Capacity Building Sinking Without a Trace?


ECO laments the loss of NGO hopes for a radically upgraded and revitalised approach to capacity building (CB) in developing countries. At the mid-point of COP-17, this possibility is in danger of sinking without a trace.

ECO is also baffled. Baffled as to how this situation has come about. Perhaps it derives from some form of memory deficit. Just about a decade ago at COP-7, UNFCCC agreed the Marrakech Capacity Building Framework in 2/CP.7. This provided the skeleton key to unblock a rather nasty case of mistrust over financial support by developed countries for action by developing countries responding to climate change.

This is strikingly similar to the situation today in the LCA. COP 7 was examining how to best utilise the fact that the Bonn Agreements had secured some hastily cobbled-together financial pledges along with barely-defined new financial archirecture (the Adaptation Fund, Least Developed Countries Fund and SCCF). Given the uncertainty involved in both the new financial architecture and the scale and reliability of its sources, COP 7 decided the smart move would be to concentrate on what matters: the front end of the delivery pipeline. That front end is capacity building.

Given the obvious comparability, it is completely baffling as to how the LCA ended up developing the CB text currently under consideration. A year ago at the mid-point of Cancun, the Group of 77 and China was arguing along very similar lines as civil society for a new UNFCCC structure for CB, tasked with the oversight, co-ordination, streamlining and optimisation of capacity building, using a newly-created body capable of interacting with the emergent new architectures for mitigation, adaptation, technology, finance and MRV.

Cancun deferred this issue to Durban. The mystery is how readily the G77 have already dropped their demand for a new CB structure under Cancun para 137 and agreed with the EU and Umbrella Group that life is far simpler if Durban just creates some sort of talking shop (“forum”) to review CB under Cancun para 136, thus killing two birds with one stone.

On the other hand, ECO still prefers the CB Co-ordinating Body (CBCB) mapped out over two years ago. The problem is that the broad coalition of LDCs, SIDS, AOSIS and African countries that co-operated so effectively in getting a new approach to CB agreed in Marrakech appears to have sunk without a trace.

ECO has certainly not given up on this. But we would respectfully request that developing country Parties dig out the text they were so forcefully promoting only a year ago, and also remind themselves of the success at Marrakech.

Related Newsletter : 

CCS in the CDM: The Struggle for Climate Finance

In Cancun, Parties decided that CCS is eligible in the CDM – provided that certain issues such as leakage and liability are resolved. As delegates are negotiating the details of modalities and procedures for this very questionable project type, it looks like Big Fossil is winning once again. This despite the fact that the viability of CCS as a mitigation technology has yet to be proven.

Here in Durban, only a small number of developing countries have raised concerns about the potential long term impacts of CCS. All others have remained suspiciously silent (hello small islands of the world – where are you?) or are eagerly approving paragraph after paragraph. Somehow it doesn’t seem likely that they really wanted to negotiate night and day to ensure that the fossil fuel industry gets yet another cash cow to milk!

The current text does not exclude ”enhanced oil recovery” – EOR. This is a method to increase the amount of oil that can be recovered from an underground oil reservoir. By pumping CO2 underground, previously unrecoverable oil can be pumped up. This can increase the recoverable oil by 30 to 60%. Once all of the oil has been pumped, the depleted reservoir is used a storage site for the CO2.

On top of the huge profits from the sale of oil and the large fossil fuel subsidies, oil producers could make millions by selling CDM credits for the CO2 they store. Dear delegates, please get your priorities right! CCS in the CDM is unproven at commercial scale with plenty of scientific uncertainties. More work needs to be done for these lingering issues to be resolved. We do not need yet another loophole for generating carbon credits. Before rushing into setting up a new source for millions of carbon offsets, you might want to get yourselves some QEROs first!

