Take Good NAPs

As Parties start to feel the effects of lack of sleep here at the COP, they might want an afternoon nap.  But ECO knows Parties won’t want to fall asleep on the job when it comes to crafting a decision on the National Adaptation Plans (NAPs).  Durban needs to deliver a decision that formalizes and elaborates this process and outlines the guidelines and modalities for LDCs and other developing countries to benefit from the process, clearly articulating the role, responsibility, and functions that the UNFCCC will offer, support, and facilitate.  The process should entail such efforts as workshops, forums and expert meetings to facilitate south-south learning.

The specific form and format of national adaptation plans and strategies should be decided by each country, including whether to create a stand-alone plan or to incorporate adaptation needs and actions into existing strategic climate change or poverty alleviation and development plans. The global process should be non-prescriptive and enable country-driven, flexible, and iterative national-level planning and implementation. There are, however, a number of elements which are important when developing guidelines in order for NAPs to deliver on essential needs.

A decision on the National Adaptation Plans should include an elaboration of the guiding principles included in paragraph 12 of 1/CP.16 in order to support a country-driven, gender-sensitive, participatory and fully transparent approach that takes into account vulnerable groups, communities and ecosystems.  These principles help ensure that the NAPs process and implementation will deliver assistance for the most vulnerable, for example through comprehensive vulnerability assessments to identify and prioritise the most vulnerable groups, communities and ecosystems. The process should also include robust consultations and participatory approaches to meaningfully capture the needs and concerns of most vulnerable communities.  NAPs should integrate and reflect gender considerations, integrate and address ecosystems and their services, and facilitate synergies with other multilateral frameworks, such as the CBD, UNCCD and the Hyogo Framework for Action.

With regard to modalities, ECO believes a NAPs decision should enhance synergies and linkages among the different bodies involved, in particular the Least Developed Countries Expert Group, the Adaptation Committee and the Nairobi Work Programme, to enable the dissemination of knowledge, information and good practices.  Modalities should include opportunities to build national, local and civil society

It is important to get the technical modalities right, and it is vital not to hold this up. However, ECO would also like to remind developed country Parties that vulnerable countries and communities cannot adapt to the impacts of climate change (which they did not cause) empty-handed. They need to be able to trust in the will of developed countries to deliver funds for preparation and implementation of the NAPs.  Potential channels for funding NAPs already exist through the LDCF (for planning and projects in LDCs), the Adaptation Fund (for projects) and potentially the Green Climate Fund - they just need to be filled up.

And a well-crafted NAPs decision will be rewarded with plenty of time for catching up on sleep.


MRV: Opaque ‘Transparency’ or Meaningful Participation

ECO finds it heartening that that most Parties see Durban as the time to adopt essential guidelines and modalities on the key MRV issues.  To be sure there are some gaps, which we will return to soon.   

But we’re dismayed to see almost no mention of stakeholder engagement in the November 18th text. It seems that most Parties have forgotten about making the transparency process, well, transparent. The few mentions in the text are incomplete at best.

So why this silence? Here’s a guess: you’ve been too busy focusing on other things. Yes, it’s true that there is a lot to discuss, but let’s remember that stakeholder participation is nothing new for the UNFCCC and must be part of the provisions for IAR and ICA.  There are three key elements that must be reflected in the text: (1) stakeholders must be able to make submissions feeding into the technical review; (2) they must be allowed to pose questions during the SBI process; and of course (3) all documentation from the IAR and ICA be made publicly available.

As IAR and ICA are all about transparency, the meetings under the SBI should be open to stakeholders and allow for their questions at the end of the meeting or, at the very least, in writing in advance.

Stakeholders should also have the opportunity to submit information in advance of the expert technical analysis and sharing of views among Parties. These submissions should be compiled in a stakeholder report as an additional input to be considered along with countries’ biennial (update) reports and the expert technical analysis. NGOs, businesses, universities and municipalities among others all have useful information to address climate change collaboratively. This includes complementary information that would help increase recognition of a country’s efforts, share lessons learned from domestic implementation, and identify support needs and additional mitigation opportunities.  After the review, stakeholders could also help the Party concerned prepare for the next round of reporting and identify relevant financial or capacity building support.

