Blog Posts

The Pre-2020 Opportunities Package

It’s on everybody’s lips and on everybody’s mind: COP22 is going to be the Action COP. The Moroccan presidency will need to do their utmost to start closing the ambition gap with concrete action on mitigation, adaptation and support. ECO invites Parties to join the incoming presidency in its efforts to build on the spirit of Paris.

The 2016 facilitative dialogue, finance high-level event, agreement on a capacity building work program, engagement of the high-level champions, and the high-level event to strengthen cooperative initiatives within the Global Climate Action Agenda can all be harnessed to help drive greater ambition.

The COP22 facilitative dialogue should aim to capture over-achievement by various countries and regional groups on the Cancun pledges, and should explore how NAMAs in the UNFCCC NAMA Registry pipeline could be supported to unlock potential short-term mitigation ambition even before Marrakesh. ECO also calls for developed countries to have a close look at what concrete sectoral commitments they can bring to the table.

At SB44, we saw the first ever technical expert meetings (TEMs) on adaptation, and two TEMs with follow-up dialogues on mitigation. The biggest challenge is converting the TEMs from a knowledge forum to an implementation one, developing a synergistic relationship with the various institutional bodies within UNFCCC and the broader Action Agenda.

ECO warmly welcomes the appointment of Laurence Tubiana and Hakima El Haité as the global high-level champions for pre-2020 climate action. In the next month, both must focus on developing a roadmap, which should lay out strategies to scale up transformative initiatives, and address the barriers to rapid deployment of climate-friendly technologies identified by the TEMs. They must also focus on championing the emerging Action Agenda.

Morocco should work transparently with France, Peru, the Secretariat, and the UNSG’s team to develop the necessary light-touch institutional infrastructure to strengthen the Global Climate Action Agenda. ECO proposes the establishment of a small permanent support team and funding arrangements, with clear links to the on-going UNFCCC technical examination processes for mitigation and adaptation.

There also needs to be an agreed set of criteria to bring initiatives into the Action Agenda. While it’s encouraging to follow the science-based target setting of some progressive business coalitions, it’s maddening to see the continued green-washing and sometimes blatant lying of the laggards (#ExxonKnew). ECO worries that giving the UN stamp of approval to such actors will not only undermine the credibility of the UNFCCC and the Action Agenda, but also put us further away from 1.5°C.

Then there’s the role of non-Party stakeholders. The Action Agenda must be about facilitating, enabling, and amplifying the interplay between states and non-state actors (with the exception, obviously, of those fossil fuel laggards!).

All these intended national actions cannot be scaled-up without the necessary finance. COP22 provides the opportunity for developed countries to finally “put their money where their mouth is,” enabling developing countries to upscale their NDCs. And to think about how they will move innovative sources of finance forward.

Lastly, capacity building will be the key to unlock much of the adaptation and mitigation potential of developing countries in the coming years. At COP22, Parties need to get the Paris Committee on Capacity Building (PCCB) off the ground to address gaps and needs, both current and emerging, to build capacity in developing countries.

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Don’t Let Bonn Lull You

ECO is somewhat concerned that after this week in Bonn, and following on the excitement of 177 countries signing the Paris Agreement last month in New York, delegates are being lulled into a false bonhomie. Much still needs to be done to ensure the Paris Agreement’s timely entry into force and to complete work on the various mechanisms, NDC guidelines, accounting rules, enhanced transparency framework and other key aspects of the Agreement. These issues should be given the careful consideration they need to get it right.

Only 17 states, so far, have deposited their instruments of ratification, and their emissions represent just 0.05% of total emissions. ECO is quietly optimistic that the agreement could enter into force this year or early next, though. The US and China are planning to ratify this year, as are some other countries, and the EU will at least initiate its ratification process before the (northern hemisphere) summer. However, several key countries are yet to signal when their own domestic ratification processes might deliver.

We cannot wait. Countries must ratify the Agreement as soon as possible, and then work diligently to ensure that the objectives are met, by rapidly ramping up their ambition in line with limiting global temperature rise to 1.5°C. Climate impacts are already threatening the survival of some states, while damage to ecosystems and societies threaten numerous others. This month, scientists confirmed that five of the Solomon Islands have already disappeared below the waves. Meanwhile, forest fires in Alberta, Canada, continue to burn out of control. Thousands have been evacuated as the combined size of the fires swells to 85,000 hectares. Terrible devastation by heat waves, droughts, floods and landslides is being experienced across South Asia.

