Tag: COP 17

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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Getting the Durban Deal Done

ECO has been clear in its call for a three-part outcome in Durban: adoption of a strong second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol; a mandate for negotiation of a more comprehensive and ambitious longer-term climate regime based on both scientific adequacy and the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capacities; and a package of decisions facilitating near-term action on all four building blocks of the Bali Action Plan and implementation of the Cancun Agreements.

Let’s make something else clear: building a long-term structure for fair and effective international action on climate change is important, but what really matters is meaningful action supporting peoples and communities already suffering the negative effects of climate change, and collective emission reductions at the scale and pace needed to avert even more catastrophic impacts in the future. The best legally binding treaty instruments in the world don’t amount to much without emission reduction ambition in line with the science and financial resources commensurate with the need.

 Coming out of Panama, there has been some progress in developing draft text on many of the elements of the Bali Action Plan and the Cancun Agreements.  But the prospects for linked agreements on extension of the Kyoto Protocol and the negotiations on a longer-term legally-binding instrument are not bright, absent significant changes in the negotiating positions of a number of key countries.  Let’s look at them in turn.

 EU.  Fair or not, the EU holds the key to the Durban outcome.  If the EU does not come to Durban with the clear goal of adopting a second commitment period (not some fuzzy political commitment) the Kyoto Protocol will wither and die.  On Thursday, the EU laid out a clear set of elements for negotiations over the longer-term treaty that would assure that a KP second commitment period is a bridge to a more comprehensive and ambitious legal framework. EU environment ministers need to be careful not to set overly stringent conditions for such negotiations when they meet next Monday in Luxembourg.  

 Australia and New Zealand. While the view from atop the fence is nice, these countries need to get off of it and make clear they are ready to join with the EU, Norway, and others in embracing a second KP commitment period.

 Japan, Russia, Canada.  These countries claim they are bailing out of Kyoto because it doesn’t cover a large enough portion of global emissions.  They need to come to Durban prepared to reconsider their position if agreement can be reached on launching negotiations on a longer-term treaty regime, or risk being perceived as multilateral treaty-killers, not treaty-builders.

 US. The one developed country that stayed out of Kyoto, in part because the Protocol didn’t include major developing countries, claims it is willing to enter into negotiations on a new legally-binding instrument.  But it has set very stringent conditions for the launch of such negotiations, while acknowledging that these conditions almost guarantee no agreement on a negotiating mandate in Durban.  Meanwhile, the US is struggling to meet its already inadequate emissions reduction commitment, and has been reluctant to discuss ways of meeting the $100 billion by 2020 annual climate finance goal its president committed to in Copenhagen.  At the very least, the US must contribute to such discussions in Durban, not attempt to block them.     

The LDCs and AOSIS. The moral power of the most vulnerable countries needs to be heard, highlighting both the existential crisis they face and the reprehensible failure of those responsible for the problem to face up to it.  These groups support both the extension of the KP and a mandate for negotiation of a new legally-binding instrument; they must continue to work together in Durban to achieve both of these goals.

The BASIC countries.All four of these countries are leaders in taking domestic actions to limit their emissions growth as their economies continue to rapidly develop.  Their leadership is also needed on the current fight to preserve a rules-based multilateral climate treaty regime.  They should certainly continue to demand a second Kyoto commitment period.  But they should also call the US’s bluff, by indicating their willingness to negotiate a more comprehensive long-term treaty regime including binding commitments for all but the Least Developed Countries, as long as it’s truly based on principles of equity and common but differentiated responsibility.              

 All countries must come to Durban prepared to negotiate in a spirit of compromise if we are to achieve the ambitious package of decisions needed to address the mounting climate crisis.  Ministers must take full advantage of their time together before Durban, at both the pre-COP ministerial consultations and the likely pre-Durban meeting of the Major Economies Forum, to explore constructive solutions to the current roadblocks to such a package of decisions.  Then in Durban, they must work actively under the guidance of the South African presidency to bring the deal home.  Their citizens need – and expect – nothing less.

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Adapting for Durban

ECO has noted that adaptation negotiators have worked seriously to make decent progress on the Adaptation Committee in the last days here in Panama. The time for adding new text suggestions should be over now. Parties should sort out differences, produce the negotiating text and leave only the political issues to be tackled in Durban.

COP 17 taking place on African soil is just seven weeks away and ECO is probably not the only one to note that adaptation is crucial for the African continent. Therefore insufficient progress on this issue would be an bad signal for Africa and the whole world. In no circumstances should adaptation be held hostage by other issues and used as a bargaining chip. The Durban conference must advance the implementation of the Cancun Adaptation Framework, which ECO acknowledges is not an easy task. In Durban, Parties need to finalize the modalities and guidelines of National Adaptation Plans; operationalize the Adaptation Committee; concretize the work programme on Loss and Damage and make specific decisions on activities for the next phase of the Nairobi Work Programme. ECO recommends that those few Parties that have for so long stalled and delayed the negotiations on adaptation change their behavior, otherwise they will be to blame for any failure of the adaptation track.

ECO hopes that parties will come to Durban prepared to reach an agreement on adaptation that will give Africa, the world’s poor and vulnerable peoples and communities and their ecosystems the much needed confidence to combat climate change.

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NGO Participation in the COP17 Process

ECO was particularly pleased to hear that NGOs were invited to actively participate in the informal consultations on expectations for Durban by the upcoming South African Presidency – especially since they have been mostly excluded from negotiating sessions here in Bonn. However, this pleasure soon turned into dismay when it became clear that NGOs would not be getting a chance to share their views despite the fact the South African Ambassador started the session by expressing South Africa’s commitment to civil society participation. Apparently, the UNFCCC rules and procedures do not allow for observer interventions until all parties have spoken. Well, here is the dilemma – at the last count ECO found that there are 195 Parties under this Convention!

ECO has been informed by the Secretariat that NGOs can participate in the follow-up session to this consultation, to be held today. And here is the rub – they have allocated 9 minutes in total for observer constituencies which gives ENGO’s one minute to speak. Eco is wondering how they will fit in all the expectations they have for Durban in that time.

ECO was also interested to hear that the Ambassador and a number of Parties made reference to South Africa’s unique history – its struggle against Apartheid. ECO would like to remind everyone that this struggle was fought and won by peoples’ movements, both in South Africa and by those in solidarity across the globe.  ECO hopes that South Africa, as incoming Presidency of COP 17, will introduce a new culture around NGO participation in the UNFCCC processes. The lessons from the struggle against Apartheid are rich and would only help strengthen this process. Critical to this would be to ensure the real and meaningful participation of civil society, both in the processes leading up to Durban and at COP 17 itself, especially after the Cancún Agreement has mandated South Africa to “undertake inclusive and transparent consultations in order to facilitate the work towards the success of that session.”  Amandla Ngawethu! (Power to the People)

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