The Climate Action Network (CAN) - a global network of over 700 NGOs from more than 90 countries working to promote action to limit climate change to ecologically sustainable levels - is attending the UNFCCC Intersessional Meeting being held in Bangkok from 30 August to 5 September 2012.
CAN believes the following three priority areas need to be discussed in Bangkok:
- Set expectations for concrete outcomes at COP18 in Doha, especially in terms of agreeing a second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol
- Establishing a workplan with key milestones for the Durban Platform negotiation track, especially in relation to increasing level of short-term mitigation ambition
- Identify elements that need to be finalized or moved under the long-term cooperation action (LCA) track so that it would close in Doha
Media are advised that non-governmental organisations who are members of CAN are available for interviews and on and off the record briefings, backgrounds and updates on the following climate change issues discussed in the negotiations:
Shared vision and overall political picture
Mitigation and low-carbon development
Equitable effort sharing
Adaptation to the impacts of climate change
REDD and forests
Aviation and Maritime fuels
The CAN team in Bangkok also includes experts from the following regions:
Arab region, Australia, Canada, Central Asia, China, Europe, India, Japan, Latin America, South Africa, South East Asia, United States, West and East Africa.
To be put in touch with the relevant person, please contact CAN Director:
Australia and the KP: True Love or a One Night Stand?
I‘ve been waiting for your call for months now. When we first met you gave me flowers and whispered sweet promises and commitments in my ear. Though you’ve taken years to take our friendship further, we have now been seeing each other for a while. I’ve grown to like your company and it hurts that you’ve stopped returning my calls.
I know over the last few years you have had trouble at home – especially with your ex, Mr. Abbott, complaining that you should not be seeing me any more. But you still haven’t called, even though he sent me a little note recently saying that he’s happy for us to get together.
My good friend the EU has also been talking to you about linking up for dinner (and maybe sharing an Emissions Trading System?). This would certainly be easier if we all went to the same restaurant. Just imagine how awkward it would be if we all accidentally ended up in the same space, sharing the same air, but sitting at different tables. I don’t think the EU will want to have too much to do with you unless you and I are getting on.
Please Australia, it's time you called.
The Kyoto Protocol
Australia and the KP: Time to Come Clean
Many ECO readers will recall the standing ovation Australia received in Bali in 2007 when the newly elected Labor government formally handed over the instrument of ratification of the Kyoto Protocol. The mood in the room was one of excitement and anticipation.
Fast forward almost five years and the spotlight is again on Australia as we wait with bated breath to see if they will join the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol.
Since 2009, Australia has been calling for a “Kyoto-plus” outcome from the current round of negotiations. Yet throughout this year, their negotiators have walked a diplomatic tightrope, refusing to rule Australia in or out of the second commitment period of the Protocol. The official line has been that they need to see all final amendments before they can make up their mind. In ECO’s humble opinion, this is little more than a delaying tactic. Clearly no country should be expected to sign up to an international treaty until they have seen the final wording, but this should not stop them from signalling support in principle.
If truth be told, the major barrier to the Australian government declaring its support for Kyoto CP2 has been political. As anyone from Australia will tell you, implementing effective climate change policies in the land down under is no easy task, with the two major political parties deeply divided on the best way forward. The Government, therefore, deserves our admiration for persevering with the introduction of a national carbon price in the face of a highly effective scare campaign against such measures.
Yet it appears that the fate of Australia’s involvement in the second commitment period may be separated from the political fight over a carbon price. Earlier this month, the leader of the main opposition party, Tony Abbott, declared support, in principle, for joining the second commitment period. There also seem to be good levels of public support, with a recent poll indicating that close to 60 percent of voters would support Australia joining Kyoto CP2.
The benefits for Australia are obvious. Signing on to Kyoto CP2 would strengthen Australia’s reputation within the negotiations, aligning it with other countries that support a top down, rules-based approach to a global climate deal. It would also remove the risk of being shut out of the Kyoto Protocol’s carbon markets.
Why wouldn’t Australia publicly announce in-principle support? With no obvious political barriers in place, the longer Australia delays, the more it looks like they are using the KP CP2 as a bargaining chip, presumably to extract something in other areas of the negotiations. If indeed this is Australia’s strategy, it is a high risk gamble. As we saw in Bonn in May, the political deal struck in Durban last year remains fragile and the last thing we need is Australia playing hardball with a key pillar of the Durban deal.
The Bangkok talks present a perfect opportunity for Australia to end the speculation and declare its intention to join the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol. This will provide much needed momentum in the lead up to Doha and equally ensure that the spotlight is put back on those countries who are truly opposed to a fair, ambitious and binding global deal.
Come on Australia, you raised our expectations back in 2007, and just like a new partner, we had high hopes for something more. Will you meet the promise we imagined with starry eyes back then? We’re waiting by the phone to hear your response. Waiting for those two little words: I do.
