Blog Posts

Presidency’s Text Proposals – the Good, the Bad, and the Missing.

The COP Presidency’s text for the principal decisions from COP25 is now into its second iteration, and the contours and fault lines are becoming clearer. 

The text must clearly and unambiguously convey the collective will from all Parties to raise ambition on confronting the climate emergency, including through the communication over the coming months of NDCs that close the emissions gap to 1.5°C. 

The current text has some good language on enhancing ambition, and even calls the global climate emergency by its name! It must be improved and strengthened, but it is a solid floor for building a strong statement. 

Word trickling out from the noontime consultation with parties suggests broad support for the Presidency’s approach, although, of course, there is a lot of haggling over the key details. 

To respond to the growing call for action, the language of ambition must be preserved and strengthened with stronger references to the IPCC reports and clear guidance on NDC revision. The language around public participation in the enhancement of NDCs and related principles is encouraging.

Missing is language on ecosystem-based approaches, including in the recognition of the role of oceans, and on the need for a just transition to protect workers and communities.

Guidance is also needed on the timeline for next year, with an invitation to submit in the first quarter, and a cut off date of September 1 for the Secretariat’s aggregate assessment of the impact of the NDCs submitted by then. 

It will be important to get a strong reference to pre-2020 shortfalls that doesn’t let developed countries off the hook, without undermining the drive to strengthen efforts in post-2020. 

Finally, there must be no declaration of completion of the Paris Agreement Work Programme (PAWP) until parties agree on Common Time Frames for post-2030 contributions. Lack of agreement on this would leave a gaping hole in the PAWP, and in the long-term environmental integrity of the Paris Agreement. 

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Time for Countries to Step Up and Follow the Leadership of the CVF to Protect Rights

From the Maldives to Costa Rica, Senegal to the Marshall Islands, communities and Indigenous peoples of countries that are members of the Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF)  live on the front lines of climate impacts. More so than any other governments, members of the CVF are very much aware of the unprecedented threat that inaction on climate change poses for human rights – not just for people under their jurisdiction, but for all nations. Rising sea levels, warming temperatures and changing weather patterns already undermine the realization of a wide range of human rights including the rights to life, water, food, adequate housing, culture, and self-determination. These impacts further reinforce existing structural discrimination and violence. Moreover, inadequate support and mitigation policies by the largest emitters exacerbate these impacts further with every additional delay. That is why CVF has also been championing the 1.5°C limit.

Instead of withdrawing in despair, these countries have risen to the challenge and demonstrated unmatched leadership by developing climate policies that are in line with the best available science. Since its creation, the CVF has championed ambitious climate policies by placing human dignity at the core of its ambition.

This leadership was on display again when the Marshall Islands, just shortly before the COP25, communicated a Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) truly in line with the objectives and principles of the Paris Agreement to contribute to keeping temperature increase below 1.5ºC, by implementing rights-based climate action. And their leadership does not end there. On the first day of the COP25, President Heine of the Marshall Islands called, on behalf of all 48 CVF members, for the establishment of a UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights and Climate Change, pledging US$50000 to support this work. From supporting governments with the development of rights-based climate policies, to helping frontline communities identify effective remedies to deal with climate impacts; the need for such a Special Rapporteur is obvious and the task awaiting it crucial.

That the most impacted countries have had to resort to pledging their scarce tax-payers’ money to accelerate the establishment of such a mandate should be a wake up call for developed and main emitting countries to take responsibility and fulfill their international commitments to cooperate for the universal realization of human rights.

We welcome the leadership of the CVF and call upon other countries to follow its leadership by developing rights-based NDCs in line with the goal of keeping temperature increase below 1.5ºC, and to commit to the establishment of a Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Climate Change in 2020.

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The Facts on the Ground for L&D Finance

ECO keeps hearing about “finance that’s available for loss and damage” under the Sendai framework via disaster risk reduction (DRR), humanitarian assistance, and the SDGs. ECO calls bollocks on this idea. The amount of finance available for loss and damage is COMPLETELY INADEQUATE when compared to the scale of loss and damage being suffered.

