Equity: Building With Brazil

No one will be surprised to hear that the Brazilian Proposal – which is to say Brazil’s move to reintroduce its classic 1997 analysis of historical responsibility – has been a bit controversial. But as a proposal to kick off a formal work program on Equity Indicators, Brazil’s move should be welcomed.

Historical Responsibility, after all, is a keystone Equity Indicator. In fact, it is one of five – Ambition, Responsibility, Capability, Development Need and Adaptation Need. Any serious attempt to operationalize equity must take them all into due and proper consideration.

Not that this will be easy. While it’s clear that there can be no acceptable road to climate stabilization that doesn't take into account both responsibility and capacity, and both development and adaptation needs, it’s equally clear that there’s no precise agreement on the meaning of these terms.

Reasonable people can disagree about the proper definitions of responsibility and capability, and the relationship between the two. Which is exactly why we need an expert process to study the proper formulation of equity indicators, and why that debate must be mainstreamed into the ADP.

We’re long past the point where historical responsibility, taken alone, can usefully stand for the overarching problem of climate equity. And this is why Brazil’s reintroduction of its old proposal – though helpful – is also a bit limited.

The real challenge before us is to find a new approach to equity, one that’s actually robust enough to be helpful when evaluating pledges. And this requires an entire set of core equity indicators, not just historical responsibility.

And there is really no choice but to take this challenge head on. We finally have reached an important moment: all agree that equity cannot be ignored. Ambition cannot be achieved without equity, and equity is beyond our grasp without ambition.

The way forward must include an open exchange on equity indicators, one that clarifies the trade-offs, builds consensus and prepares the ground upon which Parties will soon make pledges of action that are both strong and fair.

So we welcome Brazil’s proposal on historical responsibility. Responsibility alone is not a sufficient basis for meaningful equity review, but Brazil’s proposal provides a well-considered starting point and responsibility is a necessary pillar of any such review.

The challenge now is to build upon Brazil’s proposal, expand it into a larger process designed to clarify the core, measurable characteristics of pledges, assessing the extent to which they are fair enough to pass muster in the challenging years ahead.

 

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Brazil Goes in Reverse

There was rather astonishing news from Brazil this week. A report by the National Institute for Spatial Research (Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas Espaciais - INPE) reveals that deforestation in the Amazon region has increased by 28% from August 2012 to July 2013. This is the third largest rate of deforestation ever registered.

The real number is surely larger if you take into consideration cloud cover -- and that the bad guys on the ground are getting smarter and cutting the forest in a greater number of ever smaller areas.
Although the Minister for the Environment is trying to put the blame on the States that make up the Amazon region, we are hearing that it’s really the Federal government that  bears the major responsibility.

For years, Brazil has showcased deforestation in these meetings as the main component of its voluntary mitigation commitment/promise. But the new forest law the government pushed through Congress last year included major concessions to the agro-business lobby.

And to be clear, no other sector of the Brazilian economy has contributed to emissions reductions – ever. So greenhouse emissions are on the rise everywhere. The momentum from the very substantial reductions of forest emissions in recent years is being reversed by Brazil’s accelerated economic growth plan and the return of increased deforestation.

Although the Environment Minister emphatically denies that the government has reduced the budget to combat deforestation, the former President of INPE resigned last year out of frustration with the lack of resources and ever-increasing restrictions on investments. Monitoring of the Amazon region will continue, he said, but it will not improve: “The system is full of holes.”

The head of the Brazilian delegation made two important points in a press briefing the other day. First, he said that Brazil would honor its commitment to reduce deforestation because that commitment has now become law. Second, Brazil insists that those developed countries historically responsible for creating the climate problem must take the lead.

So considering all this, here are some questions for Brazil:
• If reduced emissions from deforestation is now a law, who is to be accountable?
• What does Brazil intend to do to reverse this dangerous trend?• Given these developments, what leverage does Brazil have to bargain for more ambition in reducing the mitigation gap in the 2015 agreement and post 2020 implementation?

The world needs Brazil to be a protagonist in the battle against Climate Change.

But it seems that Brazil is stepping back further and further from the front lines and into the muddy post-logging trenches.

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Looking for Ambition in Warsaw and Beyond? Tune In to Equity

 

ECO is very pleased to note that the volume on CAN’s proposal for the Equity Reference Framework has been turned up at the Bonn session. ECO now asks Parties that they go back home and add it to their favourite playlists to keep them inspired between now and September, when they will turn in submissions on what architecture they foresee for a successful outcome in Paris.

