Blog Posts

The Just and Equitable Transition: Where is my Home?

Meeting the 1.5°C target means all Parties must transition away from dirty fossil fuels to clean and renewable energy as fast as possible, in line with the IPCC science and deadlines. This shift from dirty to clean power isnt the whole story though: the necessary energy transition must also be centered in justice and equity, where the rights of Indigenous peoples, people with disabilities, workers and unions, youth, women and gender constituents, local communities, and other structurally oppressed groups, are protected and strengthened in a new inclusive and resilient energy economy. 

The reason is simple. We cant afford to keep power, both literally and figuratively, centralized – perpetuating systems of exploitation upon which our current fossil fuel economy is built. We need to make sure that government actions factor in and respect the human, social, economic, and environmental rights at stake. 

The problem is that the topic of just and equitable transition hasnt been afforded a natural home in the negotiations. Yes, it appears under Response Measures, and the Forum looks like it is close to adopting a 6-year work plan to help foster capacity-building and exchange of best practices between Parties. However, just and equitable transition is still not central to ambition goals, NDCs, finance and other commitments. This needs to change. Basic principles of equity and justice cannot be divorced from all the other momentous actions that need to happen to battle the climate crisis.

ECO urges all Parties to meaningfully integrate these principles of equity and justice into all their commitments in meaningful and inclusive manners. Because the people and the planet are at stake.

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Multilateral Assessment - We’ve Got Questions for You

ECO is excited to see so many Annex I Parties participating in the multilateral assessment of their biennial reports. ECO congratulates Parties for participating and thinks the multilateral assessment can be a great place to share experiences and lessons learned with other Parties in a constructive environment. We look forward to hearing your presentations and answers during the Q&A sessions. 

Since ECO cant ask questions during these workshops, we figured wed ask them here:

  • To all Parties

    • Can you provide an update about actions taken to strengthen policy-making processes – in particular in relation to public access to information and public participation – so as to improve climate responses and promote policy coherence in the context of progress made towards meeting your commitments under the UNFCCC?

  • Belgium

    • Like all other countries, Belgium should finalize its Long Term Strategy by the end of next year. Could you explain what the current status of the strategy is, keeping in mind that four governments (and other stakeholders) need to contribute to it?

    • To what extent do the policy measures proposed in your draft and (now almost final) National Energy and Climate Plan correspond to the goal to reduce emissions by 35% in 2030? Does the plan include specific data on the climate effects of the different proposed measures and a detailed overview of investments needs? Do you care to share?

  • Bulgaria

    • Bulgaria is still not a member of the Just transition platform of the EU and has no plans for a coal phase out. Is Bulgaria planning to remain a coal-dependent country? What are the plans for an energy transition in Bulgaria? 

    • In the draft version of its NECP, the Bulgarian Environmental ministry proposed an increase of CO2 emissions to 2030. Is this still a position of Bulgaria and how does this target align with the EU and UN climate targets, and the SDG goals?

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The Conversation Continues… OMGE! Convincing a Skeptic on “Automatic Cancellation”

Welcome back! ECOs conversation with an OMGE automatic cancellation skeptic was just too [lengthy][complex][exciting] for one day. Mandatory partial cancellation ensures that Article 6 goes beyond zero-sum offsetting (a principle and requirement under Article 6.4 of the Paris Agreement. Mandatory partial cancellation is a process where buyers (like a country or an airline for compliance under the ICAO CORSIA) buy some mitigation outcomes and a certain percentage of that purchase has to be set aside for the benefit of the atmosphere. Whats left would be used by the buyer to help achieve the target.

So here we go… 

ECO: Hi there OMGE automatic cancellation skeptic. How did that discussion on baselines and additionality go? Lets continue discussing OMGE automatic cancellation. Shall we?

OMGE automatic cancellation skeptic: Yes, I would love to continue our discussion. Im starting to understand your perspective. But, with this automatic cancellation thing:  it just complicates things.

ECO: It is actually very straightforward. We have already been setting credits aside under the CDM for share of proceeds. The logic is comparable. So, we have the necessary experience on how to set this up. In Katowice, countries were in a position to agree on voluntary cancellation for Article 6.4, so this isn’t something new.

