Tag: COP19

The time is now for gender equality in the climate change negotiations. And you ask why? -- doesn’t climate change affect us all?

Gender Equality: Making ProgressA common sense human perspective on climate change and its solutions needs to uphold the rights and respond to the diverse needs of the entire population. Gender is one of the foremost social categories in determining roles, experiences and perspectives in human society. If climate policies and solutions are to meet the needs of women and men, girls and boys, equally – and be effective – policy makers must understand these gendered dynamics.

It took 19 years for common sense to land on the agenda of the UNFCCC, but here it is.  The dynamic discussions on gender equality and climate change in the SBI, during both Tuesday’s workshop and Wednesday’s SBI contact group on the draft conclusions, highlighted great strides in recognizing the human face of climate change in this process.  Yes, there is progress in a sea of stagnation.

Now, Parties have an opportunity to take robust and innovative action towards the goal of gender-responsive climate policy, or to put it another way, policy that meets the needs of all individuals equally.

Recommendations are being tabled to incorporate gender guidelines into ongoing and existing initiatives, programmes and processes under the UNFCCC; tools for accountability to and reporting on gender responsive climate actions; calls for innovative funding, capacity building and networking to strengthen women as decision-makers in this process; and recommendations to further education and training on how to understand climate policy through a gender lens.

 

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The CDM Must Protect Human Rights

During the CDM workshop held this past June, Parties heard firsthand testimony from Weni Bagama, who spoke out passionately about the impacts of the Barro Blanco CDM project -- a 29 MW hydroelectric dam currently under construction on the Ngäbe indigenous territories in Panama.

Weni described how the company failed to adequately consult the affected communities, a clear violation of CDM rules and international human rights standards. Despite concerns raised regarding consultation and other human rights abuses during the validation process, the CDM executive board approved the project in January 2011.

Since then, James Anaya, the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, visited the affected communities to investigate the human rights abuses associated with the hydro project. In his concluding statement, the Special Rapporteur highlighted the Barro Blanco case, and clearly articulated the international human rights obligations that should apply. He further stated that this case is emblematic of the many development projects that are threatening the lives and livelihoods of indigenous peoples in Panama.  

Barro Blanco does not stand alone.  It is one of many projects that illustrate how the CDM has failed to ensure that projects are designed, implemented and monitored in a manner that protects human rights. In Cancun, parties agreed to ‘fully respect human rights in all climate change-related actions’. This has not yet been realized.

Now is the time to translate words into action. As part of the CDM review process to be concluded this week, ECO calls on Parties to establish safeguards that would help to prevent social and environmental harm, promote greater accountability, and ensure the effective participation of all stakeholders.

But don’t be fooled into thinking that the negotiations on the the CDM appeals procedure – now punted to the next session – can adequately protect the rights of affected communities. Now is the time for real reform to protect human rights in the CDM.

A side event on human rights in the CDM will take place today at 11:30 am in Room Cracow (Level 2, Zone B2), to discuss how the experiences and lessons learned from the CDM can inform the design of new market-based mechanisms.

 

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‘I am an Australian . . .’

I am an Australian. Which is quite an admission in these halls at the moment.

People keep coming up to me and asking what’s going on? Why is my government doing such terrible things on climate policy? Why are they so addicted to coal? Why are they so determined to go backwards? How can they trash their climate policies when the rest of the world is meeting here in Warsaw to try and move forward on climate? And particularly when our neighbouring countries, especially the Philippines, are suffering such devastation.

But the main question they ask me is - do the Australian people support all of this negativity and destruction?

The answer to that question is they categorically do not. The majority of Australian people do not support repealing the carbon price, trashing renewable energy support, dismantling the Climate Change Authority and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and winding back support for a long-term target of reducing carbon pollution by 80% by 2050.

If you want evidence of that look no further than the story of Australia’s Climate Commission. One of the first things the new government did was shut down this publicly funded body. But within only one week, over 20,000 Australians donated to get this vital organization back on its feet.

