Blog Posts

12 Years Left: Don’t Waste This One!

As ECO went to press, no text had been released on the outcome of the Talanoa Dialogue or consideration of the IPCC Special Report on 1.5C. ECO heard that Parties attending the Semjik were equally concerned about this lack of text.

For the duration of this conference, ECO has been writing the same headline – 12 years left: What have you done to respond to the SR1.5? Today is your last day.

It is not only ECO that is making this call to respond to the SR1.5 report and increase emission cuts. Yesterday, the Pacific SIDS raised the alarm about the currently insufficient global effort to limit warming to 1.5C. They too called for the world to take dramatic steps to cut emissions and enhance NDCs, as well as for all OECD countries to phase out their coal use by 2030 and globally by 2040. We have also seen the return of the High Ambition Coalition, with these countries committing to enhance their NDCs, develop mid-century emission development strategies and increase near-term action.

In the hours that remain in Katowice, Parties must respond to the SR1.5 by agreeing to strengthen their NDCs and launch domestic processes to enable that increase in ambition. This commitment must be reflected in a COP decision. The UN SG Summit will be a critical moment to announce the results of this effort. However ECO will see you all first in Bonn in June and ECO expects to hear detailed updates on your progress. We are at a pivotal moment in human history. There is not a second to waste.

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Voices From the Front Lines

Vanuatu is made up of 83 islands and is home to over 250,000 people. Since 2005, it has seen extreme weather events including tsunamis, cyclones and earthquakes. Climate Change impacts are evident, as the community has to constantly find ways to adapt to the ever-changing seasons for planting and harvesting our crops. The rapidly acidifying ocean makes us cautious of which seafood to eat, while building sea walls become a necessity to prevent the rising sea level from flooding our gardens or houses and drastically degrading what used to be the coastline.

The damage to our livelihood and the loss of it all is clear and unquestionable. While certain countries are burning fossil fuels for their economy, producing and manufacturing in factories, less developed countries are struggling from these impacts on our side of the world.

We plant trees to absorb the carbon dioxide in the air. Is that enough? We integrate local practices into adaptation measures. Can developed countries slow down? We advocate to protect our environment so that our future generations have that same freedom. Is the message loud and clear? We are trying everything we can.

My Pacific brother and sister countries, we share a precious connection to our resources – land and sea. They define who we are and take us back to our roots. While some of you are knee-deep already, others are on the verge of losing it all.

Although we are damaged and suffer loss beyond measure, out of the seven billion people on this planet, we have to start acting and taking ownership of this one place we all call home. Climate Justice is what we want. Everyone’s concern is what we need. Together we can protect our homes here on Earth. Without this planet, we would cease to exist. Is it worth it?

By: Litiana Carlo Kalsrap, Youth Leader, Vanuatu

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Article 6 Takes a Wrong Turn

ECO is still dizzy from the speed at which things collapsed in the Article 6 discussions. After three years of discussions, it seems Parties finally started to move and agree on key rules for markets. And it doesn’t look good. So, ECO wonders: in which world have Parties been living, and in which world do they want to live?

While the new text requires corresponding adjustments for some credits, it fails at the most basic task of avoiding double counting. ECO thought there was widespread recognition among Parties that double counting was unacceptable, yet the text does not mention, at any point, when a corresponding adjustment will be applied. Parties will be able to sell out emission reductions, assuring buyers that corresponding adjustments will be applied to avoid double counting, but only apply these corresponding adjustments at the end of their NDC period. There is no timeline. The option to exempt domestic transfers (say from a country to an airline based in the same country) from any corresponding adjustments is also still included, although bracketed.

Further, Parties must ensure that consistent accounting rules are applied regardless of whether transfers occur inside or outside an NDC, if outside NDC transfers are allowed. If Parties are able to issue credits from sectors and gases not covered by their NDCs, without applying corresponding adjustments for those, this would leave a disincentive against ambition, and a mess for the world trying to understand how ambitious countries’ efforts really are.

There is also nothing preventing Parties from carrying over surplus “effort” under the KP (often only reflecting a weak target) into their NDCs, by using excess Assigned Amount Units (AAUs) to overachieve NDCs, and selling the resulting excess as an Internationally Transferred Mitigation Outcome (ITMO). Oh wait, isn’t this exactly what Australia openly announced they wanted to do earlier this week? Yes, it is.

And finally, South Korea seemed to have left behind the “Environmental Integrity” of their group, EIG, as they suggested they would meet their 2030 NDC target by counting all credits acquired over the 2021-2030 period. This means a country could do nothing for the next 12 years (what did the IPCC report say again? Something about 12 years left?), and then buy a whole lot of credits to meet their single year target. Yes, it’s as bad as it sounds. And it’s in the text.

