Getting the Durban Deal Done

ECO has been clear in its call for a three-part outcome in Durban: adoption of a strong second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol; a mandate for negotiation of a more comprehensive and ambitious longer-term climate regime based on both scientific adequacy and the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capacities; and a package of decisions facilitating near-term action on all four building blocks of the Bali Action Plan and implementation of the Cancun Agreements.

Let’s make something else clear: building a long-term structure for fair and effective international action on climate change is important, but what really matters is meaningful action supporting peoples and communities already suffering the negative effects of climate change, and collective emission reductions at the scale and pace needed to avert even more catastrophic impacts in the future. The best legally binding treaty instruments in the world don’t amount to much without emission reduction ambition in line with the science and financial resources commensurate with the need.

 Coming out of Panama, there has been some progress in developing draft text on many of the elements of the Bali Action Plan and the Cancun Agreements.  But the prospects for linked agreements on extension of the Kyoto Protocol and the negotiations on a longer-term legally-binding instrument are not bright, absent significant changes in the negotiating positions of a number of key countries.  Let’s look at them in turn.

 EU.  Fair or not, the EU holds the key to the Durban outcome.  If the EU does not come to Durban with the clear goal of adopting a second commitment period (not some fuzzy political commitment) the Kyoto Protocol will wither and die.  On Thursday, the EU laid out a clear set of elements for negotiations over the longer-term treaty that would assure that a KP second commitment period is a bridge to a more comprehensive and ambitious legal framework. EU environment ministers need to be careful not to set overly stringent conditions for such negotiations when they meet next Monday in Luxembourg.  

 Australia and New Zealand. While the view from atop the fence is nice, these countries need to get off of it and make clear they are ready to join with the EU, Norway, and others in embracing a second KP commitment period.

 Japan, Russia, Canada.  These countries claim they are bailing out of Kyoto because it doesn’t cover a large enough portion of global emissions.  They need to come to Durban prepared to reconsider their position if agreement can be reached on launching negotiations on a longer-term treaty regime, or risk being perceived as multilateral treaty-killers, not treaty-builders.

 US. The one developed country that stayed out of Kyoto, in part because the Protocol didn’t include major developing countries, claims it is willing to enter into negotiations on a new legally-binding instrument.  But it has set very stringent conditions for the launch of such negotiations, while acknowledging that these conditions almost guarantee no agreement on a negotiating mandate in Durban.  Meanwhile, the US is struggling to meet its already inadequate emissions reduction commitment, and has been reluctant to discuss ways of meeting the $100 billion by 2020 annual climate finance goal its president committed to in Copenhagen.  At the very least, the US must contribute to such discussions in Durban, not attempt to block them.     

The LDCs and AOSIS. The moral power of the most vulnerable countries needs to be heard, highlighting both the existential crisis they face and the reprehensible failure of those responsible for the problem to face up to it.  These groups support both the extension of the KP and a mandate for negotiation of a new legally-binding instrument; they must continue to work together in Durban to achieve both of these goals.

The BASIC countries.All four of these countries are leaders in taking domestic actions to limit their emissions growth as their economies continue to rapidly develop.  Their leadership is also needed on the current fight to preserve a rules-based multilateral climate treaty regime.  They should certainly continue to demand a second Kyoto commitment period.  But they should also call the US’s bluff, by indicating their willingness to negotiate a more comprehensive long-term treaty regime including binding commitments for all but the Least Developed Countries, as long as it’s truly based on principles of equity and common but differentiated responsibility.              

 All countries must come to Durban prepared to negotiate in a spirit of compromise if we are to achieve the ambitious package of decisions needed to address the mounting climate crisis.  Ministers must take full advantage of their time together before Durban, at both the pre-COP ministerial consultations and the likely pre-Durban meeting of the Major Economies Forum, to explore constructive solutions to the current roadblocks to such a package of decisions.  Then in Durban, they must work actively under the guidance of the South African presidency to bring the deal home.  Their citizens need – and expect – nothing less.

Finding the Finance

ECO is pleased to see the discussions on long-term finance in Panama finishing on a better note than they started. Too many hours in Panama were lost as developed countries pondered whether there was a need to even discuss how to mobilize the money they committed in Cancun. At one stage one developed country party even seemed to query what climate finance was.

 Let’s hope all that is now water under the bridge (or through the Panama canal). Yesterday the EU joined their partners in AOSIS, the Africa Group, India and Saudi Arabia in submitting text on long-term finance. As ECO goes to press, there is news that Japan and even the US are bringing their own ideas to the table. That sounds like consensus on the need to negotiate a package on long-term finance in Durban. The homework countries face until then, is what that package will contain.

