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Homework between now and Bonn

The Geneva session ends today—step one on the road to Paris. Ten months and just three more negotiating sessions to go!  The world is eagerly awaiting an international agreement that represents a turning point and brings us significantly closer to keeping warming below 1.5°C, ensures protection for the most vulnerable by ramping up adaptation to climate change,  and helps countries cope with loss and damage — the impacts of climate change that go beyond adaptation.

ECO looks forward to continuing the collegial atmosphere here in Geneva at the next session in Bonn, building on what we are sure will be frequent formal and informal consultations, within groups and between groups, over the next three months. Of course, Parties, listening to your commitment to transparency, civil society expects to be engaged in these discussions and is ready to provide constructive input.

So how can Parties best use the time between now and Bonn?  First and foremost, they must talk to each other, so that they come to Bonn with a clearer understanding of what each others’ proposals mean, where they see options for “editorial streamlining”, and how to maximise ambition in the Paris agreement.


The elements text is peppered with options for differentiation, in which “developed”countries are required to do one thing and “developing” countries are required to do another. In practice, there are two matters at stake here: (1) should there be multiple groups that have different requirements for target types, finance obligations, and reporting requirements? and (2) how do we determine, numerically, when countries are doing their fair shares in terms of domestic mitigation on the one hand and international means of implementation on the other?

On the first question, national fair shares on mitigation and finance should be judged in terms of a basket of equity indicators: adequacy, responsibility, capability, adaptation need, and development need. For the second question, we’d like to hear from the Parties. Should the existing Annexes be kept? Kept but not operationalised? Redefined as dynamic annexes that are based on equity indicators, as in the Ethiopian proposal? Should we introduce more groups, as in the Brazilian proposal? Or should we just give up on having any overarching grouping system, and accept that we’re in a purely self-differentiated world (which seems to be the default path that we are on)? It’s clear to ECO that a constructive discussion is needed on these issues at the Bonn session in June.

Adaptation and loss and damage

There are plenty of good proposals in the text on guiding principles, the global adaptation goal, the link between mitigation, adaptation and loss and damage, national contributions and their communications, and institutional arrangements on loss and damage. Parties should spend the next few months making sure they understand these proposals better. Perhaps a Google hangout on the proposed institutional arrangements on loss and damage is in order?

As regular readers will have noted, ECO has spent some time this week emphasising the importance of both adaptation and loss and damage in the Paris agreement. When the schedule and focus of informal meetings between now and Paris is being decided, the importance of adaptation and loss and damage should be fully reflected.

There are several events in the weeks to ahead where Parties can build further consensus on these issues, including the April meeting in Bonn where LDCs and other countries come together to take stock of progress on their National Adaptation Plans, as well as the first meeting of the Warsaw Loss and Damage Mechanism Executive Committee.  When putting forward their INDCs, Parties should outline their adaptation plans and the support required to implement them.


In order to get us on a pathway compatible with keeping warming below 1.5°C, we need cycles and timeframes that will help to increase ambition over time. ECO recommends a five-year cycle for mitigation linked to a cycle for support, as well as regular, robust reviews, all guided by a clearly defined long-term goal.

And as any regular ECO reader will know, increasing ambition after 2020 is not enough to avoid dangerous climate change. We need action now, and we actually have a workstream for that purpose.

Parties should communicate to the co-chairs their priorities for the technical examination process; ECO suggests renewable energy, energy efficiency, and fossil fuel subsidies reform. The technical examination process (TEP) needs to consider concrete actions, barriers, and support needs. It is also time to start thinking about how an ambition mechanism that builds on the experiences from Workstream 2 can continue after Paris.


On climate finance, ECO is pleased that several helpful suggestions made it into the text, including five-year-cycles for setting, reviewing and updating collective targets for the provision of financial support, a requirement that developed countries and others [in a position][willing][happy] to do so contribute to achieving these targets, and that they regularly communicate what they are providing. The text also includes a proposed process through which developing countries would be enabled to identify what support they need to enhance action, again, in cycles.

Although not on the ADP agenda, many corridor conversations in Geneva circled around pre-2020 finance. Even the most stubborn developed country delegates seem to understand that clarity on the $100-billion-promise is a must-do for success in Paris.  So here’s a friendly warning: the roadmap to $100 billion must not be a cheeky accounting exercise, but must reflect a real scaling-up of public finance on top of levels that were already being provided or mobilised in 2009 when the promise was made.  ECO hopes this issue will be on the menu when finance ministers meet at the spring World Bank/IMF meetings in April, and that positive movement will be evident well before Paris — perhaps even by the June session in Bonn.

