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Nairobi ECO Issue 11

 

Leadership, Courage, Action

As delegates enter the final hours of negotiations here in Nairobi, the Climate Action Network (CAN) calls for bold leadership, in keeping with the scale and urgency of the challenge before the global community. Climate change is the greatest threat to human security the world has ever faced and negotiations here and  action at home must demonstrate that Parties are commited to avoiding dangerous climate change.

The recent release of the Stern Report on the economics of climate change is the latest call to action. The day approaches when humanity no longer has the option of staying as far below 2 degrees global warming as possible. Business as usual will mean even greater warming and risk up to 20 per cent of the value of the global economy. The cost of taking action will be far less than the cost of impacts. The figure of 1 per cent of global gross domestic product is consistent with many assessments. For almost two decades science has been telling us that radical reductions are needed to avoid economically, socially and environmentally destructive climate change.

Further delay is simply irresponsible. The world is watching: the welfare of the world’s communities and economies is in delegates’ hands. Parties urgently need to agree here to conclude the second review of the Protocol by 2008 and the work of the Ad Hoc Working Group on further commitments for developed countries by 2009. These timelines are essential if resolute negotiations are to be launched next year, to ensure no gap between commitment periods. Nairobi must set the stage for the launch of formal negotiations at COP/MOP3.

Courage, creativity and flexibility will be needed to finalise such a Nairobi package and there is reason to be hopeful.

CAN welcomes the positive gestures shown in recent days by a number of developed and developing countries offering concrete proposals for moving forward. Sadly, however, other delegates have been less respectful; less forthcoming about their intentions. It will take courage to confront the obstacles placed by these laggards. 

Failure to meet current targets and to set deep targets for the second commitment period puts global security at risk. No country can be allowed to ignore its responsibility to contribute its fair share. Parties owe it to current and future generations. Please – mind the gap – for all our sakes.

 

Two weeks ago, ECO held high hopes for the African COP/MOP. This was to be the meeting where Parties recognised their responsibilities to vulnerable regions, like Africa, and to future generations.  Since then, ECO has heard how climate change is destroying lives and livelihoods across Africa. Parts of Kenya are suffering a drought that started in 2003: in Northern Kenya, pastoralists have lost 10 million livestock; two thirds of the population in Turkana region have lost their livelihoods; Maasai pastoralists have lost five million cattle. In their speeches yesterday, Ministers spoke of improving the Kyoto Protocol. But are Parties really willing to do the work to make it happen? There is only a small window of opportunity to take strong action on climate change and meet the demands of the vulnerable people of the world. ECO urges Parties to show leadership – today – commensurate with the climate challenges that humanity faces. The developed and developing countries alike depend on your decisions.

 

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  No Review is Better than a Bad Review
ECO wishes to remind delegates to keep their eyes on the ball. We have said time and again that to prevent a gap in commitment periods this meeting needs to agree the building blocks that can inform a mandate decision at COP/MOP3 in 2007. It is must already be obvious that climate change is wreaking havoc. It is a reality in Kenya today; the prolonged drought and this week’s flash floods are just the beginning.
  Full Support for Decision on Fund
ECO recognises the progress made here in Nairobi on developing strong principles for the Adaptation Fund (AF) under the Kyoto Protocol. It is a great achievement to have secured the authority and guidance of COP/MOP over the Fund, and majority membership of non-Annex I parties in the governing body.
  Climate Big Issue in US Elections
The full implications of the American mid-term elections are only now coming to light. Overnight, new poll results were released showing that global warming helped propel the Democrats to victory in the mid-term elections.
  “Fossil of the Day” Award
Canada won the top fossil award yesterday for Minister Ambrose’s attempt to mislead the international community by claiming that her climate plan “recognises the need for urgent action so that we can finally make progress towards our 2012 international obligations”. In reality, this “plan” repudiates Kyoto by delaying GHG regulations until late 2010 and allowing Canada’s emissions to stay above current levels until 2020 to 2025.
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  Mind the Gap
The Climate Action Network wishes delegates not to lose sight of their Montreal promise to avoid a gap between commitment periods. CAN produced an eye-catching reminder, which “sold out” within two hours of launch.
  Contributors to ECO
The Climate Action Network expresses its appreciation to......
  Thanks
ECO expresses its appreciation to the following organisations for their generous contributions towards the publication of ECO here.....

Nairobi ECO Issue 10

 

Audible Action

The atmosphere during yesterday afternoon’s high-level speeches was punctuated by some progressive and inspiring deliveries. The rest of the speeches though were mostly a degree of adequacy, while the usual suspects did not disappoint the cynics.

ECO employed its team of applause measurers to find out who was hot and who was not. From the tranquillity of polite clapping to the extended and enthusiastic ovations given to some, here are some highlights of words that mattered.

The afternoon began with South Africa (on behalf of the G77 and China) welcoming a 2007 operationalisation of the Adaptation Fund. There was no mistaking the importance to this group of “one country, one vote” for the governance of the adaptation.

