Blog Posts

Umbrella and LMDC countries take fossil for failing on concept of “negotiation”

UN Climate Negotiations are a marathon, not a sprint - as we are enter the final lap here in Lima our last Fossil of the Day award goes to the Umbrella and LMDC groups of countries who are trying to take us all on a race to the bottom. At this crucial moment Umbrella and LMDC groups are taking extreme positions, avoiding crucial political discussions, and refusing to engage with proposals on the table. We are at a moment in the negotiations where countries need to show political leadership, to rise above narrow self-interest and make progress towards decisions that are for the larger, global good. 

Today’s second place Fossil is jointly awarded to Ukraine, Russia and Belarus for holding up an agreement on the Doha amendment that now means the KP rules for the second commitment period will be postponed until Paris. These unlikely allies have kicked the can down the road instead of achieving and important goal here in Lima. What is particularly frustrating is that Belarus and Russia barely engaged, for such minimal input they have allied with Ukraine to cause one massive headache for the rest of us.

Our third place Fossil of the Day goes to Canada who have managed to fly under the radar here in Lima, despite plenty of underhand work stalling the talks and refusing to make any commitments. Canadian negotiators have told observers on the ground in Lima they’re on track to meet 2020 emissions reductions targets - this is a bald-faced lie. Back at home the Canadian government keep pushing to expand the oil industry like its 1899! Pipe-down Canada. 

Our final and most infamous award is the Final Fossil of the day at COP20!

This year’s Fossil of the Year Award, goes to Australia who take the Colossal Fossil award for collecting more Fossil awards than any other country here at COP20. From the get-go Australia signalled they were not coming here to make progress towards a comprehensive international climate agreement. This was pretty clear when they sent a climate sceptic Trade Minister Andrew Robb along to “chaperone” Foreign Minister Julie Bishop into a negotiating dead-end. The delegation in Lima has been dragging down loss & damage, flip-flopping on climate finance, and making bizarre comments that reveal a warped perspective on climate action. Shape up Australia, you are making Canada look good!

Assessed For Success

As Lima enters the end game, ECO stresses that the INDCs and the associated upfront
information requirements are at the core of the COP20 decision. The minimum expectation of a Lima outcome (based on the core of the Warsaw mandate) is a requirement of solid information provided when the INDCs are communicated. This needs to go hand in hand with the decision on INDC scope and assessment. Let’s look in turn at these three parts of the INDCs.

The scope of the INDCs is at serious risk of being unbalanced. Mitigation and finance are the absolute must-have elements, but also Parties that want to put forward information about their adaptation activities should be encouraged to do so.  And Parties’ fair share should be considered as the sums of domestic action and provision of support.

Assessments of INDCs need to be structured so that Parties do not feel they are being asked for more than their fair share, or that others are not doing so.

Therefore, it is essential that the assessment is of the individual equity of the INDCs, along with assessment of the aggregate effort. Furthermore, assessment will be fair only if it is based on the principles of adequacy,
CBDR+RC and equitable access to sustainable development.

The assessment phase before Paris depends on the timely availability of the necessary information. That means many months before COP21. Thus, up-front information requirements must at least include details about the type of mitigation targets, their base year, and so on.

Further, information should be included on quantified financial support for mitigation,
adaptation, capacity building, scale of support, timeframe of support, and more. Parties will also need to provide information supporting claims that their INDCs are, indeed, an equitable contribution toward the global effort.

And now, Parties, we need your information.

Related Newsletter : 

Loss and Damage: Not a Side Issue

Perhaps it’s not widely known, but ECO holds an honorary Ministerial post. And so it was pleasing to receive a letter from 85 civil society organizations from around the world calling for loss and damage to be recognized in the texts coming from Lima and in the 2015 Paris agreement.

The real Ministers, of course, also received the letter (but if not, we suggest checking your junk folder and your spam settings, or your staff may have put it in the reading file right behind the Daily Programme).

As the IPCC’s recent AR5 states, there are “limits to adaptation” at all levels of global average temperature increases including 1.5 and 2 °C. With the world still on a path to a 3° C increase and more, the impacts going
beyond those limits will become catastrophically worse.

The issue of loss and damage is a priority concern for vulnerable countries and for discerning Ministers (such as yours truly,
Minister ECO).

Vulnerable countries have not only done the least to contribute to the climate change crisis, they are also the ones suffering the greatest loss and the severest damage from its impacts.

An effective mechanism to provide financial and technical support to vulnerable developing countries and communities to address loss and damage is urgently needed.

This need will only increase as the impacts of climate change escalate in the years and
decades to come.

Whilst the Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage was a good first step, and we are happy that there seems to be an agreement on the work program and the executive committee, we still want to see the 2015 decision text from Lima under the ADP emphasizing loss and damage as an independent issue.

