities for MRV of support in national communications, and a differentiated approach for verification of voluntary/unsupported actions taken by developing countries must be tackled in these negotiations. Let’s not forget that transparency should apply to the MRV process as well, assuring public access and participation throughout, and developing countries must be supported in their efforts to build domestic MRV capacity.
Finally, the text is silent on the ultimate Legal Form of the LCA outcome. Parties are going to have to come to terms with this question soon, since it is inextricably tied to progressing a second commitment period under the KP. Moreover, the text is silent on what mandate the LCA will have going forward. A clear sense of how both the AWG-KP and AWG-LCA will proceed after Cancun is essential to ensure progress towards a Fair, Ambitious and Binding deal.
The analogy of Swiss cheese has been suggested in this regard. Dearest delegates, ECO urges you to plug the remaining holes in this text – the result of which could well be the politically balanced package you have been looking for.
La COP 16 en Cancún debe ser un paso significativo hacia un acuerdo justo, ambicioso y vinculante a ser alcanzado en la COP 17 en Sudáfrica. La COP 16 debe adoptar progresos en importantes áreas de política, establecer una visión clara para Sudáfrica y acordar un proceso para alcanzar un acuerdo justo, ambicioso y vinculante, incluyendo los puntos fundamentales señalados en los Los cimientos de Cancún
Cancun Building Blocks: Essential steps on the road to a fair, ambitious & binding deal outlines the balanced package of outcomes from Cancun, and the benchmark by which CAN’s 500 member organisations, and their millions of supporters, will judge the Cancun negotiations.
These building blocks were chosen not only because they provide a pathway for preventing catastrophic climate change but also because they pave a road which can be travelled, even taking into account political constraints.
Success in Cancun will require meaningful progress in each area, agreement to work toward a legally binding deal in both tracks, including an indication that the Kyoto Protocol will continue, work plans agreed on each key area, and a long term vision for future negotiations.
Cancun Building Blocks include:
- Agree a shared vision that keeps below 1.5o C warming, links it to the short and long term actions of Parties.
- Establish a new climate fund along with a governance structure that is transparent, regionally balanced and ensures the COP decides policies, programme priorities and eligibility criteria. Agree on a process to secure sufficient scale and sources of finance.
- Establish an adaptation framework along with its institutions, goals and principles and a mandate to agree a mechanism on loss and damage.
- Put in place a technology executive committee and provide a mandate to agree measurable objectives and plans.
- Agree to stop deforestation and degradation of natural forests and related emissions completely by 2020, and ensure sufficient finance to meet this goal.
- Implement the roll-out of a capacity building program.
- Acknowledge the gigatonne gap between current pledges and science-based targets, and ensure the gap will be closed in the process going forward.
- Agree a mandate to negotiate by COP17 individual emission reduction commitments for industrialised countries that match an aggregate reduction target of more than 40% below 1990 levels by 2020.
- Agree that each developed country will produce a Zero Carbon Action Plan by 2012.Minimise loopholes by adopting LULUCF rules that deliver emission reductions from the forestry and land use sectors; market mechanism rules that prevent double counting of emission reductions or finance; and banking rules that minimise damage from ‘hot air’ (surplus AAUs).
- Agree on producing climate-resilient Low Carbon Action Plans for developing countries, and establish a mechanism to match NAMAs with support. Mandate SBI and SBSTA to develop MRV guidelines for adoption in COP17.
- Commission at COP 16 a technical paper to explore the mitigation required to keep warming below 1.5°C, and outline a process to negotiate how that effort will be shared between countries.
- Agree a clear mandate that ensures that we get a full fair, ambitious and binding (FAB) deal at COP 17 in South Africa – one that includes the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol.
Tom Wang of Greenpeace China at the UNFCCC climate talks in Tianjin China
courtesy OneWorld TV