Greenpeace's Martin Kaiser on what the EU 2030 climate action targets mean for the UN climate talks as it moves towards a comprehensive international agreement to limit climate change.
The KP has its fans for good reasons, like legally binding commitments, its base year and common metrics, not to mention its compliance regime. ECO knows that the KP is not perfect, but it’s the best we’ve got, and it has to serve as the baseline for the new regime. And Ministers, ECO must be loud and clear – we must see more ambition.
The news that virtually none of our KP Ministerial friends will be joining us is highly distressing. The KP matters, both politically and practically. The Protocol is the mechanism that demonstrated and institutionalised political leadership from developed countries. The second commitment period and a commitment to increase ambition from ALL developed countries pre-2020 was a key part of the package in Durban that resulted in the launch of the ADP.
It’s not just ECO asking for more ambition. We think the Antarctic ice sheet melt might have been a sign that Ministers should do more, or perhaps that the cacophony of voices around the IPCC fifth assessment report analysis would have spurred them into action.
So where is developed country leadership right now? ECO reviews the state of play.
Those still making it legal….
EU, here we are again: "yes, but." Yes, Europe has made a real effort and arguably leads the world on climate action. It's on track to overshoot KP commitments and can boast during today's ministerial. But only a few key political supporters blocked tougher targets from becoming a reality. Those deeper 2020 cuts could surely (and still can) be met. And if they aren't, it sets Europe back for the post-2020 period by forcing lower ambition, while leaving excess credits in the system that will be held over to make compliance easier and ultimately undermining real decarbonisation.
Norway, with your wealth and high potential for renewables, you of all countries should be able to show that securing prosperity without destroying the climate is possible. But that means planning for life beyond oil and no longer wreaking havoc via your state-owned company Statoil pursuing ever dirtier and riskier oil in the Arctic and in the Canadian tar sands business. Drop your double-standard on climate action.
Australia, Tony Abbott's messed it up again. The latest rumour ECO has heard is that the G20 will exclude climate change from the agenda. Did Tony not notice the strong signals sent by two G20 members about cutting emissions and regulating coal? Ha! If anything should be excluded, it should be mining and burning more coal. But from a country that has a measly 5% reduction target for 2020, ECO is not surprised and might be laughing but for the impact of that dirty coal…
Those who jumped ship…
Japan, Canada, New Zealand and Russia: it’s the same old song, so we won’t sing it. But we all do know how it goes.
That one big country that never did join in the end….
USA gave a great big kick to coal at the beginning of this week. ECO supposes it’s better late than never, but there is still a lot of ground to make up and greater cuts to be made. So keep going and this time, be sure to bring it to the party!
Clearly the developed world still has a lot of work to do to fulfil its ‘leading’ role. A lack of ambition from developed countries could be the perfect excuse, were any country seeking one, for avoiding commitments or ambitious actions in the future. But ECO is confident that no country will stoop to such crass opportunism. All countries are now fully aware of the scale of the global effort required and the need for urgent, ambitious and equitable actions. In Mexico and Indonesia, more action is underway.
The game is on Minsters, there are less than 500 days left to get your act together. So step up and deliver.
Open letter from global civil society calls on German party leaders to harness Energiewende spirit
Warsaw, Tuesday November 19, 2013: Warsaw, Tuesday November 19, 2013: Civil society organisations gathered in Warsaw for the United Nations climate conference (COP19) today sent letters to German Chancellor and CDU party leader Angela Merkel, SPD party leader Sigmar Gabriel and CSU leader Horst Seehofer, who are in the middle of negotiations to form a coalition government for Germany.
85 groups and networks, representing citizens from around the world, are concerned that the coalition negotiations will result in weak climate targets. Given Germany’s key role in the EU, this would send a bad signal for the bloc’s impending decisions on 2030 climate and clean energy targets. European Heads of States are scheduled to address the issue in March 2013.
“As representatives of worldwide civil society, we are writing this letter from Warsaw today to urge you to show true leadership on climate policy”, said the letter, applauding Germany’s inspiring example of Energiewende.
Groups are urging the coalition negotiators to support European climate targets that would make a fair and adequate contribution to the global efforts of preventing catastrophic climate change, while putting the EU on track to become a climate friendly economy.
A domestic EU reduction in carbon pollution of at least 55% by 2030 below 1990 levels is needed. This must be combined with ambitious and binding renewable energy and energy consumption targets. The 40% target, which is currently being floated in the coalition talks, is completely inadequate, and could imply only 33% domestic cuts, due to all the extra emission allowances in the EU emission trading scheme. By comparison, the conservative-led UK government is advocating for a target of 50% by 2030. As for action on national level, the letter calls for a climate change act that uses binding climate and energy targets of the Energiewende as a framework for innovation.
Ten days ago, the Philippines was hit with one of the world’s worst typhoons in recorded history, killing thousands, injuring many thousands more and displacing 4 million people. It was a grim reminder of the “weather on steroids” that climate change is causing. And it’s not just the Philippines.
