To commemorate the opening of the High Level Segment of the “African COP” in Durban, ECO invited African NGOs to submit thematic articles on the often
urgent challenges of climate change and the compelling opportunities for
response. Like the continent itself, the essays here are diverse, but unite on
common ground: the readiness, given necessary and required support, to devise African solutions on the ground to the climate challenge.
Apart from ensuring plenty of air-time for adaptation and vulnerability in Africa, what can South Africa and the COP Presidency do to honor the expectations attached to being host for the ‘African COP? Could the outcome end up so poor, so far from the principles and objectives of the Convention, that South Africa would prefer to denounce rather than
defend the process?
Token reference to a 1.5° C stabilisation level is meaningless to Africa as long as we remain so far from targets that are consistent with having half a chance of remaining below 2°. At this point deciding a time-bound process for robust review of ambition and action would be more useful.
Developed countries that are historically responsible for the climate crisis must step up and pay their dues. An appropriate Shared
Vision will be a mirage if not accompanied by the means to ensure that global emissions will peak about mid-decade.
Operationalising Cancun won’t be sufficient to mobilise finance for adaptation, beyond the trickle seeping into the Adaptation Fund. With the focus now on a new fund – design, governance etc., there is too little happening to actually raise the finance.
A straightforward matter such as requesting the IMO to proceed to design a levy, to put a price on carbon consistent with its own principles and that of ‘common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities’ with a rebate system has, we hear, been made unmanageable by constraints behind a discussion of a broader framework.
Mobilising public finance is a clear imperative. There is no rationale or need to impede development of a finance-raising levy on bunker fuels by restricting discussions to sectoral approaches to mitigation. Financial transactions taxes are in the wings if not yet on stage, and Africa has a right to a portion of such resources and a myriad of opportunities to use it for green growth.
This is not, as some North Americans like to suggest, an issue of ‘guilt money’, it is an opportunity for sustainable development to the benefit of all humanity, and it is in our collective interest to enable ‘leap-frogging’ – an efficient transition to best available technology globally. Responsibility is not guilt. The Green Climate Fund is global because the benefits will be global, particularly if developing countries are allowed to access and use the funds in alignment with pressing development imperatives – should sufficient funds be forthcoming.
The right to sustainable development is not asserted to shame or assign guilt to those in economies that have grown rapidly through use of fossil fuels – it simply seeks to restore some balance, and efficient direction of resources to put all of humanity on a sustainable footing. The powerful should not be so fearful of yielding leverage over others that the entire system is so profoundly compromised that it cannot support the majority of people alive.
And by the way: How old will you be in 2050? It seems that very few negotiators have contemplated the world even one generation from now. Do NGOs really need to repeat that about the opportunities to put in place what is required. And is there any point when some of the needed text has already been written, but subsequently removed?
Much of the discussion in the first week has been about what we might hope to see in place at some time in the future, perhaps post-2020. After this, defending a deadline for an agreement in four years time is held out as a positive outcome!
Will there ever be a ‘make-or-break’ moment for the UNFCCC, or the processes for implementing it? Certainly it doesn’t look very good for Qatar serving as a big step up if Durban does not produce what we need.
So here’s an idea. What if scenarios of potential COP 17 outcomes were named for trees? Perhaps a positive outcome would be a Baobab; certainly an Acacia would have to feature as nationally appropriate and offering welcome shade and resilience. What would a poor outcome be? A Welwichia – native to Namibia, far from decorative, but still providing a habitat? The vision of a long-dead and weathered log is on the horizon, but what would the alien invasive tree look like?
In South Africa, the Working for Water Programme roots out alien invasive trees. But there isn’t a ready process for a COP Presidency to disown or defeat an unacceptable outcome, though there is precedent.
African NGOs hope to hear and see a lot more this week about what will be happening before 2015, including from the beginning of 2012. If the initial high-level sessions in Durban do not offer decisions for this timeframe, giving clear direction not just on additional institutions, but on moving money and continuing the Kyoto Protocol, African Parties should consider putting their host on notice that the outcome may face rejection.
