Countries Must Commit at Warsaw to put numbers on the table in 2014

Friday, June 14, Bonn – Germany:  Climate Action Network called for nations to agree a 2014 deadline for releasing their new carbon pollution reductions pledges before the close of the main climate talks in Warsaw this November.

The call came as the latest round of talks closed in Bonn today having made incremental progress on the shape of a comprehensive climate deal to be agreed in 2015.  But Greenpeace UK political advisor Ruth Davis said a deadline for pledges was vital for the negotiations to remain on track.

“This deadline is needed partly to give enough time to assess the pledges against the latest climate science, and partly so that countries can compare their efforts,” Davis said. “Having enough time to negotiate these targets is vital to avoiding the kind of last minute scramble that made the 2009 Copenhagen summit such a disaster.”

These negotiations were held against a backdrop of the worst-on-record flooding in Eastern Europe and extreme weather in the US. German and New York officials stated this week that they would spend billions fortifying their cities against future extreme weather, showing that the costs of climate change are already being tallied in rich countries as well as poor.  

With climate change already impacting millions across the world, the Climate Action Tracker initiative said this week current pledges put the world on track for 4 degree C warming. This would result in devastating impacts for the planet and its people.

With that in mind, Lina Li, from Greenovation Hub in Beijing, said the Bonn talks failed to make major progress on an international mechanism to cover the loss and damage caused to communities by the effects of climate change. Also missing in action was substantial progress on the review  which would assess whether the agreed global temperature limit of 2 degrees Celsius was adequate.

Areas for substantial discussion in Warsaw include the thread that pulls the climate negotiations together: financial support for developing countries to adopt a low carbon development strategy that reduces emissions and helps them adapt to climate impacts. 

“While most countries have shown a cooperative spirit in the talks so far this year, the Warsaw negotiations will be a test of whether this can be maintained as we move towards more substantial discussions,” Li said.

Dorota Zawadzka-Stępniak, from WWF Poland, said the Polish government needed to invite the holders of the purse strings - finance ministers - to Warsaw to discuss real commitments to increasing financial pledges.

“For the Polish presidency to be a success, Poland must stop blocking enhanced climate action in the EU and adopt a progressive attitude towards its domestic climate and energy policy,” Zawadzka-Stępniak said. “We need to embrace a low carbon pathway and make a strategic shift in the Polish energy system in order to be a credible partner in the negotiations.”  

Contact:

Ria Voorhaar
International Communications Coordinator
Climate Action Network – International
mobile: +49 157 3173 5568

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Poles Apart

 

Poland is an extraordinary country. It has overcome many years of oppression and poverty to transform itself into a significant economic powerhouse and a proactive European player on diplomacy.

But it appears the Polish government is willing to risk their status as rising international star, and allow its politics to be captured by high carbon incumbents.

If the Polish government continues to pursue this position, it is quite likely that the EU will lose patience, and a diplomatic backlash is quite possible. This will result in Poland losing its say to shape the future of Europe’s energy regime, widening the gap between its ageing and inefficient energy infrastructure and a more dynamic, smarter and innovative power system across other EU countries.

ECO wonders if the Polish government is kicking itself in deciding to put their names forward for the Presidency of COP19 later on this year. Warsaw will not be a Poznan. Back in 2008, the Poles were still only agitators as opposed to today’s outright blockers of the EU’s energy and climate ambitions. Poznan was a low-key COP, unlike Warsaw, which should agree on the outlines of an Equity Reference Framework for the post-2020 deal; outline further efforts on public finance (with the engagement of Finance Ministers); close the pre-2020 mitigation gap; affirm the political significance of the Loss and Damage debate and set in place a series of processes to deliver a 2015 agreement.

Warsaw will be a high profile event. But Poland’s diplomatic strategy is flawed – they are invisible, and there is an emerging disquiet amongst many Parties and observers if they were the right choice. Among those are established voices such as Raul Estrada-Oyuela, a legend to those of us in the climate and diplomatic arena, who unforgettably locked delegates in the room in Kyoto to hammer out the subsequent protocol, who calls Poland’s ability to host such an important event into question, based on the Polish SBI chair’s failure to resolve this issue. (Link to Estrada’s letter here http://bit.ly/estrada-oyuela)

What is needed from the Polish government is not just to be a rising star, but a sophisticated diplomatic actor that understands how to build consensus around ambitious action climate change. An actor who has a more mature and deeper understanding of its national interest. An actor who understands that a reliance on coal undermines the long term prosperity of its own people, and recognises that modernising its economy is essential if it is to compete in a globalised world.   Instead, what we have is a government that plans to build new coal fired power plants and open new lignite reserves, which recent studies state have the worst implications upon health within the EU, and that also displace 20,000 people.  Such aggressive coal expansion, and its persistent objections to greater European ambition, cannot be reconciled with its desire to be an international player in the run up to 2015.

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HFCs: Finally Phasing Out One Man-Made Problem?

 

ECO was pleased to wake up Sunday to the news that Presidents Obama and Xi had agreed to work together to combat climate change by phasing down the super greenhouse gases, hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), under the Montreal Protocol. An agreement under Montreal could prevent emissions of 100 billion tonnes CO2e by 2050. First that great party on Saturday, and then this?!

