Raise the Stakes!

Dear Ministers,

The disconnect between the climate talks and scientific reality is stark. In the UNFCCC process, progress is being made, but in real life your negotiators have been sleepwalking as the world burns.

The past week has seen negotiations moving slowly, with the peaks and valleys that typify these talks. We have walked the corridors, met in the large and small rooms, gone to side events, gossiped at exhibit stands, argued over brackets and tinkered with text.

Meanwhile, famine spreads, floods inundate homes and storms destroy livelihoods.

The evidence shows that if we do not act within only a few short years it will be too late to curb dangerous climate change. To be blunt, we risk throwing away the work of 20 years and further delaying the action that is truly required.

Ministers, your negotiators have left you with a very clear choice: You can choose to step away from the edge or drag all of us over it.

Over the last few days, we’ve seen discussions of a timeline for action that would lock us into dangerous climate change. ECO was under the impression that the Durban COP was intended to discuss the post-2012 framework. Somehow the negotiations have shifted to post-2020. This is simply inconceivable. The world can not afford a ten year timeout in the negotiations.

To this end, the European Union can help: Agree a 5-year second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol. Do it now.

The US and others claim that the collective emission reductions ambition currently in place will allow us to avoid dangerous climate change. This is simply not true. A pledge and review world is a world of uncertainty. There is even backtracking toward a system where there is neither accountability nor assurance that actions will be taken. Let’s not go there.

Instead, we must raise ambition by 2015, otherwise the global average temperature increase will exceed 2° C and move inexorably to 3° and beyond – with all that entails.

The Kyoto Protocol second commitment period must be agreed, as it is the only instrument that legally binds countries to reduce their emissions.

Durban must also agree to negotiate a legally binding agreement to supplement  – not replace! – the Kyoto Protocol as soon as possible, and by 2015 at the very latest. Those pushing anything else are seeking to avoid their responsibilities and delay urgently required action.

We have been talking since Copenhagen about how the process is “kicking the can down the road.” There is no more time for that. We cannot pretend action is being taken when it is being avoided.

And it can be done! As we approach the dangerous edge, there is also positive movement.

China has signaled flexibility and a willingness to negotiate the difficult issues. The EU can accept a 5 year second commitment period, and they must continue to stand strong for the 2015 timeline as well. The small island states have, as always, pushed for what is needed, since they are closest to the dangerous edge.

There is another road and this is the time for us to choose it. And if the US and others try and pull you aside, don’t let them. Move forward and show the way.

Dear Ministers, we are relying on you this week to show true leadership and choose to pull back from the abyss, change course and take bold steps in a new direction that works for all of us, our climate and our planet.

Ambassador Jumeau from the Seychelles said it best: “During COP17, you are all small islanders. So don’t save us, save yourselves.”

This week, you work to save us all.

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The Lost Decade of Adaptation Finance

This year marks a decade since the Least Developed Countries Fund (LDCF) was established at COP 7 in Marrakesh to finance the most urgent adaptation needs of least developed countries. Unfortunately little is said about the LDCF and there is less to celebrate.  Ten years on, and only $415 million has been pledged towards a total $2 billion identified to prepare and implement national adaptation programmes of action (NAPAs), the fund’s purpose.

Negotiators in Durban cannot reverse what has been a lost decade for adaptation finance. But they can and must secure an outcome in Durban that leads to reliable, sufficient and predictable flows of adaptation finance to developing countries in the decade ahead.

Apart from a few exceptions, we haven’t seen much evidence yet that climate finance won’t be falling off a cliff when fast start finance runs out at the end of 2013. Finance for adaptation in particular is an overriding priority for LDCs, SIDS and the most vulnerable countries.  But it remains an orphan in the bigger finance picture past, present and future. The current nose-diving of the international carbon price also means that the Adaptation Fund, which takes a fixed share of 2% from CDM projects, is at risk of having barely any money next year.

With emissions levels surpassing the IPCC’s worst case scenarios, it’s clear that huge amounts of money will be needed to address impacts of both more frequent extreme weather events and slow onset events. With emissions levels surpassing the IPCC’s worst case scenarios it is clear that huge amounts of money will be needed to address the impacts of both more frequent extreme weather events and slow onset events.

Yet only 18% of US) and 30%  of EU fast start finance is being spent on adaptation in 2011. Australia provides a better example, with over half its climate finance spend dedicated to adaptation this year).

The amalgamated LCA text has the potential to start addressing some of these significant shortcomings. There is concrete text on the table assuring developing countries there will not be a gap after 2012, and that climate finance will scale up between 2013 and 2020.

Another important matter is the balance between mitigation and adaptation finance, in particular option 2 which would guarantee at least 50% of all climate finance is earmarked for adaptation.

