Tag: Europe

Clarifying Clarifications

The two panels on quantified economy-wide emission reduction targets by developed country Parties left ECO feeling that there was something missing since Bali - like four years perhaps? - or a bit of ambition?

Surely Parties can cite 1(b)(i) from the Bali Action Plan in their sleep (“comparable” – remember)? Yet, as St Lucia pointed out, we still have different base years and metrics. That’s not going to help spotting the loopholes and freeloaders - oh sorry...everyone’s acting in good faith so no need to worry about transparency.

All in all, there are some surprisingly unsophisticated approaches on the table from some rather sophisticated economies – putting forward point targets rather than carbon budgets. And yes, ECO’s talking about those north of Latin America. This includes no clear idea how international credits used by states and provinces are going to affect the national level.  ECO was intrigued at issues for California being considered “within the noise” of measurement. Yes, who could possibly be concerned about accounting problems within an economy the size of Australia?

 And talking of the latter – ECO believes the EU’s urgings were heard loud and clear.  Australia and New Zealand, you’re wanted in the KP.  As they say in those parts, “Come on Australia.” 

All in all, some in the Umbrella group must have been wishing they had their brollies to hide behind. Can’t imagine how “banking and borrowing” can be used with inventories and point targets? Well no problem in adding a ban to the UNFCCC rule book then... And funny how those with issues with their emissions trajectories seem to be the keenest for flexibility and most concerned that harmonisation might prevent full participation. A tip to New Zealand – choirs and rugby sides seem to manage it. 

So to clarify all that clarity, ECO supports South Africa's proposal for a common accounting workshop before Doha to assist the successful conclusion of 1(b)(i).  

ECO was rather more encouraged to see some of the good progress on NAMAs presented by developing country panellists. And just a reminder to those who seem to have forgotten exactly what NAMA stands for – it’s Nationally Appropriate Mitigation ACTIONS. It’s apparent that here, too, provision of detailed information is important because it gives more clarity on what measures countries are undertaking. And this clarity will provide confidence and facilitate access to further support. On this note, ECO is having a bit of difficulty seeing the support – more of this in a minute.

Now, even with the focus on actions rather than outcomes, it is still vital that we are able to understand what emission reductions have been achieved below BAU. Not to hold developing countries to a particular goal, but to track emission reductions on a country level in the context of collective efforts.

Panel 2 on means of support seemed to have a great deal of agreement.  Capacity building and, again, this cleverly invisible means of support for developing countries to be able to develop and design effective long-term NAMAs (aligned with low carbon development pathways) was emphasised time and time again.

 Particularly notable was how this was coming almost equally from both sides of the 1(b)(ii) equation – from developing countries in order to be able to act, and from developed countries in order to ensure value for their hard-to-find money. Given this last factor, ECO is left absolutely baffled as to why many developed countries seem to believe they have a logical basis for their determination to block the capacity building negotiation in the LCA. (But hey, ECO has gotten used to being baffled by flights of logic from developed countries many times before.) And let’s face it – some of those non-KP developed countries seem to need a bit of capacity building to help them produce their QELROs.

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The Ugly, the Not So Bad and the Good

ECO listened with great interest to Parties' expectations of COP18 in Qatar this year. The greatest surprise came from those bottom-up loving Brollies, who mentioned the need to have a significant amount of technical preparation to give Ministers “options” on the Kyoto Protocol. Yes, you heard it, optionSSSSSS. Why do we need plural options? Surely one will suffice? Provisional Application – period.

But it wasn’t all bad, we liked the EU’s call for more creative thinking that shouldn’t just be exclusive to parties. ECO was jumping for joy. We will definitely let our creative juices run wild and are always happy to share these with our European colleagues, as well as others.

But the real music to our ears came from the UAE, which characterized itself, like Qatar, as a small but ambitious country, claiming that many countries in the region have renewable energy initiatives and targets, and hope that Doha can be a chance for these initiatives to get the "international recognition" they deserve. ECO is often wishful, but could this be the onset of support for the Arab countries to submit NAMAs? We hope so.

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Bangkok Fossil of the Day

 

"Saturday's 1st Place and only Fossil was awarded to the European Commission for attempting to show leadership in the wrong direction, away from the Durban decision to increase ambition - a decision which the EU actually claims to be champions of.

Keeping in mind that EU, if they implement the plans they already have on the table, will end up reducing around 24% of their 1990 emissions by 2020, it seems absurd that the European Commission suddenly argues that even an EU target of 25% is 'wishful thinking' and 'not reality'. Dear EU, 25% IS reality. Our wishful thinking is that you would get yourself together and increase you target to 40%, of which 30% should be domestic reductions."

And ECO wonders if the mere rumour that the EC had been awarded a fossil was behind the EU showing slightly better behaviour in the developed countries workshop. So maybe the fossil itself will have an even bigger impact - or is that more wishful thinking?

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Is It the Grave For “Noting With Grave Concern”?

