Blog Posts

Fasting leaders urge Heads of State to show courage on climate

During the last week prominent fasters representing secular and religious communities all over the world have come together to write letters to Heads of States. They are challenging these Heads of State to demonstrate leadership to tackle climate change at the upcoming UN Climate Summit on 23 September 2014. 
 
The letters have been published in various news outlets and on social media. You can download copies of the letters below, please feel free to share with your various networks. For any questions on the letter, please contact ehickson@climatenetwork.org 

New economics report urges leaders to phase out fossil fuels

major new report launched today by economic experts in New York City shows how a swift transition to a low-carbon society will unlock a raft of benefits for communities, businesses and governments while reducing the risks of dangerous climate change. The report from the New Climate Economy is called “Better Growth, Better Climate”, it comprehensively dispels the myth that climate action comes at the cost of people’s living standards and calls on government and business leaders to urgently phase-out fossil fuels.

The message ringing out from every page of this report is that there are no strong arguments left to justify sticking with outdated fossil-fuels. As such, the authors call for all countries to aim for a global phase-out of unabated fossil fuel power generation by 2050. These economic experts call for high-income countries to commit now to end the building of new unabated coal-fired power generation and asks middle-income countries to limit new coal plant construction now and halt new builds by 2025.

The report is based on a year-long study conducted by research institutes the world over, from China, India, the US, Brazil, Korea, Europe and Africa. The findings are being spearheaded by leading names in finance, business and politics who argue they provide compelling evidence that world leaders should urgently ramp up the low-carbon transition to unlock a cleaner, healthier society run on renewable energy which can also limit the impacts of climate change.

The report findings substantiate this argument by showing that as well as reducing climate risk, phasing out fossil fuels and cutting carbon will mean new and better jobs, cleaner air, improved health, lower poverty and more energy security. The economic minds behind the study use the building of climate smart cities as an example. They argue that cities that are better connected and more compact with good public transport links will save the world more than US $3 trillion over the next 15 years and significantly improve quality of life.

New Climate Economy emphasise that the low carbon transition is already well underway. A growing number of successful businesses, cities and countries are actively lowering climate risk, while creating jobs and healthier, happier communities. Thanks to rapid technological innovations and fresh investment in infrastructure unlocking the benefits of climate action is more affordable and feasible than ever, according to the authors.

The report urges government and business leaders to seize the day. Between now and 2030 US$90 trillion will be invested in cities, land use and energy infrastructure around the world and the investment choices made now will shape the future - will locking us into either a low- or a high-carbon society. The authors dismantle the argument that a clean energy future costs more to achieve and they even lay out a neat policy prescription to help leaders along the low-carbon pathway.

These include:

  • integrating climate change into core economic decisions and accelerating the low-carbon transition;

  • a strong, lasting and fair international climate agreement;

  • phasing out subsidies for fossil fuels and agricultural inputs and incentives for urban sprawl;

  • introducing strong, predictable carbon prices;

  • substantially reducing the costs of low-carbon infrastructure investments;

  • scaling up innovation in key low-carbon and climate resilient technologies;

  • making connected and compact cities the preferred form of urban development;

  • stopping deforestation of natural forests by 2030;

  • restoring at least 500 million hectares of lost or degraded forests and agricultural lands by 2030;

  • accelerating the shift away from polluting coal-fired power generation.

This report, dubbed “Stern 2.0”, comes just days before hundreds of thousands of people take to the streets at more than 2,000 events in 150 countries around the world to show their support for a low-carbon transition. This comes also as more than 120 heads of state gather in New York for the UNSG Climate Summit.

The summit is a chance for world leaders to re-engage with climate change at the highest level and pledge the commitments that will speed up the transition away from fossil fuels that is already underway, driven by communities, businesses and investors who see the benefits of a clean energy future. It is a chance for government leaders to begin realising the vision outlined in this report.

Climate change and poverty: why action is needed

A set of Sustainable Development Goals to be agreed next year offer a vital opportunity for the international community to tackle the way that climate change is driving people into poverty, saysa new report.

‘The Right Climate for Development: why the SDGs must act on climate change’ released ahead of the twin UN meetings for Heads of State in New York – the UN Climate Summit on 23 September and the opening of the General Assembly debate on post-2015 development on 24 September 2014.

The work is in response to the latest findings of the authoritative Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that has warned climate change is a massive threat to poverty reduction and sustainable development.

“Fact is the solution to extreme poverty, climate change and environmental degradation requires an integrated response if we are to get lasting change. Often we find climate change is a common cause but it is how this manifests itself which is key: changes in climate play out through natural resources – the underlying environment that particularly people in poverty most directly depend on” said David Nussbaum, CEO of WWF-UK to representatives of the public, private and NGO sector at the launch of the report in London on 10 September 2014.

