Tag: Copenhagen

EU leaders: The time is NOW!

ECO had expected more of the EU this week. Meeting in Brussels right in the middle of the two-week Copenhagen negotiations, leaders of the EU’s 27 member states had a golden opportunity to give a much-needed boost to the UN talks by upping their tabled 20% emission reduction targets for 2020 to 30%. This would have been an important step to move closer to the 40% emission cuts that developed countries need to make by 2020 to keep warming well below 2˚C. This is something the EU can readily achieve, bearing in mind that the original 20% target can already be met without any further domestic effort.

Sadly however, the EU chose to stick to its line that others must move before it raises its own target, once again undermining its self-proclaimed climate leadership. It also applied this defensive approach to the question of long term finance. It merely repeated the need for such money while remaining deafeningly silent on the question of how much the EU will actually contribute. Long term finance is what developing countries are eagerly waiting for in these talks and a serious EU offer could be a real game changer.

Of course, fast-start money is important too. So the EU’s announcement of €2.4 billion per year over the period of 2010-2012 would have been a positive first step, if it wasn’t for one fatal flaw. The fast-start pledge seems to consist mostly of a recycling of past commitments, including on ODA, that have been given a shiny new ‘climate’ branding. Very little new money has been put on the table. These negotiations must show that a clear shift has taken place. The usual recycling of past promises just won’t wash.

There was also a deafening silence by all the EU leaders on the burning issues of hot air and LULUCF. ECO has commented extensively on these loopholes in recent days. Are EU leaders really happy to live with the dishonesty and hypocrisy that these accounting tricks represent?

ECO did note with relief that the EU has officially called for a legally binding outcome by June 2010, which is already a big movement of the goalposts. However, its leaders must understand that for this to become a reality they need to exercise true leadership over the next week. This means making firm and bold moves on the EU’s reduction target and financial offers early – not just at the final hour.

UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown and President Nicolas Sarkozy of France are to be commended for their joint press statement yesterday that seemed to nudge the EU in this direction. Other states and Germany, in particular, need to understand that other countries will not be inspired by an EU that is holding out on moving forward. Only courageous action will draw out equally stringent responses from other Parties.

The formal conclusions of the EU leaders’ deliberations refer to the Copenhagen talks as “a historic opportunity for the international community to act together to respond to the challenge of climate.” ECO couldn’t agree more. This is why we urgently call on them to step up their offers on all fronts as soon as possible, and well before the end of next week.

Agree on finance from bunkers

ECO never tires of pointing out the obvious to delegates, but we promise we do it for your own benefit. So here we go again. What if you could find a way to control the fastest growing sources of emissions and generate billions of dollars of climate finance at the same time. You’d do it, wouldn’t you? ECO respectfully suggests you do just that for international aviation and shipping emissions, right here in Copenhagen.

Parties agree the emissions cannot be attributed to specific countries. The emissions are international, so the mitigation framework must be global. That’s okay, Article 4.1c of the Convention allows for this, but Article 4.3 lays down some conditions. To ensure the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities is respected, revenues created from bunker regulation — some estimates suggest US$25-37 billion per year — should be used to defray incremental costs and support climate action in developing countries.  Analysis shows that the impacts on trade would be minimal. Special exceptions can and should be made to exclude routes to and from the SIDS and LDCs, this is fully in the power of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and International Maritime Organization (IMO) to do.

A key priority in the next seven days is ensuring that developing countries receive new, additional and stable finance to support their efforts. As many delegates have put it, no money, no deal! Bunkers can help bridge that gap by creating complementary money in addition to assessed contributions by Annex I countries. What a great double dividend: we achieve climate benefits while generating new climate money (through a levy or the auctioning of emission permits).

Now, consider the alternative. You keep on arguing in circles. Nothing gets decided. And bunker emissions keep on rising, making 2˚C impossible, let alone 1.5˚C. A recent study estimates that they would take up 92% of global emissions in 2050 if the rest of the world reduces emissions by the 80% we need. Further, unilateral approaches are springing up. The EU has already moved to bring aviation into its emissions trading system, and is likely to do the same for shipping in the absence of global action. In the US, bunker fuels are covered in the draft Congressional Bill. Such regional measures still cover developing country operators when they visit these major trading blocs but the money generated will not flow to developing countries. It goes to Annex I governments!