“We believe that the world has had a lot of time to think. What we need is not more thinking. What we need is more action”. Inspiring words indeed in Durban from the EU, LDCs and AOSIS (the artists formerly known as the Durban Alliance). In the whirlwind after COP17, Europe was at pains to stress the importance of its victory on the inclusion of language in the Durban Platform “noting with grave concern” the significant (understatement of the year) gap between aggregate mitigation pledges and pathways consistent with below 2 degrees C. This was the foundation of the alliance with the LDCs and AOSIS. Further, in Bonn, ECO witnessed an epic battle by these groups and others to include pre-2020 ambition on the agenda.

But what have we here in Bangkok? Has Europe’s jet lag gone to its head? It appears as though the EU has abandoned its most vulnerable country allies, and is instead cosying up with the notorious ship jumpers – the US, Japan, Russia and Canada – on the critical issue of raising developed country targets pre-2020. Indeed, in the KP discussion on numbers, one EU Commission official went as far as to say that raising the EU’s 2020 level of ambition to 25% “is not reality, it is wishful thinking”. Given its urgent call for much greater ambition, ECO calls on the EU to commit to at least 30% domestic emissions reductions, and 40% overall, below 1990 levels by 2020. In addition to where it comes down on its 2020 target, the EU’s decision on how to handle AAUs will very much affect the overall level of ambition, as will its provision, along with other Annex II countries', of finance in a post-FSF world.

But let’s be fair, the EU is by no means the worst culprit here in Bangkok. That dubious distinction goes to the United States, which, despite agreeing to the Durban Platform  language on the urgent need to increase pre-2020 ambition, is now asserting that there should be no expectation of it or the other KP ship-jumpers increasing their pledges. Or – heaven forbid – turning them into QELROs. (Read on – ECO has more to say about the US later in this issue.) Instead, it’s all about everyone else. ECO would like to remind the US that all Parties “noted grave concerns” about the gigatonne gap, and notes the US would be first to say the ADP is “applicable to all Parties”. So yes, USA – this means you! And as for Japan, Canada and Russia, just because you’re cowering behind the US, doesn’t mean ECO will not name and shame you (and you too Australia and New Zealand, if you fail to sign up and ratify a second Kyoto commitment period).

Just last week the planet suffered another severe blow from lack of mitigation ambition. The Arctic – our planet’s canary in the coal mine on climate change – suffered record ice loss, according to scientific reports. Last week’s figure not only smashed all other records, but also came three weeks premature! The canary’s not dead yet, but it is gasping for breath.

And that means that the hundreds of millions of people here in Thailand and South East Asia, as well as around the globe, who are already suffering the impacts of the climate crisis, will suffer far more unless urgent action is taken. The earth is in grave danger. Developed countries must act now by committing to reduce their collective emissions by at least 40% below 1990 levels by 2020. ECO notes (wait for it...with grave concern) that their current pledges are woefully inadequate.

ECO agrees with Colombia, which in the ADP roundtable on ambition yesterday, noted that dealing with climate change is an urgent matter of global security. As Brazil further noted (so much noting!), many analysts think climate change is on par with global thermonuclear war as a threat that we have to do our utmost to avoid.

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“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.

A Tenuous Linkage

ECO cautiously welcomes the announcement made this week by Australia and the EU that they have entered into negotiations to link their carbon trading schemes by 2018. If implemented with ambition, this could be a positive step toward greater international cooperation in carbon pollution reductions.

However, ECO wants to respectfully remind delegates that if two dogs play together they will catch each other’s fleas. In the case of linking carbon markets together, weak ambition may be contagious. If neither emissions cap meets the targets that science suggests, then linking is only a gimmick.

Europe is already and will continue to face deficiencies in the EU ETS. Unless policymakers move to restore scarcity to the oversupplied European carbon market, they risk weakening incentives for zero-carbon development not only in Europe but also in the countries to which they link. Australia’s economy is the size of Spain’s, and could be overwhelmed by a flood of cheap European emission allowances, undermining climate action there. We note that this linkage is marginally better than allowing a flood of even cheaper CDM credits into the Australian scheme, which was a distinct possibility before changes were made in order to link with Europe, but, as feared, is likely to undermine climate action on both sides.

Full linking with the Australian scheme after 2018 also presents potential dangers for the EU. Since Australia’s 2020 climate targets remain considerably weaker than Europe’s, an insufficiently robust Australian cap could see a reverse flow of cheap Australian credits into the European market exacerbating the existing oversupply. Also, there is a danger that Australian land-based credits could enter the European scheme by the backdoor.

ECO urges the EU to act quickly and decisively to make structural adjustments to the EU ETS by permanently removing surplus emission allowances to fix the glaring problem of oversupply.

Australia regrettably had to do away with its intention to install a carbon floor price, which provided an important safety net to ensure a minimum level of investment in domestic pollution-saving activities. Removing this safety net means that other policies become even more important. ECO urges Australia to commit to extend and increase the Renewable Energy Target to at least 40 per cent.

