Renewable energy, let’s do better

ECO spent yesterday, excitedly, following the renewable energy (RE) workshop. There’s a lot of activity in different countries and a global recognition about RE’s current and future potential. 

Presentations from various experts made it clear that this potential is not being fully utilised though. We can double the realisation of RE globally by 2030, as pointed out by IRENA, but there is lack of will. Social gains from RE, like jobs and increased access to electricity, make the need to deploy it at scale an obvious approach. 

What was missing yesterday were the concrete actions and decisions that the UNFCCC can take to act on this this potential. Maybe this lack of discussion came down to a scheduling issue, but with limited time ahead Parties should always bear this question in mind. We await the support of UNFCCC-led action is needed to accelerate the deployment of RE if we’re to close the gap.

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The race to Lima is on

The sun is shining, the starting pistol has gone off, and the race for a draft negotiating text by Lima is on. As the Parties race towards the finish line, they’ll have to navigate the racecourse (otherwise known as the Convention) and the three key hurdles that they all face: contributions, contact groups and elements.

The Convention is a racecourse that needs careful navigation. There are a number of things that Parties will have to be aware of as they work towards Lima. For some Parties, following this course through until the end is key, whilst some others may want to avoid it all together. It looks like we all might need a little more training and preparation for Parties on this one. 

All Parties want the same thing on contributions — more progress on what the information requirements are. The EU’s set a good example by kick-starting their preparations already. They’ve still got a ways to go if they want to set a strong and steady pace. We’ll have to tune in to Tuesday’s workshop to hear more on how this is progressing.

Contact groups have the support of many in the crowd but, the call for formal negotiations is being met with caution. Are the runners ready for this yet? 

And last but not least, there are the elements of the 2015 agreement. A mega hurdle and there’s lots to contend with – mitigation, adaptation, finance, technology, capacity building, means of implementation and transparency of support. 

But with a deep breath, remember that “open-ended” consultations are not “endless”! And the race continues...

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Some memos for you all today...

To all countries:

In Warsaw, Parties agreed to kick-start their domestic preparations to develop post-2020 commitments. While a few brave countries will present on their progress, ECO has a few key questions for all countries:

1) Has your government started a process to prepare and submit ambitious targets by Lima and, at the very latest, by March 2015? Will your government meet that deadline? If not, then what needs to be done? Are you doing it? If not, start now!

2) What scientific reference was used to set your targets? Is it the IPCC’s 5th Assessment Report? Will you aim to stay below 1.5 or 2 degrees Celsius? What likelihood are you using in your assessment of what is required according to the science? Is it 90% certainty to be on the safe side, or is 50/50 adequate? What indicators will you use when sharing the effort between countries?

3) What about finance for adaptation and mitigation, technology transfer, capacity building, and loss and damage? Do you have a process for increasing the level of action, finance, and support for technology transfer?

4) Are you planning to provide transparency on what your target will consist of? Will this information allow for it to be quantified and compared, as well as assessed against adequacy, and equity indicators?

Just to be clear, ECO doesn’t consider mitigation to be the only element of intended nationally determined contributions. The level of finance, technology, capacity and adaptation support required must be included in developed countries contributions too.

To make this a bit simpler: for developed countries, the process is rather straightforward, as there can be no backtracking from Kyoto-style commitments. There is also the need to provide detailed information on quantified economy-wide emission reduction commitments, in addition to international support to provide finance, technology and capacity building for developing country actions. all countries must justify how their proposed commitments align with adequacy and equity principles. 

All countries must agree on the ongoing process of review and on ratcheting up the process to scale up their contributions. 

To presenters on domestic preparations:

Today some brave countries will report on how their domestic preparations for post-2020 commitments are going. This is also known as “please update us all on how your Warsaw ‘homework’ is going”. ECO would like to outline what it expects to hear for a few of these countries. 

European Union: You get bonus points for starting your post-2020 target process early, but you are sorely lacking in ambition. Reducing emissions 40% below 1990 by 2030 domestically will simply not get us on track to a 1.5 or 2 degree Celsius world; at least a 55% below 1990 levels by 2030 domestic target is necessary. ECO is also wondering about your finance contribution – details on that also seem to be lacking... 

China: ECO has been so pleased to hear province after province announce a cap on coal (since last September). To prevent Chinese air quality from getting even worse, there is no other option than to peak and decline coal consumption as early as possible. We’re looking forward to hearing about your domestic preparations to ensure that all those actions being implemented today can snowball into an ambitious post-2020 commitment, and how you can get international recognition for all the work you’ve been doing.

