The irony is rich: interventions by two nongovernmental were mysteriously overlooked in the SBI yesterday. The topic? Public participation in the climate negotiations. Civil society participation plays a critical role in this process. We can't say it better than the Secretariat itself in its guidelines. Vibrant public participation "allows vital experience, expertise, information and perspectives from civil society to be brought into the process to generate new insights and approaches [and] promotes transparency." Importantly, effective public participation also helps ensure the legitimacy and public acceptance of negotiation outcomes. To be sure, the experience in Copenhagen – where the public was more engaged than ever before – has caused some Parties to forget that they agreed in the Convention to "encourage the widest participation in this process, including that of non-governmental organizations." Instead, civil society is being pushed to the margins, with opportunities to contribute increasingly limited to chance hallway encounters and loading up the tables near side events with food and drinks to entice elusive negotiators. Civil society is happy to promote conviviality and informal contact, but the negotiations require substantive and formal involvement as well. ECO suggests the UNFCCC and its parties embrace the growing popularity of the process and seek to use that as an opportunity to improve performance rather than shy away. And now is the time to start. A contact group is meeting today to discuss process issues related to intergovernmental meetings. This group must take up the question of public participation ensure meaningful participation throughout these processes. It should start by permitting designated NGO representatives to actively engage on the issue of participation in today's contact group, as well as in future formal and informal sessions on this issue. As the SBI and the Secretariat consider these issues, ECO urges them to ensure a few basic principles. Measures should always be aimed at ensuring the broadest participation possible in the given circumstance. At a minimum, this means preserving and enhancing opportunities for routine civil society input through official interventions, submissions and consultations. Relevant rules must be transparent and provide for independent review of particular decisions limiting participation. Access to information is the lifeblood of meaningful participation; all key documents should be posted on the Secretariat's website as soon as they are finalized. Indeed, the Secretariat should take the lead in ensuring meaningful public participation and so must have sufficient and increased resources to be able to do so effectively. Additionally, each host country government bears great responsibility as well. Host country agreements should be made public and incorporate an obligation to facilitate participation. As host of COP-16, Mexico must take proactive steps to guarantee effective civil society participation in Cancún. Ambassador de Alba's proven record as a strong defender of human rights gives ECO hope in this regard. Unfortunately, Cancún's geography creates a cause for concern. Direct access to negotiators is essential. Civil society should have broad access to the venues where formal negotiations are taking place except in extreme conditions. In addition, Mexico must guarantee that space for side events and other civil society activities is easily and quickly accessible to all participants. Civil society also serves as an extremely valuable technical and political resource for Parties, especially in developing countries. Parties should always be enabled and encouraged to take advantage of these resources however they choose, including by inviting them onto their delegations where appropriate. Finally, the SBI and the Secretariat should take advantage of an expert resource: the Secretariat of the Aarhus Convention has offered its assistance in resolving UNFCCC public participation concerns. Aarhus input would be valuable. Civil society is not here just to vent our frustration or make the negotiations more difficult. We have a right to participate and much to contribute. It is time for the Parties and the Secretariat to take heed, and then take action.
Tag: bangkok climate change
And now we’re all here again, what is it that needs to be accomplished?
Clearly, on the KP track lamentably little progress has bee made over the past four years. ECO suggests that the following issues must be agreed this year, as a priority:
- LULUCF accounting rules – Annex I countries must stop trying to hide emissions from forest management and commit to reduce them instead.
- CDM/JI/emissions trading modalities – These must be revamped to avoid double counting of mitigation and financial support obligations, and to keep inappropriate sectors, such as nuclear and CCS, out of the CDM.
- New sources and sectors and other accounting rules around them (the “other issues”) should include new gases to the extent that is technically possible, and use the new IPCC AR4 global warming potential (GWP) measures over the 100 year timescale.
- The commitment period length, base year and the other modalities that will define the calculation of the quantified emission reduction obligation (QERO) and assigned amount from country pledges (here's a free hint! correct answers for the first two are: 5 years, 1990).
When the KP was first negotiated, Parties agreed targets first, and the following years turned into excruciating negotiation exercises that ended up agreeing a series of loopholes. ECO has long maintained that the rules should be negotiated first, so that the science-indicated reduction target of at least 40% on 1990 levels by 2020 can be fairly shared between the Annex B Parties.
For this reason, negotiating time in Bonn and for the intersessionals should be concentrated on clearing these issues, so that the targets and then the discussion on QEROs can be resolved rationally and equitably, based on a clear and common understanding of the underlying scope and rules of accounting. In the short term, then, negotiating time should be concentrated on resolving the issues listed above.
In the LCA track, a balanced agreement is needed by Cancún, with each of the Bali Action Plan building blocks being addressed. In Copenhagen, the LCA negotiating texts on adaptation, technology and REDD+ were well advanced, and agreement should be possible on these issues this year. Additionally, finance, MRV and low carbon development plans should be among the agreements reached this year.
Most Parties seem to agree that progress can be made in Bonn on the design of an adaptation framework for implementation. However, developed countries should stop resisting a firm institutional link that ensures the provision of regular, reliable and truly additional grant-based finance needed to make this framework a real implementation action tool.