Two upcoming meetings in the meantime may give them some ideas. First, the final session of the Transitional Committee will start to clarify the ambition of the Green Climate Fund. Many developed countries have said they are waiting to hear more about the contours of the fund being created before committing the resources that will ensure it is not an empty shell. ECO hopes that the final meeting will again capture the imagination of governments North and South. The world needs a new kind of fund to meet the climate challenge and spur commitments at the scale of resources needed.

Second, G20 finance ministers and leaders will discuss the report they requested from the World Bank and IMF on sources of long-term climate finance. The leaked preliminary report indicated an encouraging analysis of the potential to raise large sums from the international shipping sector, without hitting the economies of developing countries. ECO was told the report will show that a $25 per tonne carbon price will increase the costs of global trade by just 0.2%, while generating around $25 billion per year. ECO was particularly pleased to hear that the World Bank and IMF have found that it is possible to compensate developing countries by directing a portion of these revenues to them, ensuring they face no net incidence as a result of these measures. That would be a unique international solution to the high and rising emissions of a unique international sector.

ECO has never questioned the legitimacy of the UNFCCC process to take the final decisions on questions such as sources of finance. But any responsible country that is serious about generating the scale of resources so urgently needed – especially by the poorest countries – will not ignore such strong evidence to help do that.

So ECO leaves Panama with cautious optimism on the finance track. Countries have finally come together to negotiate text. With the inputs they will receive from the Transitional Committee meeting and the G20, there is every chance they can arrive in Durban ready to strike the real deal on long-term finance that developing countries need.

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What’s expected from the US

Earlier this week, ECO started exploring ideas for what two of the three main groups of countries – Kyoto Annex 1 countries and developing countries - need to decide to bring to the table to enable a successful Durban climate summit. These articles have of course been far from comprehensive, as there are other important issues where movement is also required from these Parties.

As ECO has repeatedly stated (is it sinking in yet?): all developed countries currently with QELROs under the KP should continue to have (more ambitious!!) QERCs under the KP for the post 2012 period, with accounting rules that close the loopholes and increase environmental integrity of the Protocol.

Developing countries need to show their commitment to adequate action by agreeing a mandate for a future legally binding agreement to help ensure the “full, effective and sustained implementation” of the Convention. This should come, in the form of a Protocol or other legal instrument, respecting the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities.

Now let’s talk about the third “group” -- the United States, for whom the mandate is no real concession.  It is essential that architecture is built under the Convention track that allows comparability of efforts of the US and other developed countries, so that there can be clarity on the overall (in)adequacy of these efforts through time.  To mitigate against the chaos of a pledge and review (4C+) world, there also needs to be clear expectations for a more ambitious level of US effort on both mitigation and finance.

All countries agreed in Bali that the efforts of all developed countries should be comparable. To avoid comparing apples and oranges, tons and tonnes, or emission reductions and loopholes, this means that common accounting standards will be an essential part of the mix that these countries will need to agree to in Durban. Since the negotiations under the Kyoto Protocol have already laid the groundwork, there is no earthly reason why they should not be the basis for the common accounting regime for developed countries under the Convention track (for all that the US is kicking and screaming like a spoiled toddler at the very thought of it)..

There are other key MRV elements that are also needed to ensure the agreed-to comparability. The main guidelines for the rest of the International Assessment & Review system need to be agreed, as well as the guidelines, assumptions and metrics for the biennial reports, including for finance. In addition, all developed countries should put forward Low Carbon Development Strategies, as agreed in Cancun, and these should be integrated into the MRV framework.

For Durban to be a success, all Parties must come to the table prepared to build upon the existing architecture of the Convention and Protocol, by ensuring the continued viability of the Kyoto Protocol, agreeing that the Convention track will result in a comprehensive and ambitious legally-binding instrument, and not allowing the regime to fall into the carboniferous pit of every country doing only what it can be bothered to do, and reporting on it, if at all, as it sees fit.

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Balboa

Balboa is disappointed -- but not surprised -- with the news coming out of Washington these days.  It seems that the State Department has been receiving some ‘significant counsel’ from well-connected corporate lobbyists while conducting a review for the Keystone XL pipeline. Keystone XL is a 1,700-mile fuse to the largest Carbon bomb on the planet, the Alberta tar sands. Exploiting the tar sands is a dangerous step in the wrong direction. Saying NO to Keystone XL would be a positive step for the US to demonstrate seriousness in face of the climate crisis.  Balboa looks forward to seeing President Obama pumping his fists at the top of the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s steps later this year after he denies the Keystone permit.  (If readers are lost on the reference, be sure to watch any Rocky Balboa -- no relation -- movie on the flight home :)

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Does Anyone think that there is no gap?

Hearing no objection it is so decided. So can ECO take it then, that, thanks to the challenging question by the European Union in Thursday’s workshop on developed country mitigation pledges, there is universal agreement that there is a gap? Fine.