Like many, China urged the need to integrate a clear framework of sustainable development into the package of future direction. China urged Annex I cuts’ talks to be concluded by 2008 and not later than 2009. A declaration of reducing domestic per unit gross domestic product energy consumption by 20 per cent from 2005 to 2010 was well received.

Scoring top of the applause scale was Denmark, with a visionary speech that declared this set of talks must not be about “speeches like this”, but about immediate action, now. A pointed statement to the big industrialised emitters who are not party to the Kyoto Protocol certainly gained a few more claps as well.

Norway reaffirmed its 50 per cent reductions by 2050 and spoke of a necessary major shift in consumption and production activities. The mixed-bag applause meter ranked Norway on firm middle ground.

The lull of the evening came in the form of an energetic defence of Canada’s position. Unfortunately for Canada, neither did the energy translate into clapping nor did the defence have much basis – see table on next page.

Had it been show business, following Canada should have been a blessing, but even so, the European Community prompted a reasonable level of applause owing to a focus on rapidly operationalising the Adaptation Fund, enhancing technology transfer and small-scale sustainable energy projects. Combined with its statement “let’s build the framework” reasonable clapping was achieved.

Another lull – only rivalled by Canada’s – was generated by the difficult challenge of Saudi Arabia in proclaiming that some methods of disincentivising fossil fuels were “unacceptable”.  A second challenge that left some posturing – and therefore probably distracted from clapping – was the Saudi’s neat connection drawn between carbon capture and storage, Clean Development Mechanism and sustainable development.

It was only fair that the evening needed bringing up again, and so France stepped up to deliver an impassioned speech including its determination to cut emissions by 75 per cent by 2050. France emphasised the urgent need for more ambitious targets after 2012. The final key for France’s good applause was in isolating the position of “some” who have “refused to follow the path of collective action”, who “maintain the illusion” and avoid disaster by “magic”.

A retort may not have followed, but the US was steely and resolved in its “coalition” to combat climate change. The audible lack of applause may once more have been confused and unappreciative of US efforts for fighting climate change, including investment in nuclear fission. The US urged a global effort and the need to find different approaches. It seemed the mood had come down once more.

But it was not long before Germany came to the podium and spurred on some more of the good applause needed. A key challenge extended to the EU was Germany’s commitment to a 40 per cent cut by 2020 if the EU goes for 30 per cent for 2020. The applause was additionally loud owing to a call for “an ambitious and robust post-2012 regime”, which, according to the Minister, required negotiations from 2007 onwards to finish in 2009.

Riding on the wave came the UK, which managed a decent applause despite a thinning crowd. A firm commitment to a “no gap” global agreement was welcomed, as was the reemphasis on the urgency of Adaptation funding. The UK also capitalised on the Stern report demonstrating the urgent economic case for action on tackling climate change.

As people continued to leave, an eerie sense of isolation overcame the room. It was Australia’s turn.

  Get a Sense of Urgency
It is inconceivable for Parties to leave Nairobi without concrete and progressive decisions on climate change, the Climate Action Network (CAN) said during an intervention at the plenary session yesterday.
  US Political Climate Heats Up
Three powerful Senators poised to take over the helm of key Senate committees have united in an appeal to President Bush to heed the election results and join them in aggressively pushing measures to limit US global warming pollution.
  Oh Canada…
At the ministerial high-level plenary yesterday afternoon, Canadian Environment Minister Rona Ambrose delivered a strong speech. Unfortunately a few key points were missing...
  Contributors to ECO
The Climate Action Network expresses its appreciation to: Mozaharul Alam, Valentine Batra, Ruta Bubniene, Katherine Bunney, Daniele Calza Bini, Gary Cook, Red Constantino, Jos Cozijnsen, Louise Corneau, Laetitia De Marez, Naomi Devine, Andrew Dumbrille, John Dumbrille and Tom Nesbitt (Ecobitz, www.ecobitz.com), Mhairi Dunlop, Matthias Duwe, Morten Eriksen, Keith Ewing, Catherine Fitzpatrick, Maia Green, Kathrin Guttman, Bill Hare, Saleemul Huq, Sivan Kartha, Michael Kersula, Kaisa Kosonen, Stephanie Long, Simone Lovera, Mark Lutes, Kirsten Macey, Lester Malgas, Alden Meyer, Emilie Moorhouse, Jennifer Morgan, Melanie Nakagawa, Angelique Orr, PJ Partington, Catherine Pearce, Tom Picken, Julie-Anne Richards, Steve Sawyer, Stephan Singer, Moekti Soejachmoen, David Turnbull, Sanjay Vashist, Hans Verolme, Gabriela von Goerne, Katherine Watts, Richard Worthington, Naoyuki Yamagishi, and everyone else who contributed in one way or another to ECO at COP12 and COP/MOP2.
  Thanks
The Climate Action Network expresses its appreciation to the following organisations for their generous contributions towards the publication of ECO at this conference: WWF International, Greenpeace International, FOE International, David Suzuki Foundation, RAC France, Helio International, Équiterre, Natural Resources Defense Council, NET, Practical Action, CAN-Europe, USCAN, Union of Concerned Scientists, Environmental Defense, Acid Rain Secretariat 2006, World Resources Institute, National Wildlife Federation, Environmental Protection Society Malaysia, Kiko Network, The Nature Conservancy, CASA, WWF UK, Tearfund, Pelangi, United Nations Office Nairobi.