Ordinary Australians are keen for action on climate change because we’ve lived through its beginnings. We’ve seen “one in a hundred year floods” happen in Queensland twice in a period of just twelve months. And in the same period Queensland copped it with Cyclone Yasi – the worst cyclone in nearly 100 years. We’ve had the worst drought ever within the last decade – and parts of the country are in drought again. In Sydney, where I live, we just had devastating bushfires, in October – mid Spring! But of course none of this comes close to the devastation of Typhoon Haiyan.

Recent polling showed that the majority of Australians want a higher target (15% or 25%), as our country’s independent Climate Change Authority recommended. And 65% of people said they wanted stronger action on climate change.

The Coalition that Prime Minister Abbott leads have a long-standing policy of supporting this target range, set back in 2009, along with the conditions for moving up the range. We need immediate clarification from our the government on where they now stand.

Most Australians know it’s in our national interest to get serious about climate change. Not only because we along with so many of our neighbours are so vulnerable to climate change, but also because unless we increase our target and take more action, we’re in danger of falling behind the rest of the world.

So listen up, Prime Minister Abbott. We’re expecting you to come to the Ban Ki-moon Summit in September 2014. We’re expecting you to put a real target for 2020 on the table, along with long term goals for mitigation and climate finance that reflect Australia’s fair share. And we Australians will be pushing every day to make sure you do this. Starting this Sunday – where Australians in every corner of the country will be at a National Day of Action (www.theheat.org.au).

(This is an edited version of a statement by Julie-Anne Richards at yesterday’s CAN press conference.)  

 

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Farewell to Fossil Fuels

Fossil of the Day, COP19, Warsaw, 14.11.2013

 

It’s not enough to cap emissions or reduce their growth.

To prevent warming of 2°C or more, net emissions need to be brought to zero. This was a key message from the IPCC presentations in yesterday’s expert dialogue on the 2013-2015 review.

The IPCC concentration pathway that keeps below 2°C implies that fossil fuel emissions  must peak before 2020 and get to zero by 2070 (see IPCC WG1 Figure TS.19).  And it would have to be much faster if we don’t want to rely on negative emissions after 2070, or peak and decline doesn’t happen early enough, or we take into account “surprise factors” and feedbacks not included in the models.

On Tuesday, the International Energy Agency released their latest World Energy Outlook, again repeating their message that meeting the 2°C target (with about 50% likelihood) means that two thirds of proven fossil fuel reserves must remain in the ground. Furthermore, three quarters of the world’s proven but not yet in production oil reserves will have to remain untapped – leaving no space for Arctic oil.

ECO wonders when countries will truly accept this reality – that we simply need to get rid of fossil fuel altogether, and leave vast majority of the oil, coal and gas we’ve found in the ground.

 

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EU: where is your short-term mitigation ambition?

Closing the Short-Term EU Mitigation Gap

We all know that if the ambition gap is not closed or significantly narrowed by 2020, the door will close on many options to limit temperature increase to 1.5° C.

An interesting truth is that the EU has already met its 20% target for 2020 eight years ahead of schedule. Including international offset credits, European greenhouse gas emissions were actually down nearly 27% on 1990 levels in 2012!

Therefore, it is a no-regrets option to make these reductions legally binding domestically and internationally, and adopt a 40% reduction target for 2020. And the EU has a concrete opportunity to do so in the context of revising its commitments under the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol before May 2014.

A key policy instrument here is the EU Emissions Trading System, the world’s first international cap-and trade system, covering nearly half of the EU’s carbon emissions. The European carbon market must be reformed quickly as it is increasingly ineffective as a tool to control pollution. It suffers from an oversupply of almost two billion emission allowances, mainly due to a record use of international offset credits, which has caused the carbon price to crash to under less than 5 Euro.

What's needed is a bold decision to remove surplus allowances permanently from the market and to adopt a steeper emissions reduction trajectory.