According to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) there is already a serious funding shortfall for both disaster response and long-term disaster risk reduction and development. In 2019, 40 percent of all humanitarian funding went to just two protracted emergencies – Yemen, and the Syrian region.  These emergencies are not going away, and given that climate change is a key driver of conflict, these kinds of emergencies are only likely to intensify. So, expecting the global DRR and humanitarian pots to accommodate a growing financial burden as loss and damage accumulates is wishful thinking.

Let’s look at a case by case basis at this “there’s already finance for loss and damage” bollocksy bollocks:

When Hurricane Marie caused loss and damage worth 226% of Dominica’s annual GDP in one storm, they got an insurance payout from the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility, undertook a successful humanitarian fundraising drive, and received World Bank loans. Adding all of this together – and ignoring how incredibly unfair it is for countries to be forced to take loans in such situations – Dominicans and the Dominican Government were still left with 70% of the cost to pay themselves.

[ed: original graphic here: https://us.boell.org/2018/08/30/not-silver-bullet ]

When Cyclone Pam devastated Vanuatu, wiping out US$600 million, or 64% of GDP in a matter of hours, Vanuatu only received approximately $50m in humanitarian assistance, and a measly  $1.9m insurance payout. Subsistence farmers and fisher people were left to foot the bill.

When Cyclone Winston smashed into Fiji, despite bilateral funding, a UN appeal, and loans, $1.2 of the $1.4b  in loss and damage (30% of Fiji’s annual GDP) was left for the government and people of Fiji to cover.

[ed: Original graphic here: https://www.rosalux.de/en/publication/id/39802/climate-and-gender-justice/ ]

There is demonstrably not enough finance for loss and damage. If developed countries don’t agree here in Madrid that we need more finance for loss and damage, that it should come on top of already existing (and inadequate) adaptation aid, and humanitarian finance, and that it should come from new sources of finance with a deadline for making a recommendation to the COP, then they will be violating their human rights obligations to the most vulnerable people. They will be demonstrating that their stated concerns are no more than crocodile tears. You will be held to account. The world is watching.

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ECO is CROSS and PUZZLED: Where’s the ambition on phasing out fossil fuels?

When Energy Ministers meet today, ECO hopes to hear real talk about ambitious plans to phase out fossil fuels and accelerate the transition to a socially just, renewable energy economy. Because we need to get moving on that now to limit warming to 1.5 degrees – and that’s a matter of life and death for many people. ECO presents a little puzzle to get you warmed up for a robust dialogue on ending the fossil fuel era.

Across Down
3. New wind and solar already cost  _____ to build than coal and gas plants in most regions. 1. This Russian company could be responsible for unlocking the most new oil and gas production to 2050, from projects sanctioned over the next five years.
8. We chant “Make _______ pay!” because corporations must be held accountable for their role in driving the climate crisis. 2. This country’s Commission on Human Rights says 47 “Carbon Majors” could be legally liable for human rights harms resulting from the climate crisis.
10. This shale play in Argentina is the biggest fracking project outside North America. In English, it translates to “dead cow.” 4. This multilat. dev. bank is the first to commit to phase out fossil fuel fin.
11. To 2050, nearly 50% of new oil development in this country could rely on subsidies. This same country is the largest current expander of oil and gas extraction. 5. In the next five years over 200 of the world’s biggest companies could write off USD 250bn in _____ fossil fuel assets.
13. This Anglo-Dutch oil company is on trial for a bribery scheme that cost the Nigerian people USD 1.1bn, and in a civil case over the execution of the Ogoni Nine. 6. Indigenous leaders demand a moratorium on new industrial projects in the Sacred Headwaters of this South American rainforest.
16. First Nations are calling on this government to #RejectTeck, and stop the largest tar sands mine. 7. The International Trade Union Confederation was key to getting these two critical words into the Paris Agreement.
18. The fastest and cheapest way to avoid energy-related emissions especially among the high-consumption class. Hint: Rhymes with efficiency. 9. Type of energy we need to have 100% use of by 2050.
19. This country was the first in the world to prohibit licensing for oil and gas exploration and extraction. 12. For Inuit living in the _____, ice and glacial loss is not just a matter of physical changes, but a threat to lives and livelihoods.
21. ___-grid renewables, not centralized fossil fuel power plants, are the most effective way to deliver energy access to rural areas. 13. A recent report has found that just 10-30% of fossil fuel ______ could pay for a global green energy transition.
22. _____Knew about climate change for decades, yet fueled a colossal denial machine to block meaningful action. 14. A firefighters’ union in this country recently called on the government to urgently phase out fossil fuels.
23. The _______Gap report shows countries are planning to extract 120% more oil, gas & coal in 2030 than is compatible with 1.5C. 15. Global investment in energy ______ stagnated in 2018, yet this “first fuel” is one of the quickest ways to save emissions and money.
24. UN Sec. Gen. António Guterres says this type of plant should no longer be built anywhere. 17. Where most fossil fuels need to stay, with “the”.
25. Fossil gas is ___ a bridge fuel. 20. This G20 country spent an average of USD 5.2bn of public money financing coal from 2016 to 2017.