Nairobi ECO Issue 9

 

Close the Gap

ECO welcomes you, Ministers, to Nairobi and to the COP and COP/MOP – you have arrived just in time.

We need you to close the gap between the urgent calls for action on climate change from around the world, and the low level of ambition demonstrated so far here in Nairobi. 

Indeed, there is work to be done. As you know from the avalanche of press reports on the changing climate and the rising tide of public concern, pressure for real action is growing by the day.  Since Montreal a lot has happened, yet even more remains to be done.  There is much on your agenda here, but ECO would like to direct your attention to one key issue which we think is critical to the success of this COP and COP/MOP, and to the future of our collective efforts to prevent dangerous interference with the climate system. 

MIND THE GAP – WE NEED A MANDATE AT COP/MOP 3!

ECO particularly needs you to ensure that this process responds to the increasing alarm raised by scientists around the world.  The gorilla sitting in the middle of your table that many do not want to publicly acknowledge is the need to establish a time bound process to negotiate the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol.  You need to lay the political ground work amongst your colleagues here for a COP/MOP3 decision in 2007 on a broad negotiating mandate, to be concluded by 2008. We know this is not formally on the agenda here in Nairobi, but this is certainly the last COP/MOP where it is possible to NOT adopt a comprehensive mandate for these negotiations, and still have a chance of finishing in time so that there is no gap between the first and second commitment periods.  At COP/MOP3, many processes conclude, and should logically be brought together to create such a mandate. These include the tropical deforestation issue, discussions under the UNFCCC Dialogue and the workplan under the Ad Hoc Working Group on Annex I commitments. 

PLEASE. Make it clear in your speeches and meetings that you understand and share this sense of urgency. Call for a negotiating mandate to be agreed at COP/MOP3.

The main outstanding issue here is a decision on the first review under Article 9 of the Kyoto Protocol, which needs to be done at this COP/MOP.  Part of the text we have seen is, let us be frank, a shame on this process.  A perfunctory first review, with virtually no preparation, does no credit to anyone and belittles the seriousness of this issue.  Leaving this aside, the current chairman’s text, which calls for the second review to be done at COP/MOP4 in 2008, with no real preparatory work bodes ill for the adoption of a Mandate in 2007 at COP/MOP3.  Will not the 2008 time line be used as an excuse not to adopt a Mandate at COP/MOP3?  Or is this the real purpose of such a timetable? 

Such a timeframe in our view would foreclose any chance of completing the Kyoto Second Commitment period negotiations in time for commitment periods to be contiguous. If that does not happen you can kiss the carbon markets goodbye. Ministers, you need to fix this.

At the first climate change COP in sub-Saharan Africa, the epicenter of vulnerability to human induced climate change, there is a special need to send a signal that the world is getting serious about dealing with the escalating costs of adaptation.  Damages from climate change are going to be large, particularly in Africa, even if we are successful in limiting warming below 2oC increase in comparison to pre-industrial levels. While there have been some small steps forward here in addressing this issue, the gap between what is currently on the table and what is needed is enormous. You need to start to close the gap.

  Harper and Howard Act to Save Climate
ECO is pleased to share leaked minutes from a secret meeting detailing Prime Ministers’ Harper and Howard’s Nairobi strategy. Prime Ministers Stephen Harper and John Howard are joined in their mutual dismay at the direction of the climate change negotiations. These two philosopher-statesmen have dug deep into their infinite intellectual resources and brought forth ideas so profound that to the common mind they may appear to be simply nonsense.
  A Human Urgency
In addition to the climatic urgency of these negotiations, there is also human urgency. Poor people are on the frontline and face the direct impact of climate change. While they need strong mitigation to stand any hope of survival, they also need development in order to enjoy a better quality of life.
  “Fossil of the Day” Award
Canada, USA and Australia were jointly awarded the only Fossil of the Day yesterday for blocking progress on the new mechanism of Technology Transfer proposed by the G77 and China. It has been 14 years of workshops, reports, seminars, discussions, etc. without any substance or real form of action! Are these countries going to do anything productive, ever?
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  Thousands March on Climate Change
Kenyan voices calling for action on climate change were heard loud and clear on Saturday, as around 2500 people took to the streets of Nairobi, including women, school children and Maasai pastoralists.
  Tusker
Overheard in Nairobi After a long day of negotiations, Tusker strolled into a restaurant for a quiet dinner away from the bustle at the conference centre. While enjoying his meal, he overheard snippets of conversation from diners at the next table, one of whom happened to be Canadian Minister Rona Ambrose. Unaware of Tusker’s presence, she asked her fellow diner: “So what’s this Russian proposal all about?”