Bonn II could also achieve greater clarity on the enhancement, establishment, composition and role of regional centres and initiatives as well as the proposed establishment of an adaptation committee. Another issue that must advance is how to address unavoidable loss and damage from climate change impacts when adaptation is not longer a viable option, e.g., when water resources disappear due to shrinking glaciers and livelihoods become untenable. Progress in Bonn would be achieved if Parties clearly recognise the need for an international mechanism to address loss and damage, and identify key substantive issues to be addressed in subsequent sessions.
Technology negotiations have progressed enough that areas of clear convergence can be identified, especially regarding the establishment of a technology mechanism. More clarity is required to ensure that it operates within UNFCCC authority and principles. Other areas to be further clarified are the role of regional innovation centres, as well as criteria for MRV for technology support and actions that may take place outside the UNFCCC mechanism. Negotiators should be willing to show more flexibility regarding intellectual property issues, acknowledging the valid concerns of all parties, while focusing on a solution that will preserve incentives for innovation and ensure and expand production of, and access to, climate technologies for mitigation and adaptation.
While ECO understands and agrees that reliable and adequate long-term funding is essential, goals for REDD and the conservation and enhancement of carbon stocks remain essential. There should also be a finance goal for support, either a specific range – a number of studies have indicated that halving emissions by 2020 would cost $15-35 billion in 2020 – or simply an agreement to finance achievement of the carbon-related goals. It is crucial to move on this now given the speed of REDD negotiations and the launch of the REDD+ partnership for fast-start financing last week.
Successful mitigation outcomes from REDD+ activities by developing countries, supported by developed countries, depends on using improved methodological guidance for estimating emissions by sources and removals by sinks. SBSTA needs to progress this issue.
Climate integrity is not the only concern for REDD+ activities; safeguards not only need to be agreed, but the LCA text needs to operationalize them.
Climate finance can be a valuable opportunity to build some momentum in a process that needs a shot in the arm. Here in Bonn, parties should set ambitious goals for finance outcomes in Cancún, whether or not a comprehensive deal is agreed by then. To be more precise, by Cancún parties can finalize decisions covering finance MRV, governance and institution, and make substantial progress on operationalizing sources of finance to mobilize funding at the scale needed.
But it must be decided here in Bonn to achieve this by Cancún, and that means a negotiating text must be developed that will result in this outcome. ECO gives fair warning: for any parties thinking of blocking progress on finance because they didn’t get what they want in other areas, it's time to open eyes to the bright light of negotiating reality.
ECO recognizes the crucial role of gathering, in a consistent and comparable way, accurate information relating to emission reduction activities undertaken by Parties, as well as the support provided. Indeed, this is central to the integrity of the climate regime. Thus, it is vital to continue discussions on the nature of MRV, in particular its scope and architecture, that is tailored to Parties’ differentiated obligations. In so doing, Parties should agree a process at this meeting to elaborate the main issues associated with MRV. Additionally, Parties should give the Chair a mandate to develop text on MRV for this and future negotiations. Parties should also consider how to provide capacity building and support to construct and maintain domestic reporting and verification systems in non-Annex I countries.
Zero- and Low-Carbon Action Plans
As part of the essential process to build trust among Parties through transparency of action, ECO would like to highlight the need to agree by Cancún that both developed and developing countries (with optional participation by LDCs and SIDS) will produce national plans showing how developed countries can get their emissions to near-zero by 2050, and how developing countries can reduce their emissions -- with support from developed countries as defined and agreed previously, including the Convention and the Bali Action Plan -- in line with the required overall global carbon budget.
Time for action is so short, there is no time to lose, and actions are needed now in line with the scientific imperative. There is much that can progress at the multilateral level this year. In Bonn, Parties must build upon progress in the LCA and KP tracks to date and define the expectations for a balanced and ambitious outcome in Cancún.
Developed countries should produce Zero Carbon Action Plans (ZCAPs) to map out the institutions and policies needed for them to achieve their targets under a five-year commitment period, with the longer-term aim of near-total decarbonization by 2050. ZCAPs would also serve to document how each country proposes to achieve their support obligations to developing countries. Both parts of the ZCAP would be subject to MRV procedures to help ensure the environmental integrity of the deal and also to give all countries increased confidence that others will not free-ride. The long-term component allows countries to begin to develop a long-term vision for their economies and to plan for related socioeconomic transition. The reporting, review and compliance components of the ZCAP proposal are therefore essential to the integrity of the overall deal and giving confidence that targets will be met.
Developing countries, over the short to medium run and depending on capacity, will produce visionary low-carbon action plans (LCAPs) that provide a road map and outline a trajectory for their pathway to a low-carbon and climate-resilient economy, clearly linking development and climate goals to achieve sustainable development. These plans should be developed through a bottom-up, country-driven process and should build upon national plans for adaptation and mitigation, recognizing the linkages already in place in many countries between these issues. They should provide an integrated framework where a country's NAMAs can form a coherent package. These NAMAs would then form essential building blocks of a LCAP, and together their cumulative impact should result in the long-term objective of a low-carbon economy as well as stay within atmospheric limitations. Mitigation efforts together with adaptation all contribute towards the overall LCAP.