Answers

Across: 3. Less; 8. Polluters; 10. Vaca Muerta; 11. United States; 13. Shell; 16. Canada; 18. Sufficiency; 19. Costa Rica; 21. Off; 22. Exxon; 23. Production; 24. Coal; 25. Not

Down: 1. Gazprom; 2. Philippines; 4. EIB; 5. Stranded; 6. Amazon; 7. Just Transition; 9. Renewable; 12. Arctic; 13. Subsidies; 14. Australia; 15. Efficiency; 17. Ground; 20. Japan

Answers Clues
ground Where most fossil fuels need to stay, with “the”
Production The _______Gap report shows countries are planning to extract 120% more oil, gas & coal in 2030 than is compatible with 1.5C.
Not Fossil gas is ___ a bridge fuel.
Canada First Nations are calling on this government to #RejectTeck, and stop the largest d tar sands mine.
Renewable Type of energy we need to have 100% use of by 2050.
Japan This G20 country spent an average of USD 5.2bn of public money financing coal from 2016 to 2017.
Costa Rica This country was the first in the world to prohibit licensing for oil and gas exploration and extraction.
Coal UN Sec. Gen. António Guterres says this type of plant should no longer be built anywhere.
EIB This multilat. dev. bank is the first to commit to phase-out of fossil fuel fin.
Just Transition The International Trade Union Confederation was key to getting these two critical words into the Paris Agreement.
United States To 2050, nearly 50% of new oil development in this country could rely on subsidies. This same country is the largest current expander of oil and gas extraction.
Off ___-grid renewables, not centralized fossil fuel power plants, are the most effective way to deliver energy access to rural areas.
Australia A firefighters’ union in this country recently called on the government to urgently phase-out fossil fuels.
less New wind and solar already cost  _____ to build than coal and gas plants in most regions.
Arctic For Inuit living in the _____, ice and glacial loss is not just a matter of physical changes, but a threat to lives and livelihoods.
Polluters  We chant “Make _______ pay!” because corporations must be held accountable for their role in driving the climate crisis.
Amazon Indigenous leaders demand a moratorium on new industrial projects in the Sacred Headwaters of this South American rainforest.
Vaca Muerta This shale play in Argentina is the biggest fracking project outside North America. In English, it translates to “dead cow.”
Gazprom This Russian company could be responsible for unlocking the most new oil and gas production from projects sanctioned over the next five years.
Exxon _____Knew about climate change for decades, yet fueled a colossal denial machine to block meaningful action.
subsidies A recent report has found that just 10-30% of fossil fuel ______ could pay for a global green energy transition.
stranded In the next five years over 200 of the world’s biggest companies could write off USD 250bn in _____ fossil fuel assets.
Shell This Dutch-based oil company is on trial for a bribery scheme that cost the Nigerian people USD 1.1bn, and in a civil case over the execution of the Ogoni Nine.
efficiency Global investment in energy ______ stagnated in 2018, yet this “first fuel” is one of the quickest ways to save emissions and money.
sufficiency The fastest and cheapest way to avoid energy-related emissions especially among the high-consumption class.
Philippines This country’s Commission on Human Rights says 47 “Carbon Majors” could be legally liable for human rights harms resulting from the climate crisis.
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Fossil of the Day 07 December 2019

07 December - Fossil of the Day goes to the US!

Today’s fossil award goes to the United States (US) yet again!