United States: The US has been excellent at telling others about the types of information that should be in post-2020 commitments (they even had a proposal on this pre-Warsaw). They’re rather far from leading when it comes to their own efforts to cut emissions. ECO is keen to hear how the US proposes to develop a target that matters for the climate, because the current 17% below 2005 levels target, well, that’s just [removed by ECO to respect diplomatic comity]. In coming up with this target and communicating it to the UNFCCC, ECO would like to remind the USA that there can be no backtracking from economy-wide absolute emission reduction targets using a common base year, accounting rules, and short multi-year commitment periods for developed countries. Perhaps ECO missed that in the US’s submissions and would be pleased to hear the US reaffirm that that will be the nature of its target today. 

South Korea & Mexico: Being part of a group with ‘environmental integrity’ in its name, ECO looks forward to hearing about how your domestic preparations will produce post-2020 commitments that are both fair and adequate. 

Saudi Arabia & the United Arab Emirates: Doha was a missed opportunity to proposed concrete NAMAs, especially given all the renewable energy work happening domestically. ECO hopes to hear that preparations for post-2020 commitments, including financial contributions to support climate action are getting better.

Nepal on behalf of LDCs: ECO is excited to hear about LDC preparations for designing low-carbon development and climate resilience strategies. There is so much potential here – let’s ensure that there is the climate finance available to make it happen! 

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Intervention: Opening ADP Plenary by Vositha Wijenayake, Bonn ADP2-4, 10 March 2014

Thank you Co-Chairs,

I am speaking on behalf of Climate Action Network.

The ADP has three crucial tasks this week. 

First: Ambition, ambition, ambition within finance and mitigation is key.  The focus on renewable energy and energy efficiency under Workstream 2 is a positive start. Combined together, these areas have potential to decrease 5 Gt of the emissions gap and the UNFCCC process must produce specific actions to make that happen on the ground.

Second: Agree on the structure and process for developing a draft negotiating text by COP20 during this year and move into contact groups asap.  We all know the deal in Paris will encompass mitigation, adaptation, finance, etc, but we must get into the specifics of exactly how.  It is also imperative that critical elements like compliance and a separate loss and damage mechanism not fall off the table. 

Third:  Determine the information that should be included when countries table their proposed commitments. For developed countries, this is rather straightforward as there can be NO backtracking from Kyoto style commitments in terms of a common base year and accounting rules, short multi-year commitment periods and ever deepening reductions.  Such information will also need to include financial commitments where appropriate, while all countries must justify their proposed commitments and actions drawing from an Equity Reference Framework. 

Thank you.


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Let’s imagine a better future for all

ECO often wonders how negotiators explain how they spend their time in Bonn. Do they go home and talk about the shopping in Bad Godesberg, the exquisite combination of German bratwurst and Pilsner, or how they ingeniously prevented agreement on binding commitments and successfully deflected pressure on their country to take action and prevent a climatic disasters?

Just imagine if, for once, we could all go home and enthusiastically announce that we had taken concrete decisions to support expanded deployment of renewable energy (RE) and energy efficiency (EE) technologies. Both of these things will deliver low-cost clean energy for households, create ecologically sound jobs, and ensure a livable world for our children.

All of this is what’s possible in Bonn at the ADP alongside exploration of technological solutions with high mitigation potential. This has the potential to demonstrate that the UNFCCC can deliver results, and maybe also encourage negotiators to be more willing to make more difficult decisions on other political issues elsewhere in these halls.

As Parties prepare for the technical workshops, ECO suggest that they bear the following questions in mind:

  • What specific decisions can the UNFCCC take to accelerate and expand existing initiatives on RE & EE that are proving to be effective?
  • How can the various climate finance and technology institutions, under the UNFCCC, help enhance finance for low-carbon solutions on the ground in countries with different national circumstances and local conditions?
  • How can the UNFCCC help to bridge the technology and finance barriers in many developing countries and help Parties learn from best practices?
  • What additional international initiatives can be initiated under the UNFCCC to encourage a faster rollout of RE & EE?

ECO commends the ADP for taking up RE & EE as one of the first areas it explores. The depth of this area won’t be exhausted, nor the solutions fully identified and implemented, within this one session though. ECO hopes that Parties will be so inspired by the progress they make this week that they’ll be clamouring to come back in June to deliver much further progress on RE & EE.