Related Newsletter : 

Two Key Points

As you go about the conference on this final day, here are two key points to remember:

1. Adaptation must have a central place in the COP20 decision text for the 2015 agreement. It should also be included in the INDCs, albeit in a legally distinct manner from mitigation obligations and with a voluntary character. It is important to recognize the adaptation efforts of developing countries and assess the progress in terms of capacity as well as any funding gap. After Lima, detailing of global adaptation goals, principles and cycles needs to be done for the 2015 agreement, linking it with public finance and expected global average temperature increase levels.

2. Loss and Damage should be distinct from adaptation and be adopted as one of the key element of the 2015 agreement. Loss and damage must be seen as being in a continuum with mitigation and adaptation, acknowledging that inadequate mitigation and insufficient adaptation lead to more loss and damage. The IPCC AR5 clearly stated that “limits to adaptation” are being reached. Therefore, loss and damage must be recognized as a separate element from adaptation in the new agreement.

Related Newsletter : 

G7 King Coal

ECO likes to think of itself as an environmentalist with a spreadsheet. The practical kind that identifies what the biggest obstacle is standing between us and a 2 or better a 1.5 degree world, and tackles it head on. We did the sums and ran the mode, and here’s what should be top of your lists for pre-2020 action and a central part of your INDC.

And it was President Calderon himself who reminded Ministers today that we urgently need to stop burning coal. That’s the recommendation that jumps out of his New Climate Economy Report, the hefty volume found on the tables of Finance Ministers around the world. And its conclusion: rich countries need to stop building new coal-fired power stations immediately and accelerate the retirement of their old ones; whilst middle-income countries need to call a halt to new coal in 2025. And of course, coal phase-out needs to go hand in hand with a fair, managed transition for workers to a 100% renewable future.

To get the conversation going, ECO’s scorecard ranks G7 countries (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, UK and US) on how they are doing in the move away from coal. We looked at eight different indicators, including how much coal each country burns overall; their coal dependency; whether coal power plant capacity is being added or closed down; how much taxpayer money is being spent on coal at home and abroad; and how stringently a country’s coal-specific regulation is.

Note that we did not look at coal production, focusing instead on where coal is being burnt. But we will come back to mining another time. As big fans of transparency, we have used a range of published data sources which we will be happy to provide, and which will make available in electronic form shortly.

So who is the G7 King Coal?  It’s Japan – the worst performer on four of these categories. They were closely followed by Germany as the coal runner-up. This will not be surprising to regular readers of ECO, who know that Germany’s excess coal capacity is dragging the country down from reaching its climate goals. However, unlike Japan, Germany is starting to move in the right direction. It has just tabled a new plan which would put a cap on its coal consumption and close the equivalent of 8 coal fired power plants, saving 22 MtCO2e. Japan, on the contrary, plans to build more coal capacity in the near future!

Special booby prizes are given to the UK for preparing to spend generous amounts of taxpayer money to keep struggling coal plants open. Seems they have got their coal phase-out plan back-to-front. And to Japan (again), whose Bank for International Cooperation is the world’s largest public financier of coal-fired power plants. In contrast, the US policies of no funding to coal overseas are an example to follow. As is Canada’s Emissions Performance Standard for new and existing power plants (countries with weak carbon prices take note – there is another way)! Canada rarely gets praise when it comes to climate and energy, so this will come as a pleasant surprise to their Government. See how good it feels? (Erm, now about those tar sands . . .)

Finally, although not a member of the G7, Denmark deserves the last word, as they are discussing a plan to phase-out coal by 2025 – a green, clean future with healthy, sustainable jobs awaits.  G7 – it’s over to you.Screen Shot 2014-12-12 at 7.56.26 AM

Related Newsletter : 

Just Transition: To Change 
Everything, We Need Everyone

Representatives of the world’s working people expressed outrage yesterday that the draft text in these negotiations currently excludes any reference to the need for a just transition and decent work. The Cancun and Durban COPs included that language in the decisions.

Trade unions, supported by civil society in general, explain that – in addition to requiring ambitious emissions reductions and sustainable finance – it is critical that the Paris agreement also ensures that the transition to a clean energy economy will meet the needs of working families for decent and good quality jobs and protect the livelihoods of workers in carbon-intensive sectors. ECO joins the call to restore the reference to just transition and decent work in the text.

As 400,000 marching in the streets of New York said, to change everything we need

Related Newsletter : 

The Untapped Potential of the Clean Transport Sector

In 2010, transport was responsible for 23% of energy-related CO2 emissions, with about two-thirds coming from road transport. Without concerted action, this number is poised to double in the next few decades. In order to stay beneath the IPCC recommended 2 °C scenario, it is essential that climate policy and action actively include transport.

Avoid-Shift-Improve (A-S-I) strategies provide strong potential in the transport sector, through mobility solutions based on sustainable transport systems. A-S-I works by avoiding or reducing the need to travel, shifting towards more environmentally friendly forms of travel, and improving the energy efficiency of vehicle technology and transport in general.