OMGE automatic cancellation skeptic: I understand. But we dont know enough about how this would affect supply and demand for ITMOs, so setting any rate is very dangerous. Why do you want to kill the market?!

ECO: We know enough. Demand is very likely to be fairly inelastic for a while — meaning, countries and ICAO CORSIA-complying airlines that are the likely buyers of credits are going to need them anyway in the short term to hit their climate targets. And if they don't need them, they really shouldn't be using carbon markets to hit these targets. They should be using them to OVERACHIEVE their NDCs.

OMGE automatic cancellation skeptic: Ok, fine… I'm starting to realize that this mandatory cancellation thing is a pretty good idea. Maybe I would be okay with OMGE through mandatory cancellation in the Article 6.4 mechanism; but please, please don't affect those precious emissions trading systems and bilateral mechanisms which would fall under Article 6.2. OMGE is not called for in 6.2.

ECO: I'm glad you're starting to understand that mandatory OMGE under Article 6.4 is the most logical approach. You're really starting to take a more…cooperative approach [Hahaha…awkward pause]. Lets at least agree on the need to apply this to Article 6.4, and then consider the other opportunities for applying it to Article 6.2. 

OMGE automatic cancellation skeptic: … Alright, I agree with you. Let's go with a 50% OMGE automatic cancellation rate. And let's start looking at how to apply it to Article 6.2 as best we can. 

[After reaching this agreement, OMGE automatic cancellation skeptic and ECO high five! Then over tapas and wine talk about how to phase out the Kyoto mechanisms, ensure there is no double counting, and ensure the protection of human rights through social and environmental safeguards, an independent grievance mechanism, and consultations with potentially affected communities. They solve all Article 6 issues overnight and realize that OMGE was actually a key issue to unblock things and not just a nice to have.”]


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Australia Needs to Start its NDC at the Starting Line, Not Half-way Through the Race

Imagine if in the Olympics you could get away with starting the race half way down the track. That is what Australia plans to do with its NDC — to carryover a controversial “overachievement” from its modest Kyoto Protocol commitments to extinguish half the effort required to meet its very deficient 2030 target. Australia has admitted it has 367 million tonnes of units. Though you won’t see this mentioned in Australia’s NDC, and ECO wonders if it ever will be, given Australia’s reluctance to update its climate efforts next year. 

With bushfires burning across Australia, rising national emissions, rising coal and gas exports (recall Australia is the third largest exporter of fossil fuels), and failed climate policies — now is the time for Australia’s new Ambassador for the Environment to step up and do the right thing. Cancel these credits that even your Kiwi neighbours admit are not in the spirit of the Paris Agreement. And if any countries have text up their sleeve to stop the use of carryover units from Kyoto, ECO hopes they table it at COP25. 

EU, is this one for you? Leadership extends to ensuring the integrity of the Agreement, in addition to increasing domestic ambition. Here’s an opportunity for true leadership.

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Voices from the Front Lines: Loss and Damage: the Price of Carbon in the Philippines!

On 2 December, category 4 typhoon Kammuri made landfall in the Bicol region of the Philippines. Several hours prior, Paula Guevara, a resident in the region, recalls a literal calm before the storm. Then she heard a whistling sound she had only previously heard during typhoon Haiyan in 2013. Her household then lost power. And then came the strong winds and heavy rainfall that lasted through the night.

After a stormy night, her house remained standing, except for the avocado tree in front of her house. This tree had survived previous super-typhoons, but its luck ran out with the fury of Kammuri.

The tree is a literal embodiment of loss and damage that vulnerable communities are facing in the climate emergency. If drastic greenhouse gas emissions cuts do not happen immediately, adaptation and resilience-building measures will not be enough to address climate change impacts in the future.

While Paula’s family was fortunately unscathed, others were not so lucky. As of writing this, 13 people lost their lives, nearly 400 thousand Filipinos were displaced, and more than PHP800 million (US$16 million) of agricultural assets were damaged by Kammuri. 

We refuse to accept that we keep paying the price of carbon. Polluters must pay with their ill-gotten wealth, not innocent people with their lives. We demand for climate finance to not just support mitigation and adaptation measures or address loss and damage, but also proactively avoid and minimise the latter. We deserve better.  