Nairobi ECO Issue 8

 

Ethics – The Missing Dimension

ECO finds it astounding that despite all the good intentions expressed at the climate change negotiations for more than a decade, the political, economic and scientific arguments have remained dominant in the proceedings so far, marginalising ethics.

This is unfortunate, as the incorporation of ethics into the discussions could lead to a shift from the divisive political posturing of who is right, which is consuming so much time and energy, to a focus on what is right and needs to be done.

An ethically based global consensus on climate change may reverse disparities between rich and poor, and reduce potential international tension that will arise from climate-caused food and water scarcities and perceived inequitable use of the global atmospheric commons – past, present and future – as a carbon sink.

In essence, ethics is a field of philosophical enquiry that examines concepts and their application about what is right and wrong, obligatory and non-obligatory, and when responsibility should be attached to human actions that cause harm.

A review of the ethics of the climate change process from a scientific perspective emerged at COP10 in Buenos Aires. At that meeting, a group of individuals and organisations adopted the Buenos Aires Declaration on the Human Dimensions of Climate Change. It concluded that reflection on the ethical dimensions of climate change was urgent because:

  • Many profound ethical questions are obscured by scientific and economic arguments about various climate change proposals;
  • Unless the ethical dimensions are considered, individual nations may choose responses that are ethically unsupportable or unjust;
  • An equitable approach to climate change policy is necessary to overcome barriers currently blocking progress in international negotiations.

A follow-up White Paper on the Ethical Dimensions of Climate Change* was released at a side event here last Wednesday. Eight specific ethical issues were evaluated from the perspectives of factual content, ethical analysis and procedural fairness.

Extracts of the findings on each of these issues are as follows:

Responsibility for Damages – Cost to the economy is not an ethically acceptable excuse for an individual nation to fail to take actions.

Atmospheric Targets – Annex 1 countries are ethically obligated to consider the interests of non-represented future generations and non-humans.

Allocating Global Emissions among Nations– The polluter pays principle is consistent with principles of distributive justice. (There is an ethical imperative that each developing nation makes every effort to support sustainable development practices.)

Scientific Uncertainty in Policy Making – The argument that a nation need not reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions because of scientific uncertainty about the consequences of timing and magnitude does not withstand minimum ethical scrutiny.

Cost to National Economies – If a nation refuses to take action to reduce GHG emissions on the basis of domestic cost alone, its position is ethically unsupportable.

Independent Responsibility to Act – Annex I countries should undertake policies and measures to limit their emissions regardless of actions taken by non-Annex I country Parties.

Potential New Technologies – It is ethically problematic to appeal to the possibility that less costly technologies might be available in the future as a basis for refusing to reduce emissions now.

Procedural Fairness – No nation may consider the implications of climate change policy to itself alone in developing national climate change policy.

ECO aspires that the ethical positions expressed in the White Paper act as a wake-up call to Parties, especially Annex I Parties that by and large have been using various tricks and tactics to shirk responsibilities to which they are already committed.

A lack of urgency could be considered the common thread woven through all COPs so far. This COP has been no different despite the explosive Stern Report released a week prior to this meeting highlighting the serious economic impacts of climate change. The indifferent reaction here might be considered unethical given the global community is on the verge of committing catastrophic climate change.

What would an ethical premise imply for a post-2012 regime that would actually deal with the climate problem? That the wealthy, comfortable, consuming population of the world must:

  • Reduce their GHG emissions rapidly to prevent disastrous climate change;
  • Provide the resources to enable sustainable development in poor communities along a low carbon pathway;
  • Provide compensation for climate damages that are unavoidable, and – where possible – provide resources that will allow poor communities to adapt.

Some glimmers of hope have already emerged due to the action of authorities against tremendous odds: the world’s largest coal port of Newcastle, Australia capping coal exports from its port; New Delhi shifting all public transport vehicles from diesel and petrol to compressed natural gas; and California legislating to curb GHG emissions. More ethical leadership such as this is required.

* Refer towww.rockethics.psu.edu/climatefor details.

  Closer Than You Think?
In any relationship, it is important to listen carefully – without being defensive – to what your partner is saying. In the listening, and in the response, we acknowledge and respond to the other’s concerns. It is no different in these climate negotiations. We are co-dependent, developed and developing countries: there is no saving the climate without each other.
  Equitable Distribution in the CDM
The skewed distribution of Clean Development Mechanism projects in eligible countries has been well documented. However, only three per cent of the 450 registered projects are situated in Africa. The poor distribution relates both to CDM-specific issues, as well as those correlated with macro-economics, energy infrastructure and levels of development.
  Thanks
The Climate Action Network thanks WWF International, Greenpeace International, FOE International, David Suzuki Foundation, RAC France, Helio International, Équiterre, Natural Resources Defense Council, NET, Practical Action, CAN-Europe, USCAN, Union of Concerned Scientists, Environmental Defense, Acid Rain Secretariat 2006, World Resources Institute, National Wildlife Federation, Environmental Protection Society Malaysia, The Nature Conservancy, CASA, WWF UK, Tearfund, Pelangi, United Nations Office Nairobi for contributing to the publication of ECO.