Parties, working together with civil society, citizens, mayors, the renewable energy industry and others must grasp this opportunity to ratify the Agreement, enhance ambition and embrace the path toward a cleaner and more resilient future.

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Roadmap to $100bn Must Specify Adaptation Finance

Between now and Marrakech, developed delegates should start reflecting how much adaptation matters to the continent that is going to host COP22. Africa (along with many other countries, to be sure) is already bearing the brunt of climate change: crops are failing, water is diminishing, and lives and livelihoods are under threat from climate change. These mounting impacts are underscoring the frightening lack of adaptive capacity in many developing countries and communities, and the need for donor countries to ramp up financial assistance to enhance adaptation and resilience.

ECO calls for the African COP to pick up this unfinished business from Paris. Mark a turning point in adaptation finance. As developed countries get serious (finally!) about drafting a roadmap on how they will meet their $100-billion-a-year promise, they should explicitly spell out to what extent they will significantly increase annual adaptation finance by 2020. It’s not that hard. The GCF managed to do it. They set a goal to allocate 50% of their resources to adaptation. Surely developed countries can set a similar target for adaptation finance.

What’s needed at COP22 is not window dressing, but a real change increasing adaptation assistance to developing countries. This doesn’t mean shifting around existing aid budgets. It means new sources of public finance are put in place.

Just a number is not enough. We must also develop scenarios on how to ensure increased adaptation finance reaches the most vulnerable communities, people and populations, looking specifically at the needs of LDCs, SIDS, Africa and other highly vulnerable countries with low capacity. The roadmap should empower recipient countries in using climate finance by dedicating significant investment in readiness, capacity building and direct access models.

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It’s the Transparency, Stupid!*

The goal of strengthening transparency systems is not a new one; it’s been on the table since COP16 in Cancun, and work has been ongoing since then. The enhanced transparency framework is at the heart of delivering the Paris Agreement and achieving the level of ambition consistent with keeping warming to less than 1.5°C. Transparency is equally applicable to both action and support, and enhanced reporting of climate finance should be seen as an opportunity to win more ambition on finance, by clarifying what exactly is counted.

Completing negotiation of the rules for the enhanced transparency framework for action and support established in the Paris Agreement by COP23 in 2017 would contribute to a more effective 2018 facilitative dialogue, inform countries’ updating of INDCs, and help facilitate the more detailed discussions on NDCs and accounting guidance.

The guiding questions from the APA co-chairs on transparency give us a good start. To make real progress on the transparency discussions, Parties need to agree on a work programme from Bonn aimed at delivering clarity on just what “built-in flexibility” means, and how this might co-exist with a “common framework”. We also need to reach a shared understanding of what is meant by “converging over time” to give a sense of direction and progression, while ensuring flexibility in modalities, procedures and guidance for countries with lower capacity.

*Dear reader, ECO of course does not think you are stupid, but is simply paraphrasing Bill Clinton.

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Food for “Rights” Thought on Marrakech

Dearest Negotiators,

As you prepare to leave the city on the Rhine, here is some food for thought. Here is your charge for Marrakesh: fully integrate the rights package in the preamble to the Paris Agreement (human rights, the rights of indigenous peoples, just transition of the workforce, gender equality, food security, ecosystem integrity and intergenerational equity) into all climate actions at international and national levels.

This might seem like a tall task—but we know you can do it! On a macro level, protecting human rights means staying below 1.5°C, which will require dramatic cuts in emissions. It means ensuring that implementation is balanced and equitable, focusing not just on mitigation, but also on support, adaptation, and loss and damage. It means scaling up ambition (especially from developed countries in terms of mitigation action and support). Protecting human rights also requires ensuring adequate additional financial support with a core focus on public finance provision. Here are some specific actions:

  • Mandate an in-session expert workshop (May 2017) to explore the interactions between human rights and the transition to a low-carbon and climate-resilient world.
  • Host an in-session technical workshop in Marrakesh on traditional knowledge, the knowledge of indigenous peoples and local knowledge systems.
  • Establish a platform for indigenous peoples to exchange and share best practices on mitigation and adaptation and recognise an indigenous peoples’ expert group to provide related advice.
  • Feature ‘just transition’ in the response measures forum and work program serving the Paris Agreement, with active involvement of the ILO and trade unions.
  • Apply gender-responsive climate finance and technology transfer for local communities, enabling the scaling-up of gender-just climate solutions from the local to the national level.
  • Ensure a concrete set of activities as part of a new decision to take progress forward under the Lima Work Programme on Gender.
  • Halt deforestation and degradation and promote ecosystem restoration, in line with the SDGs and CBD Aichi Targets through transparent and comprehensive reporting in the land sector.