Finally -- and this should really go without saying -- all inputs and outputs of the IAR and ICA process should be made publicly available.  This includes the reports of the technical experts; transcripts of the facilitative sharing of views among Parties; and the outputs from the SBI, including recommendations.  The UNFCCC already makes documents and submissions from Parties and stakeholders publicly available on the web, including all national communications from Parties and the in-depth reviews of Annex I country national communications. So let’s follow that great precedent.

Remember, transparency is an objective of the IAR and ICA processes under decision 1/CP.16.  Also, a commitment to engage stakeholders is enshrined in the Convention and in the Cancun Agreements.  And surely with Rio+20 just around the corner, Parties don’t need to be reminded that Principle 10 of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development established that public participation and access to information are critical in matters relating to the environment, including climate change.

Aren’t you glad the issue is now clear!  ECO is hopeful that Parties will see the light so that IAR and ICA live up to the promise of transparency when they discuss these modalities in informals.

EU: Stand and Deliver!

Where does Connie Hedegaard, and where does the EU, really stand?

ECO has learned that in a hidden room in the parking garage of the ICC, the European Commission is now pushing the 27 member states towards an 8-year second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol. What is going on? Why would the Commission so blatantly cater to corporate interests and delay action?

If it prefers an 8-year commitment period, the EU will imply a starting date no earlier than 2021 for the much needed comprehensive, legally binding agreement.

So EU, whose side are you on? Are you with those who want to delay legally binding global action to beyond 2020? What about your desired peaking year?

The vulnerable countries have rightly insisted that a 5-year commitment period is needed. The negotiating process must reflect a sense of urgency matching the climate’s fast-changing reality. ECO suggests that 2020 is an easy date to remember. But it also pushes political responsibility for hard choices far enough into the future that it will hardly matter . . . well, except to those millions for whom climate change, failing harvests or havoc-wreaking storms and floods are already a daily disaster. EU, whose side are you on!

Just in case it needs repeating: ECO fully supports the EU’s aim of launching negotiations on a legally binding treaty between all parties, to be concluded in 2015 at the latest. That agreement should become operational in 2018.  A 5-year commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol would make the EU’s demand for a mandate more credible and send a persuasive message.  And we can all hope it will allow for some others at the table to come round to understanding how highly dangerous their current low level of ambition is.

Europe must stand with the most vulnerable countries in challenging those that want to freeze mitigation for this decade. Freezing mitigation does not counter global warming, delaying ambition does not generate ambition. Last but not least, don’t repeat old mistakes by slowing down negotiations because of a lack of action by the USA. That’s an excuse the world won’t buy ever again.