ANGELS and DEMONS?
Welcome again to the Krung Thep, the city of angels. ECO hopes that this location will inspire delegates to put aside their devilish disagreements and instead move forward in a spirit of angelic cooperation in the fight against climate change and its deadly impacts. The recent flooding in Manila, the typhoon coming ashore near Shanghai and widespread drought and crop failures in the U.S.A. are stark reminders that the impacts of climate change are real, global and growing.
The large majority of countries, especially the poorest and most vulnerable, are demanding a global response that has a very high probability of limiting global warming to levels that do not threaten their livelihoods and their very existence. The best available science indicates that this will require global emissions to remain within a strict carbon budget – and a collective and rapid transition to a low carbon global economy. It requires both an ambitious post-2020 treaty regime and much greater ambition between now and 2020 – the two-track approach agreed in Durban.
Success in the negotiations towards a fair, ambitious and legally binding deal by 2015 depends on bridging one of the fundamental divides in these talks. On the one side, we have those countries that want a scientifically responsive and responsible, rules-based system. On the other side, there are those that don’t want too many questions asked about their failure to act. (Of course, at least one of these countries doesn’t put it exactly this way, and calls for a more “flexible” approach.)
To meet the global climate challenge, the new ADP architecture for the post 2020 period must be viable for the long term, with a negotiated renewal of targets and actions every five years. It must also be dynamic, with respective changes in responsibility and capability fairly reflected in each renewal of the framework. It must further ensure that countries are accountable for doing what they agreed to do in both mitigation and in providing and effectively utilising support, with common accounting rules and a common, but differentiated, MRV system to allow transparent reporting of progress and to spotlight freeloaders. ECO notes that these are exactly the design elements that so many have fought hard to uphold in the Kyoto Protocol.
Against this fair, ambitious and legally binding deal are just a few countries. For these countries, fairness is finger pointing, ambition is for others and legally binding is too much of a bind. If their lack of political will causes the world to blow past the 2 degrees Celsius target that their leaders have endorsed, well, that’s just too bad.
So what do negotiators at Bangkok need to work towards to receive their halos? At COP18 in Doha, the world needs to see:
· A Doha amendment for a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol applying immediately to a range of developed countries, including Australia and New Zealand; this should include targets within the range of 25-40% below 1990 levels, with an adjustment procedure to increase ambition, and should enhance environmental integrity by minimizing carried over AAUs and improving CDM and JI rules to lead to real emission reductions.
· Non-Kyoto developed countries adopting stringent QEROs, comparable in effort and transparency with Kyoto Parties. ‘Comparability’ requires common accounting!
· Developing countries registering their mitigation actions and required support, and all developing countries to make pledges – including Qatar.
· Agreement that global emissions will peak in 2015, which means that developed countries need to reduce their emissions much more quickly, and provide support for developing countries to take more mitigation action.
· Agreement on a detailed work plan for the ADP, both on the 2015 legally binding agreement and on ways to substantially raise pre-2020 ambition.
· Commitment to at least $10-15 billion in new public finance for the Green Climate Fund over 2013-2015, together with meaningful steps to develop innovative sources of public financing and agree on a process to reassess the adequacy of financial pledges with the first reassessment in 2013.
· Funding modalities for National Adaptation Plans in order to scale-up work immediately, and establishment of a second phase of the work program for loss & damage.
· The rapid operationalisation of the GCF, the Standing Committee, the NAMA registry, the Adaptation Committee, the Technology Executive Committee and the Climate Technology Centre and Network.
Laying the foundations for these successes in Doha means that this will be a busy week in Bangkok! As we all know, the devil is in the details. So, where better to get started than in the city of angels?
Kyoto Protocol rules allow countries to carry over any unused (ie. surplus) Assigned Amount Units (AAUs) into the next commitment period. A number of countries, such as Russia, Ukraine and Poland, have very large surpluses of AAUs. By the end of 2012, up to 13 billion AAUs, could be carried over into the Kyoto Protocols second commitment period. This is almost three times the annual emissions of the European Union or more than twice those of the United States.
This surplus threatens the viability and effectiveness of international climate policy regimes. If no restrictions are placed on the surplus of Kyoto units, weak pledges together with the surplus will allow countries to have emissions that are as high as business-as-usual emissions are projected to be in 2020. This holds true even if the largest surplus, that of Russia, is excluded. Allowing the full AAU surplus to be carried over could eliminate the chances of avoiding dangerous climate change by overshooting the +2˚C limit agreed by all Parties to the UNFCCC in Copenhagen in 2009.
The issue has to be addressed by the end of 2012 when the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol ends, otherwise the existing rule that allows full carry-over will be applied by default.