Based on its experience with domestic targets, the EU is well-placed to call for a framework that hastens the roll-out of renewables and energy efficiency through enhanced international collaboration.
The EU should ensure its 2020 climate and energy package demonstrates how ambition leads to success. At stake is not only the EU’s credibility but indeed the integrity of its climate policy.

 

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Developing countries behind growing push for stronger climate action in Warsaw

[Warsaw – Poland] – November 13, 2013: Momentum is building for a mechanism to deal with the loss and damage caused by climate change to be established within the UN system, according to policy experts from Climate Action Network at the Warsaw negotiations. 

Sven Harmeling, from CARE, said more than 130 developing countries had put forward a proposal today for a international institutional mechanism that could, for example, channel fast financial support - beyond initial emergency relief - to countries devastated by climate impacts such as tropical storms.  
 
The mechanism could assess the risk countries face, and provide new knowledge to help countries cope with ever more extreme climate impacts and to rehabilitate environments and communities after losses are experienced.
“Now that developing countries have taken the lead, it is up to developed countries to seriously engage with this comprehensive proposal,” Harmeling said. 
The increased momentum behind loss and damage comes as the most vulnerable nations called for 2014 to be the year of delivering increased ambition on climate action. 
Greenpeace’s head of delegation Martin Kaiser said that carbon pollution levels had to be reduced now, not only to keep the door ajar to a safe climate, but also to boost political impetus towards the comprehensive global climate action plan that will be signed in Paris in 2015. 
“Here in Warsaw, rich countries can commit right away to boost deployment of renewable energy and energy saving measures as put forward by the Alliance of Small Island States,” Kaiser said.
“Failure to aggregate climate, renewable energy and energy saving targets here in Warsaw sends a cynical message that government leaders aren’t serious about climate action, but are handcuffed by the dirty fossil fuel lobby,” he said. 
The need to reduce emissions now was thrown into stark relief by the tabling of legislation by the Australian Government to repeal that country’s carbon price, said Julie-Anne Richards of Climate Action Network Australia. 
“Dismantling our already weak climate action measures is against our national interest not only because we are so vulnerable to climate change, with record breaking floods, fires and droughts plaguing the continent, but also we’re in danger of falling behind the rest of the world,” she said. 
 
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Australia! Please Explain!

Australian PM Tony Abbott said yesterday that he will cut greenhouse gases by no more than 5% below 2000 levels by 2020. This shock move would back away from Australia's longstanding commitment to a 15% to 25% target range.

However, the PM has previously indicated that his "off the cuff" remarks can't really be taken as gospel. Sometimes, you see, he gets carried away in the heat of the moment, and so only written statements could really be trusted as actual policy.

Obviously, it would be more than just a smidge of bad karma if Australia would walk away from the higher end of its target range at the same time as the worst ever typhoon wreaked havoc on their neighbours, the Philippines. This is particularly notable as the PM’s Coalition has endorsed the 15% to 25% range on more than one occasion – twice so far in 2013 alone.

Now let’s turn to the notion that Australia would review the conditions for moving to the 15% level because it is not "looking to make further binding commitments in the absence of very serious like binding commitments from other countries".

ECO suggests maybe Australia should have a word with their red-white-and-blue Umbrella Group mate. Even the US has committed to a 17% reduction by 2020 – weak as that may be, it’s now higher than Australia's 5% including adjustment for a different start date.  And as the Australian Climate Change Authority made clear only a week ago, Australia's 5% target puts it behind not only the US, but also China, in terms of targets and action.  Imagine that!

So we assume that this was simply one of those Abbott-branded “off-the-cuff gaffs” – and the government will promply set the record straight. Maybe you might ask a friendly Aussie delegate how that is going.

Surely, in the face of the devastation wrought by Typhoon Haiyan, Australia will move to at least the top end of its range and – need we add, commit as well to substantial future climate finance.