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The Erosion of Ice and Identity in the Arctic

We all know the reason for our annual COP convergence: avoiding catastrophic climate change. The IPCC told the world that we have the next 10 years to close the emissions gap, but the message from National Inuit Youth Council President, Crystal Martin-Lapenskie, is “Inuit living in the Arctic don’t have 10 years. We are experiencing catastrophic climate change right now.” Inuit knowledge was echoed in the findings of the IPCC Report on Oceans and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate (SROCC) released in September and shared yesterday on the floor at COP25. The report is an example of Indigenous knowledge and Western science saying the same thing: the cryosphere is changing, rapidly and profoundly. Warming oceans and air mean reduced ice coverage, rising sea levels, flooding in low lying areas, and the erosion of our shorelines resulting in relocations of infrastructure and people. For Inuit living in the Arctic, ice and glacial loss is not just a matter of physical changes in the environment, but a threat to Indigenous lives and livelihoods.

Inuit from throughout Chukotka, Alaska, Canada, and Greenland as well as others have been bringing this message of urgency to the COP for decades. Benjamin Qetun’aq Charles, Inuit Yup’ik, Inuit Nunaat (homelands), talks about how Indigenous knowledge systems are evolving due in part to exponentially changing ecosystems. He says, “Water bodies; rivers, lakes and ponds and the ocean ecosystems temperatures have increased. Our fishermen have been forced to harvest outside of legally regulated fishing times. Hunter-gatherers have to travel much longer distances to find food sources including walrus, seal, and whale, which are adapting to changing macro, micro and/or amalgamating ecosystems, for example, ice for seals and walrus haul-outs. This changes the dynamics for hunters and gatherers who are traveling longer distances at greater monetary expense.”

Air temperatures within the Arctic are increasing at a rate of at least two times the global average. This makes the 1.5°C target stipulated in the Paris Agreement redundant for those who are already being displaced both physically and culturally. The Pikialasorsuaq Commission initiated by the Inuit Circumpolar Council (ICC) recommended Inuit-led management in response to cryosphere change in the North Water Polynya. In the past, Inuit would cross between Canada and Greenland along an ice bridge; however, this practice now depends heavily upon uncertain ice and sea-ice conditions. The commission have supported the continuation of this crossing by establishing direct Inuit control over the region and visa-free travel for all Inuit users between Canada and Greenland. 

While Indigenous Peoples work against rising tides, to uphold the traditional livelihoods of Inuit, they continue to be undermined by the lack of ambition shown by state governments. Current projections show that states are a long way off of staying under 1.5°C of warming. Inuit are in the midst of climate relocation and unprecedented adaptation.  More ambitious targets, and urgent action to reach them, are needed now. The Arctic can no longer be thought of as the “dress rehearsal” for the rest of the world. The basic human rights and traditional ways of Inuit are at stake right now, and ambitious NDC’s are needed which reflect the value of their lives and livelihoods too.

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Part 2: When Your Negotiator Says ‘Why do We Need Loss & Damage Finance’? Who You Gonna Call? ‘ECO!’’

Yesterday ECO answered some developed countries’ questions on why a new finance facility on loss & damage (L&D) was needed, how L&D should be defined, and why new and additional finance is needed to address L&D. Countries loved it so much that they asked ECO a few more questions. So, by popular demand, ECO is back for another round!

Why should there be additional finance?

Vulnerable and frontline communities in developing countries have been inundated with extreme heat waves, rampant forest fires, devastating droughts, catastrophic floods, increasingly destructive hurricanes, typhoons and cyclones, and sea level rise. These climate-drive loss and damage impacts are stealing people’s lives and livelihood, and they go beyond what people and ecosystems can adapt to. Impacted communities cannot be expected to address climate change on their own, especially not without resources, support, and implementation structures in place.

Developed country rebuttal: Why should we split L&D finance from adaptation finance?

ECO says: For many countries, it is necessary that there be both financing to adapt to climate impacts and to address losses and damages resulting from climate impacts that cannot be adapted to. Most financing for adaptation is not able to support the needs of developing countries to address loss and damage. Finance is needed to address slow onset climate impacts (sea-level rise, glacial melt, forest degradation) as well as fast onset impacts (typhoons, landslides, wildfires) and adaptation finance does not adequately cover all of these needs. 

