Tag: Eastern Europe, Caucasus, and Central Asia

A Hot Blast of Hot Air from Doha Delivers Fossils to Poland and Russia

Fossil of the Day - Day 4 of COP18 in Doha, Qatar


The First Place Fossil is awarded to Poland. Back home in Poland, Environment Minister Korolec, revealed the country's position on the Doha talks -  claiming the carryover of AAU credits is NOT a priority issue, but that the length of the second commitment period and the obligations contained in the Kyoto Protocol are. We should remind the minister that carryover of AAUs influences the level of ambition in CP2. 

Moreover, Poland does not want to give up even one tonne of their huge surplus of AAU emission allowances to contribute to the environmental integrity. Why? Warsaw believes their AAU surplus is a strictly national issue. Hello…!! Carbon emissions know no national borders and the issue is a key element of the CP2 negotiations!

The Second Place Fossil of the Day goes to Russia. The Russian vice Prime Minister confirmed on Wednesday following ministerial talks that the country will not sign on to the Second Commitment Period of the Kyoto Protocol. Next week, Russia will announce its emissions reduction targets, but they will not be attributed to the Second Commitment Period, which Russia strongly opposes. This also means that Russia will lose the chance to take part in JI (Joint Implementation) projects in the future, something that the country was striving to be involved with. This will have a negative effect on both the economy and low-carbon development in Russia.

Photo Credit: Miljømagasinet Putsj/Vilde Blix Huseby

Will Doha Burst the Hot Air bubble?

A staggering 13 billion emissions permits are left over from the first Kyoto commitment period. Hot air is looming large – and threatens the viability of CP2 and any future climate deal.

ECO would like to remind delegates that the problem is the result of extremely weak CP1 emissions targets well above what countries were projected to emit. Poland, for example committed to a 6% reduction from their 1988 emission levels, despite the fact that in 1997, when the Kyoto targets were set, Poland’s emissions were already about 20% below 1988 levels. ECO warns the distinguished delegates not to fall for the bogus claim that the existence of hot air is the result of dedicated action. It’s not – and the economic downfall of the nineties cannot lead to inherited rights in the climate change process.
But memories are short. ECO can’t help but notice that Parties are about to make the same mistake again: Low pledges for CP2 mean that another surplus of 3 to 10 billion tonnes will accumulate by 2020. Add to that the 13 Gt surplus from the first phase and you have rendered any Kyoto targets quite meaningless. Yet Russia, Ukraine and Poland, the largest surplus holders, insist on keeping the right to sell their hot air. ECO has looked into it and found this is a vain hope. Pledges for CP2 are so weak that no one will buy their surplus! Prices for AAUs have dropped from 13 EUR in 2008 to less than 0.5 EUR in 2012.
The problem is so big that even if developed countries were to increase their CP2 pledges, they could meet their more stringent targets by simply buying more surplus and without actually cutting their emissions.
For those delegates that are interested in returning a little bit of environmental integrity to the system, ECO would like to emphasise that they’ll need to burst the hot air bubble. Raising ambition and closing loopholes go hand in hand. ECO therefore suggests to start looking seriously at the proposal by the G77 and China. It effectively minimises the use of CP1 hot air in CP2, does not allow for trading, and, most importantly, cancels the surplus permanently by the end of the second commitment period.
Is it worth it? Look, we are now on a pollution path that could lead to warming of 4oC or more. In addition, impacts associated with even 2oC of warming have been revised upwards and are now considered “dangerous” and “extremely dangerous”. A world beyond 2oC will threaten the very existence of civilisation as we know it. Heard of it? Worried? Then go burst the hot air bubble.
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What’s wrong with Poland?

The Polish government lives in the past. Because of that it believes Poland should be treated as a special case forever. It fails to acknowledge that a lot has changed in the country since the 1990s. Poland is a developed country now. But instead of strengthening Poland’s climate policies to further enhance competitiveness, its government blocks any action on climate change and threatens the country’s future.

So far, Poland has done everything it can to be the lone bad guy in the EU. Poland already stood alone thrice in opposing European efforts to take more ambitious climate action for  2020 and beyond. ECO understands that Poland wants to be seen as a strong EU country. But domestically, the Polish authorities have done everything but be an equal partner, such as failing to fully enforce important EU laws. And to top its opposition to stronger action by the EU, it plans to build new coal and nuclear power plants, open new lignite mines and extract shale gas. This when most European countries are transitioning to a low-carbon economy based on renewables and energy efficiency.
At the UNFCCC negotiations the Polish government has been blocking the EU from finding a constructive, unified position to address the 13 billion AAU surplus. It is unashamedly claiming a full carry-over of AAUs to CP2 as a price to agreeing to continue into it. The Polish government does not even seem to mind aligning itself with Russia on this issue. ECO would like to ask the Polish government why it insists on full carry over, since AAUs will have zero value in CP2 given there will be no demand because of the low level of ambition by developed countries. Is Poland really willing to derail the international negotiations over this?
Poland wants to host COP19. But is it responsible enough to do so? Hosting a COP comes with many political responsibilities, including being able to constructively engage in finding solutions. It is not just about calling on others to act, it is about showing leadership and committing oneself to more ambitious action. Poland has yet to show the world that it is able to do so. Instead of vetoing, the Polish government has to learn the art of compromise. Poland, are you ready?
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Keep up your end of the bargain, Parties.