Canada Wins 1st and 2nd Place Fossils – Threatens KP, Insults LDCs

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                         28 November 2011
Kyle Gracey
+27 799 129 153
Canada Wins 1st and 2nd Place Fossils – Threatens KP, Insults LDCs
Durban, South Africa – The first day of the United Nations climate change
negotiations started off badly for Canada. It earned the First Place Fossil of the Day
for failing to support a Second Commitment Period for the Kyoto Protocol, and
abandoning even its current participation in Kyoto. It also took Second Place Fossil
for insulting the Least Developed Countries, some of the nations that will suffer most
from Canada and other industrialized countries' greenhouse gas pollution. Rounding
out the awards, the United Kingdom received Third Place for helping to move tar
sands oil into Europe.
The Fossils as presented read:
“The 3rd place fossil of the day is awarded to the UK, following revelations that UK
Ministers have done a deal with the Canadian government to support the entry of tar
sands into the European fuel supply chain, undermining proposed provisions of the
European Fuel Quality Directive. The UK does not appear as frequently as Canada on
the fossil roll-call, but when they do, they do it in style. Despite claiming to be the
'Greenest Government Ever', the ruling coalition in the UK has become champion for
the world's dirtiest fuels.
The UK might have a different opinion from Canada on the value of the Kyoto
Protocol (we hope so), but there is one thing they can agree on - a Government's best
friend is its oil lobby.”
"The 2nd place fossil of the day is awarded to Canada following statements by their
environment minister that they are coming to Durban to “play hardball” with
developing countries. This quotation from Canadian Environment Minister Peter
Kent, doesn’t even require paraphrasing in typical fossil humour – it is sufficiently
outrageous on its own:
‘Emerging and developing countries need to stop “wielding the historical guilty card”
and asking for a free pass on emissions reductions just because in the past,
industrialized countries had more emissions than the rest of the world’.
Hands off, LDCs; that “free pass” on emissions reductions belongs to Canada!"
"The 1st place Fossil also goes to Canada. Although Canadian environment Minister
said he hoped to win less fossils then his predecessors, he is not off to a very good
Canada has proven its fossil track record with 4 consecutive fossil of the year awards,
but if you can believe it, it seems they are even worse than we thought!
Environment Minister Peter Kent has articulated clearly that they will not budge with
international pressure on a second commitment period of Kyoto (a great attitude to
have in negotiations). This is unfortunately not necessarily a surprise, Canada has
been ‘separated’ from its Kyoto targets for years, but it seems they are headed for
In fact, reports are saying that on Canada’s side it is already a done deal, and yet hear
they are, planning to spend two weeks negotiating a treaty they intend to soon
This is a tough one for fossil because it is hard to joke about. Canada is here in
Durban in bad faith. Countries should be asking themselves why Canada is sitting at
the Kyoto negotiating table with a secret plan to formally withdraw from the protocol
mere weeks after the talks end.
This move is a slap in the face to the international community. Canada is further
isolating itself in these talks as a country that not only is refusing to take meaningful
action at home (tar sands anyone?), but also one that does not deserve trust and
respect from the international community here in Durban.
Shame on Canada."
About CAN: The Climate Action Network is a worldwide network of roughly 500
Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) working to promote government and
individual action to limit human-induced climate change to ecologically sustainable
levels. www.climatenetwork.org
About the fossils: The Fossil of the Day awards were first presented at the climate
talks in 1999  in Bonn, initiated by the German NGO Forum. During United Nations
climate change negotiations (www.unfccc.int), members of the Climate Action
Network (CAN), vote for countries judged to have done their 'best' to block progress
in the negotiations in the last days of talks.


Arrgggh, Canada!

We really thought thought Canada couldn’t get any worse . . .

But now credible reports are saying that before the end of the year, Canada is going to formally withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol. This can only be seen as an unacceptable breach of trust in the global climate talks, where the vast majority of the world recognizes the urgent need for meaningful action on climate change including a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol.

With the intention to abandon Kyoto next month, Canada is negotiating in outrageously bad faith here in Durban. Countries should be asking why Canada is sitting at the Kyoto negotiating table with a hardly-secret plan to withdraw from the protocol. They should demand to know Canada’s position, and if they really are planning to let the world down, they should immediately leave the KP negotiations.

Canada has been singled out as a global laggard on climate change in recent years, so this newest and grandest failure is not a surprise. In the midst of dire warnings about climate risk from even the International Energy Agency, Canada’s position is both dangerous and immoral.

Canada is acting on behalf of polluters, not people. It is no secret that Canada’s climate and energy policy is focused on rapidly expanding their tar sands oil production and attempting to kill clean energy policy abroad.

Yesterday, activists around the world protested against Canada’s push to open markets to dirty oil at the expense of the climate. In Canada, Greenpeace activists used LED emergency lights to write “Climate Fail” in huge letters on the lawn of Parliament -- a message that is even stronger following yesterday’s revelations.

Demonstrations also took place in capitals including Paris, Berlin, Oslo and Stockholm as well as outside of the Department of Transport in London, protesting the UK’s support for allowing tar sands oil into the EU.

Canada’s plan is a slap in the face to the international community. Canada is isolating itself even more in these talks as a country that not only is refusing to take meaningful action at home, but also one that has lost the trust and respect of the international community here in Durban and around the world.

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UNEP: Bridging the Gap

Many delegates at last year’s COP in Cancun failed to take note of a rather large elephant lurking in the meeting rooms and corridors. And now that elephant has made its way to this COP – and has grown even larger.

Just last week, the UN Environment Programme issued an updated version of its landmark Emissions Gap report. Once again, UNEP concludes that by 2020 global emissions need to be reduced to 44 gigatonnes if the world is to be on a credible pathway to keeping warming below 1.5° C or even 2°.

First the bad news – UNEP finds that the gap between what is needed and what is on the table increased even more over the past year. Even if all countries go to the top end of their pledge ranges to cut emissions, and all loopholes are closed, the gap in 2020 will still be 6 gigatonnes – as much as the annual emissions of the US.