All components of this approach have been implemented at different levels both in developed and developing countries. Actions under this approach also have the great benefit of better air quality, and less road fatalities and congestion.

For example, the bus rapid transport (BRT) system in Lima, El Metropolitano, is a classic A-S-I project, and has expanded capacity and reduced travel times and emissions in ourhost city’s overcrowded streets.

Yet, the manner in which transport is being discussed in COP20 signals that parties are either not aware of the contribution of transport to GHG emissions, or they do not recognize the potential contribution transport can make towards respecting the 2° C  limit. The need for improved mass transport is not often mentioned when discussing climate finance, nor is it subject to much consideration in the technology-related institutions like the CTCN.

It is imperative to rapidly boost the standing of transport in the negotiations. The best strategy would be to combine a focus on transport as an item in the UNFCCC and broader action outside this process.

Within the UNFCCC, the emphasis needs to be on the INDCs as well as pre-2020 ambition. Growing evidence on mitigation potential in the transport sector must be translated into action by both developed and developing countries. Developing countries are especially important in this regard, and will be better able to take action if finance and technology can be tapped effectively.

The sustainable transport community invested heavily in the 2014 Climate Summit organized by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. This resulted in 5 large-scale commitments on land transport to act on public transport, railways, electric mobility, fuel efficiency and green freight. These commitments provide further illustration of the mitigation potential and the willingness of the transport sector to act.

In preparing for Paris it is important to raise the visibility of sustainable transport as a mitigation action.

Related Newsletter : 


Australia’s worsening status as a climate wrecker was given even more attention with its fourth Fossil of the Day awarded today at the Lima COP20. Aussies like to win things, but most sensible Australians would be shaking their heads at this.

So what did they do this time?

Well the Australian Trade Minister who is here to ‘chaperone’ the Foreign Minister told big business leaders yesterday that his Government may not sign up to a new global deal if major trade competitors are not doing it too; he said Australia will not “get it in the neck”.


Related Newsletter : 

Australia gets another Oi, to its Oi Oi Oi with 4th Fossil of the Day Award (4 out of 10, ouch)

Australia’s worsening status as a climate wrecker was given even more attention internationally with its fourth Fossil of the Day awarded today at the Lima COP20. It’s another dubious honour. It’s not an award the Prime Minister will be sending “straight to the pool room”- that’s for sure.

Even the spin doctors in the Abbott government will be scratching their flaky heads with what to do as these negative accolades roll on in. There have been ten days of Fossils awarded and Australia has won nearly half. Normally Aussies like to win things, but most sensible Australians would be shaking their heads at this.

So what did they do this time? Well the Australian Trade Minister who is here to ‘chaperone’ the Foreign Minister told big business leaders yesterday that his Government may not sign up to a new global deal if major trade competitors are not doing it to, he said Australia will not "get it in the neck". And heck he’s got a heck of coal to flog.

Robb’s a self professed climate sceptic, he’s travelling with BHP lobbyists here in Lima and he wanted to reassure everyone at the big end of town that those pesky developing countries got all they were ever going to get (you know that $200million over 4 years they pinched from the massively slashed Australian Foreign Aid budget.)

Minister Robb made it clear at the swanky event with big mining and big corporates that the Abbott Government may very well might not sign up to any agreement in Paris next year. That’s just not cricket Minister.  

Today we will also present a very unusual Ray of the Day - a “Pending” Ray. Japan have declared that the engagement of civil society in the INDC process is important - which is good. However, Japan is one of two countries (the other being the USA) that oppose webcasting meetings of the Green Climate Fund - an important element of transparency.

NGO participation and transparency are crucial in the INDC process. Since Japan is championing this position, and hopefully reflecting a similar sentiment at home, Japan is awarded a “Pending” Ray of the Day. When they stop blocking efforts to increase transparency in the Green Climate Fund, they can come and collect.


Dear Fossil Fuel 
It’s over.

Dear minister,

You can’t say you’re in favor of the 2 degrees target and at the same time refuse to take adequate action on short, mid and long term mitigation. That just doesn’t work.

Isn’t it time you admit that we simply need to phase out fossil fuels from our
energy system, completely? Could Paris be that moment? “Dear fossil fuel industry, it’s over.” Try that! Feels good.

Doing the math with the IPCC carbon budgets for both 2 and 1.5 degrees warming clearly show that we must get carbon emissions to zero by 2050. In reality, that means phasing out fossil fuels completely – which is what the Catholic Bishops called for yesterday, along with a transition to 100% renewable energy.

Getting there in time means taking action now. Here in Lima you need to agree to:

• Take more pre-2020 action, because doing it later would be harder and more costly.

• 5-year commitment periods to increase ambition in 2025 so as to avoid locking in low targets for 15 years.

• Zero carbon by 2050 as the clearest expression of the existing temperature goal.

• Provide sufficient  means of implementation so that developing countries can leapfrog to provide access to clean, renewable energy for all.

Related Newsletter :