This time for blocking financial support to vulnerable communities receiving the blow of climate change - which the US is disproportionately responsible for creating.

Apparently, the US wants to make sure that the rest of us properly grasped their stonewalling intentions: They are not paying any greenbacks for loss and damage. Rumor has it, they expect Mexico to pay for it!

The Richest Country in the world reiterated that they will not support Loss and Damage finance, and now they also thumbed their nose at developing countries by essentially saying that the executive committee  on loss and damage should continue its cerebral exercise of “breaking down the issues” (whatever that means) to determine what support or finance is needed - which is essentially saying “send me a detailed bill, that I have no intention of paying.” 

Furthermore, if the executive committee on loss and damage is unable to complete this work then the finance aspect should only be discussed when the task is completed —which could mean 7-8 years down the road. The world and the science respond by saying: we do NOT have 7-8 years! Also, need we remind you, that because of your fossil fuel addiction - you damaged the climate and it is far beyond time to take responsibility for your behavior and pay for damages.

In a nutshell: the US says that the executive committee on loss and damage should do more to determine risks, linking them to actions to be taken, then spell out the support and finance necessary for actions. The US doesn´t want to discuss finance before that academic work is done. This is nonsense! The US should shut its mouth and immediately pay for the losses and damages felt by those who did nothing to cause this crisis.

It seems that our number one per capita polluter wants to collect the record number of fossils at this COP!  If that truly is your goal, US of A, congratulations, you are well on your way.  

 

 

 
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Fossil of the Day 05 December 2019

Fossil of the Day 05 December 2019 COP25

Today’s winners of fossil of the day are two giants of bad behavior. Guess who?
Who else! The United States (US) and Russia!

The US and Russia

Looks like the United States (US) and Russia share more than the ability to bully other countries, rig elections (and lead in climate-wrecking oil and gas production)! They want to make loss and damage in the negotiations weak again!
The US gets the fossil for opposing that money reaches vulnerable communities, through the Warsaw International Mechanism (WIM) for Loss and Damage, to deal with climate change impacts, which Uncle Sam has helped cause by being a massive polluter.

Russia gets to share the fossil award with the US for having the chutzpah to try and throw out human rights and gender from the loss and damage negotiations.
The US folks seem to have a very short memory. They’re forgetting that waaaay back in 2013, countries agreed to “enhance action and support, including finance” for loss and damage via the WIM.

And Russia, come on! A record of human rights abuses both at home and blatantly at the international level? This is an overdose of bad Vodka! You cannot revoke people’s right to
life, to a home and education, with a stroke of a pen.

Hey Russia if you don’t understand how gender, human rights and gender are related, maybe you shouldn’t be part of this conversation?

All these basic human rights are at risk when the impacts of climate go beyond what it is possible to adapt to. If Russia paid more attention, they would know that women and children are amongst the most affected after a disaster.

A special mention goes to Japan and Australia. You are also showing extreme hard-heartness towards vulnerable developing countries who desperately need your support. Support – aka finance that was agreed six years ago. Don’t find ridiculous reasons not to provide it now by focusing on insurance (insurance is not relevant for poor people - and why are we making the people on the front line of climate impacts pay insurance premiums to cover climate damage they had no role in causing?)

A few countries gave us some hope in these negotiations.

We are giving Canada, Colombia, Vanuatu, Mexico, New Zealand, Australia, Norway, and Switzerland the Ray of the Day for insisting on human rights in provisions of Article 6 regulating global carbon markets. There is no ambitious climate action without justice as well as respect for gender and human rights. All these countries need to keep pushing for the inclusion of human rights and gender considerations until rules are adopted in Madrid.

