Small But Powerful

The Review is sometimes thought of as a minor agenda item. ECO does not agree. It reincorporates scientific findings in the political UNFCCC negotiations in order to raise ambition and close the gigatonne gap. So, negotiators, if you happened to forget its significance, this is a reminder to pay sufficient attention to the discussion on the first periodic Review (2013-15).

At COP18, we need several decisions on the Review – most of all a decision on its scope, but also on the modalities. Modalities would include the body to conduct the Review and a finalized workplan for a timely start, effective work and strong recommendations in 2015. The workplan must not be forgotten over contradicting views on the scope (reviewing 2°C or reviewing the long-term global goal and the process towards achieving it (as phrased in Cancun) or to the means of implementation). Mexico yesterday suggested bridging the differing views on the scope by starting with the Cancun language and possibly later further defining the scope. Gracias, Mexico!

In case Parties, at a later point in time, seek to consider reviewing the means of implementation, ECO suggests inserting a chapeau in the coming draft decision on the scope, referring to the different reviews in the Cancun and Durban decisions on finance, technology, capacity building and biennial reporting. These various decisions to review the means of implementation have already been taken, so that there is no need to duplicate this undertaking in the first periodic review (2013-2015). A better approach would be to strengthen all reviews by linking the first periodical Review to the other review processes. This would make them more powerful at all ends.

In summary, ECO is confident that it is possible to find a way out of the present stalemate concerning the review 2013-2015, so that the review can begin in 2013.

ECO appreciated the chair's facilitation of yesterday's spin-off group, moving the discussion to the modalities, such as the potential expert group that would conduct the Review and first steps in organising the work starting next year.

Of course, ECO already has its own perceptions and milestones in mind for the 2013-2015 Review roadmap:

1) Beginning in 2013 with a workshop on the Special Reports of IPCC (SRREN and SREX) at SB38

2) A subsequent workshop back-to-back to the adoption of AR5/WG I of IPCC at the COP in 2013, where conclusions on WG I-related issues for the Review will be drawn.

3) In May 2014 there should be a second workshop back-to-back to the adoption of AR5/WG III (including WG II related issues), so that...

4)...SB40 in June 2014 could draw conclusions on it

5) After adoption of the Synthesis Report of AR5, a workshop could be planned

6) The COP in 2014 should take note of this analytical phase of the review and take a decision on the envisaged steps on the Review for 2015 that lead to action

7) In 2014/15 the political analysis should take place

8) To ensure action in 2015, SB 42 should write a draft decision on the action the COP should take on the basis of the review

All these activities should inform the other, above-mentioned review processes to create small but powerful tools for avoiding dangerous climate change.

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Will ADP Diplomat Lingo Close the Ambition Gap?

ECO wonders if delegates usually idle away their waiting time in airports by brushing up on their diplomat lingo for use at international negotiations. From a glossary of terms, ECO derives that the wording “noting with deep concern” can be interpreted as one of the strongest possible expression for outrage, in this case for lack of progress and substance in closing the ambition gap.

ECO, never giving up on any Party, just has to assume that this “deep concern”, and its translation, is also shared, somewhere deep inside, by those Parties whose current pledges are possibly among the reasons why there is such concern. It is against this backdrop that ECO was pleased by some helpful interventions at yesterday’s first ADP plenary where several country groupings made clear that the work plan for urgently increasing ambition is something to work in parallel to the grand task of crafting the 2015 protocol. This ‘urgency’ agenda item is needed to agree on concrete steps to close the gap between current pledges and where emissions need to be in 2020 to be consistent with a realistic 2°C emissions pathway, and to keep 1.5°C within reach.

In particular, ECO liked the notion that the ambition work plan should focus on the immediate ambition gap and be seen as an iterative process of analysing the gap, identifying further options to narrow the gap, adopting them and repeating those steps until the gap is closed. And do that preferably on an annual basis, leading to concrete steps at every COP as long as necessary.

Surely not difficult for all those sharing the “deep concern”. ECO notes that this would require, here in Bonn, substantive work on the available options, as well as agreeing what to work on over 2012 and beyond, with further workshops, submissions and technical papers, and even, as suggested at the plenary, a high-level ministerial gathering ¨C leading to first tangible results for a COP decision in Qatar. A dedicated contact group, as suggested at yesterday’s plenary, is the thing to start with here in Bonn.

ECO wonders, however, if developed country Parties sharing the “deep concern” have understood that this would require, as a first step, moving to the top end of their pledges, especially in those cases (down under) where internal government documents show that conditions to move up from the low end of the pledged range have already been met; or where studies show that moving to the top end would be beneficial for the region’s economy (a region a little north of Africa). Or in those otherworldy cases where current

pledges are even below CP1 targets. ECO also wonders if those developing countries that have not yet identified NAMAs and the support needed to implement (some of) them are part of the game too ¨C ECO would be excited to hear from, and report on, any such developments.