In the aftermath of the ‘Arab spring’ across the region, North Africa is spiraling upward with change in the follow-on to Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya’s revolutions. Civil society is finally rising up and vocalizing a myriad of concerns they have over issues ranging from democratization, human rights, labor and the environment. With the empowerment of the people, North African governments are cautiously listening to their demands. Yet with the rising impacts of climate change on this hot arid region, concerns will only escalate.
According to a recent World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) report, there will be a 20% decrease in water flow in the Nile River to Egypt. This is occurring in a country that is already severely affected by water scarcity and is currently below the water poverty line. The report also projects that these impacts will hit countries at a much faster rate than originally predicted, with sea levels rising almost 1 m instead of 0.5 m by 2050. This means the delta in Egypt – the food basket of Egypt’s agricultural lands – will be inundated by up to 75%. These impacts will devastate the region and magnify the food and water security crisis for millions.
Earlier this year, the people of North Africa took to the streets to protest against increasing food prices, lack of jobs and insufficient resources. Those challenges are already being increased by climate change. The governments of North Africa have a golden opportunity to act domestically with the creation of green jobs that will meet the needs of their people, economy, and the climate. Governments also have an important role in the global climate negotiations to push developed countries to increase their ambition targets as well as their financing capacity and deliver to address urgent concerns of the looming impacts of climate change on their people.
For poor farmers and pastoralists in East Africa, the climate has already changed and the impacts are severe, having claimed lives and livelihoods of people who contributed little to the situation. It is also certain that it will cost far more if concerted action is not taken soon.
In East Africa, climate change has amplified a chain of disasters: floods, extreme droughts, seasonal shifts and crop failure, animal diseases, water and fodder shortage, and social collapse. The current drought – the worst in decades, following the failure of both the main and short rain seasons – has reportedly affected 12 million and the real number may be far more. It has brought to famine in Somalia, claiming lives primarily of women and children, and rendering others refugees in Ethiopia. The survival of pastoralists is threatened by the death of thousands of livestock on which they are heavily dependent.
Droughts and famine in East Africa have been increasingly frequent over the last three decades. The region is and has been the leading humanitarian aid recipient. Changing this situation requires meaningful actions that will bend the global emissions curve into decline.
Over the years foreign aid has helped those who are affected by drought conditions, but such support has not extended to delivering the change desired by the people. The only thing that keeps changing is the climate and the degree of its impacts, making millions of farmers and pastoralists in the region suffer absolute poverty. Here is an appeal to the developed world which has been providing humanitarian support: real help requires implementing climate change response actions immediately. Help the people to adapt and take actions that will stabilize the climate, and the people of East Africa will find their own way out of poverty.
For most African countries, increasing vulnerability to the impacts of climate change is a present danger, particularly for the rural poor, the great majority of whom are farmers. With increasing land degradation, desertification and soil erosion hitting hard at the local level and poor women and men totally reliant on natural resources for their survival, the need for adaptation support could not be more urgent.
The results of multilateral climate negotiations therefore have a huge impact on African lives. Smallholder, predominantly family-operated farms produce about 80 % of most African economies’ total agricultural output.
In Ghana for example, half of the labour force, or 4.2 million people, are directly engaged in agriculture, which is heavily dependent on rainfall. Food production fluctuates from year to year with variations in rains during and between growing seasons. In Ghana, the total area under formal irrigation is around 11,000 hectares whereas the potential area – including inland valleys – that could be developed for irrigation is estimated at 500,000 hectares.
The urgent need for a comprehensive adaptation framework, supported by adequate and predictable finance, cannot be overstated. Progress in this area has remained elusive for successive COPs. Instead, their mandate is applied in pursuit of narrow near-term interests of parties caught up in a web of diplomacy.