In Durban, Parties agreed to a package – the adoption of a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, a successful conclusion of the LCA, urgent action to close the pre-2020 mitigation gap between the 2 degrees goal and the collective pledges now on the table, and collective movement toward a fair, ambitious and binding agreement in 2015. Parties must honour this political bargain.

Let's start with the KP. Those trying to get another bite of the negotiation cherry by dragging out submitting their carbon budgets (QELROs) have to understand that this will be perceived as acting in bad faith. Australia – ECO remembers the brinkmanship with your QELRO last time. So for you, as well as New Zealand, Ukraine and others on the fence on the Kyoto second commitment period, ECO demands to see your QELROs up front. And, of course, just any old KP second commitment period won’t suffice. We must have a robust, ratifiable agreement that respects the original intention of the KP to raise ambition and create real environmental integrity. The AOSIS and Africa Group proposals will facilitate this endeavour. Effectively eliminating surplus AAUs and ensuring the environmental integrity of the CDM is also essential – you can’t have your cake and eat it too.

On to the LCA. There are a number of elements that jump to the head of the queue in importance. We need a positive decision on finance – including ensuring that the discussion on scaling up Long Term Finance following the report of this year's work programme, among others, has a home in 2013 and beyond. And who needs an empty fund? We hear that the EU, Australia, Japan and Canada already have budgets they could allocate. Don’t be shy!

Enhanced post-2012 climate finance is essential to enable developing countries to implement low-carbon development strategies and facilitate desperately needed adaptation. Deciding to hold back on finance until the last moment – or not coming forward at all in Doha – will undermine confidence and faith in moving the climate negotiations forward.Japan, Canada, Russia and the United States, do not think that by jumping overboard from the Kyoto Protocol that you’re diving into balmy waters. You're still on the hook to do your share of closing the gigatonne gap, by putting forward quantified economy wide emissions reductions AT LEAST as stringent as the QELROs of Kyoto Protocol parties, and using common accounting to an equal standard as the Kyoto Protocol. We also expect to see your QEERTs well before Doha.

On these and the other LCA issues, it is essential that the LCA Chair, and the spin-off group facilitators, be supported to develop text proposals to put forward in Doha. Finally, on the ADP, you all need to do your homework between now and Doha on the ADP work programme. Doha must agree to a plan of work, including a clear timeline and milestones. So let’s take inspiration from our setting here in Bangkok – these milestones can incorporate a period of “contemplation” on some issues. How equity and CBDRRC will apply in the 2015 protocol will require a work stream that allows discussion and agreement on principles before being applied to all of the elements that will constitute the final deal. On other elements, including ways to urgently enhance short-term ambition, Parties must pick up and start negotiating immediately in Doha and beyond.

Leaving the workplan “loosey goosey” will result in a repeat of the Copenhagen tragedy. Rather, parties must agree on specific issues to manage each year while ensuring compilation text by COP19, complete negotiating text by COP20 and draft a fair, ambitious and legally binding protocol to be circulated by May 2015.This is indeed an ambitious agenda for Doha. But it is the least the peoples of the world demand, and expect their political leaders to deliver at a time when the impacts of climate change – and the costs in terms of both human suffering and economic development – are more evident than ever.


Ukraine – Transition from Gas to Coal! Are you serious?

ECO was dismayed to hear Ukraine’s presentation of its QELRO in yesterday’s KP session.


The presentation did not live up to its billing – not only did Ukraine not have a QELRO to present, but stated that it would not be in a position to do so until it had done more work on its low carbon economy strategy – in 2013.

ECO welcomes the assessment of mitigation potential and actively supports all countries planning for a transition to a low carbon economy. However, Ukraine’s plans to fuel switch from gas, not to renewables, but to coal, make the country’s self-proclaimed recognition of its responsibility to future generations rather difficult to  believe.

 Perhaps ECO should not be surprised – recent amendments to the Energy Strategy were developed by the private foundation owned by one of the richest men in Ukraine, who is also the owner of many energy facilities. The Strategy has been severely criticized by the Ukrainian public. It has ambitious plans to develop coal and nuclear, but contains nothing about greenhouse gas pollution and very weak plans to improve energy efficiency and develop renewables.

 At best, ECO appreciates that Ukraine's actions will probably give ECO some extra material to fill its pages with in the coming year. Seriously, thanks.

“Feeling” Around for Better Decisions in LCA


ECO shares G77’s “strong feelings”. In the 1(b)(i) session this afternoon, the Group’s passion for their proposal on what needs to be agreed in Doha was evident. The Group's strong and eloquent intervention clearly set out an understanding of what is needed from developed countries under the LCA track to help achieve fair ambition pre-2020, building on some of the common frameworks that will help to inform the negotiations that will take place in the ADP on a new, global deal.