Through this session and at the ADP2 (April/May), Parties have made it clear that the “principles of the Convention will apply and need no reinterpretation in the 2015 agreement.” We are (doubly) delighted that Parties have identified this as common ground. Having said that, there is work to be done to ensure that these principles don’t just remain principles in the Convention and that they get translated into actions and commitments on the ground.

But we have less than a thousand days left between now and Paris. Keeping this in mind and reminding ourselves that there can be no ambition without equity, ECO had proposed a practical process to ensure that Parties have a clear understanding not just of how their commitments will together enable us to stay within a 2 degree C world, but also of how their fair shares can be formulated. This would mean that Parties develop a shared Equity Reference Framework that embodies the Convention’s core equity principles. As you might already know, ECO identified these to be: a precautionary approach to adequacy, CBDRRC and the right to sustainable development. Along with the latest science, these core principles, reflected in an agreed list of indicators, and including of course the call for developed countries to take the lead in climate mitigation, can be used as a benchmark when framing, setting and reviewing Parties’ mitigation and financial commitments.

ECO is excited about the level of response that this proposal has received, both through some Parties’ call for an Equity Reference Framework at the ADP plenary and the excellent turnout at the CAN side event. South Africa, Kenya, The Gambia on behalf of the LDCs – ECO warmly welcomes your constructive interventions on this matter. A special thanks to South Africa for a strong reminder to Parties during the closing plenary of the ADP for the need for a clear set of rules for fair and equitable effort sharing that would lead to equitable access to sustainable development. Brazil, Norway and EU – ECO welcomes your openness and interest and looks forward to more from you. ECO now encourages all parties, in their submissions to the ADP co-chairs ahead of Warsaw, to outline what criteria and indicators they think capture the equity principles as identified above. This would lead us to a Party led process with extensive expert input designed to get us to a workable framework for assessing both mitigation and finance commitments.

While we would have loved to have another meeting for Parties before Warsaw, this is not to be. However, we are excited to know our friends from the Nordic Council will be organising an entire meeting exclusively focused on the question of equity. We would love for this to be an open and inclusive meeting that takes on board experts and other stakeholders, so it can feed into Warsaw in a substantial manner. ECO thinks this exemplifies good leadership and welcomes and encourages more of such spaces and platforms for tuning into and turning up the volume on equity.

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New text is a green light for fossil fuels

So the Brazilians pulled together a draft and shared it with at least some of the world on Saturday night (some delegates had not even received it on the Sunday). Like everyone else, ECO was scrambling to see what was in it, specifically for energy and climate.

Oh the irony of climate and energy

As expected, there was good and bad, but unexpected was the irony: the new text was strong on climate, reaffirming the principles of equity and common but differentiated responsibility and respective capabilities. There was a temperature target (2 or 1.5), and a nod, i.e. ‘recognise the importance of’ mobilising funds and transferring technology, as well as urging parties to honour their Kyoto commitments (hint hint, Canada et al).

And yet what’s driving climate change, what’s responsible for two thirds of all emissions, what’s destroying local communities and their environments – we’re talking about our addiction to dirty fossil fuels for energy – has been completely watered down.  In fact, the energy paragraphs positively promote fossil fuels. It makes achieving the climate paragraph a near impossibility.

Actively endorsing fossil fuels

Thanks to Canada, Russia and others, where we talk of ‘an increased use of renewable energy sources’, the text also adds ‘and other low-emission technologies’, and even goes further, explicitly including ‘cleaner fossil fuel technologies’. There’s a recognition that renewable technology and energy efficiency are necessary for sustainable development, but there’s no means of achieving it: all mentions of technology transfer and finance have been removed, with finance only be mentioned for energy access. While this is of course incredibly important for sustainable development – and great that it gets its own paragraph in the text, if a little weak on access for who – but it’s not the whole picture. If we’re expecting countries to leap frog our own dirty development pathways, rich, industrialised countries need to provide the adequate and appropriate technology and finance in line with commitments that have been in place for the past 20 years.

Sustainable Energy for All

Ban Ki-moon’s ‘Sustainable Energy for All’ (SE4All) initiative, which isn’t part of the official process but was ‘welcomed’ in the zero draft, has now only been noted after a united position from G77+China. While it’s addressing the right challenges – climate change and poverty – a statement signed by over 100 civil society organisations from across the world shows how much work is needed. As it stands its unambitious targets are inadequate to meet the climate crisis, while civil society and the energy poor – those it should be helping – have been left outside a process dominated by corporate fossil fuel, finance and utility interests. Not being in the text will not mean the end of the initiative, as the Secretary General’s office have been predicting this for a while, so the challenge now is ensuring that after Rio, the initiative launches a people-driven process to see how we can genuinely deliver sustainable energy for all.