Finally, a work programme is needed to identify predictable and reliable long term sources of finance. As currently stated in the text, this should lead to concrete decisions by COP 18 and provide the best chance to agree the most promising sources of climate finance, including innovative sources such as a financial transaction tax, and a global price on emissions from international shipping and aviation that has no net incidence of cost on developing countries.

Negotiators can aim to land in a zone where clear guarantees can be given to developing countries that they will not be left ‘high and dry’ (or maybe that should be ‘hot, low and wet’) without any money to address the climate impacts that they have done nothing to cause. As all Parties have committed to set up the Green Climate Fund here in Durban, let’s make sure it is not an empty shell.

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Basic Climate Equity

If Durban is to be at least somewhat successful then Saturday’s release of the BASIC Experts paper on fair-shares global effort sharing will be recognized as a key breakthrough. That can help decide a 2nd commitment period for the KP while putting on the agenda serious consideration of a next generation mandate that’s fair enough to support real ambition.

The BASIC Experts paper does not pretend that the global carbon budget hasn’t already been essentially exhausted. Nor does it say that development-as-usual is still a viable option and we can muddle along with bottom-up accounting and a bit of technological optimism. These are things that just can’t happen if we actually intend to stabilize the climate system. But in addition,
developmental justice is a precondition of high ambition, and this report does foresee that soon we’ll be ready to face this bottom-line reality.

The BASIC authors can be commended for illuminating the salient core of the climate-equity debate. That outcome has clearly involved compromise, and it has clearly had a cost. For example, the paper focuses on a 2000-2050 global emissions budget of 1440 Gt CO2, one that many among us view as dangerously high.

All the same, the benefits of compromise are also visible. The authors were able to mark out a first-order consensus that, while vague, indicates a way forward. If ‘equity’ is defined as the human right to sustainable development, then only two approaches to a global fair-shares reference framework – cumulative per-capita budget sharing and “responsibility and capacity index” based effort sharing – are at all promising, and the BASIC paper clearly moves these two approaches forward.

There certainly are problems as well. The report, for example, gives almost no attention to economic stratification within countries. Even South Africa, while speaking for an approach that includes economic capacity as well as historic responsibility, passes too lightly over that subject. But all told it’s the accomplishment here that are highly notable. The BASIC Experts report is a signpost to the debate that’s actually needed.

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Capacity Building Sinking Without a Trace?

 

ECO laments the loss of NGO hopes for a radically upgraded and revitalised approach to capacity building (CB) in developing countries. At the mid-point of COP-17, this possibility is in danger of sinking without a trace.

ECO is also baffled. Baffled as to how this situation has come about. Perhaps it derives from some form of memory deficit. Just about a decade ago at COP-7, UNFCCC agreed the Marrakech Capacity Building Framework in 2/CP.7. This provided the skeleton key to unblock a rather nasty case of mistrust over financial support by developed countries for action by developing countries responding to climate change.

This is strikingly similar to the situation today in the LCA. COP 7 was examining how to best utilise the fact that the Bonn Agreements had secured some hastily cobbled-together financial pledges along with barely-defined new financial archirecture (the Adaptation Fund, Least Developed Countries Fund and SCCF). Given the uncertainty involved in both the new financial architecture and the scale and reliability of its sources, COP 7 decided the smart move would be to concentrate on what matters: the front end of the delivery pipeline. That front end is capacity building.

Given the obvious comparability, it is completely baffling as to how the LCA ended up developing the CB text currently under consideration. A year ago at the mid-point of Cancun, the Group of 77 and China was arguing along very similar lines as civil society for a new UNFCCC structure for CB, tasked with the oversight, co-ordination, streamlining and optimisation of capacity building, using a newly-created body capable of interacting with the emergent new architectures for mitigation, adaptation, technology, finance and MRV.

Cancun deferred this issue to Durban. The mystery is how readily the G77 have already dropped their demand for a new CB structure under Cancun para 137 and agreed with the EU and Umbrella Group that life is far simpler if Durban just creates some sort of talking shop (“forum”) to review CB under Cancun para 136, thus killing two birds with one stone.

On the other hand, ECO still prefers the CB Co-ordinating Body (CBCB) mapped out over two years ago. The problem is that the broad coalition of LDCs, SIDS, AOSIS and African countries that co-operated so effectively in getting a new approach to CB agreed in Marrakech appears to have sunk without a trace.

ECO has certainly not given up on this. But we would respectfully request that developing country Parties dig out the text they were so forcefully promoting only a year ago, and also remind themselves of the success at Marrakech.