Helpfully, the G77 proposed decisions for Doha on the following essential elements of developed country mitigation:

-          Increasing pre-2020 ambition for all developed countries – those in the KP and those still refusing to (re)join – in line with the latest available science

-          Conversion of the 1(b)(i) pledges of non-KP developed nations into tonnes of CO2e, AAUs or a carbon budget, rather than point targets for a particular moment in time

-          Common accounting rules for all developed countries

-          Clarification of how the common accounting rules might alter actual levels of ambition

Though we appreciate the EU, Switzerland and Norway's expressed support for common accounting rules and transparency to allow comparability of efforts by developed countries, these countries should form common cause with the G77 proposal and show greater willingness to seize the opportunities for ambitious and comparable efforts under the LCA. After all, developed country modalities have already been negotiated, so there are clear precedents, developed over years of careful negotiations, to guide the work to a speedy conclusion.

As for the Brollie Groupers, who either think that the promise of 1(b)(i) has been exhausted, or that seem to advocate “transparency” through a smoke screen of self-determined rules for reporting and accounting – remember that developed country leadership you signed up to in the Convention? Postponing your duty to increase your ambition until the new deal will kill any chance of staying below 1.5/2°C – and probably a whole lot else as well. Refusing to play by the rules gives an impression of acting like spoiled children who have taken more than their fair share of the sweets and are now trying to hide the wrappers.

And just like any good parent would, we have “strong feelings” about that kind of behaviour.

Ask Poland

Both developed and developing countries often complain that the EU will not answer their legitimate questions, such as "What is the EU position on carrying forward AAU surpluses?" and "As a so-called leader, why does the EU not move to at least a 30 percent domestic target, having already achieved around 17% reductions on 1990 levels?"

The answer is that you may be asking the wrong people. The EU Commission will say that they cannot answer because they do not have the agreement of the member states. The Germans will tend to keep quiet, having played a dominant role in dealing with the Eurocrisis. The British will say “bloody foreigners” and the French will say "plus grand en France".

The trick is to ask questions of newer EU states that are less deferential to European Union traditions and norms. Poland is ideal. They know all about lack of EU ambition and wanting to carry forward hot air AAUs. Ask Poland.

CAN Classifieds

Beautiful but totally isolated country in central Europe desperately seeks a friend with a common interest in coal. Our present so-called friends do not appreciate our tradition of carrying forward iconic things even if they are worthless. They do not understand that possessing the biggest European lignite deposit obliges us to make use of it. They even criticise our veto of EU climate ambition, which we must admit may sometimes seem like an addiction. Seeking new friends with common interests across the Atlantic or in OPEC, but preferably from the EU, so that they join us in our next veto of ambition at the June Energy Council. Mailbox: P00O

LOOKING FOR A NEW HOME for a large, Polish-speaking country. Due to biting, aggressive and possessive behaviour over coal and hot air, E.U. is looking for a new home for one of its members. Suitable for a family that does not plan to have children. Free. Mailbox: E27U

Parties: One classified FREE with every US$1 billion contributed to the GCF!



First Place Fossils go to the USA, Canada, Japan, Russia, Australia, New Zealand and China.

The first 1st place Fossil goes to the USA, for its continuing attempts to block negotiations on sources of financing, and refusing to discuss how it will continue to scale up financing in 2013 and onwards, towards the agreed goal of US$100 billion by 2020. We know that the USA faces some deep denial issues internally, as well as avoidance issues in the negotiations around issues like equity, capacity building and an international mechanism on loss and damage. Until the US is willing to have a frank and honest discussion leading to substantive decisions, it will be an impediment to this process.

An additional 1st place fossil goes to Canada for – can you guess???? – reneging on their commitments to fight climate change by withdrawing from the Kyoto Protocol. While many of you enjoyed your first full night of sleep after Durban overtime, the Canadians had no such luck. Barely off the plane, Canada’s Environment Minister wasted no time in confirming the COP’s worst kept secret that Canada was officially pulling out of the Kyoto Protocol. Many delegates probably had already given up on Canada at that point, but those of us that live within that vast, beautiful, hockey-loving country have had to continue to bear witness to whatcan only be called the government of polluters’ puppets. While Canada’s actions are clearly in a world of its own when it comes to bad behavior in the Kyoto Protocol, there are others that are behaving in fossil worthy manner. Here, we’re looking at Japan and Russia for refusing to participate in the second commitment period and Australia and New Zealand for missing the critical May 1 deadline to submit their QELROS. Australia and New Zealand are on notice that we expect these submissions by the end of Bonn – though the sooner the better, as it is causing trouble in the KP.

And the final1st place Fossil goes to China for holding in abeyance the work programme on scaling-up pre-2020 ambition under the ADP. We agree with China that the ADP must not allow developed countries to jump ship from the KP and LCA to a weaker regime, but Parties can't hold critical parts of the Durban package in abeyance, which amounts to punting them to the other side of the moon. We can't hold the fight against climate change in abeyance!

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