Related Newsletter : 

2020 and the Climate: Milestone for Success or Epitaph for Failure

We cannot afford to wait any longer to begin serious mitigation efforts.  The emissions reductions pledged in the Cancun Agreement currently set the world on a trajectory for a 4.3° C temperature increase by 2100. According to the new UNEP “Bridging the Gap” report, an additional 6 to 11 Gt CO2 in emissions reductions are needed in order to reach a 2° C goal.  The good news is, UNEP shows how to reach the goal with economically and technologically feasible solutions, though the timeframe for success is narrow.  If rigorous action is postponed until 2020, success will drift beyond our reach.

Without political incentives to invest in alternative energy, governments will continue to rely on fossil fuels to meet growing energy demands, locking in carbon intensive technologies over the next eight years.  According to the International Energy Agency, for every $1.00 avoided in the power sector before 2020, an additional $4.30 would need to be spent after 2020 in order to compensate for the increased emissions.  Of course, any shortfall in mitigation will drive up adaptation costs and real impacts on lives to a much greater degree.

We need to give our world time for the transition to a low carbon economy. Emissions must peak by 2015 and sharply decline thereafter.  The task is formidable.  According to UNEP, “the highest average rate of emission reductions over the next four to five decades found in the [integrated assessment model] literature is around 3.5% per year.” But based on the C-ROADS model, emissions reductions would need to decline even more, at a rate of at least 4% per year between 2020 and 2050 to reach the 2° C target – a ramp-down rate well beyond historical experience.

Time is of the essence.  Clifford Mahlung, a delegate from Jamaica, said, “We’ve already waited too long.  I know countries need a little more time to get over their economic woes -- but eight years?”  And we need to agree strong package here in Durban to launch that effort now, as the climate clock is running faster and faster.

Related Newsletter : 

Time to Get Serious About Loopholes

Here’s a quick reminder: According to the latest UNEP report, the weak pledges from Annex I countries get us only about a third of the estimated emissions reductions that are needed if we want to have a two-in-three chance of avoiding more than 2° C warming. Unfortunately we have even more bad news: loopholes!

Loopholes are weak rules that undermine reduction targets, usually resulting from political bargaining. The largest loopholes are:

  • The carry-over of ‘hot air’ due to the over-allocation of AAUs during the first commitment period.
  • ‘Creative’ accounting rules for forestry and land-use emissions (LULUCF) for Annex I countries.
  • CDM credits from projects that are either over-credited or not additional (would have been built anyway).
  • Double counting – attributing emission reductions to both developed and developing countries.
  • Emissions from aviation and shipping (“bunkers”) currently not accounted for under the Kyoto Protocol.

We took a closer look at the loopholes and compared their total size to the cumulative emission reductions that could be achieved with the current Annex I pledges. We found that the current ‘loopholes’ in the system could negate their pledges.

In the worst case, they could leave Annex I countries with sufficient allowances and credits to revert to a BAU trajectory, and could even enable the carry-over of surplus allowances beyond 2020.

As you can see, a graph says more than 1,000 words. Our findings match those of the UNEP Report, the Stockholm Environment Institute and others.

The size of these current loopholes is staggering. Strong action is required now to effectively and efficiently close these loopholes if we want to preserve the possibility of staying below 2° C warming. 

None of the technical issues around the loopholes are insurmountable.  If developed countries are serious about fulfilling their responsibility to lead the fight against climate change, they need to put ambitious targets on the table that are in line with the science and do away with all these rotten loopholes. 

There is no plan(et) B. Every passing day of inaction closes the door that much further on preventing catastrophic climate change.

Related Newsletter : 

Words to the Wise

At one point in her Thursday briefing for NGOs updating the 50+ issues under negotiation, the Executive Secretary spoke of how various texts were “maturing” since Panama.

What an interesting choice of words! As we prepare to head into the second week, ECO hopes that attitudes mature along with the texts. Maturity implies a certain wisdom and yet at times this week there has been a distinct lack of such in these talks.