Finally, ECO can’t help wondering…surely the EU did not forget to make joining the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol a pre-condition for bilateral negotiations between the EU and Australia to proceed?

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Dear Mr. Prime Minister...

In a disappointing and disheartening plenary session today, the Brazilian chair adopted the watered down draft text to be taken to world leaders tomorrow to formally adopt. As delegations clapped away at our failed future, civil society loudly protested from the back of the plenary hall. 

As a last attempt to salvage this summit, civil society has united its efforts to write a letter to UK Prime Minister David Cameron at the G20 Summit calling for an urgent intervention to deliver ambition at the Rio+20 Earth Summit. The letter highlights that the draft text is severely lacking in ambition, urgency and political will. Countries are reluctant to commit to a bolder agenda largely because they do not believe that the money can be found to deliver the transition to a fair, prosperous and sustainable world for all.

Civil society is calling on the UK, as a member of G8, G20, UN Security Council and the European Union, to take matters into their own hands and be pioneers in this endeavor to save the planet and forge an international agreement on tackling global inequalities. To do this, three commitments are needed to transform this summit.

  1. Phase out harmful fossil fuel subsidies, with safeguards for the world poorest communities.  Commitments to begin such a process were made by the G20 at their meeting in Pittsburgh in 2009 and again in Toronto in 2010, but with almost no progress to date. Developed countries spend around $100bn a year in subsidies and tax breaks to prop up fossil fuel production, according to the OECD.
  1. Introduce a Financial Transaction Tax (FTT) which has been proven by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the European Commission and independent studies to be a credible, effective and development friendly tax. It is a hugely popular idea, supported by 63% of European citizens and more than 1000 economists, and could raise at least $400bn a year.
  1. Stop multinationals dodging their taxes. This would generate an extra $160 billion a year in tax revenues in poor countries alone. This is money that these companies already owe but which they are not paying.

The biggest impediment to means of implementation and finance is that the money isn’t there, but as shown above, the money is clearly there and can be easily freed up and utilized. Strong political will and even stronger leadership is needed now to push these negotiations to deliver a safe and prosperous world for everyone.

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Brazil Takes 1st Place; Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, EU, Canada US, & More 2nd

It was a full day for fossils Sunday at the Rio+20 negotiations. Brazil earned the First Place Fossil for a frightening new draft text. Saudi Arabia and Venezuela took Second Place for trying to save fossil fuel subsidies. The European Union, United States, and other developed countries earned another Second Place Fossil for bringing empty pockets to plans in need of financing. The Fossils as presented read:

“Brazil earns the First place Fossil. Yesterday Brazil took over as host country of the negotiations for the Rio+20 summit and presented its new draft of the negotiating text. With great power comes great responsibility. The world is watching how Brazil performs in its task of steering negotiators towards agreement on ambitious, concrete outcomes. Outcomes that will get the world on the path to sustainable development and ensuring all members of this and future generations access to quality food, clean water and renewable energy, as well as a healthy, liveable planet, a stable climate and a vibrant prosperous economy. The outcome also need to find new sources of financing and ways to mobilize the technologies to achieve these goals.
 
Unfortunately the text yesterday shows no signs of movement in this direction. It appears that Brazil is missing the chance be a force for raising ambition and living up to the hopes and trust that the world has placed on its shoulders, and will be content with using its growing political clout and indisputable diplomatic capacities only to find clever compromises and get agreement on a watered-down document devoid of clear commitments and actions. Furthermore it seems that the Brazilian government are more focused on closing text, even though it is slashing the ambition, rather than ensuring the outcome we need. Of course Brazil can’t single-handedly turn this process around, and it needs bold and ambition proposals from other countries and a willingness from all countries to get this process on track to creating the world we really do want.”
 
“The United States, European Union, Canada, and other developed countries earned the Second Place Fossil. US, Canada, EU and other developed countries, turned up in Rio with not a Euro cent or Dime, and now that we see all references to finance and technology commitments deleted from the Rio negotiating text it’s clear that developed countries are intending to run away from the Rio principles signed 20 years
ago, especially Common But Differentiated Responsibility. Rich, industrialised countries need to step up and provide the predictable and adequate support that allows developing countries to pursue truly sustainable development.”
 
“Saudi Arabia and Venezuela also earn a Second Place Fossil. During closed door negotiations Saudi Arabia and Venezuela have consistently blocked progress on ending fossil fuel subsidies. Despite an honest effort by Brazil to bridge the divide, these two countries remain the biggest obstacle to stopping our governments handing taxpayers' money directly to the dirty energy industries. Why aren't these billions being spent on access to clean energy for the billions without? The oil industry' slippery tentacles are strangling sustainable development and driving us closer towards a climate catastrophe, with our governments in on the act. By refusing to end these dirty handouts, we give Saudi Arabia and Venezuela the second place fossil, hopefully we won’t see them on the podium again.”

 

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