In Nagbere, a community in the Upper East region of Ghana, vegetable production – the only source of livelihoods for over 600 inhabitants – has collapsed due to long periods of drought. “We are not able to use very well the few heavy rains we get at certain periods during the year”, reported a local farmer in the community.
Creating resilient and sustainable societies requires substantial intervention to develop adaptive capacity of vulnerable communities and to maintain a healthy agriculture for improved food security. Timely provision of adaptation funds is critical to eradicating poverty and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.
Timely adaptation measures will enable communities to take charge of their future and increase resilience. Unfortunately, in Durban we see appalling obstinacy by some of the major polluters rather than progressing the ultimate objective of the Convention.
African women, led by the late Wangari Maathai, took the simple first step step of digging a hole and placing in it a seedling. By so doing, they demonstrated commitment to adapting to their changing climate. If they could do that, why then the delay in releasing the green funds for climate change adaptation?
The agreement of a further two-year phase of the Nairobi Work Programme, including specific focus areas on ecosystem-based approaches and on water, is a welcome development. This highlights the need for full consideration of the tensions between water and energy security, within the context of water scarcity in southern Africa and a heavy dependence on coal through South Africa’s dominance in the subregion and position as anchor of the Southern African Power Pool.
The Olifant’s River in SA’s Mpumalanga Province provides a classic example of the lack of ecosystem-based integrated planning. The water of the Olifants is too polluted – almost entirely by coal mining to be used for cooling downstream coal-fired power plants. Water catchment management, with an ecosystem-wide approach, is not only a national but a regional imperative, yet the Southern African Development Community (SADC) lacks capacity to involve stakeholders in such regional planning.
Recent promotion of desalination raises additional concerns regarding overall resource efficiency and the potential for diminishing returns on investment, given the energy inputs required to ensure water supply, with current energy supply being from thirsty fossil-based processes. The concept of Energy Return On Energy Invested (EROEI), which is diminishing for fossil resources, but improving for renewable energy technologies, will also need to be applied to water supply. Adapting to
increasing water scarcity requires that supply should also be subject to resource efficiency standards, to optimise value derived from ecosystem services.
In this specific example we see how one output of the climate negotiations, the Nairobi Work Programme, is providing the context for making a positive contribution to sustainable natural resource management down on the ground.
Africa for Integrity
At this African COP, it is gratifying to see the Africa Group tabling a number of constructive proposals aiming to bring environmental integrity back to the Kyoto
On the issue of hot air, the Africa Group is proposing that the carry-over of surplus AAUs from the first to the second commitment period be limited to 1% of each party’s assigned amount for the first commitment period, and that parties be allowed to sell the carried-over amount, with 50% of the revenue to be transferred to the Adaptation Fund.
In the LULUCF negotiations, the group has put forward a proposal that would act to lower the free credits countries get from managing their forests. While it doesn’t fully solve the issue of unaccounted emissions in LULUCF, this compromise proposal is a step in the right direction.
These proposals may not be perfect, but they put forward compromises that take us towards environmental integrity needed at the core of global climate efforts.
Ministers – thank goodness you are here. Your delegations may have been burning some midnight oil in the last few days – but they have left the hard decisions for you! Here’s what your agenda for the next 4 days looks like:
1. Don’t just “Mind the Gap” – do something! Ministers, at Durban you must show that you live on the same planet as the rest of us and acknowledge that the current mitigation pathway puts us on track for over 4° C warming. You must explicitly acknowledge the 6 to 11 Gigatonne gap, agree to a 2012 work plan to close the gap by increasing developed country targets to at least 40% by 2020, and provide guidelines and timeframes for NAMAs to be registered and supported where required. The ambition work plan must include clear markers through 2012, including submissions, technical papers and a dedicated intersessional meeting, to ensure we don’t have another year of wishy washy workshops with outcomes.
2. Commit for the long term. Negotiators have made no progress at all in setting a peak year and a long term global goal for emissions. Ministers now should explicitly agree that each country contribute their fair share to the globally needed mitigation effort, leading to a peak by 2015 and a reduction of global emissions of at least 80% below 1990 by 2050.