For a while now, the EU has been busy pushing a COP decision at Warsaw that will urge Parties to begin this exact same process under the Montreal Protocol, and they are clearly excited to have China and the US in agreement. As Connie Hedegaard tweeted Saturday, “Welcome on board!” All eyes are now on the next intersessional meeting of the Montreal Protocol happening in a few weeks, hoping it will turn this political arrangement into concrete, short-term action, which must not stop at phasing down, but start phasing out with appropriate finance and technology support to developing countries.

HFCs are human-manufactured chemicals, primarily used in refrigeration, air conditioning and foam blowing, which were commercialised to replace the high-Global Warming Potential, ozone depleting, human manufactured chemicals phased out by the Montreal Protocol over the past 25 years. Yet, HFCs are also extremely harmful to the climate, with global warming potentials much higher than carbon dioxide. Fortunately, commercially available, climate friendly natural alternatives exist for most of their uses, and developed countries should ensure that these are provided to developing countries at an affordable cost to enable them to take a faster phase in.

Under the Montreal Protocol, all 197 Parties have accepted firm reduction commitments. These commitments are based on the legal principle of common but differentiated responsibilities that incorporates a grace period for developing countries and financial and technology transfer support. This allows them to implement mandated phase-out schedules after developed countries, in recognition of developed countries’ larger historical contribution to ozone depletion and developing countries’ right to continued growth and development. In addition, the Montreal Protocol has financially supported the phase-out of ozone depleting substances in developing countries through developed country contributions administered by the Multilateral Fund (MLF).

On Monday, the EU held a side event to discuss how to deliver progress on HFCs in practical terms. A far cry from some of the more theoretical debates happening elsewhere, this took a packed room through a demonstration of what the Montreal Protocol has achieved in terms of climate mitigation and technology transfer. A whopping 220 Gt CO2e have been avoided since the early 1990s alone, with the $3 billion channelled through the MLF. The message came across loud and clear: if you’re looking for bang for your buck, look no further than the Montreal Protocol. This led more than one participant to ask why we’re not using the tried and tested mechanisms already in place to get rid of these super greenhouse gases.

ECO wonders the same thing, and hopes Parties will stop their politics and get to work. ECO also calls upon developed countries to ensure that support is provided to financial and technology transfer to ensure these technologies are available at affordable costs to developing countries, and encourages a faster phase out to better technologies.

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EU Already at 27% below 1990 – Time for Merkel, Hollande and Cameron to Wake Up

 

ECO is amused by the blind belief in carbon markets the European Union maintains, while its own emission trading scheme has become a zombie. In the ADP, EU has argued that “new market mechanisms will deliver ambition”. Really? At home, Europe’s own emission trading is currently blocking ambition, and in fact encouraging a shift from gas to coal, as the emission allowance prices have crashed.

The reality is that demand for carbon market units is at an all-time low. Current prices are looming at around 0.4 Euro for Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) offset credits and at around 4 Euros for European allowances. The EU flagship policy is close to dead due to the reluctance of German Chancellor Merkel to fight for her legacy as a “climate chancellor”. This has allowed the conservatives in the European Parliament to block even the back loading of EU ETS (EU jargon for a temporary, short-term fix to the ETS).

Sandbag, famous for its brilliant carbon market analysis, estimated in its blog yesterday that in 2012 Europe's emissions fell 27% below 1990 levels, once offsets surrendered into the EU ETS are factored in. This renders EU’s 20% by 2020 target irrelevant, and means that the EU’s ETS will remain useless in the foreseeable future. This is very unfortunate, not only for EU’s own climate investments (which now lack an incentive) but also for climate finance, because low price and low demand means low revenues.

The EU always wanted to link up with emission trading schemes in China, California and the like. But now the question is, why would they link up with the EU, when all EU has to offer is a zombie market with no demand? Without a much more rigid climate target, or CO2 taxes that guarantee a minimum price for the pollution allowances, the market approach plays into the hands of those who want to invest in fossil fuels.

ECO wonders how Merkel, Tusk, Hollande and Cameron can explain their inaction to the citizens of Europe, who have been seriously affected by the unprecedented heavy rainfalls and consecutive flooding. Due to the lobby pressure of a few industries, the lives, homes and livelihoods of Europeans will be further put at risk.

But European leaders have a chance to fix it. This autumn, the European Commission will present a proposal for new 2030 climate and energy targets, and the time for the European leaders to make decisions is in March 2014. The COP in Warsaw will be the first litmus test for Tusk, Merkel (yes, there is an election before...), Hollande and Cameron on whether Europe will be able to phase out any investment into new, coal fired power plants, put renewable energies at the forefront of energy supply (and not catastrophic, highly risky nukes) and take energy efficiency seriously. The impact on the UN talks could be significant.

Europe will host two COPs within the next two and a half years. They have a particular responsibility to lead us to a good treaty in 2015. Continuing “business as usual” would mean putting the livelihood of millions of European (and other) citizens at risk.

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How Much Climate Finance Will Developed Countries Provide in 2013 and Beyond?