Nairobi ECO Issue 7

 

Seeing the Forest for the Trees

 

The negotiations this past week seemed to lack a sense of urgency. The divergent viewpoints over the Article 9 review of the Kyoto Protocol are mired in conflict, which threaten to block progress on this all important agenda item. ECO wants to remind Parties of the fundamental objectives and asks them to put aside these disagreements.

In Montreal it was agreed, in the context of the Article 3.9 review, that the Kyoto commitment periods should be contiguous, i.e. there shall be no gap. This is critical to the success of our efforts to prevent dangerous climate change. As a consequence of the simultaneous imperative to broaden and deepen action in reducing emissions, the Article 9 review is essential. This review must be completed in time for ratification of the amended Kyoto Protocol so that there is no gap between commitment periods. To achieve this goal, the resulting amendments from both reviews to the Protocol need be negotiated and agreed upon no later than 2008.

ECO has noted before that the Article 9 and Article 3.9 reviews are complementary and need to be mutually informative. In order to achieve this, COP/MOP3 in 2007 would have to agree a set of decisions that relate the Article 3.9 review process to outcomes of the Article 9 review, and in effect mandate the terms of negotiations and a timetable for these to be completed by 2008. A later start to the negotiations would render the objective of contiguous commitment periods meaningless.

For a successful mandate negotiation in 2007, the issues beyond those covered by the Article 3.9 review need to be developed and scoped out. So far at COP/MOP2 insufficient preparatory work has been done on the Article 9 review to allow for a credible assessment, when compared against the ultimate objective of the Convention. In order to prepare for the adoption of a mandate at COP/MOP3 that initiates full negotiations on the next stage of Kyoto, COP/MOP2 needs to agree to start the Article 9 review now and to reach concrete conclusions at COP/MOP3 that can feed into the mandate decision.

A basic starting point must be that this review builds on the architecture of the Kyoto Protocol and its enabling Marrakech Accords, specifically the legally binding Quantified Emissions Limitation Reduction Objectives structure for Annex I Parties and the trading mechanism. Furthermore, the review must be aimed at identifying the necessary range of amendments, including enhancements and structural changes, to the Kyoto Protocol and Marrakech Accords. These must be fully consistent with the principles of common but differentiated responsibilities and equity that underpin the UNFCCC. And of course inputs into the Article 9 review must be informed by the work of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Kyoto Protocol.

Accordingly, decisions on Article 9 here at COP/MOP2 should be aimed at supporting the adoption of a mandate at COP/MOP3, fully taking into account the substantive issues discussed above. Timetables should not extend beyond 2007. This is a challenging task but the least the world can do in face of the extreme and urgent nature of the dangers it is threatened with.

For those who have most to lose from climate change, not least of all many in the developing world, there are two compelling reasons to support a decision at this meeting on the Article 9 review that is strong but time-limited and consequently a full Mandate at COP/MOP3. Firstly, only by that does the world stand a chance to prevent dangerous climate change. Secondly, only the increased financial flows and technology transfer driven by deeper targets for Annex I countries and enhanced mechanisms can serve the multi-billion dollar needs of developing countries on adaptation as well as clean energy investments. These financial flows will never materialise without such a clear mandate decision.

  Where is the EU?
At the beginning of week two, one can be forgiven for being confused about where the EU stands on the key issues facing the Nairobi COP. If the EU is going to exercise its much-vaunted leadership, then now would be a very good time. The waffling and mixed signals that characterised its performance in week one are unacceptable.
  All Forests Matter
It is universally recognised that tropical deforestation has a huge influence on the climate system as well as catastrophic impacts on biodiversity and forest communities. The initiative to address deforestation in developing countries was therefore welcomed by Parties and NGOs alike. Several specific policies to address deforestation emissions have been proposed. Most, however, are better suited to developing countries with high deforestation rates and, as such, provide no incentives to regions with low levels of deforestation, such as the Congo Basin, to protect their forests.
  Annex B Entrants Need Clear Processes
The Belarus proposal has highlighted the need for a credible process for Parties joining Annex B in the first commitment period. There also needs to be a clear process on how targets are approved by other Parties. Both are essential for the integrity and transparency of the Protocol. This should be discussed by the SBSTA at its next session. The terms on which their involvement is agreed will also set a precedent for other Annex B entrants and for the post-2012 framework.
ECO7Australia
  Dodgy Australian Debate
Remember the ridiculous debate of a number of years ago to get nuclear power as part of the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM)? Parties resisted pressure from the nuclear industry and kept nuclear power out of the CDM and out of the Kyoto Protocol. There are interesting parallels with the current carbon capture and storage (CCS) in the CDM debate. Australia, the world’s largest exporter of coal in the world, appears delighted with the development. As must be the coal corporations, because CCS in the CDM would ensure a foot in the door of the Kyoto Protocol for the non-ratifier.