3. Stop spinning wheels in the Review. Ministers need to ensure that the Review will be effective, and limiting the scope will help it get off the ground as an effective instrument. We must focus on the important things: reviewing the long-term goal and the overall progress towards achieving it. Leave the biannual reports under MRV to cover the inputs like the means of implementation.
4. High Time for legally binding. A 5 year long second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol is an absolute necessity as it contains important architectural elements which are crucial to ensure that mitigation commitments are legally binding and have environmental integrity. Nobody believes that a temperature rise of 4° C might be OK. So now is the moment to act decisively. An LCA mandate to agree a comprehensive legally binding instrument can build on the KP. Parties need to go beyond their long stated positions and immediately kick off negotiations toward a comprehensive, fair, ambitious and binding agreement to be agreed no later than 2015.
6. KP is essential – but it must have integrity. When added together, loopholes in the KP could wipe out Annex I ambition for the second commitment period.
In LULUCF, hidden and unaccounted emissions could significantly undermine Annex I targets, and cause us to doubt your commitment. Ministers must therefore ensure emissions from forests and land use are accurately accounted and reject the options on the table with the lowest environmental integrity.
All of the parties to this relationship know that the hot air / carried over AAUs is a bad joke that threatens to sour our relationship. To keep it pure we need you to retire your surplus AAUs, or at least reduce them to 1%. Flexible mechanisms need clear rules and governance structures to avoid double counting of both emissions and finance, strengthen additionality testing and ensuring the standardization frenzy does not leave us with a highway for free-riders. Let’s start by keeping CCS and nuclear out of the CDM and let’s exclude coal power projects. Last but not least, we do indeed need stakeholder involvement in the CDM. Don’t back down, we are counting on you!
PS: CDM’s little brother JI has been up to a bunch of no-good stuff: hot air gussied up in new clothes (ERUs) is still hot air.
7. Fill the Fund. Operationalising the GCF in Durban is essential but not nearly enough – an empty fund is no good to anyone. We need initial capitalization of the GCF from developed country Parties in Durban. Reaching $100 billion per year by 2020 will require a commitment to scaled up finance from 2013 onward and clear progress on innovative approaches to generate finance. In Durban, parties should move forward on the establishment of mechanisms in the shipping and aviation sectors in a way that reduces emissions, generates finance, and ensures no burdens and costs on developing countries. Countries must also agree to a detailed one year work programme under the UNFCCC to consider a full range of innovative sources of public finance and report back to COP 18 with a proposal for action.
8. Gear Up and Deliver Technology. Technology is heading in the right direction, but speed is needed! Don’t be held back by other laggards. The Tech Mechanism could be operational by the end of COP 18.
9. Feel the Love for Transparency and Stakeholders. Your negotiators excised stakeholders’ right to participate from the IAR text and subject to heavy bracketing in ICA. But we know, Ministers, that you recognize the worth of engaging stakeholders to create a better process – rather than having us only campaign from the outside. Current text also falls short on common accounting rules for Annex I countries and clarification of pledges for all countries. Surely we’ve learned from the financial crisis! Robust reporting, such as Biennial Reviews and Biennial Update Report guidelines, including tables for reporting actions, and a common reporting format for finance must be agreed in Durban, so countries can complete their biennial reports in time for the first review. And where would this relationship between us and the planet, be without compliance for our commitments!
10. An ambitious adaptation package at the African COP. Good agreements on Loss and Damage and the Nairobi Work Programme have already been reached. Wrapping up the package will require agreement on a strong Adaptation Committee including active civil society observers and direct reporting to the COP (as well to the SBs when COP does not meet). Furthermore, guidelines for National Adaptation Plans for Least Developed Countries must be adopted, plus modalities on how other developing countries can take these up. The prioritisation for LDCs must of course not be undermined.
