Putting the “2 (degrees)” back in Workstream 2

It is well-trodden ground that there is a huge gap between what Parties say they want (staying below 2°C and keeping the door open to 1.5°C) and what Parties have pledged to contribute between now and 2020 to achieve that planetary necessity.  

In theory, Workstream 2 has already identified how to bridge the gap through: 1) improving developed countries’ woefully inadequate 2020 emission reduction targets; 2) identifying ways to enable and support developing countries in upping their own pre-2020 ambition; and 3) joint complementary action in addition to the first two areas on everything from phasing out HFCs to fossil fuel subsidies.  The task now is to JUST DO IT.  
 
ECO thought “doing it” would require no explanation, but some recent happenings in many developed countries are getting their positions all wrong.  
 
First and foremost – and we really thought this was obvious – the thing that needs to go up is the target, not the temperature.  For the EU this means moving to 30% - a move which really shouldn’t be that difficult considering that it has already achieved its 20% target almost 8 years ahead of schedule and will actually achieve more than that (around 25-27%) by 2020.  How can the EU host 2 COPs over the next 3 years and ask the rest of the world to do more while it decides to take a break? In addition, the EU’s incompetence at repairing its own emissions trading scheme is pretty mournful. A modest measure to temporarily limit the surplus of allowances in the EU carbon market was recently rejected by some within the European Parliament. 
 
The rest of the developed world is no better, and many are far, far worse.  There are rumours that Japan is planning to lower its ambition from its current 2020 pledge. Australia is not likely to do anything about its tiny 5% pledge and, depending of the outcome of the upcoming national elections, things could hit rock bottom, even though the Australian public is strongly in favour of climate action. The US pledge could be labelled ambitious, if the ambition was to overshoot 4°C, while the country is barely on the path to achieve its very weak 2020 target. And Canada – well, their only ambition is to withdraw from as many international treaties as possible (if you hadn’t heard, they’ve also withdrawn from the UN Convention to Combat Desertification). 
 
This drooping ambition level needs to stop. By 2014 ALL Parties (Kyoto Parties and free-riders alike) will have to increase the ambition of their 2020 pledges. Without this, you won’t get a global agreement in 2015, and – worse – you will not prevent dangerous climate change from destroying entire civilisations and threatening the future of your children.
 
There is also a role for developing countries in increasing near-term ambition. It is worth assessing what additional ambition more advanced developing countries can muster as well as what precise support will enable all to do even more. Jointly, developing and developed countries should use Workstream 2 to create an upward spiral of increasing support (finance, technology and capacity building) and ambition triggered and enabled by such support. This could also help avoid that, due to, for example low levels of climate finance, developing countries may find themselves in situations where they lock-in low ambition because of inadequately supported actions.
 
Finally, there are the complementary actions. The COP in Warsaw would ideally invite other bodies (Montreal Protocol, ICAO and IMO, G20 and so forth) to foster actions in their spheres of expertise and influence to result in additional emission reductions. Those actions would need to come in addition to what Parties have committed to do based on their 2020 targets, pledges and NAMAs, rather than as means to achieve them. This is why ECO and some Parties have used the expression “complementary”, a word whose proximity to the somewhat less ambitious “complimentary” should not create the false impression that avoiding catastrophic climate change is an issue of voluntary action – it is not. It is an obligation Parties have towards the millions of people suffering climate change already today, and towards the hundreds of millions if not billions who will be suffering tomorrow, whose lives and livelihoods are threatened by inaction, complacency and pretension currently at display at these negotiations.
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Climate action takes on split personality ahead of first UN talks of 2013

With this year’s first session of the UN climate negotiations to open on Monday, international politics surrounding the planetary climate crisis were taking on a split personality, according to NGO experts speaking at a press briefing today by Climate Action Network-International and the Global Call for Climate Action. 

According to Alden Meyer, Union of Concerned Scientists' director of strategy and policy, on the one hand, there are some signs of progress on climate action.
 
More developing countries appear keen to adopt low carbon development plans, renewable energy costs continue to decline, and the US and China just launched a process to develop a set of joint actions that “set the kind of powerful example that can inspire the world."
 
In addition, several key high-profile political actors, such as IMF chief Christine Lagarde and World Bank president Jim Yong Kim, are calling for increased action on climate change.
 