Nairobi ECO Issue 6

 

Pathways Towards Climate Protection

ECO welcomes the fact Parties are finally starting to examine the implications of future emission pathways that will allow them to meet the ultimate objective of the Convention as defined in Article 2. This came up in the Ad-Hoc Working Group (AWG) workshop on Tuesday, and seems to have penetrated the discussions here in Nairobi more generally.

An examination of the limits on global emissions over the long term necessary to keep global warming to below 2oC is an essential parameter for negotiating emission reductions requirements for Annex 1 countries, as well as for understanding the scale of the efforts needed in developing countries.

It is possible to estimate the atmospheric greenhouse gas (GHG) concentration levels, and from there annual emission levels, that will have a good chance of keeping global warming to less than 2oC above pre-industrial levels. Timing is also key. There are remaining uncertainties in precisely quantifying the climate sensitivity, so the best the world can do at this stage is to define a range of probabilities for meeting the long term target.  This is a very good reason to keep the system of five-year commitment periods in the future iterations of the Protocol, but that is another story.

The figure below shows one scenario for the division of the annual emissions ‘pie’ between different groups of countries within an overall cap that will put the world on a pathway towards stabilisation at a given concentration level. The stabilisation level will determine the likelihood of keeping warming to below the desired target. Using the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change language, a 550 ppm concentration level is ‘likely’ (65-90 per cent chance) to overshoot 2oC, and a 450 ppm concentration level has a ‘medium likelihood’ (35-65 per cent chance) to overshoot 2oC. To make it ‘likely’ to stay below the 2oC target, concentration targets then must be for 400 ppm or lower.

Meeting the ultimate objective of the climate convention – to avoid   dangerous climate change – is going to require significant action on a global basis. The politics of that will of course be complicated, but the science is certainly clear.

The world has to act even faster and take more dramatic action if it is to avoid damage associated with a 2ºC global average temperature rise. This means that for now, the   aim has to be stabilising GHGs in the atmosphere  and then seeking to bring them down as rapidly as possible if there is to be a reasonable chance of keeping global temperature rise below 2ºC.

To meet these goals dramatic reductions in GHG emissions are needed, and they are needed soon. From a moral, legal and practical perspective, the initial burden of emissions reductions has to fall on industrialised countries. Domestic reductions of at least 30 per cent on 1990 levels (the ‘baseline’ year for the Kyoto Protocol) by 2020 from industrialised countries are required, with a target of at least 75 per cent reductions by mid-century.

Globally, there is a need to ensure  emissions peak as soon as possible, and no later than 2015-2020, and then reduce them by 50 per cent by mid-century. This means not only that industrialised countries must make dramatic reductions in the next decade but a fair means must be found for engaging rapidly industrialising countries in reduction efforts in the near future. 

Consequences of delay in the process of reducing emissions means the world will face a dire global emergency in the 2020s which will require rates of emission reductions in the past only associated with massive economic collapse such as the collapse of the Soviet Union. The world must not be forced to choose between economic catastrophe and climate catastrophe. The most likely outcome in that case would be both, and we have a good chance of avoiding this if we Act Now.

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  Article 9 Review Offers Opportunity
This first COP/MOP meeting in Sub Saharan Africa converges the priorities of the developing and developed nations under the Kyoto Protocol, with focus on the post-2012 regime and adaptation needs.
  “Fossil of the Day” Award
Brazil took first place in yesterday’s fossil award competition for its hard line and spurious rationale in selfishly preventing the use of Article 9 to strengthen and broaden climate protection efforts in the post-2012 period. In spite of the urgency of the problem and inadequacy of existing responses, Brazil insisted on a narrow, legalistic interpretation of the Protocol text. Its effort was aimed at fragmenting discussions under the various negotiating tracks, and delaying any serious discussion of how developing countries can contribute to a comprehensive strategy using the Kyoto Protocol and Climate Convention. Without a strong negotiation process under Article 9, there is no chance of getting global emissions trends moving in a direction compatible with preventing dangerous climate change.
  Cartoon Competition: Two Entries Received
ECO is delighted to announce receipt of two entries for its Climate Change Cartoon Competition launched on November 8. The first was from Cécile Bertrand in Belgium while the second was from Lawrence Moore in the UK. ECO is pleased to publish a cartoon by Moore in this issue. Other cartoons submitted will be highlighted later. ECO strongly urges other aspiring cartoonists among COP participants and ECO readers to submit your works, so that you too can participate in the competition. As a winner, YOU will be the proud owner of a unique collection of “negotiation stuff” with which you can impress your friends and colleagues! Entries can be sent to ecopaper@hotmail.com preferably in JPEG format. Those in Nairobi with hand-drawn entries are requested to hand them to a CAN member or call 0720-899-374.
  Tusker
Having arrived late in Nairobi on Tuesday after a pre-COP safari, Tusker had no time to change and was taken off to Gigiri in his dusty khaki suit. His survival gear came in handy, as it was not before Friday lunch-time that Tusker finally found his way to a side event at the African something tree in ICRAF.
  NGO Party Today!
Put on your dancing shoes! The ever-popular NGO party, organised by Climate Action Network, will be held today, Saturday, November 11 from 8pm onwards. Venue for the event is the Jomo Kenyatta Conference Centre (JKCC) in Nairobi’s city centre near the Parliament. (Refer to the back of a 100 Shillings note for visual details.)