And what about overall mitigation, which ECO wrote about a few days ago? Well, it is left to Parties to decide how to achieve it, and how they define it. You think the existence of a market in itself leads to Overall Mitigation in Global Emissions (OMGE)? Go for it. No rules will force Parties to adopt specific provisions to achieve OMGE.

ECO still cannot believe that Parties would consider piping in new hot air into Article 6!

If Parties are going to double-back on avoiding double counting, then they’ve turned their backs on Environmental Integrity in the Paris Agreement.

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This is an Emergency – Pledge to Rebel

“We represent a number of nations, like my own, that face extinction”. Yesterday, the President of the Marshall Islands, Hilda Heine, issued a warning. In a packed press conference, leaders from across the world came together to call for radical action on the climate crisis. Make no mistake, the path we are currently on will render species, cultures and even entire nations at risk of extinction. We cannot, and must not, allow this to happen.

Mohamed Nasheed, the former President of the Maldives, hammered the point home.“We are not prepared to die,” he said, “and the Maldives have no intention of dying … If we continue business as usual, then we will not survive”.

We support these calls for action and we have been fighting hard to get a robust Paris Rulebook and ensure enhanced NDCs by 2020 – but we will do more.

Whatever does or does not happen in Katowice, it is clear now that something new is emerging. Across the world, the people are rising. From the school strikes in Sweden to the Sunrise Movement in the United States, people are rebelling against their governments.

These movements may have different names and different faces, but they are one: a pledge to tell the truth and to call an emergency an emergency.

“Stand up for the people”, said Secretary Emmanuel De Guzman at yesterday’s press conference. In his lapel was the badge of Extinction Rebellion, the civil disobedience movement that started in the UK two months ago and is now in over 35 different nations around the globe. In London, thousands of people have broken the law and risked arrest to demand radical action on climate breakdown. They have shut down roads and occupied buildings and their actions have been supported by countless voices, from Noam Chomsky to Vandana Shiva.

This energy is vital. And it does not belong to anyone. It is anchored in hope, and this hope is creating bold moments of fearless action.

So, be prepared and listen to the people. For the sake of the world, we will rebel.

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1.5 for Human Rights; Human Rights for 1.5

Dear Negotiators and Ministers,

We know you are tired. We know it’s been a long two weeks. But your work isn’t done yet. As we inch closer to the end, with the COP decision coming, ECO is worried about the lack of rights we are seeing in the Rulebook. As well as the lack of ambition we are seeing from some countries.

Holding global temperature rise to 1.5°C is necessary to protect and promote human rights – we know that, you know that, and the IPCC SR 1.5 confirmed it. Refusing to welcome the IPCC SR1.5 (you know who you are) doesn’t make it any less true. Keeping warming to no more than 1.5°C – which the science tells us is necessary for preserving life as we know it and which the Paris Agreement requires that we aim for – can only be done with people-centered, rights-based climate action. This is because people-centered climate action comes with greater legitimacy and ownership by all. It is easier to implement, better accepted and studies show that it turns into more successful mitigation and adaptation.

That’s where you come in. We call on you, dearest Ministers, to ensure that the implementation of the Paris Agreement is guided by human rights. That means including human rights, the rights of indigenous peoples, gender equality, a just transition, public participation, food security, intergenerational equity, and ecosystem integrity in the Rulebook. ECO knows you have heard this here in Katowice; you also heard this in Bonn, and in Bangkok and we keep insisting on it because, quite simply, the Rulebook is a matter of survival and the best way to stay below 1.5°C.

After all, climate action that is not compatible with the 1.5°C target is a fundamental violation of human rights. And climate action without respect for rights could cause more harm than good. So, let’s fix multiple problems and have rights-based, 1.5°C-compatible climate action.

Finally, in case you’ve forgotten, we want to reassure you that these are not new commitments and obligations. You’ve already agreed to this in Paris; so there is nothing to stop you now.

Make it easier when everyone returns home to develop their NDCs and adaptation communications by providing them with the relevant tools to do it. They’ll thank you – as will the planet.

We commit to helping you do this work, but right now the ball is in your court. You hold the key to right’s-based climate action – do not throw it away.