All countries signatories to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigneous Peoples, are legally obliged to do more. They must push for the inclusion of Indigenous Rights in the text and vocally recognize and demonstrate respect for Indigenous Rights and their right to sovereignty in their home countries.

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At Least Parties Admit It’s a “Very Negative Signal”

It’s really a pretty straightforward question: What should the time frame of NDCs be?

ECO is dumbfounded at the approach Parties have taken to the negotiations on this issue during the COP. After failing to reach agreement on draft conclusions and how to capture the progress from this session in their supposed final session on Friday, the SBI chair gave negotiators an extra 30 minutes. However, 75 minutes later, Parties were still in the same place, despite the co-facilitator’s valiant efforts to keep the common time frames negotiations within the scheduled time frame. 

On Friday, Brazil introduced a provocative option, but by Saturday morning had worked diligently with Switzerland to replace the provocative option with fairly good alternative options (ECO applauds the efforts of Brazil, Switzerland, EIG, and others  who worked to advance suitable options). However, it seemed Parties were determined to load the informal note with nonsensical options, including China, who, on behalf of LMDC, proposed differentiated time frames for mitigation, adaptation, and finance components of NDCs and even proposed differentiated time frames for developing vs. developed country Parties. In addition, they seemed determined to spend a fair bit of time reading these lengthy new options into the record. All these theatrics, and a lengthy debate about bracketing a footnote, and we’re right back where we started: Nowhere!

In the last article, ECO called the negotiations at this session insulting, disgraceful, disappointing, and embarrassing. And after Saturday’s performance, ECO is even more puzzled and struggling to find the right words in the thesaurus. At least negotiators admitted how negative a signal their lack of progress is sending to the world - it seems the message from ECO’s Saturday issue got through.

ECO is fed up with the hypocrisy and complacent stance Parties are showing on this issue. Parties cannot say that, on one hand,  Article 6 must be addressed at this COP because we need to finish the rules; and on the other hand, say that the outstanding guidance from the Paris rulebook on NDC time frames should or can wait until 2023. Parties cannot say that a decision on Article 6 is critical for the credibility of the Paris Agreement regime when they discredit the decision-making process by failing to agree again and again on a straightforward question. For a COP that is supposed to be about 'ambition,’ what kind of signal does it send to the world outside? ECO wouldn’t mind watching an SBI plenary fight… if nothing else, it’ll highlight the absurdity of the negotiations at this session. But does it really need to come to this?

So, here’s our message: If negotiators are incapable of getting past the process issues, then ministers are going to have to tackle this themselves and make a decision at COP25 to avoid further distressing and shameful political attention. Parties need to step up ambition and accelerate the implementation of the Paris Agreement! Ministers can stop the nonsense and signal to citizens and the youth that they hear them and demonstrate their resolve to make decisions that charter the world on a just transition to a low-carbon and resilient economy at the pace needed.

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The Wrong Direction on Article 6

After many hours of waiting on Saturday, ECO was dismayed when it searched the new texts for human rights, safeguards, and clarity on an ITMO definition and found that nothing was there. Sure, there are fewer brackets, but fewer brackets do not magically translate to successful rules that ensure carbon markets won't lead to harming people and the planet, undermining the Paris Agreement entirely. 

ECO was pleased last week when it heard more countries speaking about the need to include human rights and the rights of indigenous peoples in the rules for Article 6. So, imagine ECO's dismay when it searched through the text and couldn't find mention of human rights or social and environmental safeguards. Instead it found only a placeholder for elements of the Paris Agreement preamble. But it's not about having elements from the preamble, it's about ensuring that the carbon markets under the Paris Agreement don't become a tool that allows for the harming of people and the planet. Human rights are not negotiable!

ECO also searched desperately for some clarity on what an Internationally Transferred Mitigation Outcome (ITMO) is. Under article 6, countries will create ITMOs, buy ITMOs, use ITMOs… But does anyone understand what an ITMO actually is? ECO understands that ITMOs can take different forms, but they must represent an emission reduction which truly happened, e.g. through a crediting approach with a real project or an ETS linkage. The mere “overachievement” of an NDC target is not enough to issue an ITMO, especially when current NDCs include over 20GtCO2e of hot air. Activities outside the scope of NDCs credited to a buyer country would repeat the same hot air mistakes of the CDM, unless there is corresponding adjustment for these activities.