 

Based on pledges/statements made in UNFCCC…

Finland, France, Germany, Denmark, Norway, Sweden and the UK were first off the blocks in making financial pledges in Doha.  This was welcome. But the adequacy and the clarity of these pledges vary significantly and need to be pinned down.

And then there’s the rest…

No developed country Party should be coming back to this process empty handed! ALL developed countries need to urgently commit to what climate finance they will provide in 2013 and beyond, in a way that is transparent, comparable and makes clear how finance is new and additional.

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Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA 38) Agenda

The provisional agenda for the thirty-eighth session of Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA 38).

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Overview Schedule- Bonn Climate Change Conference 2013

The overview schedule for the thirty-eighth session of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA 38), thirty-eighth session of the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI 38)  and the third session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP3).

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From Bonn to Berlin: Ministers At the Petersberg Dialogue Take Over

When the climate policy train leaves the ADP2 station in Bonn today, it moves on to Berlin at the Petersberg Dialogue. Germany and the next COP host, Poland, will serve as the conductors for this next stop. Three dozen ministers from around the world have been invited to this informal exchange of views to complement the UNFCCC process. ECO is happy to hear that ministers are finally getting together to work on the next steps after Doha. We encourage ministers to put more details to key challenges identified in the past week here in Bonn. 

ECO identifies the following tasks for ministers to work on during the Petersberg Dialogue:
 
1. Make further progress on developing a shared understanding of how to assess individual countries’ contributions to an equitable sharing of the global mitigation effort. This should include discussions on the provision of climate finance to developing countries. A 2015 deal cannot be agreed unless the concerns around equity are resolved.
 
2. If you are truly serious about the 2°C commitment, you’ll need to re-double your efforts to increase ambition before 2020. Ministers at the Petersberg Dialogue should explicitly recognize that developed countries must increase their woefully inadequate mitigation pledges during 2014. Opportunities such as the KP review cannot be missed.
 
3. Ministers should engage in discussions on how developed and developing countries can create an upward spiral of increasing climate finance and increasing ambition in developing countries.
 
4. Ministers should engage in discussions on complementary measures. Warsaw could make significant progress in closing the gigatonne gap by seeing various types of complementary measures launched – such as phasing out HFCs under the Montreal Protocol or a dedicated agenda item within Workstream 2 to develop options to phase out fossil fuel subsidies.
 
5. Ministers should identify milestones to achieve major progress on climate finance at Warsaw. Demonstrable progress on climate finance will be an essential pre-condition for the 2015 outcome. Developed country ministers need to ensure that they can present a track record of year-by-year climate finance increases in 2015. This would lend much needed credibility to further plans for scaling up finance towards the 2020 commitment. Ministers also need to ensure that public climate finance is allocated equitably between adaptation and mitigation.
 
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ECO has learned that German chancellor Angela Merkel will open the Petersberg Dialogue. Attending Ministers may wish to use this opportunity to ask her about Germany’s psychological state. ECO finds it difficult to understand how Germany can claim the limelight through the proclaimed Energiewende (energy transformation) to renewable energies while at the same time failing to support recent attempts to reform the EU Emission Trading System. Does the German government realise that it is starting to look schizophrenic? Strengthening the ETS is crucial for the Energiewende and more.
 
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Adaptation Fund: Progressive But Poor!

ECO would like to cast a bright light on whether there is sufficient progress in responding to the needs of the poor and vulnerable at an implementation level. We note that the Adaptation Fund is now established. It has approved funding for 27 adaptation projects with several projects more waiting to be funded. Furthermore, we see that 15 developing countries have already had their National Implementing Entities accredited and can directly access the Fund, and several more countries are in the process of accreditation. 

ECO also recognises that the Adaptation Fund has become a forerunner, having recently been ranked as the top climate finance institution by Publish What You Fund: the Global Campaign for Aid Transparency. Just two weeks ago it became the first climate fund in the International Aid Transparency Initiative. It has also been an early-mover in adopting an overarching results framework. The Fund has managed to speed up the project approval process while reducing implementing entities´ fees. 
 
ECO wonders why, with such accomplishments, the Adaptation Fund is the one multilateral fund that has received the least contributions from developed countries in recent years.  And to make matters worse, the price for emission reduction certificates (the key income source of the Fund) is now below US$1, largely due to the virtual collapse of the European Emission Trading Scheme. At current CER prices and estimated issuance levels, the Adaptation Fund would receive only $4 to $8 million in additional revenue to 2020. 
 
ECO is concerned that there has hardly been any progress in delivering the Fund’s target of $100 million by the end of 2013.  There are no new pledges and funding seems to be scarce. ECO calls on Parties to send a strong signal that they are committed to addressing the needs of the vulnerable developing countries by putting additional money into the Fund swiftly. 
 
ECO particularly would like to see countries like Japan, Norway, France, Finland, Netherlands, New Zealand, USA, Canada and others, who have not as yet contributed to the Fund, to do so immediately. Australia´s 2010 pledge has still not been deposited. ECO finds it ironic that Germany, the host of the Adaptation Fund, has only made one pledge of 10 million EUR in 2010, which is much lower than that of Spain and Sweden.
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