 

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Climate Policy Experts Update on Negotiations as Countries Air Opinions on Loss and Damage in Wake of Typhoon

Warsaw, Poland - November 13, 2013:  NGO experts will offer a briefing to media today on developments in UN climate negotiations being held in Warsaw which have been overshadowed this week by the tragic typhoon in the Philippines which will cost that country USD14 billion in loses, not to mention the human cost.

They will detail ways in which the recent super typhoon has changed the dynamic here in the workshops and plenary sessions of COP19, including in a workshop yesterday on the loss and damage mechanism which is expected to be agreed here in Warsaw. 

In addition, countries have made their voices heard in a workshop on how the urgent need to cut carbon pollution in the short term is starting to influence the kind of global agreement that will be signed in 2015 to deal with climate change after 2020.

Meanwhile, the Australian Government continues its efforts to dismantle climate action, tabling legislation overnight to repeal its carbon tax. 
 

Who:

  • Sven Harmeling, Climate Change Advocacy Coordinator, CARE
  • Martin Kaiser, head of delegation, Greenpeace    
  • Julie-Anne Richards, international coordinator, Climate Action Network Australia

What: Climate policy experts to brief journalists on developments in the negotiations in Warsaw.

When: 11am CET, today Wednesday November 13th. 

Where: COP19 Venue, National Stadium Warsaw, Press Conference Room 2 located on Level -2/Zone E6, right next to Plenary 2.

The press conference will also be webcast live here: http://unfccc4.meta-fusion.com/kongresse/cop19/templ/ovw_live.php?id_kongressmain=259

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Japan: Cool Earth 50 or Scorched Earth?

Rumour has it that that Japan, the third largest economy in the world, is going to announce its new 2020 target here in Warsaw. This would be Japan’s contribution to closing the gigatonne gap, right?

But ECO is puzzled by the target number circulating in media reports. At first we thought Japan must have made a mistake on where to put the decimal point.  But it seems the number really will be one digit smaller than it should be.

In fact, if the reported number is true, Japan would be increasing its emissions above 1990 levels.  Surely it cannot be true, Japan! ECO doesn’t want to believe wild rumors and instead expects Japan will present a target that honors the name of "Cool Earth 50" -- a plan the current Prime Minister originally released to reduce CO2 emissions by 50% by 2050.

The devastating catastrophe in Fukushima taught us that nuclear is not the solution for climate change. It is good to hear that nuclear is not included in the target the government is considering, but that cannot be the reason for a low target.
ECO hopes that two and a half years after the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami, Japan finally shifts its energy development fully to renewables and takes the lead in raising the level of climate ambition.

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Fully Branded COP

Everyone needs to take part in the battle against climate change, and we all agree that includes the private sector. Still, it was a shock to learn that the COP Presidency invited fossil industries to sponsor these climate talks, even while these very same companies do their utmost to fight against climate policies.

Corporate sponsorships to 'brand' stadiums have been around for a while.  All the same, ECO wasn't quite ready for this new trend at the COP. Branding is all about visibility and alliances. And money. So what message are we seeing here in Warsaw?

Just look around you. Fossil industry logos are everywhere in the conference center – on the water dispensers, in the meeting hall and on the welcome bags for COP guests. And the USB stick – you guessed it!  It’s full of presentations about the “excellent” environmental performance of these companies! But somehow the most important facts are missing:

* Alstom and PGE (the Polish majority state-owned energy utility) plan to build a huge new 1,800 MW coal power plant in Poland – a monster which would emit about 350 million tonnes of CO2 in its lifetime.

* The car maker BMW made headlines recently because of its generous donations to Ms. Merkel’s party, the political player who watered down the latest EU-wide regulation to reduce CO2 pollution from cars.  

* Arcelor Mittal, a global behemoth, was not only a tireless lobbyist against ambitious EU climate legislation, but has also been vocally against carbon pricing regulation in South Africa.

Of course, bags and pens aren’t really what we need from these companies. Instead, the best gift would be to keep the fossils in the ground – and fossil interests out of climate negotiations.

 

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