For example, it is unwise to continue to stall on ambition while the evidence for dangerous climate change mounts, the vulnerability of communities around the globe increases, and the time to protect ecosystems and the people who depend on them drains away.

It is unwise to stall on a second commitment period for Kyoto, putting that instrument at risk and undermining political will throughout the negotiations.

It is unwise to block a mandate towards a comprehensive legally binding agreement, sending signals beyond the ICC that the international community is less than fully committed to solving the climate crisis. And finally it is unwise to backtrack from implementing Cancun when the hard-won gains on finance, MRV and the Review are so vital to the future of the climate response regime.

Related Newsletter : 

Youth and the Future


Yesterday was Young and Future Generations Day, and among the many events that took place, one message came across loud and clear: The time for political inaction has run out.

Young people have a critical role to play in the negotiations, one that is often underutilized. As the primary stakeholders in the outcomes of this conference, youth have a right to demand more of negotiators, of the targets they are setting, and of the process. Youth are pushing for policies that not only insist upon necessary emissions reductions, but also confront the roots of inequity that exist in the current systems.

UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres warned youth not to pick up the bad habits of negotiators and stay ambitious in a session titled “An Intergenerational Inquiry”. In response, 16-year old Mokgadi Seemola silenced the room stating, “Because of some of the wrong decisions some negotiators have made, my dream is shattered.” Drought has devastated her South African community and now she faces the harsh realities of climate change. She had hoped to share the world she grew up in with her children, and that is now impossible. This and the many other bold statements delivered by youth provided a much needed bridge between the often impersonal act of developing text and the larger context and human face of global climate change.

The negotiators at this conference have heard the message: There is no more time.

The question that remains is: What action will they take?

Related Newsletter : 

The A-Z of MRV

Robust measurement, reporting and verification (MRV) is a critical part of the Durban outcome. But 24 hours before the new text is out, with Parties hard at work, ECO is concerned that key MRV elements are at risk of falling off the table.

First, let’s review the fundamentals: The reason we’re all learning the MRV alphabet soup is to support the implementation of commitments and actions, build confidence and ensure the environmental integrity of the regime. Seems obvious, right? Yet some of the proposals on the table would seriously undermine these objectives.

In addition, MRV must respect the framing principle of ‘common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities’ and reflect differentiation between developed and developing countries while aiming for good reporting from both. ECO worries that some developed countries are trying to erase those lines. 

And finally, as critical as MRV is to the Durban outcome, it’s just one piece of the picture whose outlines were drawn by the Bali Action Plan. MRV must always be viewed as part of the bigger picture of increased mitigation,
finance, technology transfer and capacity
development commitments.

Critical MRV elements that must be in the Durban outcome include:

  • Procedural transparency and meaningful stakeholder participation, including the ability to make written submissions to technical analysis experts and the SBI; pose questions in an SBI review session open to Parties and observers, and unrestricted access to all information (inputs and outputs).
  • Common accounting rules on emission reductions and enhanced removals for Annex I countries.
  • A process to clarify the assumptions underlying the pledges of all countries (e.g. gases, sectors, base years, assumptions on BAU) to be able to accurately assess the gigatonne gap and ensure comparability for Annex I countries. (More coming from ECO on these hot button issues.)
  • MRV outputs must be timely and include enough detail to enable a meaningful first periodic review between 2013 and 2015. Biennial reports, biennial update reports, and the first international assessment and review (IAR) and international consultation and analysis (ICA) should be completed as early as possible in 2014.
    Enough detail must be provided in biennial reports (BRs) and biennial update reports (BURs) to conduct an effective global assessment, including clarity on assumptions, underlying pledges and projections until to 2050, in 10-year increments.
  • The technical review teams, SBI and the COP should have the ability to comment on the status of implementation and issue recommendations in order to assist Parties in the implementation of their pledges and to improve reporting.
  • A compliance process for Annex I countries, including consequences for non-compliance such as suspension from the flexible mechanisms.
  • Improved MRV of finance through the adoption of a common reporting format in biennial reports and in the future revision to the guidelines for national communications.
  • Enhanced support for developing countries to produce their biennial update reports and national communications, and to participate in international consultation and analysis (ICA).
  • A summary of REDD+ activities, including actions, methodologies, accounting, safeguards and information systems should be included in biennial update reports and national communications.
  • Time-specific provisions to revise guidelines for national communications by COP 18 and for BRs, BURs, IAR and ICA based on lessons learned, by COP 22 in 2016.
Related Newsletter : 