By COP18 in Qatar a solution must be found to make a second commitment period under the Kyoto protocol viable and to avoid stifling progress on a new global climate deal called for by the Durban Platform. The Climate Action Network International (CAN-I) urges the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol to fully address the issue of surplus AAUs and makes the following recommendations:
- Almost all of the surplus must be eliminated, including surplus emissions credits from the CDM and JI e.g. solutions based on the proposals made by AOSIS and the African Group. Both proposals would eliminate approximately 95% of the Kyoto unit surplus.
- The surplus must be eliminated permanently. Option that would not restrict the carry-over but limit the use of any carried-over surplus are insufficient because they do not resolve the question of what would happen to the surplus after the end of the second commitment period. The surplus could continue to exist decades from now.
- To be eligible to use any surplus AAUs, CERs and/or ERUs at all, a Party must have a reduction target for the second commitment period that is lower than its 2008 emissions.
- A new “hot air” AAU surplus must be avoided at all costs in the next commitment period. The current limited emission reduction targets of Russia, Ukraine and the EU risk generating a further AAU surplus within the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, on top of the existing surplus AAUs from the first commitment period. Any 2020 reduction target for any Annex I country must be substantively lower than current baseline emission estimates.
- Annex I countries must significantly raise second commitment period emissions reduction targets and participation in the Kyoto Protocol. Higher targets would work most effectively if combined with a stringent limit on the use of the surplus. According to UNEP a combination of stronger reduction targets with stricter Kyoto rules (such as the reduction of the surplus) is needed to keep the global average temperature increase below +2˚C.
- CAN-I calls on the G-77 to develop a joint proposal based on the proposals made by AOSIS and the African Group.
- CAN-I calls on the EU to find an intra-European solution so it is able to take a clear position at the UNFCCC negotiations. If the EU wants to maintain its constructive and proactive role in the climate mitigation arena it needs to follow up with clear and strong positions on elements that could threaten the environmental integrity of a future global climate regime.
- If the EU and the G77 put their diplomatic weight behind a joint position, it would greatly increase the chances of addressing the AAU surplus to strengthen the environmental integrity of a second commitment period and a new climate treaty to be agreed by 2015.
The 18th session of the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC and the 8th session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol will take place from Monday, 26 November to Friday, 7 December 2012 at the Qatar National Convention Centre in Doha, Qatar.
Photo Credit: Naoyuki Yamagishi
As ECO watches the crash and burn exercise currently taking place in the Durban Platform negotiations, we thought it would be a good moment to remind Parties about the spirit that emerged during the closing plenary in Durban.
Durban was a critical turning point for the future of the climate regime. While it resulted in what negotiators called a delicate balance, it left much for the Parties to do afterwards, in particular the need to tackle the glaring gap in reducing global emissions and providing climate finance. ECO was relieved that after hard fought battles, a sense of responsibility and leadership prevailed in Durban. Parties were willing to set aside their hardline positions in the interest of reaching an agreement, for both pre-2020 and post-2020 periods.
ECO recognizes that it essentially took the G77+China and the EU to save the day – with the EU's positive moves of agreeing to sign on to a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol. In doing so, it helped keep alive the only legally binding agreement on climate, as well as restoring some faith amongst developing countries. In turn, these countries agreed to be part of a new global climate regime that would be applicable to all in the future. This was a huge leap of faith on their part, in a context where very little leadership in taking ambitious actions on either reduction of emissions or delivery of finance has been demonstrated by developed countries.
But as the dust settled, ECO realized that not all governments were that generous. Somehow in the cut and thrust of those last moments in Durban, a band of countries managed to escape the glare of the headlights. The largest developed country polluters, like the US, Canada, Russia and Japan, did not offer anything by way of compromise. Instead, some jumped ship from the Kyoto Protocol, while the US dug in its heels when asked to commit to comparable emissions reduction actions – both on common accounting and an adequate target. ECO reckons that they must have been rubbing their hands in glee when they got away without having to make any commitments. They now see an opportunity to lock in their precious “pledge and review system”. They apparently believe that their status in the pre-2020 period is equal to that of developing countries and that this bottom-up, non-science-based, non-equity based approach is all that we should be getting.
The only way to avoid this fate, and ensure non-Kyoto developed countries honour their commitments to comparability, and yes, even QELROs, is through the AWG-LCA, where pre-2020 mitigation ambition for non-Kyoto parties will have to be addressed in a principled, rules-based manner, comparable to Kyoto parties. ECO observes that’s why these countries are the most resistant to addressing their commitments and responsibilities under the LCA.
The AWG-LCA should complete its work and the process must determine mitigation action for these countries. The spotlight is therefore shining on them once again, and they will be expected to offer comparable action. And so, we wonder, what will they offer? ECO sees that they are now seeking cover from taking responsibility by trying to jump to the Durban Platform.
