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:
Extra Extra! The US wins the first Fossil of the Day for 2011!
This fossil is formally presented for their complete refusal to accept the concept of a common/standardized accounting system for measuring national emissions reductions towards their target.
During Sunday’s workshop on national mitigation targets and strategies, the US made it exceptionally clear that they do not envision a common accounting framework. ECO noted the continual expressions of that view by the US, while noticing that the US seemed to be pretty alone in that view. The irony of that position became even more glaring as the US raised several questions in the developing country session regarding a common framework for developing business-as-usual scenarios for developing emissions. The irony wasn’t lost on ECO. One can only hope that the US will “review the tape” and remember that the US has always been a strong proponent of rigorous rules. Maybe a relaxing spa treatment in Bangkok will refresh their memory.
Angela Anderson - United States CAN at the UNFCCC Climate Talks in Tianjin China talking to OneClimate.net
FOSSIL OF THE DAY AWARDS
Bonn, Germany, June 5, 2010
The Climate Action Network (CAN), a coalition of over 500 NGOs worldwide, gives out 'Fossil of The Day' awards to the countries who perform the worst during the past day's negotiations at the UN climate change conference.
The awards given out on June 5, 2010 in Bonn, Germany were as follows:
The United States of America was awarded First Place. The U.S. earns the Fossil of the Day for blocking the common space discussion on mitigation in the Ad Hoc Working Group for Long-term Cooperative Action yesterday. Failing to pass a strong climate and energy bill is keeping them from participating in cross-cutting discussions, like the one AOSIS proposed, to build a post-2012 agreement to reduce global warming emissions.
As delegates return to the Maritim today for another round of climate talks, the Gulf Coast is busy coping with the biggest environmental catastrophe in the history of the United States. This catastrophe was caused by oil, which likewise is a leading cause of the climate catastrophe all at the Maritim are working so diligently to avoid. What started as an explosion in an offshore rig that killed 11 people, has now turned into over a month of oil gushing into a fragile yet highly productive marine environment housing important fisheries that employ and feed thousands of people, attract tourists to its beaches, serve as a spawning ground for the endangered Bluefin tuna, just to name one of hundreds of notable fish, birds and invertebrate species that have heretofore been mostly oil-free. Now, sadly, the spill is swirling around in one big oily mess. Only time, the Gulf currents and the unpredictable course of a very active tropical storm season will tell the final tale, but the financial impacts are already calculated in the billions, as well as uncountable losses to already overstressed ecosystems.
So ECO is left wondering at this point: will the US learn from this catastrophe and finally pass its climate bill to reduce emissions and provide finance for climate action? Will this be a wake up call for the US that helps realize the benefit of strengthening their 2020 target?
It has been nearly a year since the US House of Representatives passed its version of a climate-energy bill. And since that time, ECO has eagerly searched for signs that the US administration is making progress in prioritizing climate change on the Senate's agenda. Some were even naive enough to believe that a bill would be done in time for Copenhagen last year.
But as we all know, it wasn't. The Senate had other fish to fry and could not be bothered with climate change legislation. But now that seafood from the Gulf, which provides 30% of the national total, may be coming with more than enough oil to fry itself, will the picture change?
On one hand, the news is good: Americans are waking up to the costs of their dangerous addiction to dirty fuels and looking for a new way forward. The President is finally feeling the public pressure to pass a bill that will promote clean energy and reduce emissions.
But in other ways, the news does not look good. Some is primarily domestic in scope. The most recent version of the Senate bill allows revenue sharing of oil royalties with the states, which will increase pressure even more dangerous and expensive offshore drilling. ECO guesses that potential compromise will be less popular now.
But also very disturbingly, as we warned in April during the previous UNFCCC session, this version of the bill also strips most of the provisions for developing country climate finance that were in last year's House bill. Let us say that again: the recent version of the Senate bill has much less funding for developing countries to cope with climate change than even the modest contributions of the bill passed last year by the US House of Representatives. Adaptation funding is now only provided from 2019 to 2034, and is only allotted about $1 to $6 billion a year in total to be split between domestic US adaptation and the entire rest of the world. And there is no funding at all for REDD and clean technologies for mitigation.
It seems to ECO that if the President and his administration are truly concerned about global climate change, they will insist that the Senate bill include more substantial amounts of funding for adaptation and reinstate the funding for clean technology and REDD. If the adminstration does not support more funding in the bill, ECO is wondering how on earth they will meet their commitments to long-term finance? One billion dollars is a more than an order of magnitude off what President Obama was talking about in Copenhagen.
