New Zealand


A fossil is awarded to New Zealand, as an ambassador for all Annex I Parties, for bluntly declaring that if they don’t get the rules they want on forest management, they’ll have to change their overall emission reduction target. Does this mean that the LULUCF sector is just a slush fund and Copenhagen pledges are open for renegotiation if the slush fund disappears?

Tianjin 2010 ECO 6

In this issue

  1. No time to Lose
  2. The EU Chooses
  3. LULUCF: The second agenda
  4. Fossil of the Day: New Zealand

The Legal Impasse: High Noon at the KP Corral

There are a number of puzzled-looking lawyers in the hallways in Tianjin right now, and ECO admits as well to being puzzled by the refusal of China and Brazil to allow the legal matters contact group to discuss elements set out in the KP chair’s scenario note this week.

It seems that since the beginning of time, developed countries have obstructed progress in the KP on the numbers discussion.  This may go some way to explaining the behaviour of some developing countries in the legal matters group.  However, this procedural dispute has now consumed every session of the contact group this week to the point where the KP chair was called in to intervene, to no avail.

Clearly China and Brazil are in favour of continuing the Kyoto Protocol.  So ECO is surprised at their opposition to a discussion of Option B, which includes number of important elements such as assessment and review, refinement of the compliance mechanism, and provisions for entry into force of amendments, among others.  Given how short the time is, these discussions are necessary to advance understanding of what the second commitment period will mean for Parties taking quantified emissions reduction commitments (QERCs). To do otherwise puts the future of the Protocol at risk.

In Wednesday’s stock-taking plenary, many developing countries strongly advocated for a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol.  And the EU, Australia, New Zealand and Norway have stated that they are prepared to take new commitments under Kyoto.  However, they indicated that they can only do so once they have a clear idea of what the rules will be for the second commitment period, including the matters that were to be considered by the legal contact group this week.

ECO strongly supports the need to reach agreement on these underlying issues so that agreement can be reached on QERCs.  At the same time, ECO cautions that loopholes the developed country Parties have tried to negotiate for themselves must be removed, so as to ensure the environmental integrity of the agreement and help close the gigatonne gap. 

ECO encourages all parties to the Protocol to take the advice of the KP chair when he was called to arbitrate the dispute: Parties should listen to each other’s proposals and get on with the negotiations.  We couldn’t agree more. We don’t want a gap between commitment periods, and the KP should not be held for ransom by anyone.

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LULUCF on the Leading Edge of Failure

The LULUCF negotiations are heading towards the worst possible outcome for forests and are dragging down climate mitigation as a whole.  With each passing day it looks more and more likely a deal will be cut that allows developed countries to increase their annual emissions into the foreseeable future without any real accountability.  Do the national leaders who committed to ‘deep cuts’ in Copenhagen really know what is happening here in Tianjin?  Shouldn’t somebody tell them?

Yesterday Parties had a chance to consider an alternate path.  In an open session, Tuvalu proposed that countries should take responsibility if their emissions increase relative to the first commitment period.  It’s one way to create some basic accountability for changes in forest management. 

But this proposal was roundly rejected by some Annex I Parties with the excuse that it would be too politically difficult to account for these emissions in a fair manner.  The cursory treatment of Tuvalu’s proposal lasted less than an hour, leaving the distinct impression that developed countries would be happy never to discuss it again. 

The quick dismissal of viable accounting options is a travesty in light of the nearly two years wasted on developing a ‘reference levels’ approach that would allow developed countries to increase exploitation of their forests and artificially enhance their weak national targets.

And it gets even worse.  A large proportion of emissions from bioenergy, supposedly a low carbon energy source, will disappear entirely – unaccounted for while trees are harvested under weak forest management rules and counted as zero carbon in power stations.

ECO has learned not to expect much at all from the LULUCF negotiations.  But the citizens of a world increasingly threatened by climate change should reject this blatant abdication of accountability and responsibility, and demand that developed countries live up to their commitments to reduce emissions and protect and enhance forest carbon sinks.

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Fair Shares Finance for Adaptation

This has been what might be called a year from climate hell with floods, droughts and scorching temperatures across the globe.  But those steering the debate on climate

financing are slow to get the point. As now envisioned, climate funding will bypass the most vulnerable.   

The vast majority of the grossly inadequate existing flow of climate finance is focused on mitigation.  For example, only 7.45% of major public funds reported at
climatefundsupdate.org are for adaptation.   