But on the other hand, there are several signs that the world is not coming to grips with the severity of the situation, Meyer said, such as continuation of some US$1 trillion a year in fossil fuel subsidies, increasing efforts to develop unconventional oil reserves and expand coal exports, and the growing gap documented by UNEP between the reductions in emissions required by 2020 in order to keep global temperature increases below 2 degrees Centigrade, and the much higher level expected as a result of current national pledges of action. 
 
"To top it off, we aren’t seeing the bold leadership needed by our political leaders to deal with the climate crisis, particularly those from developed countries,” Meyer said.  “This must change – and soon – if we are to get the much more ambitious set of international and national actions that are required to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.” 
Hope in the face of the climate threat was coming increasingly from developing countries. 
 
Lina Li, climate policy researcher from the Greenovation Hub in Beijing, said after some positive domestic developments on the climate front, there was potential for China to do more on the international stage. 
 
"The North-South paradigm that underpinned the international development and environment agenda is posing more questions than answers. Conventional wisdoms are being challenged while new imaginations are yet to be articulated. China’s new role, with the ongoing geographic power shift, will be identified within this context. This is one of the key questions that need to be addressed if we are going to achieve a fair deal in 2015," Lina said. 
 
Meanwhile, this year's major climate negotiations will be held in Poland in November, a country renowned for blocking further climate action in the EU, according to Julia Michalak, climate policy officer for Climate Action Network, Europe. 
 
"It’s difficult for the country that keeps looking back-ward to move the international process forward. Poland keeps mentioning its past achievement and has no vision on how to design its own climate policy, so it’s difficult to imagine it can offer a lot to international process."
 
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QATAR PRESIDENCY'S LACK OF LEADERSHIP AND EU'S DILLY-DALLYING ON HOT AIR TURNS INTO FOSSILS

 

The First Place Fossil goes to the [EU]. The EU receives a bracketed Fossil because we still have hope that the EU will stop being bullied by Poland and stand up for full cancellation of all hot air at the end of the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol.

Before Durban, the EU talked about the importance of closing the gap. On Kyoto it said it can commit to a second commitment period, on the condition that there's a roadmap where the major emitters engage in a broader framework and where Kyoto rules are improved to ensure environmental integrity, specifically referring to the AAU surplus. However, the EU is still dilly-dallying. We need a strong EU position right now. If the EU fails to come to a sensible and joint position on the surplus, it will fail to be seen as serious in the ADP discussions to come. A political declaration is no option and a solution has to include a full cancellation of all surplus at the end of the second commitment period.

The Second Place Fossil of the Day goes to Poland for a fossilized position on the hot air issue. They stubbornly insist on full carry-over and generous use in the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol while vehemently opposing cancellation of any hot air at the end of the that period. Poland’s Environment Minister even had the audacity to say in an recent DPA interview that Poland wants to keep their hot air because they believe they will be able to use it in a new agreement, post-2020. Note to the Polish delegation: defending your own interest does not build any confidence in you as the next COP president!

The Third Place Fossil goes to the COP18 Presidency of Qatar for their lack of leadership in pushing Ministers during roundtable discussions towards ambition in the ADP. As the hosts of this COP, the Presidency is required to facilitate a successful agreement to inject urgency in the talks for progress towards an ambitious legally binding deal.


Photo Credit: IndyACT

 

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COP 18 Doha: Pledge, People, Pledge!

 

Towards the end of the most hilarious annual conference on climate change in the world, Doha's COP 18, finance is still a big issue to handle. The year of 2012 is crucial, because it is the last year for Fast Start Finance to flow, and, starting 2013, a USD 100 billion by 2020 should be dispursed from developed countries to developing countries.

Numbers are not yet on the table, except one from UK that’s pledging for £ 2,9 billion by 2015, which was announced through their press conference in Doha, on December 4th 2012. EU, with their unfinished budget discussions back home, is definitely got pushed by NGOs to give some numbers, ensuring that they will continue their funding. Too many statements from developed countries, saying ‘we will continue funding’, is unaccceptable. A predictability of the funding is highly crucial, as well as having a clear pathway towards the USD 100 billion to 2020.

Learning from the Fast Start Finance for the last two years, developing countries have learned, that certainty of finance sources is highly needed. Climate finance should be new and additional than the existing funding. Therefore, transparency, of course, should be on board for developed countries to regain the trust of developing countries.There are so many innovative resources that can be explored by the developed countries. Even the long term finance workshops that have happened twice in 2012 (not to mention the webminars), have clearly showed that those sources of fund are real and possible, to meet the USD 100 billion by 2020.