These practical actions will guide and support the integration of these key principles into implementation of NDCs. Meeting the Paris Agreement’s goals won’t be easy but the burden must not fall upon those who have done the least to create this problem but, are already suffering the impacts of climate change.


ECO* (with particular support from Trade Union Non-Governmental Organisations, Women & Gender Constituency, Indigenous Peoples’ Caucus, the Geneva Group, and the Human Rights & Climate Change Working Group)

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Ready for the 2018 Momentum?

Assignment: Submit clear views on the objectives, scope and modalities of the 2018  facilitative dialogue. Due: Before Marrakech.

A key outcome from Paris was Parties’ acknowledgement that current ambition levels are inadequate. The 2018 facilitative dialogue, mandated from COP21, presents a clear opportunity for countries to ramp up means of implementation, increase ambition within their proposed INDCs, and enhance the commitments already undertaken by Parties under the KP and the Cancun agreements.

ECO has some suggestions for delegates on how to make best use of the 2018 facilitative dialogue. Remember how good Paris felt? Well, delegates, we can achieve even greater heights in 2018! The overall objective for this dialogue should be to improve and revise current INDCs, taking into account the scientific evidence provided by the IPCC’s special report on 1.5°C. To achieve an effective outcome, Parties should not limit themselves to mitigation, but should also look at ways on enhancing means of implementation so as to facilitate an increase in ambition, and should factor in impacts in light of the 1.5°C goal.

To help generate real political momentum, the facilitative dialogue should include high level ministerial engagement that injects the needed urgency for action. It also should create space for honest discussions civil society observers, and inputs to the dialogue should draw on the wealth of work generated by academia and civil society on ways to enhance ambition, as well as comparative criterion-driven equity analysis.

COP22 will be important for setting up modalities towards this facilitative dialogue. Rather than duplicating work, modalities for the 2023 stocktake should be applied on a provisional basis for the facilitative dialogue in 2018. This will allow governments to test out the effectiveness of the modalities, providing an opportunity of learning by doing. Depending on the experience from 2018, the modalities for the 2023 stocktake could be revised accordingly.

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Wanted: Good News on Shipping and Aviation by Marrakech

In the two decades that ECO has been calling for action on shipping and aviation emissions, the period between now and Marrakech might be the best opportunity ever for some good news on both fronts.

The need for action has become even clearer in the recent UNFCCC aggregate assessment of the impacts of the INDCs. The report finds that mitigation INDCs of 189 countries now cover 95.7% of global emissions. This leaves 4.3% of global emissions outside of such emissions goals. Most of these are from international aviation and maritime transport, which are not covered by either national emissions targets or sectoral emissions caps.

The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) has set its assembly in October as a deadline to finalise its Market Based Measure to implement the goal of “carbon neutral growth from 2020”. This means they will offset emissions growth above 2020 levels in future years, by purchasing credits from outside the sector.

ECO urges the industry to demonstrate leadership and take a solid first step toward tackling the sector’s rapid growth in emissions. Despite facing headwinds, some progress was made in a high level meeting a couple of weeks ago in Montreal. This included making the offset criteria to be adopted mandatory and not just guidelines, and included a review and ratchet clause that explicitly provides for considering further ways that the aviation industry might contribute its fair share towards the long-term temperature goals in the Paris Agreement. On October 7, the global spotlight will be on ICAO to meet its commitment.

On international shipping, Parties have a perfect opportunity to kick-start a real discussion of the sector’s fair contribution to the Paris climate objectives. Parties had, as they say “a range of views”, at the Marine Environmental Protection Committee of the International Maritime Organisation meeting. The MEPC decided to consider again the case for creating a working group to address these proposals at the next meeting in October.

There is no reason to delay this further. The IMO is expected to formally agree on a CO2 emissions reporting MRV system for ship emissions later this year. There is already sufficient information and data related to this sector to underpin these important discussions of targets and measures to address emissions. ICAO and IMO, it’s time to align your plans with globally agreed climate objectives.