Developed country rebuttal: Why can’t we just commit to providing more finance for adaptation?

ECO says: Loss and damage is the consequence of moving beyond the ability of people and ecosystems to adapt to the scale and pace of changing climates. Although adaptation financing is a priority and needs to be rapidly scaled up, for many people, the reality is that it is too late to adapt.

Developed country rebuttal: Why does the WIM need to take a human rights and gender-responsive approach?

ECO says: Women, children, Indigenous communities, and members of the transgender community are often more impacted by loss and damage than men, especially when it comes to access to health care, food, and water. For example, after a drought, members of these communities are more likely to face water insecurity longer than men. Such discrimination makes these communities more vulnerable to being taken advantage of and, additionally, increases the likelihood of further exposure to climate risks after a shock.  

Developed country rebuttal: Why does the WIM only prioritise vulnerable communities in developing countries? 

ECO says: The mandate of the Warsaw International Mechanism on Loss & Damage (WIM) is to support developing countries. Many of whom are the least responsible for climate change. ECO finds it absurd that some countries would ask for the divide between countries to be re-examined. ECO recognises that there are marginalised peoples and communities around the world. However, developed country Parties are often in a better position to address climate change and have more resources and options, compared to developing countries. 

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The Sky is not for Shell: Side-event with Shell, BP and Chevron Leaves Many Protecting their Ears

Were almost halfway through COP25 and carbon markets remain the talk of the day. The International Emissions Trading Association (IETA), which was co-founded by Shell, is going full speed ahead to keep markets high on the agenda. Yesterday, the IETA pavilion hosted six side events on the topic. This is no coincidence. 

Last year in Katowice, the Anglo-Dutch oil and gas giant Shell used the pavilion to boast about its role in getting carbon markets into the Paris Agreement. At an IETA side-event a Shell representative said: We can take some credit for the fact that Article 6 is even there at all”.

This year, the oil and gas company is back. It is calling for a simple but rigorous rulebook that … encourages large scale transactions”. But why exactly is Shell so eager to get its way with carbon markets? Maybe because markets could allow Shell to continue producing more oil and gas. On Thursday, the report Oil, Gas and the Climate” showed that Shell has the second highest projected increase in oil and gas production in the next five years. On the same day, Shell was back at its favourite spot, speaking at an IETA side-event about markets for natural solutions,” alongside bddies Chevron and BP.

In a powerful sign of protest, activists (who took up most of the room) stood up when Shells panelist started to speak, covered their ears and walked out.

ECO understands that carbon markets look like a magical solution for Shell and other big oil companies, whose magic would allow business as usual while avoiding responsibility for cutting emissions at the source. In fact, Shell has already padded its profits from the EUs Emission Trading Scheme, making over €185 million in windfall profits between 2014 and 2018 in the Netherlands and receiving an additional €8.3 million in subsidies from the Dutch government as compensation for participating in the scheme between 2014 and 2018.

But limiting warming to 1.5°C, means cutting emissions by 7.6% every year between now and 2030, and there is simply no atmospheric space left to trade and no room for carbon market rules that put the interests of polluters over those of people. On Article 6, a weak deal would blow a giant hole in the Paris goals, which would be far worse than no deal at all.

At a bare minimum, Article 6 needs to exclude old, dusty credits and underhanded double-counting. It needs to reduce emissions – not move them around the world – and include strong protections for human rights and Indigenous sovereignty. 

The legacy of carbon offsetting schemes so far is one of barely if at all reducing emissions while enabling conflict, corporate abuse, forced relocation, and threats of cultural genocide, particularly for Indigenous Peoples, smallholder farmers, forest dwellers, young people, women and people of colour.

If Parties followed activists' lead and tuned out Shell and other polluters completely, they might open their eyes to the possibilities of far greater ambition.