Long-Term Goal

Last, but not least, ECO expects Parties to appropriately respond to the accumulated insights coming from the conclusion of the three year-long Structured Expert Dialogue (SED). Here’s a quick summary: there is evidence for dangerous climate change even with 2°C warming, and we are not even close to on track to stay under that limit. And if you prefer, a tweet:

#TimeForClimateAction WAKE UP, PEOPLE! We are heading for a horrible climate catastrophe, and we really, really need to act.

Starting in Bonn, countries must work towards language in the Paris agreement that clearly expresses our need to phase out fossil fuel emissions by mid-century, and to build a global economy based on 100% clean, renewable energy resources. The science is clear: to stay below a temperature increase of 1.5°C, we must do no less.

So there you have it: five easy pieces. If Parties come to Bonn prepared to engage on these issues, the prospects for the deal we need in Paris are bright indeed.

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Ultimate Paris Legal Quiz

Test your knowledge about the legal form of the Paris agreement. Multilateral choices possible!

  1. Does the legal form of the agreement matter?
    a) Yes, it ensures that all Parties will fulfil their promises.
    b) Yes, otherwise the carbon market will collapse.
    c) Yes, as long as it’s possible to achieve it.
    d) Yes, because it could help countries meet the objective of the climate convention.
  2. Many Parties call for a Protocol. What is a “protocol”?
    a) An unwritten rule on how to behave, like here in Geneva or on the Internet, often referred to as ”etiquette”.
    b) An instrument tied to and often seen as extending or deepening a treaty (see Montreal Protocol to the Ozone Treaty and other well-known protocols).
    c) Something to expect in Paris, because we like the enforcement of the Kyoto Protocol.
    d) Something to expect in Paris, because we like the lack of effective compliance we have now.
  3. What would “legally binding” mean for this agreement?
    That it is written in such a way that everyone knows what to do and what to expect.
    b) That if a polluter that has to pay, it really has to pay.
    c) That the word “shall” appears more times than “will”, “should”, “can” and “may” in the text.
    d) It has provisions to ensure compliance, and is, at least in principle, judicially enforceable.
  4. Does a Party need to establish domestic climate legislation?
    a) Of course! An agreement (see 1) requires this.
    b) Of course! Parties refer to this in an agreement.
    c) Of course! So civil society can sue the state to make it comply with the obligations.
    d) No! If a Party signs and ratifies an agreement, it will always comply.

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INDCs for Parties

INDCs Image

Parties: as you return home to do your INDC homework, ECO reminds you that sequencing is important. Remember to do so on your commitments on finance, mitigation and adaptation assignments, and to do so with fairness and equity in mind. For the first batch of students with submissions due in March, your tasks are clear:

  1. Ensure that the INDC presents enough information so that you can determine the amount of greenhouse gas emissions that will be emitted over the entire commitment period. Ask yourself: “Can I tell how many tonnes my country is going to emit over this period?”. Then add more information until the answer is: “Yes!”
  2. Ensure that the type of the mitigation INDC fits your country’s profile. All developed countries capable should provide an economy wide GHG emissions carbon budget to 2025. Other countries in a position to join them should do so—the more the merrier!
  3. Ensure that the INDC provides clear and transparent information on the role of the forest and land sector. A full proof way is to count the tonnes that the atmosphere sees.
  4. For countries with high responsibility and capability, the INDC should include a finance contribution. For countries that will require financial support, the INDC should indicate financing needs.
  5. Ensure that you provide a description on how your INDC is fair and ambitious. Here’s a simple way to do this is to answer the following questions. 1) In your opinion, what’s left of the carbon budget, and is it compatible with 1.5°C and 2°C and the objective of the convention? 2) How many tonnes of this budget do you do you intend to claim? 3) Why is this your country’s fair share? Before getting too creative, reflect what would happen if other countries applied your criteria.
  6. Outline what your country is doing to cope with the ever-increasing impacts of climate change, and if you are a developing country, describe your needs for finance and capacity building to implement adaptation strategies that are up to this challenge.
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There are still new ideas under the sun – If you know where to look…

Dear delegates, after an [exhausting][exhilarating] week here in Bonn some of you might be feeling tapped out of new [ideas][text]. But ECO is here to assure you that there are some new-old and new-new ideas still out there to be taken advantage of in finance.

The UNEP Adaptation Gap report gave the full rationale for exploring these ideas. It is clear that [new] [innovative] [alternative] sources of finance offer significant potential to raise new, additional and predictable finance for adaptation and loss and damage. In fact, we could raise between USD 26 and 115 billion by 2020 from just 3 of these sources:

  • A Financial Transaction Tax (FTT) in the EU has been given a new lease on life by President Hollande, with his plan to host a meeting of 11 interested Eurozone nations this year. The opportunity is there to commit FTT revenues to the GCF.
  • A clear signal from the Paris agreement that international transport emissions must be addressed by international aviation and maritime bodies ICAO and IMO.  This could unlock new finance, whilst helping diminish a projected BAU emissions growth of up to 270% in this sector by 2050.
  • Despite 87% of auction revenues from the EU ETS going to climate finance, less than 20% of this, from just five countries, has gone to international climate finance,. This offers an opportunity to change the rules so that all allowances are auctioned, increasing total funds and committing participating countries to providing revenue to international finance.
  • The idea of a Fossil Fuel Extraction Levy, to be paid into the Loss and Damage Mechanism, offers the opportunity to raise substantial new and predictable finance from the fossil fuel industry, rather than treasury coffers, to pay for loss and damage.
  • Finally, there is the matter of the millions that could be freed from the largely dormant funds in the UNFCCC’s Sustainable Development Mechanism unit, as well as the CDM scale-up fund, and redirected either to the Adaptation Fund or towards capacity building.

Thanks to a group of forward-thinking Parties, we have the option to explore these new sources of finance in the text. We need Paris to agree to kick this effort off immediately in 2016, with a view to identifying and mobilising these alternative sources of finance by 2020, or 2025 for the sources that will take longer to come to fruition.

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The right stuff

When ECO learnt that February’s ADP session would be held in Geneva, home of the Human Rights Council, we started dreaming of how the UNFCCC could use a change of scenery (from Bonn) to agree, respect, protect, promote and fulfil human rights for all, in all climate change related actions.

Little did we know that nations of the world would actually come one step closer to fulfilling this dream, and in the very first few hours of the session too! Well done. A significant number of groups and countries; including Mexico, Uganda, Chile, the EU, Bolivia, and Tuvalu, supported the inclusion of strong language of human rights, the rights of indigenous peoples, and gender equality. This was done throughout different sections of the text including Section C which will help ensure that these principles apply to all aspects of the agreement.

Even though the engagement levels have been great from a wide array of Parties, the road to Paris is short and winding. As Parties are about to engage in the so-called streamlining exercise, remember that beyond all the legalese, climate change has profound human consequences. The lives and livelihoods of literally billions of people are riding on what comes out of this process.

ECO is hopeful that the Geneva legacy will make history, and recalls President Hollande’s words last month that COP21 will be an opportunity for “all nations of the world to take a new step in favour of human rights through the UN climate conference. It is our duty to succeed.”

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Join the movement

Be heartened, delegates! Soon you’ll be back in that other, outside, world, away from all things ADP, streamlining, contact groups and spotty Plug-N-Play Internet.  This wonderful outside world is also home to a global movement of citizens who have taken climate leadership into their own hands.

There’s the 400,000 activists taking to the streets of New York, or millions working on climate solutions every day at a variety of levels – the world is pressing ahead to end the fossil fuel era. Today, Global Divestment Day, will see hundreds of communities in 58 countries sending a clear message to institutions: it’s time to stop funding fossil fuels.

As you move ahead towards Paris, ECO hopes Parties will keep an eye on this exciting outside world, and be encouraged by the progress happening all around us. This week has seen you walking in the right direction, but the sooner you pick up the pace, the sooner you’ll catch up to the rest of us.

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All aboard: don’t leave out airplanes and ships

Climate negotiators spend much more of their lives on airplanes than they would no doubt wish for. Perhaps there is some kind of psychological repression that makes them want to forget about airplanes as soon as they arrive at the negotiations. But we can’t meet our climate objectives if we don’t include the large and fast-growing emissions from aircraft and ships travelling between countries, which are not included in national targets.

The negotiating text took an important step forward this week with the inclusion of text calling for setting emission targets for shipping and aviation, in the context of a 2 degrees C objective. The coming months are an opportunity for a dialogue between Parties on why this step is so crucial to an ambitious deal, and addressing any concerns raised.

The importance of this step is clear. Shipping and aviation account for about 6% of global emissions. Indirect impacts of these sectors, like cirrus cloud formation and black carbon, likely add several percent to these impacts. The IMO and ICAO have stated that BAU emissions will increase by up to 250% for shipping and 270% for aviation by 2050. They would account for one-quarter of all allowable emissions under a 2 degree scenario and one-third under a 1.5 degree scenario. A credible deal cannot exist without a role for IMO and ICAO, and an understanding of the contribution these sectors are prepared to make.

A key concern of Parties is to ensure that any measure adopted by IMO or ICAO conforms to their view of an appropriate application of the principles they hold dear. The text proposed doesn’t prejudge this–it merely requires each organisation to identify an emission reduction pathway, and leaves it for Parties to each organisation to require that any measures adopted are done so in a way that is fair and equitable.

ECO is convinced that solutions exist for emissions reduction measures that respect and reconcile the principles of the relevant bodies. Workable proposals to address differentiation and incidence have been advanced for both sectors. These include “route-based” differentiation for aviation. and for shipping, a financial mechanism that ensures that revenue from any carbon price or levy is allocated in a manner that differentiates between developed and developing countries, in accordance with their capabilities, responsibilities, and circumstances, particularly for SIDS and LDCs.

