Tag: Latin America

“We are sinking” and “no-agreement-text”- What is the relation between both ideas?

Mónica López Baltodano
Officer for Climate Change
Centro Humboldt
Nicaragua

While the negotiations in the UNFCCC concluded in the Bangkok intersessional meeting in September 2012, many questions arise for us in preparation for COP 18 in Doha. Can we find any logical relationship between developed countries’ claims that this was an “informal session, meaning “no-negotiation-text” should be agreed in Bangkok, while we read there´s super-shrinkage of the Arctic sea ice?

The massive heat wave melting the Arctic is just one –of many- clear signals that expose governmental representatives of countries around the globe aren´t achieving what they are supposed to in UNFCCC negotiations. The ultimate objective of United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is to guarantee the “stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system”. But, that clearly can´t be achieved if developed countries are limiting the negotiation process, hiding their lack of political will to act with procedural claims and “formality” excuses.

Coming from a highly vulnerable country to the impacts of climate change, this seems more like a bad joke - not funny at all. Even though we understand that climate change claims for actions in the developing world, particularly in emerging economies, we cannot accept this to be an excuse for developed countries not to act as needed.

When we hear United States, Australia, Japan, Canada, Switzerland, the European Union, New Zealand and others saying there is not supposed to be any negotiating text on adaptation issues and finance under the LCA, we fear this is leading to a dead-end. Of course, there is clearly a much needed link between, for instance, Adaptation Committee, Standing Committee and Green Climate Fund Board´s work. Why would developed countries fear this should be in an agreed text coming out of Doha?

There are no “political skills” necessary to understand that this might mean they are not truly committed to fund adaptation actions in our countries as needed (i.e. promptly and effectively). If this is true, it would certainly undermine any strong effort in the most afflicted countries, including LDCs, SIDs and Central American countries.

We surely expect that, in the road to Doha, these countries find the logical connection between “we are sinking” –in all of its meanings- and the need to complete the work in the LCA track. This means an agreed outcome is a MUST, including a clear agreement on international finance for adaptation actions to take effect now.

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Redefining the Concept of Negotiation

Enrique Maurtua Konstantinidis
Regional Coordinator
Climate Action Network Latin-America
Argentina

For many years now, climate change negotiations are not delivering what the world needs in order to stay below an increase of 2ºC. The influence of inaction and lack of ambition or compromise from developed countries means new big emitters are not willing to move forward.  

Interestingly, climate change meetings no longer seem like real negotiations- countries are simply informing others of their views. To negotiate means to have formal discussions with someone in order to reach an agreement, therefore, the main task is to listen. Agreement is only possible once middle ground is found, and, in order to do so, clear positions and some flexibility are needed.

When Countries have the floor, they speak only on the issues to which they are personally inclined to. In fact, once they finish their speaking, they are even permitted to leave the Plenary! This makes you wonder: how is it possible to reach an agreement if we won’t listen to anyone but ourselves!

Latin-America needs desperately a climate agreement that will allow LA countries to adapt, receive appropriate technology, and develop NAMAs that contribute to mitigation actions. None of this will happen if parties continue to rehash old speeches and speak only amongst themselves. There are countries with good proposals, but they seem to keep that information to themselves and are not willing to listen to others. Learning about others’ opinions is beneficial for everyone involved.

As a Civil Society representative, I am very interested to see countries start looking to each other: to listen and move this process forward.

There may be only one skill that parties are missing: listening.

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AAU Elephants

Negotiators are truly having a tough time putting the pieces for a second commitment period together. But soon they will face the enormous elephant in the room. A recent UNEP report estimates that up to 13 billion tonnes CO2 of surplus AAUs could be carried over to the next commitment period. This is almost three times the annual emissions of the EU. With the supply of hot air AAUs much higher than current reduction commitments (that are well under the 25-40% below 1990 levels by 2020 actually needed), carry-over would lead to no emission reductions compared to business-as-usual emission projections by 2020. As a matter of fact, CP2 commitments as they stand would likely lead to another surplus. This would be the case even if the large quantity of Russian surplus is excluded. Additionally, carbon credits from the CDM and JI that can be carried over would further lower actual emission reduction levels by 2020 by roughly 6%.