Planned oil, gas and coal projects already in the pipeline represent more than double what can be burned by 2030 if were to limit warming to 1.5°C. It is time to start addressing emissions at the source. With the likes of Shell back at COP25 to promote false solutions, it is high time for governments to listen to people rather than corporations, and to take serious action on the climate crisis, including limiting the production of fossil fuels. In their updated NDCs next year, governments should include an end to the licensing and financing of fossil fuels to ensure a managed decline with an equitable and just transition. Only that way will we have a chance to limit global warming at 1.5°C.

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Half a Million March in Madrid to Bring Climate Strikes to the COP

With fists up, banners high, and hearts ablaze with conviction, over 500,000 people took to the streets of Madrid last night to strike for climate action. ECO was on the Paseo del Prado to join the marchers — led by the Fridays For Future youth movement — and judging by the emptiness of IFEMA yesterday afternoon, so was most of the COP. 

The massive march, hailed as one of the largest ever public mobilisations in Spain, was one of hundreds of climate strikes around the world this and last Friday to demand increased ambition to address the climate crisis. Ending with a rally at Nuevos Ministerios where civil society delegates collectively read through the People’s Summit 6D Manifesto, the march was a beautiful reminder of the growing diversity of the world’s climate movement. More and more people are demanding real action from their governments on mitigation, adaptation, and loss and damage. 

ECO senses something very different in the air at COP during this year of striking for the climate. No longer is the ‘climate movement’ something to be merely nodded to in plenary speeches — it has taken over the conversation, and its fingerprints are everywhere at IFEMA. Governments are gathered in Madrid just two months after more than 8.7 million people took to the streets for this September’s global climate strikes, marking one of the largest mobilizations in world history. 

The energy and urgency that youth climate strikers have injected into the climate fight worldwide has arrived in full force at the COP. Yesterday, Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg joined dozens of youth climate strikers from around the world in a strike action at the COP venue — and it’s clear the youth movement isn’t going to take inaction kindly.

It should not be forgotten that yesterday also saw a powerful march in Santiago, with thousands demonstrating to mark the climate summit their government abruptly refused to hold after months of preparation. Madrid’s march was led by a Chilean and Indigenous Latin American delegations, and signs stressed the connections and solidarity between people’s movements for climate across the globe. 

From the halls of the UN summit to the streets of central Madrid, the climate movement is making itself heard. And the voices of the generation set to inherit the impacts of climate crisis will not be silenced.

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Too Late for “Later” on Timeframes!

ECO has a difficult life making choices sometimes. We grapple with choosing which sandwich to eat for lunch or which pavilion has the best coffee. So we sympathise with Parties who have spent a lot of time struggling to decide on their preference for common NDC time frames, debating between 5 years, 10 years, or a 5+5 option.

But it was an insult that only two hours were allocated at COP25 to discuss and agree how to progress on such an important ambition-related issue. Yesterday, it all fell apart. Brazil was provocative with its new proposed option, including to consider the periodicity of the global stocktake (even though Brazil admitted this suggestion was all for show). China passionately reminded everyone in the room that this is a Party-driven process - whilst trying to remove text from another Party. Canada and Australia suggested the issue doesn’t need to be decided until 2023, and the US further suggested the issue needn’t be discussed again until 2022. The US was outdone though by, good friend of climate action, Saudi Arabia who suggested that the issue not even be discussed until 2023. Miraculously, the EU is no longer the ones kicking this can the furthest down the road. 

ECO finds this disgraceful! The failure to agree on draft conclusions and how to reflect the discussions at this session is disappointing. Do we really need to wait 5 years to make a decision on a 5-year time frame? Clearly, some countries seem to mix up “time-frame for decision” with “time frame of NDC.” ECOs forever grateful for the continued efforts of EIG and AOSIS to find an ambitious path forward! 

Such a simple decision, and so crucial for supporting the 5-year ambition cycle in the most effective manner. Why wasn’t it enough? Where was the support to get this done? Why so little time? Was it premeditated sabotage? The brutal application of Rule 16 on such an important issue is just plain embarrassing!

Anyway, while 500,000 marchers rallied in the streets of Madrid, in the midst of the climate emergency, this signal is pathetic: two hours, minimal progress, all lost and rolled over to the next session in June next year…or 2023, with a higher risk to delay ratcheting up actions at the pace required.

ECO says that this issue must go to Ministers for political attention next week so that a decision can be taken at COP25.

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