Fossil fuel subsidies

One way we can start is by ending government hand-outs to the fossil fuel industries, but they’ve been dealt a heavy blow in the latest text. Rather than honouring commitments made back in 2009, the text ‘recognises the need for further action’ – collective amnesia? Like all issues, there are nuances, so the first step is addressing subsidies given directly to dirty energy companies, but pushing them out of the text is another step backwards. Today over a million signatures are being handed to world leaders, all calling on governments to stop handing our money to dirty industry, because Rio is a real chance to make some progress. We need to make sure that happens.

The Future We Don’t Want

This text is not going to deliver a sustainable future, driven by clean, safe and affordable energy, but it reflects what’s round the table: no political commitment from those that can make it happen. We need to challenge fossil fuel interest

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Brazil Takes 1st Place; Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, EU, Canada US, & More 2nd

It was a full day for fossils Sunday at the Rio+20 negotiations. Brazil earned the First Place Fossil for a frightening new draft text. Saudi Arabia and Venezuela took Second Place for trying to save fossil fuel subsidies. The European Union, United States, and other developed countries earned another Second Place Fossil for bringing empty pockets to plans in need of financing. The Fossils as presented read:

“Brazil earns the First place Fossil. Yesterday Brazil took over as host country of the negotiations for the Rio+20 summit and presented its new draft of the negotiating text. With great power comes great responsibility. The world is watching how Brazil performs in its task of steering negotiators towards agreement on ambitious, concrete outcomes. Outcomes that will get the world on the path to sustainable development and ensuring all members of this and future generations access to quality food, clean water and renewable energy, as well as a healthy, liveable planet, a stable climate and a vibrant prosperous economy. The outcome also need to find new sources of financing and ways to mobilize the technologies to achieve these goals.
 
Unfortunately the text yesterday shows no signs of movement in this direction. It appears that Brazil is missing the chance be a force for raising ambition and living up to the hopes and trust that the world has placed on its shoulders, and will be content with using its growing political clout and indisputable diplomatic capacities only to find clever compromises and get agreement on a watered-down document devoid of clear commitments and actions. Furthermore it seems that the Brazilian government are more focused on closing text, even though it is slashing the ambition, rather than ensuring the outcome we need. Of course Brazil can’t single-handedly turn this process around, and it needs bold and ambition proposals from other countries and a willingness from all countries to get this process on track to creating the world we really do want.”
 
“The United States, European Union, Canada, and other developed countries earned the Second Place Fossil. US, Canada, EU and other developed countries, turned up in Rio with not a Euro cent or Dime, and now that we see all references to finance and technology commitments deleted from the Rio negotiating text it’s clear that developed countries are intending to run away from the Rio principles signed 20 years
ago, especially Common But Differentiated Responsibility. Rich, industrialised countries need to step up and provide the predictable and adequate support that allows developing countries to pursue truly sustainable development.”
 
“Saudi Arabia and Venezuela also earn a Second Place Fossil. During closed door negotiations Saudi Arabia and Venezuela have consistently blocked progress on ending fossil fuel subsidies. Despite an honest effort by Brazil to bridge the divide, these two countries remain the biggest obstacle to stopping our governments handing taxpayers' money directly to the dirty energy industries. Why aren't these billions being spent on access to clean energy for the billions without? The oil industry' slippery tentacles are strangling sustainable development and driving us closer towards a climate catastrophe, with our governments in on the act. By refusing to end these dirty handouts, we give Saudi Arabia and Venezuela the second place fossil, hopefully we won’t see them on the podium again.”

 

Brazil Takes 1st Place; Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, EU, Canada US, & More 2nd

 

It was a full day for fossils Sunday at the Rio+20 negotiations. Brazil earned the First Place Fossil for a frightening new draft text. Saudi Arabia and Venezuela took Second Place for trying to save fossil fuel subsidies. The European Union, United States, and other developed countries earned another Second Place Fossil for bringing empty pockets to plans in need of financing. The Fossils as presented read:
 
“Brazil earns the First place Fossil. Yesterday Brazil took over as host country of the negotiations for the Rio+20 summit and presented its new draft of the negotiating text. With great power comes great responsibility. The world is watching how Brazil performs in its task of steering negotiators towards agreement on ambitious, concrete outcomes. Outcomes that will get the world on the path to sustainable development and ensuring all members of this and future generations access to quality food, clean water and renewable energy, as well as a healthy, liveable planet, a stable climate and a vibrant prosperous economy. The outcome also need to find new sources of financing and ways to mobilize the technologies to achieve these goals.
 