Nairobi ECO Issue 5

 

Article 9 Review and the Post-2012 Negotiations

 

One of the major issues at this Nairobi climate conference is how to conduct the review of the effectiveness of the Kyoto Protocol called for under Article 9 of the Protocol. Yesterday’s plenary debate made clear the range of positions on this issue.

Some Parties would like to conduct a proforma review at this meeting, and then put off the next review for several years: South Africa (for the African Group) said two to three years, Korea said three years, China proposed three to four years, and the Saudis raised this to every four to five years. These options would clearly put a meaningful review well beyond the timeframe for completion of the post-2012 negotiations.

Other Parties called for the launch of a process at this meeting to conduct the review, but did not specify an end date. This raises the prospect of an open-ended process that could be used as an excuse to postpone serious negotiations over what comes next.

It is obvious that a meaningful review cannot be conducted at this meeting – the preparation just has not been done. But it is also clear that a decision to indefinitely postpone conducting a thorough review also will not work. There are many issues where clear-headed analysis and constructive discussion of creative new approaches are needed to facilitate the post-2012 negotiations.

As CAN pointed out in its intervention in yesterday’s plenary, achieving the ultimate objective of the Convention – preventing dangerous anthropogenic climate change – requires cuts in global emissions of 50 per cent or more by mid-century. Even if Annex 1 emissions were cut to zero, this would not get the job done; developing country emissions, as a whole, also need to be reduced significantly below today’s levels to meet his goal. As we said, this is not a matter of politics, but physics.

Given this reality, negotiators need to discuss how to build on the existing Kyoto framework to achieve the deep emissions reductions needed to stabilise the climate, while facilitating the sustainable development aspirations of billions of people across the world. Increasing the emissions reduction targets for Annex 1 Parties and expanding the Clean Development Mechanism are essential elements in meeting this challenge, but much more is needed.

How can we stimulate deployment of clean energy and transportation technologies, and energy efficiency on a massive scale over the next several decades? How can we generate the tens of billions of dollars needed each year to help developing countries adapt to the impacts of climate change? Does anyone really think that bilateral assistance from industrialised country governments is up to the task? These questions, and others, need to be addressed as Parties negotiate Kyoto’s post-2012 framework.

The Article 9 review, together with the Ad Hoc Working Group on Article 3.9, should provide the analytical and conceptual underpinnings for a negotiating mandate at COP/MOP 3 next year. The task for the Nairobi meeting is to clearly outline which issues should be addressed in each of these fora, and to set up a process of submissions by Parties, input from intergovernmental bodies and non-governmental experts, synthesis and analysis by the Secretariat, and workshop discussions next May and September. A working group, with a clear mandate and leadership, should be established at this meeting to carry out the Article 9 review, and report its findings and conclusions at COP/MOP 3. This would complement the reports by the AWG and the Convention Dialogue, and provide a sound basis upon which Ministers can frame a negotiating mandate.

Developing countries are right to point out that most Annex 1 countries have yet to demonstrate sufficient progress in cutting their emissions, or in providing adequate assistance for mitigation and adaptation activities. Words must be matched by deeds.

But Japan is also right in asking “if we raise the level of our aspirations, who else is coming with us?” There is in fact the need for a “new sense of solidarity,” and the “massive cooperative effort” by both Annex 1 and non-Annex 1 Parties called for by Japan, if we are to meet the challenge of climate change.

It is long past time for countries of the North and South to stop pointing fingers at each other and saying “your end of the boat is sinking.” We all share the same planet, and we must work together to ensure it remains habitable for the generations to come. ECO urges delegates to act in this spirit as they work over the coming week to lay out the path forward in these negotiations.

