Tag: Emission targets

Don't Drop the Ball, Japan!

Even with help from friends and governments around the world, ECO can’t quite convey its outrage at Japan’s latest actions. The newly revised 2020 target announced by Japan yesterday is a 3.1% increase of carbon emissions compared to 1990 levels. That’s a huge increase from Japan’s Kyoto first commitment period target (-6% from 1990). The new target allows Japan to revert to business-as-usual by 2020. Forget about climate – welcome to the race to the bottom.

Even more surprising is that Japan seems to consider the target ‘ambitious’ based on its announcement materials. ECO wonders if Japan forgot the qualifier ‘raising’ that goes along with the ‘ambition.’ It’s simple maths, really. Targets should be in line with reducing the risk of devastating climate change (staying well below 2°C). When Japan decreased its target, it abdicated its ambition, further widening the gigatonne gap and leaving it for others will have to fill.  
A growing number of people are fasting with a hope to have meaningful outcome from this COP, but Japan is betraying them and putting vulnerable countries in greater danger.

According to the Climate Action Tracker, the revision of the target will add another 356 MtCO2e/year to the atmosphere and widen the global emissions gap by 3-4%. That is a measurable burden for all those who live with the reality of climate change every day, when the world instead needs decisive and immediate actions to raise ambition, not to lower it.   

The Government of Japan attributes the rollback of ambition to the shutdown of nuclear power plants, but that isn’t the real story. There are plenty of options such as energy efficiency and renewable energy that can reduce Japan’s greenhouse gas emissions in order for Japan to keep its 25% reduction pledge.

What’s missing in Japan is political will and a heart to care; in its place, a soul-less industrial lobby. The official responses to Japan from the EU, AOSIS and the UK declared deep disappointment and cautions about the ramifications on international mitigation action. People rushed to Japanese embassies to show their condemnation.

Japan should know this will render it being considered irrelevant in these talks.  It’s heading in the direction of its Brolly colleague Canada.  It no longer has skin in the game, nothing to play with and no political leverage.  Japan needs to reconsider its target immediately, upward and forward.

Still, there is one more thing. This has been announced as a "tentative" target. In due course, a chance remain for Japan to come back with a truly ambitious target in order to build momentum to close the gap – and not relying on or making excuses because of nuclear. Don’t drop the ball, Japan!



What’s expected from the US

Earlier this week, ECO started exploring ideas for what two of the three main groups of countries – Kyoto Annex 1 countries and developing countries - need to decide to bring to the table to enable a successful Durban climate summit. These articles have of course been far from comprehensive, as there are other important issues where movement is also required from these Parties.

As ECO has repeatedly stated (is it sinking in yet?): all developed countries currently with QELROs under the KP should continue to have (more ambitious!!) QERCs under the KP for the post 2012 period, with accounting rules that close the loopholes and increase environmental integrity of the Protocol.

Developing countries need to show their commitment to adequate action by agreeing a mandate for a future legally binding agreement to help ensure the “full, effective and sustained implementation” of the Convention. This should come, in the form of a Protocol or other legal instrument, respecting the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities.

Now let’s talk about the third “group” -- the United States, for whom the mandate is no real concession.  It is essential that architecture is built under the Convention track that allows comparability of efforts of the US and other developed countries, so that there can be clarity on the overall (in)adequacy of these efforts through time.  To mitigate against the chaos of a pledge and review (4C+) world, there also needs to be clear expectations for a more ambitious level of US effort on both mitigation and finance.

All countries agreed in Bali that the efforts of all developed countries should be comparable. To avoid comparing apples and oranges, tons and tonnes, or emission reductions and loopholes, this means that common accounting standards will be an essential part of the mix that these countries will need to agree to in Durban. Since the negotiations under the Kyoto Protocol have already laid the groundwork, there is no earthly reason why they should not be the basis for the common accounting regime for developed countries under the Convention track (for all that the US is kicking and screaming like a spoiled toddler at the very thought of it)..

There are other key MRV elements that are also needed to ensure the agreed-to comparability. The main guidelines for the rest of the International Assessment & Review system need to be agreed, as well as the guidelines, assumptions and metrics for the biennial reports, including for finance. In addition, all developed countries should put forward Low Carbon Development Strategies, as agreed in Cancun, and these should be integrated into the MRV framework.

For Durban to be a success, all Parties must come to the table prepared to build upon the existing architecture of the Convention and Protocol, by ensuring the continued viability of the Kyoto Protocol, agreeing that the Convention track will result in a comprehensive and ambitious legally-binding instrument, and not allowing the regime to fall into the carboniferous pit of every country doing only what it can be bothered to do, and reporting on it, if at all, as it sees fit.

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