Pledge, people, pledge! Not only the financial pledge, but also your emission reduction pledge. And please, leave the hot air behind. 

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Flying blind?

The world is now watching whether the freshly re-elected Obama administration will take renewed interest in tackling climate change, and put some effort into bringing Congress along with him.

This week he signed a bill from Congress aimed at blocking US airlines from complying with EU emissions regulations for flights into and out of the EU. The bill amounts to chest thumping as it provides no new authority to the Administration to take any meaningful steps. In fact, if they did anything with the law it would likely lead to a trade war, a taxpayer funded bailout, or a screeching halt to efforts to secure a global agreement. The EU created the regulations only after its efforts to pursue emissions in ICAO, the UN organization responsible for the aviation sector, came up against "15 years of intransigence and doublespeak," as one informed observer put it. 
 
But the signing of the bill could be water under the bridge if the US now throws its weight behind a strong agreement under ICAO to control emissions from the global aviation sector. There are some signs this could happen. The EU has agreed to suspend its regulations for one year, which should create a more constructive negotiating climate. Upon signing the bill the White House issued a statement that it: “remains focused on making progress in reducing aviation emissions through…the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)."
 
An aviation industry body said that Obama's signing expresses "a steadfast commitment to the right way — a global sectoral approach at the international level". That would indeed be good news, as a global agreement on strong measures to control aviation emissions, including to put a price on carbon emissions from the sector, is exactly what is needed. Such a measure can be designed to generate climate finance for developing countries, while addressing equity concerns and respecting the principles of the UNFCCC. Will the US announce support for such a proposal when Mr. Stern arrives?
 
Will the US declare their intention here in Doha, and then fight for such an agreement at ICAO next year? ECO certainly hopes so.
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Turkey's Love Affair with Coal is a Real Fossil

The First Place Fossil is awarded to Turkey. Although Turkey is the world's fourth largest investor in coal, recording the largest relative increase in annual GHG emissions between 1990–2010 with Ankara declaring 2012 the year of coal, Turkey is asking for more funds in the climate negotiations. This is even though Ankara did not post any QUELROs for the first commitment period. To make matters even more fossilised, Turkey has already declared they wont make a pledge for the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol. Although, they work almost invisibly during the negotiations, so as not to receive too much attention, it’s clearly their time to step onto the fossil stage! It’s your turn Turkey for a Fossil!

The second place Fossil of the Day goes to the EU for having already reached their pledged 2020 target of 20% but having so far failed to increase even though there is still almost 10 years to go. How outrageous! Is the EU really planning to go for the next 10 years without doing ANY further emissions reductions? EU you will need to quickly increase your target or the clouds will appear and it will start raining even more fossils on your negotiating table.

(1) According to the latest projections by the European Environmental Agency the EU’s domestic emissions were 17,5% below the 1990 level in 2011. Factoring in offsets surrendered into the EU ETS in 2011, we find that the EU27 has effectively beaten it’s -20% climate target for 2020 with nine years to spare! 

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Civil Society Awards Fossil To Rich Countries Who Shun Kyoto Commitment

The First Place Fossil is awarded to USA, Canada, Russia, Japan and New Zealand for running away from a legally binding, multilateral rules based regime.  To the USA – seriously, get over your exceptionalism and agree to common accounting rules already.  Canada you are exceptional in ways we cannot communicate diplomatically during a fossil presentation, but it is not good - withdrawing from the Kyoto Protocol is completely unacceptable and your target is an insult to the most vulnerable.  As for Japan, Russia and New Zealand - you still have a chance to support the only legally binding regime and commit to ambitious targets for the second commitment period (and that means no AAU carry over, Russia).  We are looking to hearing from you by the end of the week, because really, do we want to be lumped into this low-ambition group?

The Second Place Fossil is awarded to New Zealand. Unlike its neighbor to the west, New Zealand decided not to put its target into the second commitment period, citing spurious grounds when the reality is that it is just a massive display of irresponsibility.  It's island partners in the Pacific should think again before ever trusting NZ again.

The Ray of the Day goes to the EU for having already reached their pledged 2020 target almost 10 years ahead of time!(1). They really are the fastest under-achievers in the KP! But wait!? The EU has told us that they are not planning to increase their 2020 emissions pledge from the already achieved 20%. How outrageous! Is the EU really planning to go for the next 10 years without doing ANY further emissions reductions? EU you will need to quickly increase your target or the clouds will appear and it will start raining fossils on your negotiating table.

  

 

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