ECO calls on Parties to rectify what surely must be an oversight. It can't be that you want to see past mistakes repeated where people's lives were lost and ecosystems destroyed, and all of that to issue ITMOs which don’t represent real reductions? You can fix this, and you must fix it now. You've done it before. The GCF has safeguards and grievance redresses because you said it had to. These elements are just as important in the context of article 6. Social and environmental safeguards, meaningful local stakeholder consultation, and an independent grievance mechanism can help prevent harm to communities, indigenous peoples, and ecosystems, and help address problems if and when they arise.

In addition, the final text should clearly specify that cooperative approaches under article 6.2 must be real crediting approaches, ideally a mitigation project to which a specific quantity of emission reductions can be directly attributed. At a minimum, Parties should at least report on what a cooperative approach entails, how it contributes to the Parties’ NDCs implementation, which Parties are involved in it, how many tons of CO2e are transferred, and how long the cooperative approach will last.

The final text must include these elements. Anything less would fail the Paris Agreement, and in doing so, fail the world. 

 
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It’s Not That There is No Money, Stupid!

ECO has heard that finance ministers generally like talking about numbers and money. That is great, because the lack of money is something which hinders the necessary transformation in many countries. Greater financial support from rich countries can help shift political will towards more climate action in developing countries. So here is some inspiration for finance ministers, as well as finance negotiators, to tackle the climate finance gap:

GCF: time for the laggards to step up

ECO welcomes the pledges that were already made earlier this year to the Green Climate Fund (GCF) of close to US$9.7 billion, with some countries doubling their original pledges. While much more is needed, ECO’s eyes this week will be on ministers arriving from countries who have not stepped up to at least double their contribution, or have not pledged at all. Australia and the United States: shame on you for continuing to ignore the climate crisis and the needs of the most vulnerable communities. ECO was also disappointed that countries like Canada, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Switzerland, Finland, and Belgium did not double their pledges or provided their fair share at the replenishment conference in Paris. Ministers, make the best use of your time in Madrid: scale up your GCF contribution! 

This will not only help provide the much needed support for developing countries to adapt to the impacts of the climate crisis, but also create the right conditions for enhanced ambition in 2020.

New sources of finance

ECO is pleased to hear that some developed countries brought up, in the negotiations on the review of the Warsaw mechanism on loss and damage, including a reference on sources of finance. ECO has seen the devastation that the climate crisis is already causing in vulnerable communities, and is all for exploring ways to generate significant new and additional finance. But we are not talking about vague private sector finance that will only be called climate finance through creative accounting exercises. What is really needed is finance at significant scale which can then be channeled to support developing countries in climate action. So here are some suggestions that COP should decide to explore:

  • A global air travel levy could raise $40–$100b annually (at $10–$25 per person, per flight, given that current passenger levels exceed 4 billion per year). 
  • A climate damages tax is a proposal for a tax on the fossil fuel industry. If it were introduced globally in 2021 at a low initial rate of $5 per tonne of CO2 equivalent, it would raise around $210b in its first year, some of which could be allocated to loss and damage, and adaptation. 
  • Introducing a carbon tax on maritime fuel of $75 per tonne of CO2 in 2030 could raise revenues of about $75b in the same year. 
  • A financial transaction tax (FTT) that puts a levy on shares and bonds at 0.1% and derivative agreements at 0.01% has the potential to raise $63b (if applied to the European Union), and a similar global FTT could raise significantly more. 

Parties may not yet be ready to adopt any of these options, but could send a strong signal at COP25 by giving a clear mandate to explore those sources in the run up to COP26 and recommending implementation pathways. For loss and damage, such exploration should target an additional $50b by 2022.  It’s not that there is no money available, it just has to be channelled into the right kinds of action.

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