A strong role for local, affected communities and civil society in national planning processes, building on the principles agreed in the Cancun Adaptation Framework, is essential. Finally, Parties must ensure that the Adaptation Fund does not dry up because of decreasing CER prices and lack of new pledges to the Fund from developed countries.
The disconnect between the climate talks and scientific reality is stark. In the UNFCCC process, progress is being made, but in real life your negotiators have been sleepwalking as the world burns.
The past week has seen negotiations moving slowly, with the peaks and valleys that typify these talks. We have walked the corridors, met in the large and small rooms, gone to side events, gossiped at exhibit stands, argued over brackets and tinkered with text.
Meanwhile, famine spreads, floods inundate homes and storms destroy livelihoods.
The evidence shows that if we do not act within only a few short years it will be too late to curb dangerous climate change. To be blunt, we risk throwing away the work of 20 years and further delaying the action that is truly required.
Ministers, your negotiators have left you with a very clear choice: You can choose to step away from the edge or drag all of us over it.
Over the last few days, we’ve seen discussions of a timeline for action that would lock us into dangerous climate change. ECO was under the impression that the Durban COP was intended to discuss the post-2012 framework. Somehow the negotiations have shifted to post-2020. This is simply inconceivable. The world can not afford a ten year timeout in the negotiations.
To this end, the European Union can help: Agree a 5-year second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol. Do it now.
The US and others claim that the collective emission reductions ambition currently in place will allow us to avoid dangerous climate change. This is simply not true. A pledge and review world is a world of uncertainty. There is even backtracking toward a system where there is neither accountability nor assurance that actions will be taken. Let’s not go there.
Instead, we must raise ambition by 2015, otherwise the global average temperature increase will exceed 2° C and move inexorably to 3° and beyond – with all that entails.
The Kyoto Protocol second commitment period must be agreed, as it is the only instrument that legally binds countries to reduce their emissions.
Durban must also agree to negotiate a legally binding agreement to supplement – not replace! – the Kyoto Protocol as soon as possible, and by 2015 at the very latest. Those pushing anything else are seeking to avoid their responsibilities and delay urgently required action.
We have been talking since Copenhagen about how the process is “kicking the can down the road.” There is no more time for that. We cannot pretend action is being taken when it is being avoided.
And it can be done! As we approach the dangerous edge, there is also positive movement.
China has signaled flexibility and a willingness to negotiate the difficult issues. The EU can accept a 5 year second commitment period, and they must continue to stand strong for the 2015 timeline as well. The small island states have, as always, pushed for what is needed, since they are closest to the dangerous edge.
There is another road and this is the time for us to choose it. And if the US and others try and pull you aside, don’t let them. Move forward and show the way.
Dear Ministers, we are relying on you this week to show true leadership and choose to pull back from the abyss, change course and take bold steps in a new direction that works for all of us, our climate and our planet.
Ambassador Jumeau from the Seychelles said it best: “During COP17, you are all small islanders. So don’t save us, save yourselves.”
This week, you work to save us all.
ECO recognises that significant time and effort have gone into improving the transparency and technical robustness of Annex I Parties’ proposed reference levels for forest management.
However, although the review process achieved those objectives, this is in no way sufficient to ensure the environmental integrity of the reference level approach to forest management accounting. Put bluntly, the policy premise of the reference level approach is deeply, irrevocably flawed.
Although the review process was able to identify and correct technical issues and inconsistencies in individual country reference levels, it was never intended to assess the broader policy implications of the reference level approach. These implications include the following:
Environmental integrity. The reference level approach would allow Annex I Parties to increase net emissions of greenhouse gases relative to current levels over the next commitment period without penalty. Over time, this approach could seriously undermine global climate change mitigation and result in a loss of forest carbon stocks in developed country forests.
Economy-wide mitigation. The forest management reference levels for some Annex I Parties have been set in a way that allows them to hide increases in emissions from managing their forests and therefore allows them to avoid undertaking mitigation actions in other sectors.