Unfortunately the text yesterday shows no signs of movement in this direction. It appears that Brazil is missing the chance be a force for raising ambition and living up to the hopes and trust that the world has placed on its shoulders, and will be content with using its growing political clout and indisputable diplomatic capacities only to find clever compromises and get agreement on a watered-down document devoid of clear commitments and actions. Furthermore it seems that the Brazilian government are more focused on closing text, even though it is slashing the ambition, rather than ensuring the outcome we need. Of course Brazil can’t single-handedly turn this process around, and it needs bold and ambition proposals from other countries and a willingness from all countries to get this process on track to creating the world we really do want.”
 
“The United States, European Union, Canada, and other developed countries earned the Second Place Fossil. US, Canada, EU and other developed countries, turned up in Rio with not a Euro cent or Dime, and now that we see all references to finance and technology commitments deleted from the Rio negotiating text it’s clear that developed countries are intending to run away from the Rio principles signed 20 years
ago, especially Common But Differentiated Responsibility. Rich, industrialised countries need to step up and provide the predictable and adequate support that allows developing countries to pursue truly sustainable development.”
 
“Saudi Arabia and Venezuela also earn a Second Place Fossil. During closed door negotiations Saudi Arabia and Venezuela have consistently blocked progress on ending fossil fuel subsidies. Despite an honest effort by Brazil to bridge the divide, these two countries remain the biggest obstacle to stopping our governments handing taxpayers' money directly to the dirty energy industries. Why aren't these billions being spent on access to clean energy for the billions without? The oil industry' slippery tentacles are strangling sustainable development and driving us closer towards a climate catastrophe, with our governments in on the act. By refusing to end these dirty handouts, we give Saudi Arabia and Venezuela the second place fossil, hopefully we won’t see them on the podium again.”
 
 

Make the CALL...

On the eve of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), a barbarian horde of chain saws is marching on the Brazilian forest. Commander and Chief, President Dilma, is the only one who can protect Brazil from this threat. The Brazilian Congress passed a bill which leaves the forest unprotected. According to highly conservative estimates from a governmental research institute, an area twice as large as Germany would fall to the chainsaws. If the bill is not vetoed, at least an additional 30 gigatonnes CO2 equivalent will be emitted through this deforestation. The proposed amendments would also provide broad amnesty for outlaws of the forest.

While President Dilma has stayed silent, more than 85% of the Brazilian public wants deforestation to stop no matter what, and massive demonstrations have been rocking all parts of the country. The message is clear: Brazilian society will not accept a chainsaw massacre in their forests. One of President Dilma´s election promises included a veto of any proposal which would give amnesty to forest crimes and/or lead to further deforestation. If she goes back on this promise now, she would also be rescinding on Brazil’s Copenhagen commitment to cut Business as Usual emissions by 2020 by up to 39%. Now is the time for her to act. Her own credibility, and the fate of the Brazilian forests and climate efforts, rests in her hands.

ECO urgently implores all Parties that truly wish to address climate change and deforestation to pick up the phone and give President Dilma a call to remind her of the promises she has made. A full veto would be the only way for her to keep her word. Make the call:                                         

+55 1161 3411 1200   or   +55  61 3411 1201

...For Dilma to Veto It ALL

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Brazilian Hot Air Samba Confuses Negotiators

It’s about as big as the combined yearly CO2 emissions from Europe and the US. Yes, we are talking about the gigantic, 10 gigatonne loophole that could undermine the whole purpose of a second Kyoto commitment period. ECO is clear, Parties must pop this “hot air” bubble this year, unless they have 10 gigatonnes of unannounced additional mitigation action up their sleeves.

Total A1 pledges until 2020 amount to only about 18 gigatonnes in cumulative pollution reductions. If all the hot air were used, these weak pledges would be cut in half. It is difficult to see how developed countries would then be able to convince developing countries to take on substantial reductions past 2020 if their own actions are so weak.

ECO is thrilled that the African Group and AOSIS have started to waltz and have tabled proposals on how to address the surplus AAUs.

ECO especially likes the AOSIS proposal. It makes use of the surplus dependent on a country’s level of ambition in CP2. If a country’s emission pledges are the same or higher than their 2008 emission, they will not be able to use any carry over. If their QELRO is below 2008 emissions and if they do not meet their pledge, they can use a small fraction of their surplus to help meet their pledge.