This is a huge missed opportunity. Don’t let it happen. Agree on something good: targets for  the sectors, timelines for ICAO and IMO to deliver at COP 16, and the principle of a co-operative approach that generates revenue for developing countries.

Earn it in Copenhagen

Just a few days after US President Barack Obama accepted his Nobel Peace prize, a spectre hangs over the Copenhagen negotiations – the Kyoto Syndrome. This is based on the received wisdom that the Clinton Administration blew it by agreeing to Kyoto without building the foundation for the US Senate to ratify the Protocol. In fact, the real lesson from Kyoto is that the Senate needs to move, not that the President should back off.

The Kyoto Syndrome inhibits the US delegation from making agreements on critical issues for fear of “getting too far ahead of Congress.” But some of these issues – like targets and financing – could torpedo the negotiations.

President Obama has said that he will commit the US to the goal passed by the House – a reduction in emissions of only about 4% from 1990 levels by 2020. That is embarrassingly low compared with the conclusion of leading scientists that industrialised nations should reduce emissions by at least 40% below 1990 levels.

Given this week’s formal finding by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that greenhouse gases endanger public health and safety, President Obama has the authority to establish a goal more in line with climate science and provide new and additional financing for climate action in developing countries, and to make sure the goal is met. If Congress fails to deliver a cap on emissions, President Obama can instruct EPA to implement a strong cap on domestic action.

If the US limits its negotiating position in Copenhagen to Congress’ comfort zone, we’re in for a potentially deadly result. Yet, President Obama can come to Copenhagen next week with a bold commitment to cut the United States emissions. Yes, he can.

Focus on the most vulnerable

ECO wants an Adaptation action framework with scaled-up implementation, particularly through reliable developed countries support, coming out of Copenhagen. Priority must be given to the needs of communities in vulnerable developing countries. And the inclusion of their perspectives in the development and planning of adaptation policies. Agreeing on this focus here would send an important signal.

These thrusts will not contradict the principle of being country driven. For instance, the identification of vulnerable people would be made at the country-level. While adaptation finance is seen as a form of compensation for harm caused, its character is that of restitution finance. This means it is bound to a certain purpose, namely to fund adaptation. ECO is concerned that such language has disappeared in the most recent co-chairs’ adaptation paper.

Many have spoken out on this matter. African environment ministers in the “2009 Nairobi Declaration on the Africa Process for Combating Climate Change” stressed that “Africa’s priorities are to implement climate change programmes with a focus on adaptation […], with emphasis on the most vulnerable groups, especially women and children.”

Similarly, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Dominican Republic, Honduras and Panama demanded that the “poorest and most vulnerable populations such as women, children and indigenous peoples,” should be the first to benefit from adaptation funding.

Further, all Parties to the Kyoto Protocol in 2008 adopted as a strategic priority of the Adaptation Fund that “in developing projects and programmes developing countries shall give particular attention to the needs of the most vulnerable communities”.

ECO recommends that this language be brought back into the text to ensure that adaptation finance has a proper focus and is able to facilitate a larger flow of resources.


The highly-popular NGO party will be held tonight at Vega located at Enghavevej 40 in Copenhagen. Open to all COP participants, the party will commence from 20:00. Entrance is free and your conference badge is required. There is a compulsory 15 DKK cloakroom charge. So come and join us tonight.

We have done the math!

Upon arriving in Copenhagen, US Special Envoy on Climate Todd Stern said: “Emissions are emissions. You’ve just got to do the math. If you care about the science, and we do, there is no way to solve this problem by giving the major developing countries a pass.”

ECO does care about the science and we have done the math. Stern and other developed countries may be interested in the conclusions.

IPCC AR4 highlighted the need for 25-40% cuts on 1990 levels by 2020 for developed countries and substantial deviation from business-as-usual (BAU) for developing countries by 2020. Subsequent peer reviewed science identified this substantial deviation as being in the range of a 15-30% deviation from BAU (subsequently adopted as the de facto yardstick by EU and others). As the IPCC  has  also pointed out, these mitigation targets give the world a 50-50 chance of averting a rise above 2˚C. More importantly, the disparity between woeful developed country ambition and the levels of actions proposed by developing countries are fairly stark.

According to recent estimates of Project Catalyst, an initiative of Climate Works, it is developing countries that are within their proposed emissions reductions range, and towards the upper end of it.