And there’s not much evidence to suggest that this basic pattern will change with fast-start finance.  Adaptation and the needs of the most vulnerable are still too often the forgotten step-children.  

Going forward, ECO isn’t suggesting that there’s too much financing for mitigation – au contraire!  But it is vital that adaptation gets its fair share of attention and funding.  A new global climate fund is just the place to make this happen. 

To ensure that the most vulnerable benefit from adequate, predictable and sustainable financial contributions, we propose that a fair pre-allocation of funding for adaptation is crucial.  

Specifically, the finance text should
ensure that at least 50% of overall funding counted against UNFCCC commitments should be dedicated to adaptation, and at least 50% of money channeled through the new fund should be allocated to adaptation. 

These proportions may need to be revised over time, but this is the balanced approach we should take now.

And if we don’t, surely it will be a recipe for disaster for those who are already the hardest-hit. 

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Denmark Lays the ZCAP Groundwork

Copenhagen brings back many memories. Long, freezing queues outside the Bella Centre, a COP president oblivious to basic UN procedures, and most importantly, no FAB (fair, ambitious, binding) deal.

Who would think that Denmark, less than a year later, would be the place making
ambitious progress in the fight against climate change!

Only a fool would hesitate to invest today in a rapid and complete transition to a fossil fuel free economy. This was pretty much the message from the Danish Climate Commission to the government when asked about the possibilities of phasing out fossil fuels in Denmark by 2050.

The commission’s report concluded that the long term additional costs of becoming fossil fuel independent would be ‘in the order of 0.5% of Denmark’s GDP in 2050’.  However, they went on, the conversion must start now in order to ensure cost efficiency.

The commission adopted 40 concrete recommendations, including expansion of offshore wind capacity by 200 MW annually on average in 2015-2025.  Neither CCS nor nuclear power is included in the vision, primarily because both were deemed to be cost-prohibitive.

So far, the Prime Minister’s response is that Denmark should increase the use of wind power, biomass and electric vehicles, although a concrete follow-up plan -- a Zero Carbon Action Plan (ZCAP) -- has yet to be presented.  But further, the Prime Minister now also supports the demand to raise the level of ambition in the EU, moving from a 20% to a 30% reduction target on 1990 levels by 2020.

The Danish opposition and NGOs are now pushing for the government to produce an ambitious and concrete ZCAP as a response to the recommendations from the commission. Whether that will be delivered is yet to be seen, but chances are that the Danish government is waking up and discovering that the race to the green future has already begun.

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Learning from the global fund

One may well wonder, what could the climate change debate possibly learn from other fields?  ECO looked around a bit and discovered some interesting things about the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

The recent replenishment meeting of the Global Fund ended earlier this week in New York.  And despite the lingering recession in many parts of the world economy, the respective contributions resulted in pledges of $11.7 billion over the next three years, an increase of 20% compared to 2008-2010. That is good news and shows that the international community is still able to take action when urgent global challenges have to be addressed.

Of particular note for the climate debate is that the Global Fund is the pioneer in direct access. Donors seem to trust its approach, which so far has financed programmes in 140 countries. The United States is #1 among donors and has pledged $4 billion for the next period.

Furthermore, the Global Fund has some innovative institutional features which ECO thinks should be considered in the setup of the new climate fund. 

First, the Fund itself is an administratively autonomous international financing institution, with its own Secretariat based in Geneva. The only formal link to an existing institution is that the World Bank serves as Trustee.  The Global Fund was set up very quickly, with the Secretariat being established six months after the principal decision to establish the Fund, and the first grants were approved three months later.

On the national level, multi-stakeholder country coordinating mechanisms are the key players. These include the government and stakeholders such as NGOs, scientists and the private sector. This is an instructive example given the diverse responses that climate change will require on all levels of society in developing countries.

On the international level, the Fund is steered by a board composed of 20 voting members –  14 from governments/regional organisations and one each for the private sector, private foundations, developing country NGO, developed country NGO, and a representative from local communities. Representatives from international organisations are members of the Board without voting rights. It is a global partnership to
address a true global challenge.

Of course, the climate fund can’t just be a copy of the Global Fund. For one thing, the scale of climate resources must very soon be significantly higher than the $3 billion a year in the Global Fund budget. 

In order to fully prepare for the future, one must learn from the past. For instance, the US proposal, supported to some degree by other countries, that would set up the climate fund as a kind of reinvention of the GEF, does not do so.  Instead, the future climate architecture should take note of lessons like those offered by the Global Fund.

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