As Parties retreat over the weekend to prepare their presentations for Monday’s workshop on options to increase ambition, ECO would like to echo what one group of highly vulnerable countries noted in the plenary: raising ambition immediately was always part of the Durban package. If the Qatari COP fails us all on that, then Durban may be remembered as the summit where we saved the climate negotiations but not the climate. On Monday, ECO wants to hear options for the latter.

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2015 – Setting the Pace in the Race for Ambition

 As delegates bounce back to the Maritim, high off their post-Durban buzz, ECO thinks it’s worthwhile reminding them of the gravity of what they are negotiating. Durban very nearly failed. Had it done so, it would have empowered the formidable naysayers across the global economy, providing them with ample fuel to dismiss not only climate change but the multilateral system altogether.

 Whilst the Durban outcome was far from perfect, delegates still had the Cancun prophecy ringing in their ears – “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good”. What we got from Durban was an opportunity, as opposed to an outcome, of a hard deadline of 2015. And, importantly, we got the world caring again. When the Indians and Europeans battled it out in the grand “huddle”, determined to come to a resolution, international leaders and investors finally looked up from their navels and took notice.

 Now, back in the confines of the Maritim, we need all parties to knuckle down, and begin the long, hard slog to negotiate the final outcome. Opening up old wounds will not prevent climate chaos.

 As Cancun pointed out, tactical negotiating will not be enough to secure us a 1.5 degrees C future. Skilled diplomacy has not required any of the critical countries to move beyond the red lines we grew to know, love and hate in Copenhagen. Parties acknowledged that the politics aren’t yet right to secure a fair, ambitious and legally binding deal. But what we got in Durban was a grace period.

 The politics of 2015 do, however, provide an opportunity for more ambition compared to 2011. “It’s the economy, stupid”, barely encompasses the political preoccupation across Europe and OECD countries. But by 2015, it is likely that the worst of the recession will be over. And importantly, the rhythm of the electoral cycle across a swathe of key polluters to 2015 gives hope and promise to greater levels of ambition and political commitment. Unless countries recognise the very real danger that climate change poses to their national interests, they will not budge any further than their pre-Copenhagen mandates.

 But it’s not only the politics of ambition which need to be mastered. That little old chestnut, common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, also needs some help. And it would appear as if, finally, most Annex 1 countries have received the message loud and clear (ECO does not need to spell it out; we all know who the deaf countries are). Unless a fair settlement is sought, a deal in 2015 is unrealistic. Fairness is not a hurdle towards greater ambition, but a key component to incentivise a successful deal. Scepticism that 2015 will be “Copenhagen the Sequel” misreads the politics since COP15. Anyone daft enough to think politicians and their negotiators would endure another Copenhagen should be doomed to eat Maritim sandwiches for the rest of their lives. 2015 will be very different.

 Firstly, a key advantage for 2015 is that the political change we need to see can now be leveraged off significant quantities of low carbon investment and confidence across a broad range of countries. Adding to this, the UNFCCC has made significant progress in defining the mechanisms which can be ramped up to deliver ambition. Secondly, the embryonic Durban Alliance and Cartagena Dialogue can help keep their Annex 1 partners on their toes, and help shape a Fair, Ambitious and Binding (FAB) deal over the years ahead. And finally, 2015 will no doubt be an important milestone on the road to a global low carbon economy, alongside Rio, Qatar and other high profile events.

 But we must not focus on the glitz and glamour at the expense of harvesting incremental achievements, building session by session the systems and instruments needed to deliver success along the way. Putting all our eggs in one basket, when the scale of the challenge is enormous, is no longer a feasible option. Parties are now acknowledging that success in 2015 will be measured by a combination of progress inside and outside the UNFCCC, top-down and bottom up measures, in shaping emissions trajectories to 2030.

 In Bonn, ECO will not take the promise of post-2020 ambition as an excuse for lack of short-term measures. Broaching the gigatonne gap, outlining ambitious proposals for the review of adequacy and beginning to map out the process for developing an equitable outcome will be vital in securing a 2015 deal. Haggling over the text that has already been gavelled through contradicts the constructive spirit reached in South Africa.

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CAN Intervention First Indaba Durban, November 30, 2011

Thank you, Madame President. 

My name is Alden Meyer from the Union of Concerned Scientists, and I am speaking on behalf of the Climate Action Network.