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Walking Back From Paris

ECO is shocked – shocked! – that developed countries are trying to renegotiate the Paris Agreement and re-write the Paris language. It’s only been three years, delegates! You can’t have forgotten those late nights and hard-fought paragraphs already. And, even if you have, since the UNFCCC updated their website it’s really quite easy to find the Paris Agreement. Scroll down to Article 8 (you’ll find it after – and not under – Article 7) and there, in full colour, you will read the words “addressing loss and damage”, “irreversible and permanent” and enhancing finance on a “cooperative and facilitative basis”.

You may feel that you’re being clever with all this language jiggery-pokery, but what you are are being is short-sighted, hard-hearted and working against ALL of our interests. You can’t write “loss and damage” out of existence. Loss and damage will affect us all, but its burden is disproportionally carried by the poorest and most vulnerable. We, as humanity, all suffer if we don’t live up to previous promises to address the worst impacts of climate change that are facing the most vulnerable. That would leave an irreversible and permanent stain on our souls.

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Ray of the Day

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It’s the end of week two. We’re all a little tired, emotionally spent, and perhaps looking forward to a lovely break.

Therefore, at the end of a rather dismal COP in a rather dreary climate, it is high time we spread a bit of sunshine! Today, we choose to recognise the vulnerable countries at these negotiations with a Ray of the COP.

Despite facing existential threats from climate change they are engaging patiently and in good faith, with those who choose to deny the science, deny their right to loss and damage finance, and deny previous hard-fough decisions, like the Paris Agreement.

The Pacific Island Developing States released a statement calling it like it is: “COP24 IS A PIVOTAL MOMENT IN HUMAN HISTORY”.

The IPCC report has detailed the risk of the survival of island communities due to extreme weather and rising sea levels. The statement made it clear of the “absolute necessity” to include Loss and Damage (Article 8 of the Paris Agreement) in the Paris Rulebook for Transparency, Finance, and the Global Stocktake.

Specifically, we would like to recognise the Ministers of Vanuatu, the Cook Islands, Samoa, Tuvalu, Fiji and the Leaders of the Maldives and Tuvalu who have made such powerful statements in plenary that included:

“Whether you welcome, note or ignore the science, this is catastrophic for humanity” – Vanuatu Foreign Minister, Ralph Regenvanu

“The truth is we had no choice but to do our part.” – Prime Minister of the Cook Islands, Henry Poona

“Our quest for solutions to address the most pressing and existential issue of our time – climate change – has never been more urgent.” – Prime Minister of Samoa, Tuilaepa Lupesoliai

“It is very clear that climate change is the single greatest threat to humanity we face today.” – Prime Minister of Tuvalu, Enele Sopoaga

Thank you for raising your voices in this time of great need. We can only hope that other countries will listen and take heed.

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Colossal Fossil

It. Is. Time!

Throughout the two weeks of negotiations there has been one country that we keep coming back to. Yes, there have been many called out for blocking negotiations, or for not doing enough to support implementation at home, but one stands out above all else.

Our hosts, Poland.

You see, the Polish Presidency has not created space for ambition here at COP 24, even with a complete understanding what outcome is needed. We really should accept by now that they will avoid working on support packages and revision of NDCs. However, the blame is not just on the presidency because the Polish government is making their job more difficult, it is the opposite of the support that should exist. It is difficult when the government and ministries are pushing the Presidency to consider the Polish agenda or the Presidency being understaffed, which is influencing the outcome of this COP.

So, what has the Polish Government been doing at COP? Well, the Polish Government and ministers are promoting coal or so called “clean coal” during side events, not only in the COP at the Polish Pavilion, but also at other conferences. We did try to avoid this during meetings before the COP, where the governmental officials were informed that such events would not be welcomed by the global community.

I’m sure you all remember last week as well, when the Polish president, Andrzej Duda said that Poland can use coal for the next 200 years, to which we responded by awarding them a Fossil.

Not bad enough for you? How about the Polish Minister of Energy, Krzysztof Tchórzewski, stating that the Ostrołęka C coal power plant, the construction of which was initiated one week after the announcement of the IPCC report, is uneconomic, but will be constructed anyway. What?!

But wait. Apparently, there are answers, as the Polish Minister of Environment said that the decaying trees in the primeval forest of Białowieża are responsible for air pollution. Well, that’s that solved. Our work here is done! Unfortunately, there wasn’t much hope when the COP was being planned either, as the Polish government chose several coal-sector companies to partner with to sponsor COP24. Among them we find the Polish Energy Group that is an owner of the biggest lignite power plant in Europe, Bełchatów, and one of the biggest polluters in Europe, as well as other – Tauron; JSW or PGG, the largest coal extraction companies in the EU. Also, there is PGNiG the national gas company, who was invited – there are no places at the table for green initiatives.