While ambition should also be pursued under all tracks, ECO wants to remind the US, Canada, Japan, Russia and others who have not joined the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol that they are developed countries, with clear obligations under the Convention and Bali Action Plan, and in terms of history, morality and legality. ECO challenges Australia and New Zealand to decide which way they will jump – ECO will be the first to welcome them into Annex B with QELROs that lead to a fair share of real gross emissions reductions.
You all must shine with the spirit of Durban – there is no darkness left to fade into.
Qatar must be really courageous to host the COP this year! There are seven negotiating tracks taking place during COP18, including having to adopt an amendment to the Kyoto Protocol, trying to finalizing the mandate of the LCA, and agreeing on a workplan and milestones under the ADP for short-term ambition and the global deal. The job that Qatar has to do seems impossible. And those are just the highlights of elements that are lined up for development and agreement by COP18. To make things worse, Qatar had less than a year to prepare, since it took one extra year to resolve who would be the COP18 host.
On Wednesday, negotiators from various groupings told Qatar that they are willing to work with them to ensure success at COP18. Nevertheless, the upcoming COP President usually plays a leading political role to bring about an agreement. The Mexican and South African Presidencies in the past two COPs had to muster all their political skills and spend real political capital for a year in order to successfully reach agreements.
The strength of the political outcomes will only be ensured by strong political leadership from Qatar. The presidency will need to invest high-level diplomacy in bringing together the interests of all negotiating groups along all of the LCA, KP and ADP tracks through consensus. They will need to employ their history of conflict resolution and mediation skills in the Arab region. They should involve heads of state and reach out to royals from around the globe to provide more flexible mandates to their negotiators. Compromises and bottom lines of countries and regions should be determined, tested and challenged well before the COP. One idea to achieve this is to hold a Heads of State meeting in Doha after Ramadan. Another is to form a friends of the Presidency group that includes individuals at the ministerial level from the different negotiating groups, which meet several times between now and Doha, aiming at providing guidance to negotiators.
Failure in Doha, will mean failure for the whole Arab region. Therefore, all Arab countries need to support Qatar, and should also show leadership. This could be achieved by having all Arab countries submit NAMA pledges to the UNFCCC by COP18. This is the region's opportunity to show they are serious about tackling climate change and its impacts on future generations – including their own future descendants.
ECO just caught wind of bizarre news. Apparently, a Japanese governmental committee is considering a range of pollution reduction targets that are lower than Japan's 25% target. When negotiators are discussing an agenda item on raising ambition so intensively (and Japan actually supports that agenda item here), this looks utterly strange.
Why should the range of targets be so low? The reason is hidden behind the problematic assumptions used to calculate these target options. First, they includes a ridiculous assumption to increase nuclear energy, even after the Fukushima tragedy. Second, energy saving potentials are “fixed” deliberately at a low rate and thus do not reflect Japan's real pollution reduction potential. In a nutshell, there is still good opportunity to raise Japan’s ambition for 2020. Far more than the ranges under consideration are achievable. ECO knows that this discussion is an ongoing one and it has not been finalized. We also know that the range of targets do not include forestry and flexibility mechanisms. Nonetheless, the range suggests far less ambition and potential than the reality in the country. We wonder if, while Japan remains outside of Kyoto, they are really committed to doing their fair share to solve the climate crisis? Japan instead needs to raise its ambition and show what it can contribute to the planet!
The 1st place Fossil goes to the US for refusing to even discuss its mitigation and finance commitments under the Bali Action Plan. In the Developed country mitigation spin-off group yesterday, the US stated its disagreement to even discuss such vital elements for developed country action in the pre-2020 period as comparability – which includes common accounting – addressing the ambition gap and compliance. Important as workshops and technical papers are, they do not build a transparent regime that enables countries to show that they are acting in good faith to reduce their emissions. The good news is that he US did not state disagreement to discussing a QELRO for itself, so we look forward to seeing the US’s domestic carbon budget to 2020!
In the LCA finance contact group yesterday, some developing countries asked for a mid term finance commitment from their developed country counterparts. Instead of giving reassurance and using the opportunity to build trust in this currently toxic atmosphere, the US asked those developing countries if they had thought of a mid-term mitigation plan themselves to “deserve” this mid-term climate finance. However, the US seems to have forgotten that climate finance should not be held hostage by the mitigation discussion. Climate finance is needed to address adaptation needs for the most vulnerable countries. Besides, the US itself was the leader in brokering the $100bn deal three years ago.
The 2nd place Fossil goes to Australia and New Zealand for not submitting a QELRO carbon budget into the Kyoto Protocol. These countries continue to vacillate on whether they will follow the shameful example of Russia and Japan (and let us not even mention Canada). Our time in Bonn has shown that the international community is growing very impatient as it continues to wait and see if Australia and New Zealand deserve its scorn or its applause.