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Ethics 101: Conflict of Interest

It has come to the attention of ECO that, during the SBI contact group on Arrangements for Intergovernmental Meetings yesterday, many Parties and their lawyers were unclear about the definition of a fairly basic legal concept: “conflict of interest”. ECO knows that many negotiators (and certainly their legal experts) are lawyers. Imagine our surprise when several delegations feigned ignorance of the concept. As a public service to them (and all of us), here are the legal basics:

A conflict of interest may arise when activities, relationships or situations place a public institution, and/or an individual that represents it, in a real, potential or perceived conflict between its duties or responsibilities to the public, and personal, institutional or other interests. These others interests include, but are not limited to, business, commercial or financial interests pertaining to the institution and/or the individual. A conflict of interest, therefore, could be financial in nature or could simply point to diverging interests that may undermine policy objectives or outcomes.

Because nearly every public, and many private, institutions (like law firms) have the potential for conflict of interest, it is the rule, not the exception, that they also have policies to manage them. Indeed, many Parties to the UNFCCC also belong to other intergovernmental institutions like the OECD, where they have endorsed Guidelines for Managing Conflict of Interest in the Public Service since 2003. These guidelines state in no uncertain terms that “when conflict-of-interest situations are not properly identified and managed, they can seriously endanger the integrity of organisations and result in corruption in the public sector and private sector alike.” Given the potential for conflicts of interest with, say, the fossil fuel industry, ECO hopes that these Parties will therefore not block progress on this matter in the UNFCCC.

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Green 7?

The 2015 G7 saw Angela Merkel use it as an opportunity to emphasise the need for climate action, and as a way to keep G7 leaders engaged in the run up to Paris.

Now it is time for Japan to take the lead and galvanise the other G7 countries. However, it seems that they don’t have the same fervour as the previous hosts. The Japanese seem to have been fairly lacklustre in their attempts to make climate change a core component of the agenda. But never fear, ECO is here with some helpful suggestions about how our dear leaders can help the Japanese deliver.

We need the G7 to up the ante on the mid-century plans. It’s great that the US and Canada have promised to get going this year with Germany to follow suit. There are promising signs from France and China. Whilst this enthusiasm bodes well, the proof is in the pudding. We need major emitters to develop their low-carbon plans before the 2018 stocktake to inform the upgrading of (I)NDCs. The G7 should move first, and ensure these plans are finalised well before 2018. They need to lay out clear pathways to deliver both their climate and development objectives to drive and guide investment. If done well, the 2050 plans, called for in the Paris Agreement, offer an excellent opportunity to engage citizens and business in this visioning exercise, sowing the seeds for a much deeper and wider appetite for transformative ambition.

In 2015, the G7 announced support for specific initiatives that ECO is very excited about, the Africa Renewables Initiative and the Initiative on Climate Risk Insurance. ECO strongly encourages the G7 to deliver scaled up support to ensure that these initiatives are fully funded and able to meet the needs of communities. And let’s not forget the G7 promise to deliver the $100bn by 2020. They need to scale up finance in line with this promise.

Japan can use its G7 Presidency to signal its reemergence as a progressive force on climate change by outlining proactive collaboration on key elements of the international agenda. And wouldn’t it be great if Japan and other G7 countries used this meeting to announce their ratification of the Paris Agreement?

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Outflanked and Exposed, Japan Has Run Out of Excuses

Japan started on the right path when the Kyoto Protocol was adopted. It has since gone downhill. Paris delivered on the main negotiating demand that Japan proposed: action from all Parties and a framework for transparency and accountability. Ahead of the Japan G7, ECO believes Japan needs to do more.

1) Japan has all the national ingredients to advance a prosperous and thriving zero-carbon economy. Along with the US and Germany, Japan is one of the leaders in innovation of energy technologies, including wind, solar photovoltaic (PV) and concentrated solar power.

2) Japan is running out of friends. At one time, Japan was sheltered by a wide group of laggards it could hide behind—not so any more. A new government in Canada has now joined the Obama administration in pushing for a low-GHG agenda.

3) Japan is being outflanked by its neighbour, China. In 2015, total renewable energy investment in China rose 17% to US$102 billion–more than double that of Japan, where investment has remained flat over the past two years.

4) Japan is one of last remaining major donors for coal financing worldwide. Between 2007 and 2015, Japan financed more coal projects compared to any other G7 country, totalling approximately $22 billion. And worse still, Japan is considering more financing for coal to the tune of almost $10 billion. Let’s not even get started on Japan’s continual claims around “efficient” coal. Just keep it in the ground, Japan!

5) Japan still plans to increase its coal use domestically. This will compromise the country’s 2030 NDC and Japan could face $60 billion in stranded assets.

Japan has a rich history of innovation and advanced technology. It’s no wonder that ECO is left perplexed by their obsession with an old fossil like coal. Japan, it’s time to lead the world, instead of being shamed as an outdated player.

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