Last, a topic that deeply affected us all, when Polish authorities denied entry and/or deported at least 12 members of civil society groups due to attend the UN climate talks in Poland. The deportations follow the enactment of national legislation earlier this year passed by the Polish government in relation to the 24th Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC COP24. Several UN human rights experts have publicly questioned the compatibility of the law with international human rights standards and expressed today their “dismay at the actions taken by the authorities to prevent free and unfettered public participation in these critical multilateral discussions”. What is more, over the last few days, we’ve witnessed Parties cutting out references to human rights across different parts of the rulebook.

Poland, Poland, Poland. All the shame, all the blame!

Um, yeah, before we go, just a side note to the EU, this is a European COP. Why are you letting this happen? It’s hard to claim to lead when you are allowing one of your own to drag down the ambition.

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Happy Holidays to All – What Do You Bring Back Home?

At the time of writing, we do not yet know the final outcome of the COP in Poland. However, ECO feels confident enough to give Parties a strong reminder of what is at stake and what has to be done in the next year at home to comply collectively with the tasks set by the ratified Paris Agreement.

The recently projected industrial CO2 emissions for 2018 by the Global Carbon Budget project show an increase of 2.7% for this year compared to 2017. Another record year – the highest since mankind discovered fire millennia ago. And arguably the highest ever total increase, at more than 1 billion tons of CO2 in just one year. Fossil fuels for energy and industrial processes, including methane, now constitute about 80% of all global GHG emissions. At the same time CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere have reached around 410 ppm, the highest in several million years.

If countries, in particular large and rich climate polluters, continue along our current path, entire nations – particularly vulnerable island states – and many fragile ecosystem, like the Arctic and tropical coral reefs, are at risk of survival. We are reaching critical tipping points where terrestrial ice melting might cause irreversible run-away sea level rise continuing well beyond the year 2100, changing the physical map of countries and putting hundreds of millions of people living at the sea shore at risk for evacuation – to say the least for the plethora of climate impacts already affecting people across the globe.

ECO urges parties to take the recently agreed IPCC1.5oC Special Report very seriously. And fight the rejection of the report by some of the largest fossil fuel producers of oil, coal and gas like Saudi Arabia, the USA and Russia.

We are not even on track to meet the insufficient climate pledges, NDCs, by most nations. We are on track for global warming of much more than 3oC.

Governments need to start immediately, in a transparent and participatory manner, to enhance their NDC commitments by 2020.The present NDCs are based on outdated pre-2015 numbers. New analyses show much lower investment costs for renewables and energy efficiency, as well as for natural climate solutions focusing on ecological restoration of degraded land and forests.

ECO repeats: we have 12 years to avert disastrous climate change in the future and embark on the necessary deep transformation.

In short, coal has to go speedily – by 2030 at the latest in rich nations, and before 2050 in developing countries. Deforestation has to stop now.

ECO further urges rich and high-polluting Parties to significantly enhance funding and support to vulnerable communities and poor nations – for instance for clean energy, adaptation and to secure a functioning Loss and Damage system.

Finally, ECO is happy to see that the multitude of non-state actors, cities, businesses and financial communities etc. are accelerating their efforts to commit to strong targets for decarbonisation, and – changing investments that dwarf present governmental commitments in many countries.
ECO applauds all Civil Society Organisations’ (CSO) actions to question and protest activities by the global fossil fuel industry that continue to undermine the health of the planet. ECO expects governments globally to support CSO with domestic legislation and other efforts to save the atmosphere from further carbon pollution.

That all is certainly not too much to ask at Christmas- time from governments – protecting the planet from irreversible global warming and unpredictable impacts on all sectors and regions of society and nature.

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Bangladesh Looking at Developing a National Mechanism on Loss and Damage

Bangladesh is one of the most vulnerable countries to the adverse impacts of climate change and has been at the forefront of adaptation planning and practice for over a decade. It has the proud aim to be one of the most resilient countries to the effects of climate change globally by 2030.

However, Bangladesh has recently been hit by severe floods and cyclones which have become, and will continue to be, both more frequent and more intense, leading to considerable loss and damage attributable to developed-country-induced climate change.

Hence, the government of Bangladesh yesterday shared its experience in Katowice on developing a national mechanism on loss and damage through a two year pilot project. Bangladesh invites the rest of the world to come and participate in the exercise to both offer knowledge and support, as well as learn from its experiences.

This clearly demonstrates that loss and damage from human induced climate change is real and happening, and the vulnerable developing countries have agency and are not simply relying on international support to deal with their harsh reality.

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