Media Advisory – Webcast Notice: Civil society reflections on the start of the COP17 and the roles of corporations and key Parties.


[Durban, South Africa] Climate Action Network – International will host a media briefing, webcast live, to outline civil society expectations for a successful outcome of UN climate talks in Durban beginning this week.

International NGO experts will discuss civil society reflections on the first couple of days of COP17, look into the finance negotiations, and highlight the country groups that are having positive contributions to the negotiations.

The briefing takes place at the UNFCCC conference venue, on Wednesday, December 1, at 12:30 local time (10:30 GMT), Kosi Palm (ICC MR 21 ABCG) NGO Press Conference Room.

It will be webcast live at: http://bit.ly/CANwebcasts

NGO experts on the panel will include: Raymond Lumbuenamo of WWF, Central Africa; Kelly Dent of Oxfam, and Ilana Solomon of ActionAid USA.
What: Briefing on the UNFCCC climate negotiations in Durban

Where: Kosi Palm (ICC MR 21 ABCG) NGO Press Conference Room, UNFCCC conference venue, Durban

Webcast Live via www.unfccc.int, or at: http://bit.ly/CANwebcasts

When: 12:30 local time (10:30 GMT), Wednesday, December 1, 2011

Who:     Raymond Lumbuenamo – WWF, Central Africa
    Kelly Dent - Oxfam
    Ilana Solomon – ActionAid USA

Climate Action Network (CAN) is a global network of over 700 NGOs working to promote government and individual action to limit human-induced climate change to ecologically sustainable levels.  For more information go to: www.climatenetwork.org

For more information please contact:

David Turnbull, CAN International, +27 (0) 78 889 6827 (local mob)

Every day at 18:00 local time CAN gives the Fossil of the Day to the Parties that obstruct the negotiations the most. You can watch the Fossil ceremony at the CAN booth in the DEC building and get the press releases every day at: http://www.climatenetwork.org/fossil-of-the-day


CAN Intervention AWG-KP Opening Plenary Durban, November 29, 2011

Thank you Chair,

I am speaking on behalf of the Climate Action Network.

We call on Parties to acknowledge the urgency with which climate change needs to be addressed and to agree to ambitious and immediate emissions reduction targets that are in line with the Cancun Agreement to prevent global warming beyond two degrees Celsius. Kyoto Protocol parties must commit to a second commitment period at Durban. The legal and governance structure of the Kyoto Protocol is crucial to ensuring that mitigation commitments are legally binding and have environmental integrity.  

Loopholes represent an extreme threat to the environmental integrity and effectiveness of the post-2012 climate regime. The surplus of AAUs under the Kyoto Protocol amounts to 7.5-10 Gt CO2e, roughly one third of current 2020 emissions reduction targets pledged by Annex 1 countries. We call on Parties to fully address the issue of surplus AAUs generated during the 2008-2012 commitment period. Double counting for new market and non-market mechanisms must absolutely be avoided and accountability for LULUCF needs to be strengthened.
In LULUCF, Annex 1 countries have laid their cards on the table, proposing to hide forestry emissions and largely not account for emissions from other land uses. This undermines targets and the Kyoto Protocol. Durban is the last chance for countries, including developing countries that are committed to rules with environmental integrity, to reject the worst options on the table, and require robust rules.
Thank you, Chair.

Credit: Ingrid Næss-Holm



Subscribe to Tag: AWG-KP