ZCAPs and LCAPs link to a number of existing agenda items. They are in the LCA text and are also relevant in the MRV discussions (MRV mitigation on non-Annex I, Annex I, the “firewall” between them, and MRV finance). Because ECO sees them as being related to national communications, but forward- rather than backward-looking, SBI agenda items 3 and 4 (national communications for developed and developing countries) are also relevant.
Look carefully around you: there is an elephant walking the hallways in Bangkok (it’s not the local type). It’s an intangible but very sizable beast: 7.5 to 10 Gt CO2e worth of surplus assigned amount units (AAUs).
It’s important to understand the scale of the AAU elephant - almost a third of current, best-case Annex I pledges. If this gets off the track, it threatens to undermine real emissions reductions and collapse the price of carbon when carried over from Kyoto’s first commitment period to a post-2012 regime. This represents a serious threat to the goal of limiting warming to as far below 2oC as possible.
The collapse of economies in transition during the 1990s produced real social and economic hardship. Yet emissions fell dramatically, delaying the reduction of carbon space in the atmosphere.
However, this was by no means the result of climate policy, and rewarding this phenomenon as “early action” contravenes the principle that only targeted, policy-driven changes in greenhouse gas emissions should be accounted for. In addition, to no one’s surprise, surplus AAUs are currently the “grubby outcasts” of the carbon market (even worse than HFCs).
It wasn’t the best idea in Kyoto for Parties to allocate the surplus, but they can join together to correct this error in Copenhagen.
If countries with surpluses want to trade, that needs to be part of a credible, environmentally sound solution.
For example, countries holding extra AAU amounts could agree to a stringent discount (e.g., 60%) of the surplus, if carried over, and the remaining Annex I countries could increase their pledges by another 5%, insuring that overall Annex I aggregate emissions stay more than 40% below 1990 levels in 2020. If countries can’t agree to this kind of solution, carry-over should be forbidden under the Copenhagen agreement.
The EU Commission took a strong position on the AAU surplus issue. Options they have been considering should be rolled into the kind of compromise described above. AAUs cannot be used for compliance in the EU post-2012 climate and energy package. Now the EU can set the tone internationally, reaching a solution to absorb its surplus out of the global compliance system before Copenhagen.
Russia and Ukraine have set 2020 targets, but according to IIASA, those levels could actually be achieved by business-as-usual emissions growth from current levels, while still generating hundreds of megatons of credits annually. Talk about a free elephant ride!
This could divert huge financing flows away from mitigation in developing countries.
Russia and Ukraine should set more ambitious targets, well below BAU, and address the current surplus. While their emissions collapse slowed the growth of GHG stocks, this would be reversed if the Kyoto surplus was used to achieve targets, and especially so if future weak targets generate yet more questionable credits. From ECO’s viewpoint, that would be about as absurd as watching a magician pull an elephant out of a hat.
As negotiators continue to wrangle over procedural issues in the adaptation contact group, Parties should be preparing for a possibly contentious debate on an issue that is nonetheless essential – the additionality of climate finance.
ECO has overheard very few developed countries in the corridors who are ready to provide climate finance in addition to their obligations to provide 0.7% of gross national income (GNI) for overseas development assistance (ODA). Most developed countries apparently hope to get away with cherry-picking their future aid budgets to meet the potential provisions of a Copenhagen agreement on financial support for adaptation (and mitigation as well) in developing countries.
There are some important reasons why climate finance needs to be additional – and that means not only additional to existing ODA flows, but additional to ODA targets.
First: Finance for adaptation is not aid but advance compensation for climate change impacts experienced by developing countries from emissions by developed countries.
Second: The pledge to deliver 0.7% of developed countries’ GNI as aid was made long ago – and long before the additional burden of climate change became apparent. To be sure, 0.7% is not exactly a huge amount of money if we are to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and the developed countries aren't on track for their ODA targets on the MDGs. Not even close, in fact.
Third: In a fair Copenhagen agreement, developed countries would have to provide public finance of at least $50 billion per year for adaptation (and $100 billion for mitigation and other needs). If just a portion of these totals were to be obtained by diverting money for climate change purposes from future aid budgets, this would come at the expense of already scarce resources needed for basic education, health care, sanitation, housing and poverty eradication.
The argument is often heard that adaptation interventions cannot be considered as separate from development. However, while it's true that adaptation efforts should be consistent with poverty reduction and development programs, adaptation funding must be additional.
An increasingly hostile climate makes development increasingly expensive. This necessitates new resources for agriculture, increases in social and private insurance, and investment in new buildings and infrastructure, to name only a few. These are the costs of adaptation, and they are by definition additional. Therefore, adaptation financing should also be truly additional, and not extracted from future aid budgets.
ECO will be listening closely when developed country colleagues speak on their plans to provide new and additional financial resources. If the LCA adaptation text in para 14(p) made the 0.7% target explicit, it would have it just right. So developing country delegates may wish to focus on this paragraph when working on the finance chapter of the LCA text.