The new report, written by Christian Aid, WWF-UK, Greenpeace, Oxfam GB, CAFOD, Practical Action and CARE International, says it is now clearer than ever that without action to tackle climate change, efforts to eradicate poverty will be fruitless.

The greater plight for poor and vulnerable people caused by climate change can be already seen now. They are most vulnerable to the impact of climate change, suffering the loss of their homes, jobs and crops, along with ill-health from the spread of disease exacerbated by climate change.

The report says rising sea levels and the increasing frequency and intensity of extreme weather events such as typhoons and floods – all the result of global warming – are claiming lives, destroying or damaging homes and infrastructure, reducing crop yields, and ruining employment prospects.

These impacts will only increase, it warns, if action is not taken to cut carbon emissions and support is not given to communities to adapt to the changes that they are already experiencing.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which will succeed to the Millennium Development Goals that expire at the end of 2015, must therefore include a standalone goal on tackling climate change. And they must also commit governments to robust action to support emission cuts and build the resilience of communities affected by climate change.

For developing countries which must not be deprived of the opportunity of progress, the SDGs need to signpost how progress can be achieved without adding carbon emissions. They must be a blue print for low carbon development the world over, encompassing all sectors affected by climate change, including health, agriculture urban development, energy, water access and income generation.

Specifically, the report says, the goals should:

  • Include a standalone goal on climate that will encourage all countries to follow a low carbon development pathway.
  • Take on board that most of the new infrastructure for low or zero-carbon development will need to be built or start development during the SDGs timeframe of up to 2030.
  • Recognise the many benefits increased access to sustainable, affordable, reliable and safe energy will bring to poverty reduction, education, health, women’s empowerment and sustainable livelihoods.
  • A goal already proposed on growth and employment goal should recognise the benefits that low carbon development, particularly investment in renewable energy production and energy efficiency, can have in creating decent employment.
  • And a proposed goal to ‘ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns’ needs to address expressly the role that unsustainable consumption and production in richer societies plays in driving climate change.
  • Acknowledge the fact that to decarbonise electricity by up to 100 per cent by 2050, is crucial if temperature rises are to be kept below 2 degrees Celsius.

This blog has been reproduced with the kind permission of WWF International. The original is here: http://climate-energy.blogs.panda.org/2014/09/10/climate-change-poverty-action-needed/

PICAN's key priorities for the Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States

Pacific Islands Climate Action Network's key priorities for the Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS).  Apia, Samoa. September 1-4, 2014.

1. Stronger action is needed to cut emissions, in line with a global goal of limiting temperature increases to 1.5°C

If we are to have any hope of avoiding the potentially catastrophic impacts of a changing climate, the world needs a strong, binding agreement in 2015.  The international community needs to learn from Small Island Developing States.  We are leading the way, by taking action to reduce emissions today.  All countries must act in accordance with their historical responsibility and respective capabilities. Developed countries must reduce their emissions as soon as possible, and must make far stronger commitments than are currently on the table.

Pacific island communities are already vulnerable to climate-related hazards including droughts, floods and intense cyclones.  Without world-wide action now, island communities will face ever-greater threats from changing rainfall patterns, ocean acidification, coral bleaching, salination and inundation from sea-level rise.  Island communities who grow their own food and rely on resources from the sea are especially vulnerable to the effects of a changing climate.

The Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki Moon, has called for world leaders to come together in New York (September 23 2014) with bold new commitments.  Pacific island countries are responding to this call for greater action.  However leaders from all States must use this historic opportunity to inject momentum into international climate negotiations and redouble their efforts to secure a global agreement.  

2. Greater commitment is needed to adaptation financing for Pacific island countries

Pacific Small Island Developing States are already experiencing the effects of a changing climate. Pacific women, men and young people are strong and resilient.  We are drawing on our own strengths to adapt.  But now it is time for the international community to put its money where its mouth is.  Wealthier nations have to provide adequate, additional and predictable financing to help Pacific communities adapt to a changing climate.  Global funds – such as the Green Climate Fund – must be accessible for Pacific island governments, communities and civil society organisations.  

Pacific island states are leading the world when it comes to integrating climate change adaptation into national and regional development planning.  Island policymakers have developed a regional Strategy for Climate and Disaster Resilient Development.  Integrating adaptation into existing planning, particularly around disaster risk reduction, helps to address the underlying causes of disaster and climate risk. However countries responsible for our changing climate must provide additional financing for climate change adaptation in Pacific island countries.  