“The emission gap is growing and growing while people in Kenya suffer from drought-caused decreasing agricultural yields every year. Please don't wait any longer and agree to the emission cuts necessary”, says ACT Alliance spokesman Votumniko Chinoko, Kenya
“If there are no drastic emission cuts, climate consequences look devastating for Latin America,” says Ariel Chavez from Diaconia Bolivia.
“The people in Bangladesh are being forced to shoulder huge economic and social costs caused by climate change. To me it is an injustice when mitigation measures are continuously delayed and watered down”, says Mr Shamsuddoha from Center for Participatory Research and Development in Bangladesh.
“We need countries, which inspire the global transformation of our energy systems. Germany could and should do this. The world is watching you,” the letter concludes.
Please contact Ria Voorhaar, Climate Action Network International communications coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org, or +49 157 317 355 68 for more information or interviews with Climate Action Network – International director Wael Hmaidan.
For the full list of signatories, see the letter, attached.
Is history repeating itself, or is a strong commitment to gender equality really on the table? During yesterday’s open-ended consultations on SBI agenda 21 (Other matters), the EU introduced a draft decision promoting gender equality in the UN climate negotiation process. The draft text decision, Promoting gender equality by improving the participation of women in UNFCCC negotiations and in the representation of Parties in bodies established pursuant to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change or the Kyoto Protocol is in fact a re-affirmation and strengthening of a decision already taken more than a decade ago. During COP7 in Marrakech, the parties agreed to adopt Decision 36/CP.7, which recognized the importance of gender equality in climate decision making; urged the parties to nominate women to elected UNFCCC positions; and requested the Secretariat to keep information on the gender composition of UNFCCC bodies with elective posts.
The world is now watching whether the freshly re-elected Obama administration will take renewed interest in tackling climate change, and put some effort into bringing Congress along with him.
The First Place Fossil is awarded to Turkey. Although Turkey is the world's fourth largest investor in coal, recording the largest relative increase in annual GHG emissions between 1990–2010 with Ankara declaring 2012 the year of coal, Turkey is asking for more funds in the climate negotiations. This is even though Ankara did not post any QUELROs for the first commitment period. To make matters even more fossilised, Turkey has already declared they wont make a pledge for the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol. Although, they work almost invisibly during the negotiations, so as not to receive too much attention, it’s clearly their time to step onto the fossil stage! It’s your turn Turkey for a Fossil!
The second place Fossil of the Day goes to the EU for having already reached their pledged 2020 target of 20% but having so far failed to increase even though there is still almost 10 years to go. How outrageous! Is the EU really planning to go for the next 10 years without doing ANY further emissions reductions? EU you will need to quickly increase your target or the clouds will appear and it will start raining even more fossils on your negotiating table.
(1) According to the latest projections by the European Environmental Agency the EU’s domestic emissions were 17,5% below the 1990 level in 2011. Factoring in offsets surrendered into the EU ETS in 2011, we find that the EU27 has effectively beaten it’s -20% climate target for 2020 with nine years to spare!
The two panels on quantified economy-wide emission reduction targets by developed country Parties left ECO feeling that there was something missing since Bali - like four years perhaps? - or a bit of ambition?
Surely Parties can cite 1(b)(i) from the Bali Action Plan in their sleep (“comparable” – remember)? Yet, as St Lucia pointed out, we still have different base years and metrics. That’s not going to help spotting the loopholes and freeloaders - oh sorry...everyone’s acting in good faith so no need to worry about transparency.
All in all, there are some surprisingly unsophisticated approaches on the table from some rather sophisticated economies – putting forward point targets rather than carbon budgets. And yes, ECO’s talking about those north of Latin America. This includes no clear idea how international credits used by states and provinces are going to affect the national level. ECO was intrigued at issues for California being considered “within the noise” of measurement. Yes, who could possibly be concerned about accounting problems within an economy the size of Australia?
And talking of the latter – ECO believes the EU’s urgings were heard loud and clear. Australia and New Zealand, you’re wanted in the KP. As they say in those parts, “Come on Australia.”
All in all, some in the Umbrella group must have been wishing they had their brollies to hide behind. Can’t imagine how “banking and borrowing” can be used with inventories and point targets? Well no problem in adding a ban to the UNFCCC rule book then... And funny how those with issues with their emissions trajectories seem to be the keenest for flexibility and most concerned that harmonisation might prevent full participation. A tip to New Zealand – choirs and rugby sides seem to manage it.
So to clarify all that clarity, ECO supports South Africa's proposal for a common accounting workshop before Doha to assist the successful conclusion of 1(b)(i).
ECO was rather more encouraged to see some of the good progress on NAMAs presented by developing country panellists. And just a reminder to those who seem to have forgotten exactly what NAMA stands for – it’s Nationally Appropriate Mitigation ACTIONS. It’s apparent that here, too, provision of detailed information is important because it gives more clarity on what measures countries are undertaking. And this clarity will provide confidence and facilitate access to further support. On this note, ECO is having a bit of difficulty seeing the support – more of this in a minute.