As discussions continue, the wording may need to be strengthened and improved. However, its intent is clear–all sectors must play their part and all emissions sources must be covered.

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ECO’s Valentine’s Nest

Love in the time of climate change

Are you in the mood for love? Been eyeing that special someone from across the negotiating hall? Wishing you could have a private bilateral or two? Today’s your lucky day, because ECO is accepting personal ads to match you to that perfect partner. Send us a short description of your best traits at, and we’ll find you a compatible cutie to stay up with highlighting your draft text all night long.

“High Energy”

Small in stature and greenie at heart seeks partner equally enamoured by windmills, woollen sweaters and mermaids for long walks on the beach and common efforts to reach 100% renewable energies. While arrival on a white steed is not required, proficiency on an iron horse certainly is.

“Big Deal”

When it comes to carbon, I’m kind of a big deal. Size matters. And if we’re talking cumulative emissions, it’s really no contest at all. I’m not looking for any sort of binding commitment, but if you’ve got something to offer—call me? Maybe we can make it work.

“Fresh Start”

I’m a fun, major emitting country looking to start something new, eh? My previous relationship was 7 years long, and had too many rules and commitments. If you’re up for a good time, enjoying the moment, and not worrying about the future, then I’m your country for romance.

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In Defence of an objectives section

Let’s start with the big questions: Why are we here? Is it the beautiful mountain panorama overlooking a magnificent lake, the long working days or the joy of spending more money, than average, for just about everything? No, ECO doesn’t think so either. We’re here to save civilisation, secure our children’s future, keep global warming below 1.5 C; and to pave the path to get there.

The agreement needs to send a signal to the rest of the world that we’re heading in the right direction towards a transition to a carbon-free future. It’s not rocket science that putting the common objectives section at the beginning of the document sends a signal that this is exactly what we will do.

Clarity at the start of the document will give structure to the text and establish the overall goal supported by all of the subsequent elements of the agreement. Ergo, ECO will defend Section C until it runs out of ink to voice our never-ending support. It’s Section C that will provide a clear direction knitting together all the pieces, outline the drivers and our shared aspirations.

Section C on objectives must:

  • Set the direction towards a resilient world in which we phase-out fossil fuel emissions and phase-in renewable energies, as soon as possible, and no later than 2050.
  • Reflect requirements for finance, technology and capacity building for creating that resilient world and outline the MOI for developing countries; to help them peak their emissions before subsequently reducing them, ensure human rights, indigenous rights, gender equality and a just transition to decent work opportunities for all.
  • Make clear that Parties understand the need for adaptation and preparedness will depend on on how fast emissions may be reduced.

We all know climate change is a systemic challenge. An agreement that does not start with a frame to enable a systemic response simply wouldn’t work. We need to get this right from the start.

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Differentiation is in the air

The post-Copenhagen vogue has been all about self-differentiation. Everyone wants to talk about it! This is good news, because if we don’t differentiate contributions and rules and get trapped in pure self-differentiation, we’ll lack the overdue ambition needed to tackle climate change .

But we’ll need to become a lot clearer about the differentiation challenge. So what is needed now? Let’s start with top-down elements – e.g. equity based comparative review and ratcheting – integrated in the Paris agreement. To that end, ECO raises the following three questions:

1) How do we differentiate?

The old binary distinction between “developed” and “developing” countries is unacceptable to (ahem) developed countries. Meanwhile, developing countries will not accept a new accord without a distinction between groups of countries.

So, what to do? Ideas are flying! We have Brazil’s “concentric circles” proposal and South’s Africa’s equity reference framework. There’s also America’s rather tongue-in-cheek suggestion for a formulation in which emissions and economic indicators are used to define dynamic groups called “Annex X” and “Annex Y”. Then there’s Ethiopia with their different formulation of dynamic annexes, based on per capita GHG and GDP indicators. And just about everyone’s future features “cycles.”

2) Which rules should apply to which groups?

The rules of participation and responsibility are not expected to be the same for all groups. The MRV rules will differ according to groups, and so will plenty of other things.

3) How do we define equitable shares?

A positive cycle of increasing ambition requires an equitable regime. Grouping countries is insufficient because it won’t define national “fair shares” in the common effort to stabilise the climate system. You already know our five equity indicators: adequacy, responsibility, capability, adaptation need and development need. South Africa’s equity reference framework and India’s recent “Section K” suggestion on differentiation are not too different.

So, it’s clear that with Valentine’s Day around the corner, it’s not just love in the air — differentiation is in the air too. Now we need agreement on differentiation that’s fair and robust enough for COP21, while opening the door for improvement and strengthening in the years after it. By June we need helpful results. This should pave the way for a common understanding of differentiation in Paris that supports an ever improving review and ratcheting system.

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