Because many island communities are reliant on local natural resources, they are especially vulnerable to natural disasters and the slow-onset changes wrought by climate change. More support should be allocated to community-based adaptation measures.  Recent experience in the Pacific indicates that civil society organisations working together – in coordination with national governments – can implement effective community-based adaptation measures.  Adaptation programs must address the unique challenges faced by all community members.  Women and young people in particular have experience and skills that can contribute to adaptation solutions, but they are too often excluded from decision-making.  

 

3. Carbon emitters need to take responsibility for unavoidable ‘loss and damage’ in Pacific island states

Pacific Small Island Developing States are not responsible for global climate change, yet we will bear the greatest impacts wrought by a changing climate.  Even if drastic action is taken now to reduce carbon emissions into the atmosphere, Pacific island countries are still likely to experience significant losses, and permanent damage associated with climate change.   Countries responsible for emitting greenhouse gases into the atmosphere must address the impacts of their pollution. Toward that end, loss and damage mechanisms must be anchored in the text of a global agreement to tackle climate change.

 

 4. Governments need to ensure the human dignity of those affected by climate change  

Without action now to avoid drastic changes to our global climate, many island communities will face new threats that will undermine their food and water security.  Coastal communities are very likely to experience stronger storm surges, increased erosion and inundation as sea levels rise. Salination is likely to compromise groundwater resources for some atoll communities. Changing rainfall patterns will impact on coastal and inland communities, with the potential to undermine agricultural practices that have provided sustainable livelihoods for countless generations.  For some communities, the effects of a changing climate may even make their homes uninhabitable. Governments must develop strategies to protect the rights and dignity of Pacific women, men and young people who will be adversely affected by a changing climate.  Particular attention must be given to those who will be temporarily displaced, or forced to resettle elsewhere.

For Media Enquiries please contact:

PICAN convenor Shirley Laban: +685 7297617; Pacific Conference of Churches climate campaign officer Peter Emberson +685 7291464. 

Both Shirley Laban and Peter Emberson are available for interview

Adaptation Fund overlooked because there’s a new kid in town?

While we all breathlessly wait for big money to hit the GCF (US$15 billion in pledges is expected by the end of this year), ECO would like to remind everyone that there are other funds in dire need of money too. One of them, the Adaptation Fund, which has projects ready to be implemented in vulnerable countries such as Ghana, Mali or Nepal, is now just waiting for the resources to get those projects started.

Pledges to the Adaptation Fund were among the very few positive outcomes from Warsaw. ECO is shocked that some countries have not yet paid up. Given the urgency of climate change, ECO would love to see the October session kicking off with the transfers of pledged funds from both Belgium and France, who, as the host of the 2015 COP, may want to uphold its commitments.

Honouring pledges made in the past is obviously critical, but so is putting the Adaptation Fund permanently on a more sustainable funding base. This could be done by, for instance, tapping into alternative sources that auto-generate revenues. Until then, the Fund’s board will have to continue to announce fundraising goals as it had to do for 2014 and 2015 ($80m each). ECO expects that Lima will see developed countries make pledges for the tried-and-tested, fully operating, but under-resourced Adaptation Fund.

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Assessing the assessment phase discussion: part II

ECO thinks that the ADP has a pretty simple job in designing the next phases of the INDCs process. After completing the information requirements, we simply need an  INDCs assessment phase, as pointed out by AILAC and Palau. The first step of the assessment phase is – you guessed it- all parties submitting INDCs by March 2015. This could not be simpler, really.

March 2015 is only around the corner. Parties need to start preparing their INDCs from the moment they get home. While they make their preparations, Parties should remember that mitigation contributions alone will not pass the assessment test. Both mitigation and finance contributions are necessary to shape an acceptable INDC for a wealthy country. ECO welcomes Mexico’s clear statement in this regard and reminds developed countries about their responsibility to play a leading role on finance.

Scaling up INDCs during the assessment phase may be a frightening idea for some Parties. ECO has just the thing to cure that phobia: produce ambitious INDCs in the first place and, if these still fall short of the level of action required, complement increased emission reduction targets with other types of contributions. For example, in the assessment phase, an absolute emissions reduction target as an initial NDC can be strengthened by additional efforts to scale up renewable energy and/or energy efficiency. ECO believes that such an approach would allow the assessment phase to lead to scaled-up NDCs through an approach based on environmental integrity and ambitious climate action, while allowing for the necessary flexibility.

ECO reminds Parties that this first assessment phase before Paris is just the initial step. It needs to be followed by a second ratcheting phase during which an agreed mechanism will be used to further scale up ambition based on science driven adequacy and an equity outcome oriented review.