Now, even with the focus on actions rather than outcomes, it is still vital that we are able to understand what emission reductions have been achieved below BAU. Not to hold developing countries to a particular goal, but to track emission reductions on a country level in the context of collective efforts.
Panel 2 on means of support seemed to have a great deal of agreement. Capacity building and, again, this cleverly invisible means of support for developing countries to be able to develop and design effective long-term NAMAs (aligned with low carbon development pathways) was emphasised time and time again.
Particularly notable was how this was coming almost equally from both sides of the 1(b)(ii) equation – from developing countries in order to be able to act, and from developed countries in order to ensure value for their hard-to-find money. Given this last factor, ECO is left absolutely baffled as to why many developed countries seem to believe they have a logical basis for their determination to block the capacity building negotiation in the LCA. (But hey, ECO has gotten used to being baffled by flights of logic from developed countries many times before.) And let’s face it – some of those non-KP developed countries seem to need a bit of capacity building to help them produce their QELROs.
"Saturday's 1st Place and only Fossil was awarded to the European Commission for attempting to show leadership in the wrong direction, away from the Durban decision to increase ambition - a decision which the EU actually claims to be champions of.
Keeping in mind that EU, if they implement the plans they already have on the table, will end up reducing around 24% of their 1990 emissions by 2020, it seems absurd that the European Commission suddenly argues that even an EU target of 25% is 'wishful thinking' and 'not reality'. Dear EU, 25% IS reality. Our wishful thinking is that you would get yourself together and increase you target to 40%, of which 30% should be domestic reductions."
And ECO wonders if the mere rumour that the EC had been awarded a fossil was behind the EU showing slightly better behaviour in the developed countries workshop. So maybe the fossil itself will have an even bigger impact - or is that more wishful thinking?
“We believe that the world has had a lot of time to think. What we need is not more thinking. What we need is more action”. Inspiring words indeed in Durban from the EU, LDCs and AOSIS (the artists formerly known as the Durban Alliance). In the whirlwind after COP17, Europe was at pains to stress the importance of its victory on the inclusion of language in the Durban Platform “noting with grave concern” the significant (understatement of the year) gap between aggregate mitigation pledges and pathways consistent with below 2 degrees C. This was the foundation of the alliance with the LDCs and AOSIS. Further, in Bonn, ECO witnessed an epic battle by these groups and others to include pre-2020 ambition on the agenda.
But what have we here in Bangkok? Has Europe’s jet lag gone to its head? It appears as though the EU has abandoned its most vulnerable country allies, and is instead cosying up with the notorious ship jumpers – the US, Japan, Russia and Canada – on the critical issue of raising developed country targets pre-2020. Indeed, in the KP discussion on numbers, one EU Commission official went as far as to say that raising the EU’s 2020 level of ambition to 25% “is not reality, it is wishful thinking”. Given its urgent call for much greater ambition, ECO calls on the EU to commit to at least 30% domestic emissions reductions, and 40% overall, below 1990 levels by 2020. In addition to where it comes down on its 2020 target, the EU’s decision on how to handle AAUs will very much affect the overall level of ambition, as will its provision, along with other Annex II countries', of finance in a post-FSF world.
But let’s be fair, the EU is by no means the worst culprit here in Bangkok. That dubious distinction goes to the United States, which, despite agreeing to the Durban Platform language on the urgent need to increase pre-2020 ambition, is now asserting that there should be no expectation of it or the other KP ship-jumpers increasing their pledges. Or – heaven forbid – turning them into QELROs. (Read on – ECO has more to say about the US later in this issue.) Instead, it’s all about everyone else. ECO would like to remind the US that all Parties “noted grave concerns” about the gigatonne gap, and notes the US would be first to say the ADP is “applicable to all Parties”. So yes, USA – this means you! And as for Japan, Canada and Russia, just because you’re cowering behind the US, doesn’t mean ECO will not name and shame you (and you too Australia and New Zealand, if you fail to sign up and ratify a second Kyoto commitment period).
Just last week the planet suffered another severe blow from lack of mitigation ambition. The Arctic – our planet’s canary in the coal mine on climate change – suffered record ice loss, according to scientific reports. Last week’s figure not only smashed all other records, but also came three weeks premature! The canary’s not dead yet, but it is gasping for breath.
And that means that the hundreds of millions of people here in Thailand and South East Asia, as well as around the globe, who are already suffering the impacts of the climate crisis, will suffer far more unless urgent action is taken. The earth is in grave danger. Developed countries must act now by committing to reduce their collective emissions by at least 40% below 1990 levels by 2020. ECO notes (wait for it...with grave concern) that their current pledges are woefully inadequate.
ECO agrees with Colombia, which in the ADP roundtable on ambition yesterday, noted that dealing with climate change is an urgent matter of global security. As Brazil further noted (so much noting!), many analysts think climate change is on par with global thermonuclear war as a threat that we have to do our utmost to avoid.