But there is hope! A proposal by the G77, which is technically sound and politically feasible in addressing this enormous loophole, could do the trick. Europe showed in Durban that it can pull its weight internationally by being the driving force behind the agreement for a new climate accord by 2015. This can’t be put at risk by domestic quarrels. The higher carbon price due to restricted carry-over could actually benefit surplus allowance holders, since it would avoid a likely price collapse after 2012.

However, ECO is deeply worried that a low ambition-laden second commitment period might emerge as a compromise. In particular, the differentiation of treatment between two types of hot air seems to be in the making. This could lead to an amendment that allows the European hot air that followed the economic crisis of 2008 to be fully carried over into the second commitment period. In particular, Brazil seems keen to allow such differentiation. ECO wonders why Brazil is so interested in helping further water down the weak European 2020 reduction target through the introduction of such a major loophole.

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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.

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.

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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New text is a green light for fossil fuels

So the Brazilians pulled together a draft and shared it with at least some of the world on Saturday night (some delegates had not even received it on the Sunday). Like everyone else, ECO was scrambling to see what was in it, specifically for energy and climate.

Oh the irony of climate and energy

As expected, there was good and bad, but unexpected was the irony: the new text was strong on climate, reaffirming the principles of equity and common but differentiated responsibility and respective capabilities. There was a temperature target (2 or 1.5), and a nod, i.e. ‘recognise the importance of’ mobilising funds and transferring technology, as well as urging parties to honour their Kyoto commitments (hint hint, Canada et al).

And yet what’s driving climate change, what’s responsible for two thirds of all emissions, what’s destroying local communities and their environments – we’re talking about our addiction to dirty fossil fuels for energy – has been completely watered down.  In fact, the energy paragraphs positively promote fossil fuels. It makes achieving the climate paragraph a near impossibility.

Actively endorsing fossil fuels

Thanks to Canada, Russia and others, where we talk of ‘an increased use of renewable energy sources’, the text also adds ‘and other low-emission technologies’, and even goes further, explicitly including ‘cleaner fossil fuel technologies’. There’s a recognition that renewable technology and energy efficiency are necessary for sustainable development, but there’s no means of achieving it: all mentions of technology transfer and finance have been removed, with finance only be mentioned for energy access. While this is of course incredibly important for sustainable development – and great that it gets its own paragraph in the text, if a little weak on access for who – but it’s not the whole picture. If we’re expecting countries to leap frog our own dirty development pathways, rich, industrialised countries need to provide the adequate and appropriate technology and finance in line with commitments that have been in place for the past 20 years.

Sustainable Energy for All

Ban Ki-moon’s ‘Sustainable Energy for All’ (SE4All) initiative, which isn’t part of the official process but was ‘welcomed’ in the zero draft, has now only been noted after a united position from G77+China. While it’s addressing the right challenges – climate change and poverty – a statement signed by over 100 civil society organisations from across the world shows how much work is needed. As it stands its unambitious targets are inadequate to meet the climate crisis, while civil society and the energy poor – those it should be helping – have been left outside a process dominated by corporate fossil fuel, finance and utility interests. Not being in the text will not mean the end of the initiative, as the Secretary General’s office have been predicting this for a while, so the challenge now is ensuring that after Rio, the initiative launches a people-driven process to see how we can genuinely deliver sustainable energy for all.

Fossil fuel subsidies

One way we can start is by ending government hand-outs to the fossil fuel industries, but they’ve been dealt a heavy blow in the latest text. Rather than honouring commitments made back in 2009, the text ‘recognises the need for further action’ – collective amnesia? Like all issues, there are nuances, so the first step is addressing subsidies given directly to dirty energy companies, but pushing them out of the text is another step backwards. Today over a million signatures are being handed to world leaders, all calling on governments to stop handing our money to dirty industry, because Rio is a real chance to make some progress. We need to make sure that happens.

The Future We Don’t Want

This text is not going to deliver a sustainable future, driven by clean, safe and affordable energy, but it reflects what’s round the table: no political commitment from those that can make it happen. We need to challenge fossil fuel interest

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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.”

 

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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