Comparability. One supposed strength of the reference level approach is that it is flexible enough to allow all Annex I Parties to adopt mandatory forest management accounting.
However, reference levels overshoot the flexibility actually needed several times over. The result is a framework in which a tonne of mitigation in one country is not necessarily equivalent to a tonne of mitigation in another country.
The review was designed to assess the technical robustness and transparency of Parties’ reference levels, and it did its job. It is now plainly and utterly apparent just how bad the effects of the reference level approach could be.
ECO therefore implores Parties to take a step back, consider the broader implications of the reference level approach and reject it in favour of one of the more robust options on the table as we head into the critical second week of negotiations here in Durban.
ECO is here to help negotiators remove some brackets from that new MRV text that is hot off the press, and insert a few critical items that Parties have somehow forgotten.
So pick up your erasers (or warm up your Delete keys) and let’s get to work!
Stakeholder participation – Observer participation is still bracketed in the ICA and largely absent or conditioned in the IAR. Inexcusable! Stakeholders, including NGOs, businesses and municipalities, have a right to participate and contribute important scientific and technical information to the negotiations.
Accounting and compliance – These two words seem to be toxic to some developed country parties, like the USA and Canada, but including them in international assessment and review (IAR) is fundamental. The IAR must review the accounting of emission reductions and lead to future compliance mechanisms under the Convention. You can see where things go otherwise; the lack of good accounting and compliance played a big role in the financial crisis.
Adjustments – A tonne is a tonne is a tonne. Not only do we need common accounting rules, in the IAR technical review, the review teams need to be able to adjust data when the rules aren’t followed. Brackets around adjustments – off!
MRV and the Review – Biennial reports, biennial update reports, and the IAR and international consultation and analysis (ICA) processes are key to providing an accurate picture of global emissions for the 2013 Review. This link is reflected in the IAR preamble but inexplicably has been deleted from the ICA preamble. This link and an appropriate timeline should be agreed. Developed country reports should be in by 1 January 2013 and developing country reports on 1 January 2014; and the IAR and ICA should start in May 2013 and May 2014, respectively. This timeline is crucial for providing effective input in the review process.
Developed country Biennial reports – It is troubling to see that the information on LULUCF and market mechanisms for developed country targets is bracketed. Remove the darn ’s! We need the information and it should be based on common rules.
New and additional finance – A key part of enhanced transparency in climate finance is defining “new and additional”. So don’t forget to keep that box in the Common Reporting Format for finance;.
National Communication guidelines need updating all around. Parties must agree in Durban to update the guidelines for both developed and developing countries. Currently, the text only has a provision for revising developed country guidelines.
Low Carbon Development Strategies – Most Parties seem to be forgetting paragraphs 45 and 65 from Cancún about low carbon plans, even if a lot of countries are moving forward domestically with them. Biennial reports focus on what has been achieved; but planning for a decarbonized future is crucial and that is where these strategies come in. We need a process to report on the development of those plans and share best practices.
Response measures don’t belong in IAR. (Do we need to say it again?) Consideration of the adverse impacts of mitigation actions is already done more than adequately as part of the annual review of GHG inventories. It has no place in the IAR process. This is a climate change convention, after all.
REDD+ reporting – A summary of REDD+ activities, including actions, methodologies, accounting and safeguards information systems, should be included in Biennial Update Reports and NatComms.
Beyond the text itself, countries could move the process forward if they made some concrete announcements. Take for example the USA. For all its rhetoric on transparency, they have yet to put forward serious money to support developing country biennial reports and the ICA process. The entire developed world has an interest in and an obligation to support these initiatives. Announcements of support in Durban would go a long way to ensure robust guidelines are adopted.
This year marks a decade since the Least Developed Countries Fund (LDCF) was established at COP 7 in Marrakesh to finance the most urgent adaptation needs of least developed countries. Unfortunately little is said about the LDCF and there is less to celebrate. Ten years on, and only $415 million has been pledged towards a total $2 billion identified to prepare and implement national adaptation programmes of action (NAPAs), the fund’s purpose.