In the real world the gap is more likely to be around 11 gigatonnes. Developed countries are stuck on weaker, conditional pledges and their targets are riddled with loopholes. In fact, with the current weak pledges and lenient accounting rules, UNEP says that developed country emissions will be hardly any different than business as usual.

But there is also some good news in the report. UNEP says that with strong action now, it is possible to do even more than close the gap, without significant technical breakthroughs or prohibitive cost. How? By strongly focusing on energy efficiency and clean, renewable energy. By a major drive to halt deforestation. By improved waste management and agricultural practices. And by taking action on the currently unregulated sectors of international aviation and shipping.

To enable these real, practical solutions to prosper, the ambition of current pledges must be increased. All countries can and must do more. But first, developed countries need to raise their game dramatically. The Cancun Agreements recognised that developed country targets should be in the range of 25-40% below 1990 levels.  In ECO’s view, the ambition must rise above 40% if you are serious about 2° C – let alone the 1.5° C small islands need to keep afloat.

In a rational world, countries at Durban would listen to the trumpeting of the elephant and increase their pledges here and now. So ECO lives in hope.

Land use, land use change and forestry. UNEP says that weak LULUCF rules could contribute 0.6 gigatonnes to the emissions gap. These rules would allow developed countries to increase emissions from forestry activities while still claiming credits. Parties must discard these bad rules, and instead focus on accounting options with environmental integrity.

Surplus AAUs. The use of surplus allowances from the first commitment period could increase global emissions by as much as 2.9 gigatonnes in 2020, UNEP says. Strong rules to prevent or minimise the carryover of this surplus are essential.

Double counting of offsets against both developed country targets and developing country pledges could, along with fake offsets, increase the gap by 2 gigatonnes. Governments can and must rule this out once and for all.

Here in Durban, governments must also agree a robust process to formally recognise, quantify and close the gap. They must also agree to a peak year of 2015 in the Shared Vision. And they must agree a second commitment period to the Kyoto Protocol, alongside a mandate for a comprehensive legally binding agreement to be concluded no later than 2015 and enter into force on 1 January 2018, a timeline that will not rule out the prospects for an early peak in emissions.

Delegates should pay heed to the wise words of African proverbs. “A man who is trampled to death by an elephant is a man who is blind and deaf”. Or, more positively: “When an elephant becomes as small as a monkey, it ceases to be an elephant.”

If you want to find out more about the Bridging the Emissions Gap report, UNEP is holding a side event in the African Pavilion at 18.30 on Thursday 1 December.

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LULUCF: Are We Outraged Yet?

One of the most important principles in the climate negotiations is that of common but differentiated responsibilities. CBDR means that while it is everyone’s job to reduce emissions, Annex I Parties have the lion’s share of historical emissions and therefore should demonstrate leadership with more ambitious emission reductions.

Specifically, to have a chance of keeping warming below 2° C, Annex I Parties must reduce emissions 40% or more below 1990 levels by 2020, while developing countries should begin low-carbon development that rapidly diverges from their likely business-as-usual (BAU) emissions.

How on earth, then, do Annex I Parties justify accounting for their forest industry emissions against BAU levels, and not a much more ambitious benchmark. And as you might have guessed, it’s even worse – many of these proposed BAU reference levels are inflated to hide future emissions increases, and so are worse than “real” BAU.

How is it that Annex I ministers and heads of delegation have allowed a whole sector to avoid contributing a fair share of ambition? Seriously, this isn’t some obscure technical issue. It’s a basic point about whether the forest sector is helping to solve the problem or is just a free-loader.

Furthermore, how hypocritical is it for Annex I Parties to set forest reference levels with no ambition for themselves, and then include calls for ambition in their recent submissions on the evolving REDD+ mechanism?

If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention!

And yet there is still time here in Durban and there are better options in the LULUCF text. These options may not be perfect, but they are better than Annex I countries’ wholly unacceptable projected BAU reference levels.

Come on, LULUCF negotiators and heads of delegations! It’s not enough to deliver a set of rules everyone can agree on. These rules must neither undermine the integrity of the KP nor set damaging precedents that could see ambition undermined in other areas. Clearly they must deliver for the climate – and time is running out!

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