Stand and Deliver

Next Sunday, October 10, the day after the close of the Tianjin conference, the world will take action – over 5,000 actions, to be precise, in more than 165 countries around the globe.

The 10/10/10 Global Work Day organized by 350.org and many others will highlight the public appetite for action that has only grown stronger since Copenhagen.            

And herein lies one of the great ironies of our time.  Public support for action on climate change is mounting in every country, and yet at exactly the same time, the climate negotiations are increasingly coloured by calls for lowering expectations and questions about the credibility of the multilateral process.

There is a climate crisis, and there is a crisis of confidence in the international process. Both require urgent action. Following the stalemate of Copenhagen, this week’s meeting and the Cancun COP are critical.

Let’s not fool ourselves – a failure to
deliver now will land the UN process in a royal mess. Failure to deliver tangible
results in Cancun could well see a repeat of the WTO experience . . . meeting after
irrelevant meeting.

The Kyoto Protocol is the first needed and legally binding response. A second commitment period for the KP is one essential building block toward a fair, ambitious and binding (FAB) deal that needs to be finalized at COP 17 in South Africa.

We hear a lot in the KP discussions about the importance of ‘the other track’. ECO has no doubt on this point: only by showing good faith in the KP can Annex B parties secure progress in the LCA. They must stop stalling and commit at Cancun to the second commitment period of the KP.  It is crucial to the world’s effort to limit climate change.

Trust-building is essential.  And make no mistake, developed country leadership is central to that. The current pledges by Annex B parties and existing loopholes put us on a path that far overshoots the threshold for dangerous climate change. But all countries must show their commitment to the UN process by showing political will and flexible positions.

We must learn the lessons of Copenhagen and move beyond ‘nothing is agreed until everything is agreed’.  Reverting to the pre-Copenhagen grab bag of text is a recipe for recreating the Copenhagen stalemate.

To make real progress in Cancun, it is imperative to seek convergence and reduce the wide range of options in the text to workable proportions. That will allow for political decisions to be made at Cancun, where Parties must agree a clear mandate for a full fair, ambitious and binding deal to be concluded in South Africa.  It is no exaggeration: the credibility of this process and the fate of future generations are both at stake.

What are substantive examples of tangible progress?  Here is a starter kit to help go further and faster.

In the area of adaptation, the insurance mechanism can be put on track; a committee can start working with the most vulnerable countries on an insurance mechanism, and regional adaptation centers can be set up.

In the area of deforestation, the level of ambition should be quantified.

On finance, the governance of the new fund with a strong relationship with the Convention can be agreed, as well as the sources and scale of funding.

On mitigation, pledges should be formalized, and in doing so, the gigatonne gap needs to be recognized, and a process launched to deal with the gap.

On technology, a work programme can be agreed that empowers the committee to deliver specific technology action programs on solar concentrated power, building efficiency, and many others.

Finally, to fulfill the mandate contained in the Bali Action Plan, a decision on the next commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol is needed. This decision should include clarity on the legal outcome to be delivered in South Africa.

This week, ECO again suggests, Parties should make offers, not demands.  The purpose here in Tianjin is not to force fouls, but to use teamwork to create a safe climate. 

Dear negotiators, we have said this before: you are the only team we have that can save the planet.

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