Negotiators in Durban cannot reverse what has been a lost decade for adaptation finance. But they can and must secure an outcome in Durban that leads to reliable, sufficient and predictable flows of adaptation finance to developing countries in the decade ahead.
Apart from a few exceptions, we haven’t seen much evidence yet that climate finance won’t be falling off a cliff when fast start finance runs out at the end of 2013. Finance for adaptation in particular is an overriding priority for LDCs, SIDS and the most vulnerable countries. But it remains an orphan in the bigger finance picture past, present and future. The current nose-diving of the international carbon price also means that the Adaptation Fund, which takes a fixed share of 2% from CDM projects, is at risk of having barely any money next year.
With emissions levels surpassing the IPCC’s worst case scenarios, it’s clear that huge amounts of money will be needed to address impacts of both more frequent extreme weather events and slow onset events. With emissions levels surpassing the IPCC’s worst case scenarios it is clear that huge amounts of money will be needed to address the impacts of both more frequent extreme weather events and slow onset events.
Yet only 18% of US) and 30% of EU fast start finance is being spent on adaptation in 2011. Australia provides a better example, with over half its climate finance spend dedicated to adaptation this year).
The amalgamated LCA text has the potential to start addressing some of these significant shortcomings. There is concrete text on the table assuring developing countries there will not be a gap after 2012, and that climate finance will scale up between 2013 and 2020.
Another important matter is the balance between mitigation and adaptation finance, in particular option 2 which would guarantee at least 50% of all climate finance is earmarked for adaptation.
Finally, a work programme is needed to identify predictable and reliable long term sources of finance. As currently stated in the text, this should lead to concrete decisions by COP 18 and provide the best chance to agree the most promising sources of climate finance, including innovative sources such as a financial transaction tax, and a global price on emissions from international shipping and aviation that has no net incidence of cost on developing countries.
Negotiators can aim to land in a zone where clear guarantees can be given to developing countries that they will not be left ‘high and dry’ (or maybe that should be ‘hot, low and wet’) without any money to address the climate impacts that they have done nothing to cause. As all Parties have committed to set up the Green Climate Fund here in Durban, let’s make sure it is not an empty shell.
If Durban is to be at least somewhat successful then Saturday’s release of the BASIC Experts paper on fair-shares global effort sharing will be recognized as a key breakthrough. That can help decide a 2nd commitment period for the KP while putting on the agenda serious consideration of a next generation mandate that’s fair enough to support real ambition.
The BASIC Experts paper does not pretend that the global carbon budget hasn’t already been essentially exhausted. Nor does it say that development-as-usual is still a viable option and we can muddle along with bottom-up accounting and a bit of technological optimism. These are things that just can’t happen if we actually intend to stabilize the climate system. But in addition,
developmental justice is a precondition of high ambition, and this report does foresee that soon we’ll be ready to face this bottom-line reality.
The BASIC authors can be commended for illuminating the salient core of the climate-equity debate. That outcome has clearly involved compromise, and it has clearly had a cost. For example, the paper focuses on a 2000-2050 global emissions budget of 1440 Gt CO2, one that many among us view as dangerously high.
All the same, the benefits of compromise are also visible. The authors were able to mark out a first-order consensus that, while vague, indicates a way forward. If ‘equity’ is defined as the human right to sustainable development, then only two approaches to a global fair-shares reference framework – cumulative per-capita budget sharing and “responsibility and capacity index” based effort sharing – are at all promising, and the BASIC paper clearly moves these two approaches forward.
There certainly are problems as well. The report, for example, gives almost no attention to economic stratification within countries. Even South Africa, while speaking for an approach that includes economic capacity as well as historic responsibility, passes too lightly over that subject. But all told it’s the accomplishment here that are highly notable. The BASIC Experts report is a signpost to the debate that’s actually needed.
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.