The African proposal is good but less stringent. It allows for countries to sell 2% of their surplus per year. In an 8-year commitment period this would mean potentially 16% of carry over being sold. In ECO’s rough calculation that’s more than 1 gigatonne. It is a start but still too high.  They get a thumbs up for including offsets from the CDM and JI in the limitation of the carry over. ECO also welcomes their suggestions that half of the revenue of the AAUs sold is used for mitigation action in the seller country and that the other half goes to the Adaptation Fund.

After consulting three Nobel Prize winners and a Fields Medal laureate, ECO still cannot figure out what the Brazilian proposal is all about. It seems to say that hot air due to the current economic crisis represents real emission reductions and should therefore be carried over fully. It also implies that the proceeds could go directly into the pockets of European companies and not be spent on adaptation.  Europe, with its apparent second term Polish EU presidency, is still practising its noble silence.

ECO commends the countries that have shown leadership on this issue! ECO calls on the G77 to develop a technically and environmentally sound proposal this week. This is the year the AAU surplus issue has to be resolved once and for all. Otherwise, we will not be able to start with CP2 in January 2013.

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Brazil Takes 1st, New Zealand Earns 2nd, Canada Comes in 3rd


Durban, South Africa – Brazil earned its first (and First Place) Fossil in Durban for suggesting that its potential forest law would actually help it reduce greenhouse gas pollution. New Zealand, similarly, took its first, and Second Place, Fossil for overly acrobatic flexible mechanisms to help them earn emissions reduction credits. Canada, no stranger to the stage in Durban, stood at Third Place, for celebrating its earlier fossils and suggesting that the massive body of climate science and policy they were based on were biased. The Fossils as presented read:

The 'informed' and 'survival-driven' award Canada with a 3rd place Fossil of the Day.
Canada’s Environment Minister, Peter Kent, stated yesterday that the fossils awarded to Canada this week came from the 'uninformed' and the 'ideologically driven'.

Yet, from the perspective of people on the frontlines of global climate change, it would seem that Kent is one of the most 'uninformed' Environment Ministers in the world. Rather than acknowledge its historical responsibility for climate change and work with other nations towards finding solutions, Canada seems to be ideologically driven to put polluters before people and profit before a healthy planet.

When Canada’s fossils were announced in the House of Commons, a round of applause broke out. Is the Canadian government laughing about death, starvation, and displacement?
If Peter Kent were in Durban right now, he would know that no one is laughing here. In fact, other countries are condemning Canada for negotiating in bad faith. Canada is leaving the world no choice but to leave them behind here in Durban.”

The 2nd place Fossil goes to New Zealand for proposing the most Flexible Mechanism imaginable with no oversight or review. Bring on the wild west. They want to be able to use any market mechanisms they wish with absolutely no oversight or international review! There would be no way to ensure that the units from one mechanism have not been sold two or three times to another such mechanism. This would likely unleash a wild west carbon market with double or triple counting of offsets and a likely increase of greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere.”

Brazil earns the 1st place Fossil. As the world watches stunned by the lack of urgency in the negotiations in Durban on the search for a global solution to a global threat, some countries are capable of a level of cynicism and disregard for the consequences of their actions which leave us bewildered.

This time it is Brazil. Yes, Brazil the same country that hosted the Earth Summit in 1992 that gave rise to the Climate Convention and later to the Kyoto Protocol.

The same country that will host the Rio+20 meeting next year. To what end we ask?

If the new Brazilian forest law, now going through congress, is approved as is, it will be a disaster for the Brazilian forests, for the climate, for the indigenous people in the amazon and elsewhere, for the preservation of biodiversity and priceless environmental services.

What is Brazil asking for here, if back home the new law creates the opportunities for an increase in greenhouse gas emissions many times Brazil´s total emissions today.

Actually, the negative the impact of the new law has already began and the law has not even gotten the final vote in the house and the senate.

When the Ministry of Environment announced this week that the new law will help Brazil meet the greenhouse gas emissions reduction goal, CAN sees no other alternative other than to present Brazil with our most notorious award – the Fossil of the Day.

Apparently the Minister of Environment has 'delayed' her trip to Durban because of the negotiations of the forest law in the congress. We heartily welcome the Minister to come to Durban, receive this award and to explain to the world how cutting down trees reduces emissions of greenhouse gases.”
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About CAN: The Climate Action Network is a worldwide network of roughly 500 Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) working to promote government and individual action to limit human-induced climate change to ecologically sustainable levels. www.climatenetwork.org
About the fossils: The Fossil of the Day awards were first presented at the climate talks in 1999  in Bonn, initiated by the German NGO Forum. During United Nations climate change negotiations (www.unfccc.int), members of the Climate Action Network (CAN), vote for countries judged to have done their 'best' to block progress in the negotiations in the last days of talks.

 

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