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Words to the Wise

At one point in her Thursday briefing for NGOs updating the 50+ issues under negotiation, the Executive Secretary spoke of how various texts were “maturing” since Panama.

What an interesting choice of words! As we prepare to head into the second week, ECO hopes that attitudes mature along with the texts. Maturity implies a certain wisdom and yet at times this week there has been a distinct lack of such in these talks.

For example, it is unwise to continue to stall on ambition while the evidence for dangerous climate change mounts, the vulnerability of communities around the globe increases, and the time to protect ecosystems and the people who depend on them drains away.

It is unwise to stall on a second commitment period for Kyoto, putting that instrument at risk and undermining political will throughout the negotiations.

It is unwise to block a mandate towards a comprehensive legally binding agreement, sending signals beyond the ICC that the international community is less than fully committed to solving the climate crisis. And finally it is unwise to backtrack from implementing Cancun when the hard-won gains on finance, MRV and the Review are so vital to the future of the climate response regime.

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Media Advisory – Webcast Notice: Civil society reflections on dynamics within BASIC, the role of EU and the negotiations on legal form.

UNFCCC CLIMATE TALKS IN DURBAN:

NGO BRIEFING ON THE NEGOTIATIONS

Civil society reflections on dynamics within BASIC, the role of EU and the negotiations on legal form.

[Durban, South Africa] Climate Action Network – International will host a media briefing, webcast live, to outline civil society expectations for a successful outcome of UN climate talks in Durban beginning this week.

International NGO experts will discuss civil society reflections on the positions and movements within BASIC, look into the negotiations on legal form, and highlight the role of the EU.

The briefing takes place at the UNFCCC conference venue, on Friday, December 2, at 12:30 local time (10:30 GMT), Kosi Palm (ICC MR 21 ABCG) NGO Press Conference Room.

It will be webcast live at: http://bit.ly/CANwebcasts

NGO experts on the panel will include: Keya Chatterjee of WWF-US; Srinivas Krishnaswamy of CAN South Asia, and Martin Kaiser of Greenpeace Germany.
 
What: Briefing on the UNFCCC climate negotiations in Durban

Where: Kosi Palm (ICC MR 21 ABCG) NGO Press Conference Room, UNFCCC conference venue, Durban

Webcast Live via www.unfccc.int, or at: http://bit.ly/CANwebcasts

When: 12:30 local time (10:30 GMT), Thursday, December 2, 2011

Who:     Keya Chatterjee – WWF-US
    Srinivas Krishnaswamy – CAN South Asia
    Martin Kaiser – Greenpeace Germany

Climate Action Network (CAN) is a global network of over 700 NGOs working to promote government and individual action to limit human-induced climate change to ecologically sustainable levels.  For more information go to: www.climatenetwork.org

For more information please contact:

David Turnbull, CAN International, +27 (0) 78 889 6827 (local mobile)

Every day at 18:00 local time CAN gives the Fossil of the Day to the Parties that obstruct the negotiations the most. You can watch the Fossil ceremony at the CAN booth in the DEC building and get the press releases every day at: http://www.climatenetwork.org/fossil-of-the-day

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Brazil: Protect Your Forests!

As the world tries to find ways to reduce global emissions, Brazil is on the verge of igniting a real carbon bomb. A bill to change the country’s Forest Law is about to be approved, resulting in the increase of deforestation by reducing protected areas, removing the obligations for the restoration of cleared areas, and pardoning loggers. The proposed bill will be sent to President Dilma Roussef for final consideration in coming weeks.

This proposed change will compromise the National Policy on Climate Change and the emission reduction actions announced by Brazil in 2009 during COP 15. Moreover, Brazil has used the reduction of deforestation rates to justify a position of leadership on environmental issues.  Yet the mere anticipation of approval of the bill has already caused an increase of deforestation. One of the foreseeable  consequences is that an area almost the size of France and Great Britain combined (790,000 km2), will lose legal protection, according to estimates presented by the Brazilian government itself. The negative impacts to the planet’s climate will be incredibly high, as deforestation and land use represent about 75% of Brazilian CO2 emissions.

In light of the fact that Brazil will be hosting the Rio+20 conference next year, the situation becomes even more delicate and embarrassing. In the corridors here in Durban, these developments are causing considerable consternation. The Forest Law was a hot topic during Brazil’s first press conference at COP 17, and the discussion spilled outside the meeting room.

Brazil has historical prominence in the climate negotiations. Therefore, there is certain to be an expectation that President Dilma Roussef will send a clear message to the world showing that Brazil will meet the commitments announced  in Copenhagen, avoiding a stain on the country’s prestige and avoiding setbacks in its environmental policy. It’s up to the President to determine whether she will stop the proposed Forest Law or embrace an imminent tragedy.

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