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Tony Abbott’s plan: surreal and catastrophic

Australian Prime Minister Abbott’s fossil fuel celebration tour got even more surreal yesterday when he donned a cowboy hat in Texas. Abbott also offered up his long term view on the prospects for coal —he believes that it will fuel human progress for many decades to come. Meanwhile, here in Bonn, delegates were treated to a glimpse of what the world would look like if Abbott’s dystopia came to pass.

The topic was the melting of Antarctic ice sheets and the latest scientific findings that melting in massive areas of the polar region has recently passed a tipping point. Much of the Western Antarctic ice sheet is now melting and likely to contribute to devastating sea-level rise, a catastrophic consequence.

Abbott had better hold onto his hat tightly while riding the coal-power bull. He may be shouting “Yee-haw”in Texas at the moment but this crazy ride can only end with floods of tears.

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Well done Germany, what about coal?

ECO was delighted to hear that Germany has decided to stop export credit guarantees for nuclear installations abroad. Well done to our hosts – but here’s our first question: why did it take 13 years to draw the logical consequence from the 2001 decision to phase-out nuclear power? Only three years ago, the conservative-liberal government tried to mobilise another €1.3 billion export guarantee for Areva to build the Angra-3 nuclear reactor in Brazil. Only a strong refusal by Parliament and civil society stopped this crazy plan.

Today, Germany has become the country of the Energiewende, and wants to be seen as the front-runner in clean energy. Renewable energy is speeding up and it has already reached a 27% share of electricity. Renewable energy is seen as the backbone of Germany’s efforts to reach its national GHG reduction targets of 40% by 2020 and 55% by 2030.  Energy efficiency also needs a similar emphasis.

So, dear German government, if you have decided that renewables are the way to go, here is ECO’s second question: Why are you stopping export guarantees for nuclear, but still giving export credits to coal power plants all over the planet?

Between 2007 and 2013, developed countries collectively provided US$36 billion to coal through their national export credit agencies. With export credits worth nearly $3 billion, Germany places third in this dirty league table. The state-owned development bank KfW is the driver of such coal support.

The US, UK, Netherlands and several Nordic countries, as well as the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the European Investment Bank have decided to end or strictly limit their support for coal overseas. Meanwhile, KfW continues to give credits to coal power plants and infrastructure worldwide, to the tune of at least €2 billion. This means that high emission infrastructure is locked in for decades, undermining the goal to decarbonise energy supply as fast as possible.

In October 2013, the OECD Secretary General Angel Gurría asked “every government” to question domestic and overseas support for coal. The UN Secretary General’s Climate Summit in September in New York is the perfect moment for Germany and other developed countries to announce the end of their support for coal power plants and fossil fuel infrastructure. Germany should not wait another 13 years to draw conclusions that can help to save the planet.

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ECO’s Climate Summit expectations

As the UN Secretary General’s Climate Summit approaches, we are sure Parties, investors and businesses are wondering how to pack their bags and appropriately prepare for New York this September.

ECO would like to help. We know that Parties sometimes struggle with long lists of things they need to prepare. There is a regrettable tendency for some Parties to forget what they have already packed interventions in their bags already, or to wear old items of clothing in the hope that we don’t notice that it’s just the same old thing refashioned.

However, without any kind of a list to work from, ECO is concerned that Parties will arrive in New York completely not dressed appropriately for the occasion. Hot air and vague promises are not going to provide the cover needed at the summit. So here is what ECO recommends that Parties should pack for the Climate Summit:

1) New measures to scale up investment in, and deployment of, renewable energy and energy efficiency. This will to help fill the pre-2020 mitigation gap, but will also help you to pledge your support for a just transition to a fossil-free and 100% renewable future by 2050.

2) Then, if you are committed to a just transition, you will want to come to New York with substantial pledges for the Green Climate Fund and a commitment to increase the overall scale of climate finance.

3) And obviously, becoming fossil free means sending a strong signal that the age of coal is over. That means announcements from the US and China (inter alia) on domestic limits to coal use (going beyond current plans), the phase out of export credit and development bank finance for coal infrastructure from OECD countries, and coal divestment announcements by private sector actors.

If you arrive at the Summit with all of this in your suitcase, then you will be the talk of the town as all your clothing choices will make a climate fashion statement that the world will applaud about your determination to achieve a strong climate agreement in Paris and stop climate change.

Thanks in advance from ECO. We can’t wait!

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Happy Global Wind Day

  • Global wind power has already crossed the 300 GW mark. Installed capacity now equals the capacity of all power plants in South and Central America!
  • The wind industry provides 650,000 jobs worldwide.
  • Wind power is cheap and ready to go. In Australia, power can be supplied from a new wind farm at a cost of AU$80/MWh, compared to $143/MWh from a new coal plant.
  • EU citizens pay €2 every day for the EU’s fossil fuel imports.

Wind power

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