So, a message to the delegation to be forwarded to the US administration: where's the bill? Have you learned anything at all from this oil spill? And where is your plan for securing that finance you've been talking about? Can you in fact show us the money?
‘Fast-start finance’, ‘kick-start finance’, ‘short-term finance’ -- no matter the name, it must be a success if we are to rebuild trust on the broader climate agenda in the wake of Copenhagen, and lay the groundwork for the greatly expanded post-2012 climate finance regime. ECO noticed fresh new faces in the plenary yesterday, so it would do no harm to reiterate some elements that are critical to ensure that this fast-arriving period of ‘fast-start finance’ is legitimate and effective. Transparency and coordination to report on funds provided is essential to ensuring countries meet their pledges and that these funds are indeed new and additional. Along these lines, ECO was pleased to hear the EU pledge yesterday to ‘submit coordinated reports on implementation [of its €2.4 billion per year fast-start pledge] in Cancún and thereafter on an annual basis.” We call on other developed countries to make similar pledges, but we have some questions for the EU: will your fast start funding be additional to the 0.7% of GDP development assistance goal? And will it be new money? Failing to meet the $30 billion committed in Copenhagen over the next three years would clearly destroy any chance of meaningful progress in Cancun. But simply repackaging old aid money also wouldn’t send strong signals to the international community that developed countries are doing their part. Always wanting to be constructive, ECO draws attention to the fact that there are several funds with genuine ownership by developing countries that stand ready to put fast-start funds to immediate good use: the Convention’s Least Developed Countries Fund and Special Climate Change Fund, and the Kyoto Protocol’s Adaptation Fund. And now ECO hears at least one country – the US – has indicated that it will potentially cut off its fast-start flow to some developing countries that have not associated with the Copenhagen Accord. Officials from other countries have also hinted in public about such a pressurizing strategy. Let us be clear: this strategy is absolutely unacceptable, and climate funding must be available to all developing countries that want to take serious action. Some Parties have not associated with the Accord for the very reason that it falls well short of the emissions reduction – most of all in developed countries like the US – needed to reduce the existential risk to their lands from a marauding climate. ECO strongly suggests the US to reconsider this ill-advised plan, and that no other developed country go down this road.
Dear U.S. Delegation, We appreciate how much more approachable you have become since the Obama administration took office. So we hope you won’t mind responding to a couple questions that have gotten our attention lately. Over the years, ECO has had an interesting experience learning more about United States politics and your legislative process. We started our studies on Senate ratification from the early Kyoto days. And now, although sometimes it all seems a bit strange, we think we understand your two party system as well as the differences between the House of Representatives and the Senate. Most recently, we have been sorting out the mechanism of checks and balances between your President and the Congress. The highly visible health care debate provided a wonderful example of this in practice. First, the health care bill resulted in a clear victory for President Obama due to his diligence and political prowess in forging compromise on a very controversial topic. It is reasonable, therefore, to draw a parallel to the climate change debate and be encouraged by this outcome. But ECO, ever the logical onlooker, wants to ask, if President Obama and his administration made such remarkable progress in Copenhagen, why do they now remain on the sidelines while the Senate squabbles over climate proposals? After all, President Obama did win a Nobel Prize in part for his willingness to take leadership on climate change. Second, is it fully understood that the Senate bill expected later this month may fall miles behind the provisions required to help those most needing support in responding to climate change in our world -- the poor nations, the vulnerable, the forests, and their people? In fact, ECO hears that the already inadequate international climate finance provisions passed by the House of Representatives last year will be mostly eliminated in the forthcoming Senate bill. If the President and his administration are truly committed to fulfilling their pledges in Copenhagen, won’t they insist that the Senate bill include more substantial amounts of funding for adaptation, clean technology and REDD? Since this is an open letter, ECO has questions for others as well. To leaders and ministers who negotiated with President Obama and the US delegation in Copenhagen – will you make your concerns clear about the prospect of minimal international climate finance levels in the Senate? And to all other delegates reading this: we’d like to suggest you chat up the friendly U.S. delegates you encounter in the corridors or between meetings and ask them about this as well. We’re sure they will be happy to answer your questions. And since we’re all still in learning mode on the US political system, maybe they can shed some light on other mysteries, such as, what exactly does the Electoral College do anyway? Signed, your new Best Friend Forever (BFF) ECO