Ominous warnings about a 2020 emissions gap of 8-12 Gt CO2 equivalent and emissions trajectories on track for a 4°C warmer world don’t make for pleasant stories. How about we leave Bonn being able to tell the story of how we, together, made real progress delivering cleaner and more efficient energy for everyone? If the UNFCCC can help scale up renewable energy to 25% of global energy consumption (excluding traditional biomass) and double energy efficiency improvement rates by 2020, up to 8 Gt of CO2 equivalent could be saved – closing most of the 2020 emissions gap.

The story only gets better though - most EE improvements pay for themselves within a few years and RE creates jobs, reduces local pollution and lays a foundation for a more sustainable future. And who knows, success with near-term emission reductions might just pave the way for closing the longer-term emissions gap, making a well below 2 or 1.5 degree future more than a pipe dream.

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ECO’s 1-2-3 for Parties at this ADP

Has the extreme winter weather that’s gripped North America, the devastating flooding in the UK or the [insert your own top-of-mind climate-related disaster here] made a case for more ambitious action with you and your Party yet? If not, the release of Working Group II’s 5th assessment report on climate impacts at the end of this month surely will. ECO has long said 2014 must be the year of ambition, so let’s start off on the right foot and make the most of our five days together in Bonn.

There are 3 tasks this ADP session must deliver on to ensure that a draft text is developed by Lima and that countries come to the Ban Ki-moon Summit with ambitious pledges for Paris to close the gap in the near-term.

EIN: Agree on the structure and process for developing a draft negotiating text for this year. We all know what building blocks will form the basis of the deal in Paris — mitigation, adaptation, finance, technology and capacity building — but now it’s time to get into the specifics. It’s imperative that critical elements, like the legal architecture for the 2015 agreement including the compliance regime; an MRV framework that will ensure transparency and environmental integrity; a review mechanism to ratchet up ambition over time; and progress on fleshing out the loss and damage mechanism agreed in Warsaw, not fall off the table. These specifics won’t come out of the plenaries, we need to move to contact groups. There’s no further time to lose here in Bonn. 

DOS: Determine the information that should be included when countries come forward with their proposed post-2020 commitments. Countries have already started work on this front and this information needs to be agreed upon at the June ADP meeting. Waiting until Lima will give Parties little time to reflect on what’s required. For developed countries, the process is rather straightforward, as there can be NO backtracking from Kyoto-style commitments and the need to provide detailed information on their financial commitments and other support for developing country actions. ALL countries must justify how their proposed commitments align with adequacy and equity principles. ECO laments that in Warsaw, Parties couldn’t agree to develop a comprehensive ex-ante equity reference framework. Here in Bonn, Parties can start to remedy this failure, by agreeing to justify their proposed commitments based on a basket of equity indicators. Discussions must also continue on a robust review process to assess the collective and individual adequacy and fairness of proposed commitments, with the final decision on the review process will have to be made at COP 20 in Lima.  

TROIS: Ambition, ambition, ambition.  The focus in Workstream 2 on renewable energy and energy efficiency at this session is a positive start.  The science is clear that a phase out of fossil fuels is necessary, however, the road to a renewable energy future need not (and cannot) wait until then. Additionally, ECO looks forward to preparations for the June Ministerial review of mitigation targets, which will provide developed countries with an important opportunity to put forward the more ambitious emissions reduction targets that are required to help close the huge gigatonnes gap. Developing countries too can discuss what they can do to enhance the ambition of their pre-2020 actions.

By Acting ambitiously on renewable energy and energy efficiency; Developing the structure and process for elaborating a draft text; and Providing clarity on the information needed for proposed commitments; here in Bonn, the ADP can be worthy of its name.

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Cheers to the Technology Executive Committee!

ECO has noticed with great appreciation that the Technology Executive Committee (TEC) is continuing to move towards greater transparency. Ever since its inception 2 years ago, the TEC has laid the foundation for transparency with their adoption of webcasting and inclusion of observers in thematic dialogues. In the meeting that just ended last week, the TEC outshone its own record of inclusiveness by inviting BINGO; RINGO; ENGO; and IGO observers to take part in many of the thematic task forces. To boot, the secretariat will begin to post notes of the meetings on the TT: Clear website.
ECO toasts the TEC members and secretariat, especially Chair Gabriel Blanco and Vice-Chair Kuni Shimada, for their insightful leadership. Congratulations TEC - cheers to you! 
Other thematic bodies, you’re invited to follow suit.

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Special Extra Time Edition: ECO 12, COP19, English - Nov 23

Both inside and outside the National Stadium here in Warsaw, civil society makes this appeal:

► Don't demolish the Durban Platform

► Do your best to advance Climate Finance and Loss and Damage


“It always seems impossible until it's done.”

– Nelson Mandela


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