CAN believes there are three sets of actions that Parties must take here in Durban:

First, Kyoto Protocol parties must commit at Durban to a ratifiable second commitment period that starts in 2013 and ends in 2017. Also, the loopholes threatening the environmental integrity of the Kyoto Protocol must be closed.

Second, it is essential that the commitments and actions of all Parties be inscribed in one or more legally binding instruments. To that end, Parties must agree here in Durban to launch negotiation of such an instrument to be adopted by 2015, and to be in force by 2018 at the latest.  These negotiations should bebased on principles of common but differentiated responsibility and respective capabilities, equity and adequacy.  The purpose is notto renegotiate the Convention, but to further advance its effective implementation and help fulfil the Bali Action Plan.

Third, we need a set of decisions in Durban to advance all of the elements of the Bali Action Plan: adaptation, finance, mitigation, technology, and capacity building.

On adaptation, we need a clear roadmap to ramp up assistance to vulnerable countries who are already suffering serious impacts of climate change.

On Finance, Parties should adopt the governing instrument of the Green Climate Fund, agree a trajectory to ramp up financing towards the 2020 goal of at least $100 billion per year, and adopt a work plan to consider innovative sources of public finance to help meet this goal.

Finally, if we are to meet the 2 degrees C target and keep alive the option of staying below 1.5 degrees C, we can’t wait until 2020 – or even until completion of the science review in 2015 – to substantially raise ambition on mitigation. Here in Durban, Parties must agree upon a dedicated work program for 2012, with the goal of taking specific actions on mitigation at COP 18 in Qatar that will help close the well-recognized gigatonnes gap. 

This is admittedly an ambitious agenda.  But the peoples of the world expect no less. 

Thank you again, Madame President, for this opportunity to share our views.

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Getting Shared Vision Out of Deadlock

As delegates flock into Panama’s final meeting on Shared Vision, ECO has few hopes that the world will be much closer by the end of this week to agreeing on a peak year and a long term reduction goal for global emissions. But delegates need to remember that their heads of state have already laid out a common vision: keeping global temperature below 2°C! The science is clear – meeting this goal requires dramatically scaling up the current collective level of ambition.  The best lawyers in the world can’t negotiate with the atmosphere!

In addition, ECO agrees with many Parties that focusing on the numbers without any notion of equity in achieving them will fail to deliver emission pathways that will allow the world to stay below 2°C, let alone, 1.5°C.

ECO proposes the following step-wise approach to achieving a shared vision in Durban:

 Step 1:  Parties agree to collectively aim for an emissions pathway that not only keeps us below 2°C, but also keeps the possibility of limiting warming to 1.5°C within reach. Parties agree to peak global emissions by 2015 and cut them by 80% by 2050.

 Step 2: Parties commit to launch a process to look at countries’ “fair shares” to get the world onto the desired emissions pathway, based on the following principles of the UNFCCC: historical responsibility for past and present emissions, capability for reducing such emissions, and the right to sustainable development.

Step 3:Parties agree to inject the outputs of this exercise into the negotiations over a comprehensive legally binding long-term climate regime (see Monday’s ECO for more on the mandate for these negotiations).

While much work will be required after Durban to turn this vision into reality, setting the goal is the first step on the road to collective survival.  Make it so!

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Scientific Reality Check Desperately Needed

Lack of ambition? Actions don’t meet the urgency? There is help for that: the Review agreed in Cancun is a key tool to re-inject ambition and a sense of urgency as well as collective responsibility into the climate regime – all of which seems to have been lost in recent years. It is the scientific reality check on our political debate.

That is why ECO insists that the terms of reference for the Review be finalized at Durban! This means that Parties will have to decide on a suitable body to conduct the Review and its further modalities as soon as possible. Getting the timing right is also critical: the Review must be completed in good time to provide action-oriented recommendations to COP 21 in 2015. The IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report will be one crucial input to the review; its Synthesis Report needs to be finalized before COP 20 in 2014 so that it, together with the reports from the individual IPCC working groups, can fully inform deliberations on the Review.

ECO reminds Parties that the Review is not a technical paper, but a report on the adequacy of the 2°C limit and the evidence base for possibly strengthening it to a 1.5°C limit. Moreover, there is already little doubt that the Review will illuminate the unconscionable inadequacy of the current pledges.

Of course, the Review will not be the only input available to Parties as they consider options for building a more comprehensive and ambitious climate regime. National communications and biennial reports, along with updated mitigation pledges from both developed and developing countries, will illuminate both the progress being made, as well as the remaining gap that must be closed if we are to keep global temperature increases below the 2°C agreed by leaders in Copenhagen, much less the 1.5°C limit called for by over 100 countries.

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