Using the high range figures for proposed mitigation actions and plans, Project Catalyst estimates that every developing country stating a target fell within the 15-30% range. And two exceed it – Brazil with 39% deviation from BAU and Indonesia with 41%.

The Maldives and Costa Rica have proposed going carbon neutral by 2020, humbling even the most ambitious Annex I ambitions.

South Africa has just announced it will undertake mitigation actions which diminish emissions below baseline by around 34% by 2020 and by around 42% by 2025. Like other developing country pledges this will depend on international finance. This means South Africa’s emissions would peak between 2020 and 2025, plateau for around a decade and then decline in absolute terms.

South Korea has a target of 30% reductions from BAU, and has committed almost US$100 million in environmental industries as part of its economic recovery package.

Of course, ECO acknowledges that there are genuine challenges with defining BAU. China and India’s intensity targets also are more difficult to quantify because they also rely on accurate projections of economic growth. It is also crucial to note that from developed country finance is a fundamental prerequisite for many of these mitigation efforts by these countries which struggle with poverty and still need resources for human development.

But, returning to Stern’s comments, let us take a look at how developed countries’ pledges measure up to what the science requires. Recall that developed countries need to make cuts of up to 40% on 1990 levels by 2020. Even on the lesser goalpost of 25-40% ranges the figures are seriously underwhelming. Of course, there are some climate leaders – notably Norway and Scotland with targets of 40% or above.

Calculations carried out by Ecofys and Climate Analytics show that developed country emissions reductions as an aggregate are projected to be only 8-12% below 1990 levels by 2020 after accounting for forestry credits. Other calculations taking full account of the various loopholes available to developed countries arrive only at a dismal -2% to +4% change in emissions on 1990 levels.

And Project Catalyst’s analysis of key developed countries puts only the EU’s high-end pledge into the -25-40% range. Japan, the US, Russia and Australia all fall short, with Canada potentially heading for increased emissions. At the lower end of the pledges by countries analysed not a single one made the grade.

When you do the math, it seems that developed countries are the ones getting the free pass.

Adaptation Fund Board showcase

Today, the chair of the Adaptation Fund (AF) will explain the achievements of the Adaptation Fund Board this year in a side event. ECO urges all those who still perceive the AF as a politicised negotiating body and not as an existing institution caring for effective adaptation to attend the event and update your knowledge.

At Bali two years ago, three innovative characteristics were already agreed: automatic funding through a 2% levy on CDM projects, majority developing country representation on the Board, and the mandate to provide direct access to funds.

The Board has recently added two other innovative features: a strategic priority directing Parties to give special attention to the most vulnerable communities when submitting proposals, and transparency in decision making (including live webcast of all meetings and the future possibility for public comment on submitted proposals).

The Board will soon approve the first projects. But resource limitations at present continue to make it difficult to adequately respond to programme-based needs.

But given the Board’s important advances, ECO is concerned the AF is getting little notice in the post-2012 financial architecture negotiations. Yes, it is a Kyoto Protocol instrument, but the lessons learned for developing appropriate institutional architecture and delivering fast-track action can be applied everywhere.

What ECO finds particularly worthwhile is the convergence between features and functions of the AF and the various proposals put forward for a new financial mechanism. The joint proposal by the UK, Mexico, Norway and Australia calls for direct access where fiduciary standards allow it with certain safeguards. The US submission proposes to let projects and programmes be administered by domestic institutions, while also calling for strong fiduciary standards. This resembles the AF direct access approach, where National Implementing Entities can be accredited if they meet certain fiduciary standards and are the direct recipients of AF resources.

The proposals however vary on governance structure. But as the Board model shows, a slight majority does not permit developing countries to rule by fiat. In practice, the Board is achieving consensus based on in-depth discussions of complex matters.

Another key issue is the generation of resources. The AF can receive funds from multiple sources, whether from a Kyoto mechanism or not. For example, if Parties chose a levy (e.g., for aviation and maritime transport) or to provide mandatory contributions to address historical responsibility for climate change, the AF could receive the resources.

ECO suggests again that the AF be scaled up through substantial additional financial resources in conjunction with the second commitment period of Kyoto Protocol and a legally binding agreement under the Convention, possibly as an operating entity under a reformed financial mechanism. The AF can play a role in both, although this may require political decisions and legal adjustments. ECO strongly cautions against drying up the AF if the CDM generates too little resources or is phased out. There have already been too many casualties from climate change.


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