So let’s move to the next step: looking at ways to increase ambition (to close the said gap), which was among the agreed purposes of the workshop, yet tacitly but plainly avoided by most developed country presenters. The European Union, at least, made a good faith attempt on the issue, and, yes, including more gases and sectors is among the things to look at. Yet ECO missed a slide explaining what the MRV- able conditions the EU has to move to (at least!) a 30% target. Instead, we were slightly amused when told that even the 20% target would be hard work. ECO reminds Parties that current EU legislation allows for more than half of the effort needed between 2013 and 2020 to be covered by carbon offsets instead of domestic action. That would also mean that with current emission levels (-16% below 1990 levels), no more domestic action is needed until 2020.

Yet, ECO’s readers will know the story of the one-eyed among the blind. Canada merrily implied that its pathetic target be comparable to the EU’s (considering that Canada is suggesting an increase over 1990 levels), and smartly dodged the question by a delegate how a target that is even weaker than its current Kyoto target could possibly constitute progress towards meeting the 1.5°C/2°C challenge. Canada’s Southern neighbours had, likewise, not much to offer, except maybe the notion that one needn’t be worried about the gap now because the review could maybe fix it later. ECO wonders if the US understands that leaving the gap unaddressed now, will require very, very steep reductions to make up for the delay, and if the US will be the country to champion that.

Delegates planning to attend today’s spin- off groups on developed country mitigation might want to keep in mind the conclusion by the co-chairs at the end of the workshop: that there is a gap, that there is some resolve to address it, and that further work needs to be done. ECO couldn’t agree more and suggests a four step approach for today’s informal sessions: (1) Developed countries make clear what their net domestic emissions will be in 2020; (2) Parties agree to close the loopholes by Durban, e.g. on hot air or carbon offset use, and have Parties not use bogus LULUCF projections meant to hide emissions but use historic reference levels and cover all emissions (see separate article in this issue); (3) Developed countries move to the high end of their pledges, by Durban, as a first important step; and (4) begin addressing the remaining gigatonne gap, by recognizing its size and a firm resolve in Durban to close it through a fair sharing of the globally needed mitigation effort, based on responsibility for emissions and capability to cut them.

And now: it is so decided!

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Related Newsletter : 

United States Awarded First Place Fossil of the Day, Papua New Guinea Receives Second Place Fossil

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                               8 June 2011

The first place Fossil of the Day Award goes to the United States of America. This fossil is awarded for opposing a discussion of sources of long-term finance in the LCA.  Secretary Clinton herself pledged to work with other countries to jointly mobilize $100 billion per year by 2020 for climate action in developing countries.  Meeting that commitment has to start with exploring options of innovative sources of public finance in the UNFCCC.  The US must be open to a process under the LCA to at least start the conversation.

Papua New Guinea receives the second place Fossil. This award goes to PNG for saying Tuvalu did not have enough trees to be entitled to have an opinion on REDD or advocate for the rights of indigenous peoples. PNG has shown it is far removed from the reality of its Pacific island neighbours in terms of REDD.  PNG's response to Tuvalu's call for transparency was tacky to say the least and reflects  its ignorance of the 'Pacific Way'.  Tuvalu took a principled position in supporting the interests of indigenous peoples - whether that is in the interest of Tuvalu is not the issue, as countries should not only defend their national interests but also global ones.

About CAN: The Climate Action Network (CAN) is a worldwide network of roughly 700 Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) working to promote government and individual action to limit human0induced 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.

###
Contact:
David Turnbull
dturnbull@climatenetwork.org
USA: +12023163499
Germany: +49(0)2523657307
 

Region: 

United States Awarded First Place Fossil of the Day, Papua New Guinea Receives Second Place Fossil

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                                          8 June 2011

The first place Fossil of the Day Award goes to the United States of America. This fossil is awarded for opposing a discussion of sources of long-term finance in the LCA.  Secretary Clinton herself pledged to work with other countries to jointly mobilize $100 billion per year by 2020 for climate action in developing countries.  Meeting that commitment has to start with exploring options of innovative sources of public finance in the UNFCCC.  The US must be open to a process under the LCA to at least start the conversation.

Papua New Guinea receives the second place Fossil. This award goes to PNG for saying Tuvalu did not have enough trees to be entitled to have an opinion on REDD or advocate for the rights of indigenous peoples. PNG has shown it is far removed from the reality of its Pacific island neighbours in terms of REDD.  PNG's response to Tuvalu's call for transparency was tacky to say the least and reflects  its ignorance of the 'Pacific Way'.  Tuvalu took a principled position in supporting the interests of indigenous peoples - whether that is in the interest of Tuvalu is not the issue, as countries should not only defend their national interests but also global ones.

About CAN: The Climate Action Network (CAN) is a worldwide network of roughly 700 Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) working to promote government and individual action to limit human0induced 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.

###
Contact:
David Turnbull
dturnbull@climatenetwork.org
USA: +12023163499
Germany: +49(0)2523657307
 

Region: 

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