Listening to the ongoing discussions in the ADP Workstream 2 on short term mitigation ambition, ECO suspects that some might not have read—or have forgotten—the size of the pre-2020 mitigation ambition gap. For all the rhetoric in the room, one might be convinced that nations have forgotten that they have the power to decide whether the world will remain below the 2°C threshold scientists maintain as critical. Technologically and economically feasible trajectories to remaining below the 2°C level have been outlined. Without acting now, they are wilfully choosing to neglect the known mitigation ambition gap science has shown, as well as the opportunities that exist to bridge it.
In this context, ECO would like to remind delegates of what India, China and others have helpfully underlined during Workstream 2 (WS2) discussions thus far: the time has come for developed countries to do their “fair share” in reducing emissions by at least 40% by 2020 (and reflecting on their consumption patterns).
The 2014 Kyoto Protocol ambition review is one opportunity for nations to reflect on the comparable upward revisiting of pledges; for instance, the EU has achieved its 20% target years ahead of schedule but with no expressed intention, yet, to step up its own ambition until 2020; or Australia, for whom, recent research shows, upping their pledge from 5% to 25% comes at essentially zero net costs.
A cornerstone in WS2, clearly, are those International Cooperative Initiatives, of which we need many, given the size of the gap - but (as suggested by a few Parties) those must lead to new ambition rather than window-dressing existing (low) ambition. Right-on! Addressing international bunkers emissions from marine and aviation transport would be two prime ICI candidates, if ECO was to suggest a few, alongside phasing-out HFCs under the Montreal Protocol, which would also allow for making use of its existing funding mechanism. Another additional initiative would be to start, in earnest, what South Africa has called for during the early days of this session: immediate phase-out of fossil fuel subsidies in developed countries. Doing so, notes ECO, would free up billions of Dollars, Euros, Pounds or Yen for climate finance, including support for developing countries to gradually shift their fossil fuel subsidies both to renewable energy and energy efficiency.
ECO continues to be pleased by the engagement of AOSIS and their pragmatic approach of a step-by-step technical process to identify best practices suitable for scaling-up, overcoming the barriers to, and creating incentives for, new action in the areas of renewable energy and energy efficiency. Moreover, ECO commends their calls to elevate the results of the technical analysis to the ministerial level for agreeing to concrete action in 2014.
Yes, surely there are other mitigation areas to cover, too. And ECO could not agree more with the Philippines (and others) that similar approaches are needed in order to enhance pre-2020 adaptation – but ECO suggests this happens in parallel and need not stop us in advancing on other joint action. What ECO likes about the AOSIS proposal is that it could develop concrete plans to mobilise the entire UNFCCC architecture (e.g. for an action programme on renewable energy) with no new burdens for countries, yet the opportunity to participate in initiatives to expand renewable energy use. In that vein, ECO was pleased with Switzerland’s affirmation (from earlier this session, supporting India’s) that WS2 is not about shifting burdens from developed to developing countries. After all, such joint action to identify barriers and possible incentives could also help to better understand the financial and technological needs of developing countries, creating another pull for developed countries to deliver on their 100 billion per year by 2020 financing promise from Copenhagen and Cancun.
Funding, alas, remains key, as South Africa stressed yesterday once more, calling for scaled-up financing trajectories by developed countries in time for the Warsaw finance ministerial roundtable, and early and regular replenishment of the empty Green Climate Fund (GCF). The GCF could become a central pillar in the upward spiral of increased climate finance helping to trigger increased ambition. Meanwhile, the lack of clarity on scaling up short and mid-term climate finance is likely hampering ambition. Perhaps another theme for the upcoming Warsaw climate finance ministerial roundtable?