  Choking off Coal
The City Council of Newcastle in Australia, home to the biggest coal exporting port in the world, has called for a cap on coal exports through the city’s port at present levels to fight climate change.
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  Canada “Ducking” on Kyoto
In the latest example of what appears to be the Canadian government’s ducking of its climate obligations, ECO has learned Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has skipped a Canada-EU Summit in Finland later this month with climate change on the agenda. He cited his obligation to be in the House of Commons as an excuse – a lame one given opposition parties offered to remove one of their members should any vote come up during his absence. So was Harper ducking? As a not-so-wise man once said: “If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it must be a duck.”
  Forum on Post 2012: Moving Forward
Climate Action Network (CAN) International, the umbrella group for environmental organisations working on climate change and publisher of ECO, will be hosting a side event today on “Post-2012: Moving Forward” from 11.15am to 12.45pm at African Tulip 3 at ICRAF.
  NGO Party Tomorrow!
The ever-popular NGO party, organised by Climate Action Network, will be held tomorrow, Saturday, November 11 from 8pm onwards. Venue for the event is the Jomo Kenyatta Conference Centre (JICC) in Nairobi’s city centre near the Parliament. (Refer to the back of a 100 Shillings note for additional details.)
  “Fossil of the Day” Award
Japan, a first time recipient of the fossil awards this year, clinched the top spot yesterday for its statements in the Ad Hoc Working Group plenary. It threatened to “shrink its commitment” for the second commitment period if forced to make a decision in 2008 regarding article 3.9.
  Youth Constituency
Youth attending this year’s negotiations have drafted a document entitled UNFCCC Youth Constituency. Soon to be circulated, the document provides solutions for the UN body to further empower youth, who are already taking considerable action in capacity building at the grassroots level. Proposals include better integration of youth into this UN process.

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US Electoral Earthquake

 

Tuesday’s mid-term elections in the United States swept the Democrats back into power in the House of Representatives, and could give them control of the Senate as well if the one remaining undecided race breaks their way. This political tsunami was largely the result of US voters’ frustration with President Bush and his conduct of the war in Iraq. But it also will have important implications for future US energy and climate policy.

One of the six elements of the Democrats’ election campaign platform calls for reducing US oil dependence and energy prices by investing much more heavily in energy efficient technologies and renewable energy sources. Speaker-of-the-House-to-be Nancy Pelosi has termed the Bush-Cheney energy policy “an abject failure for the American people,” and says it is time to “send our energy dollars to the Midwest, not the Middle East.”

Increased funding for clean energy research and expanded incentives for use of bio-energy and other renewable resources like solar and wind are clearly on the agenda for the new Congress. A federal standard requiring electricity suppliers to generate more of their power from renewable energy, which has twice passed the Senate, may now move through the House as well. Pressure will also mount to increase fuel economy standards for automobiles and light trucks, though final passage is by no means certain. President Bush, who publicly acknowledged Americans’ “addiction to oil” in his last State of the Union speech, might be hard-pressed to veto reasonable energy legislation sent to his desk by the new Congress.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said when it comes to global warming. There is absolutely no indication that this president will drop his long-standing opposition to mandatory limits on greenhouse gas emissions, or reverse his decision to pull the US out of the Kyoto Protocol. Progress on this issue must await the next president taking office in January 2009; the good news is that leading candidates in both parties are on record in support of federal legislation to limit US emissions.

But the new Congress will challenge the Bush administration’s global warming policy on several fronts. The new Democratic chairmen of the House Government Reform and Science Committees are both vocal critics of the administration’s efforts to block federal agency climate scientists like Jim Hansen from speaking freely to the press and public about the dangers of climate change. If the Democrats take over the Senate, the current Chairman of the Environment & Public Works Committee, James Inhofe (who has called climate change the “biggest hoax ever perpetuated on the American people”) would be replaced by Senator Barbara Boxer, a leading sponsor of legislation to cut US greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050. The Senate Energy Committee would be chaired by Senator Jeff Bingaman, another proponent of action on climate change and the only member of Congress to attend last year’s negotiations in Montreal.

There was also progress at the state level in Tuesday’s elections. Duval Patrick’s successful bid for Governor of Massachusetts means that state will rejoin the Northeast Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and is a boost for Cape Wind, America’s likely first offshore wind farm. Similarly, California Governor Schwarzenegger’s re-election victory can be read, in part, as a reward for his championship of the state’s new mandatory climate action plan. And voters in Washington state passed a ballot initiative requiring that 15 per cent of their electricity come from renewable sources, joining the 20-plus states that have already adopted renewable energy targets.

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  Showing the Way Forward
Yesterday, in the SBI, Parties presented their opening statements on the operationalisation of the Adaptation Fund (AF), a vital instrument that can significantly assist developing countries reduce their vulnerabilities to impacts of climate change. Led largely by the G77 and China, the Least Developed Countries group and AOSIS, the statements were a display of good faith and goodwill. ECO hopes this spirit will be sustained to ensure the prompt start of the AF before 2008.
  CCS in CDM: First Things First
Today, the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) dialogue on carbon dioxide capture and storage (CCS) in the COP/MOP (Item 5) will be addressed as a possible technology to mitigate climate change.
  “Fossil of the Day” Award
The Climate Action Network’s highly popular “Fossil of the Day” Awards kicked into action on Tuesday morning. Used as a means to name and shame Parties that behave in an irresponsible manner during the negotiations, the awards are closely followed by both Parties and other participants at the climate COPs.

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