Durban Must Deliver

As we all settle in for the 17th Conference of the Parties and take advantage of all that Durban has to offer, ECO interrupts our regular programme for this special bulletin: The world’s effort to mitigate dangerous climate change cannot wait any longer.

Durban must deliver a package of agreements that cements what we have and clearly articulates a path forward incorporating the urgency and ambition needed. The key elements of the Durban outcome must include:

Legal form. For those Parties who somehow missed the urgent demand to secure the future of the Kyoto Protocol through agreement and ratification of a 5-year long second commitment period, what rock have you been hiding under? Second, to go alongside the second KP commitment period, a strong mandate is needed to reach agreement on a comprehensive, fair, ambitious and binding agreement with legally binding commitments, no later than 2015, to enter into force on 1st January 2018. A third pillar is to build architecture to ensure commonality and comparability for the non-KP Annex I Parties (yes, we mean you, USA) including common accounting and low carbon development strategies.

Finance. Parties should approve the recommendations of the Transitional Committee and adopt the governing instrument of the Green Climate Fund. But an empty fund is about as much use as a empty envelope. Parties must ensure that the Fund is properly capitalized as soon as possible. This includes agreeing a trajectory to ramp up financing towards the 2020 goal of $100 billion of climate financing per year in support of developing countries, and adopting a work plan to consider innovative sources of public finance.

The ‘low hanging fruit’ is bunkers finance. Parties should give direction to the IMO and ICAO on creating mechanisms for raising funds from international marine and aviation transport that reduce emissions and result in no net incidence on developing countries.

Mitigation. It has not escaped ECO’s attention that, despite the promises in Cancun, governments have successfully avoided any reasonable steps to increase their levels of ambition. ECO wants to be optimistic that this is because delegates have been preparing juicy bits for a one-year dedicated work programme to close the gap between the 2°C objective (let alone 1.5° C) and current mitigation pledges. We look forward to the specifics of this workplan being agreed in Durban. ECO also thinks Parties need to find ways to close the ever-widening gigatonne gap, first by increasing their appallingly low pledges, and second by ensuring that loopholes are closed, including bad LULUCF accounting rules, “hot air” and double counting.

Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF). Annex 1 countries have laid their LULUCF cards on the table, proposing to hide forestry emissions and largely not account for emissions from other land uses. This undermines targets and the integrity of the Kyoto Protocol. For countries, including developing countries, that are committed to securing rules with environmental integrity, Durban is the last chance to reject the worst options on the table and require robust rules.

Adaptation. Adaptation to disastrous impacts of global warming has become an issue of survival for the most vulnerable countries. At the “African COP”, negotiators should be reminded of the dramatic consequences that uncurbed climate change will have on the future of the African continent. Southern Africa in particular faces massive problems from droughts and changes in precipitation. Climate change impacts are already happening today and will worsen if the lack of ambition in mitigation continues. Scaling-up adaptation is indispensable to protect the lives of poor people and increase the resilience of their livelihoods. Adaptation negotiators face a heavy agenda: making the Adaptation Committee operational; solidifying the Loss and Damage work programme; preparing guidelines and modalities for National Adaptation Plans; and the next phase of the Nairobi Work Programme, amongst others. And ECO keeps hearing that some Parties want to hold progress on adaptation hostage. There is no justification for hindering progress on issues crucial for the most vulnerable countries who stand already with their backs against the wall (and with their feet in rising seas).

Shared Vision. Peaking global emissions by 2015 and adopting a long-term reduction goal (-80% globally by 2050) are issues of survival. ECO offers two key principles: the right to survival (which in turn defines ambition on the numbers); and the right to sustainable development. Durban should lock in these numbers with the understanding that each country shall do their fair bit to meet them. And we need a plan for a decent discussion on the fair shares concept after Durban.

Review. ECO will be highly disappointed if Durban doesn’t deliver a robust Terms of Reference for the Review of the long-term global goal and the process of achieving it. A Review Expert Body must be agreed to conduct the Review and recommend appropriate action to be decided by COP 21.

MRV. On MRV, ECO looks forward to robust guidelines for biennial reports, IAR, ICA, accounting for Annex I Parties, reporting on REDD+ safeguards, and a common reporting format for climate finance. Given that MRV is all about transparency, ECO is dumbfounded that the draft text doesn’t guarantee access to information and public participation in the IAR and ICA process, and reminds that ensuring meaningful stakeholder participation is a leading part of a successful Durban outcome.

Market Mechanisms. Here is a big stack of issues that Parties should tackle: stringent CDM reform; a framework for new mechanisms that results in a net decrease of emissions and is based on principles ensuring sustainable development and the protection of human rights; removal of loopholes that weaken targets such as surplus AAUs and non-additional carbon credits. And all of these must go forward on the condition that any market-based mechanism is premised on ambitious and binding emission reduction commitments.

Technology. A substantial outcome on technology is essential at Durban. This COP should ensure that issues concerning the Climate Technology Centre and Network (CTCN) host criteria are resolved, and calls for proposals are initiated. Further, the reporting of the Technology Executive Committee and CTCN should be addressed. What is needed will be an accountable, transparent mechanism guided by the COP. Technology outcomes should not be the victim of lack of political will dominating other critical issues, and Durban must deliver.

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