Tag: Gap

Keep Ambition on the Agenda(s)!

ECO is gravely concerned that the Emissions Gap continues to grow, and that there is insufficient political will to close it as urgently as possible.

ECO insists that we must have greater action from developed countries under the Kyoto Protocol and LCA, and is concerned that some countries appear to be running away from these commitments.

ECO maintains that a work plan on pre-2020 ambition is also vital under the ADP, and a key element of the Durban package. This work plan should lead to urgent, specific, concrete decisions that work to close the Emissions Gap at COP18 and each subsequent COP.

ECO understands that this ADP work plan on scaling-up pre-2020 ambition will be implemented under the existing legal regime of the Framework Convention and its Kyoto Protocol, and other existing legal frameworks.

This ADP work plan should ensure enhanced mitigation commitments by developed countries and actions by developing countries, com-parability of effort among developed countries, and means of implementation for developing countries, as expressed in the Bali Action Plan.

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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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Closing the Giga-silence Gap

In the Kyoto plenary yesterday, we got a taste of how things sound when there is no more time to defer decisions for another year. After all the talk of gaps, urgency and the need to set rules before targets, there’s nowhere else to move for Australia and New Zealand.

Those two were left alone in Durban as the only countries still unable to make up their minds on a second commitment period. They remained unwilling, still, to move ahead with the Durban ambition coalition, and be part of an agreement that can give us hope that we’ll close the emissions gap.

And not willing, either, to attract the ire of the world by formally withdrawing, like Canada, or refusing to participate, like Japan and Russia. It’s decision time for everyone, and the sooner Australia stops dithering about Kyoto, the sooner everyone can get on and talk about the dozens of other matters jostling for attention at the UNFCCC.

We know that Australia has a price on carbon legislated and will adhere to the Kyoto rules. We know they have a 2050 target in place to reduce their emissions by 80%. We know they want to participate in carbon markets, and for a new legal agreement to be forged that can keep greenhouse gas concentrations to 450ppm. There's really no reason for them to delay any more.

As for all the other Kyoto countries, the challenge was unequivocally put at yesterday’s plenary: the only circumstances where an eight year commitment period is acceptable is if ambition is sufficient to meet two degrees.

The only way to participate in carbon markets is to have a binding target to reduce emissions. And the only way to keep the talks for a new and comprehensive legally binding agreement on track and on schedule is to put your name down on the Kyoto willing list.

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Ambition and Equity how to close the gap

a CAN Europe Side Event featuring Michiel Schaeffer from Climate Analytics, Sivan Kartha from Stockholm Environment Institute, Artur Runge-Metzger from The European Commission and Tim Gore from Oxfam, produced by Ulriikka Aarnio


Premieres: Wed 16 May · 18.15-19.45 · Metro (Ministry of Transport)


"After just one screening, I knew all I needed to about closing the ambition and equity gaps. And I finally understood this graph! 4 Stars!" -- Ludwig   

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Launching the ‘Ambition Work Programme’


We are hearing delegates are having sleepless nights because of the yawning gap between current mitigation pledges and what’s needed for a credible 2° C pathway. Perhaps not all of them are genuinely worried because of the implications for humanity.

Some may just feel uncomfortable to be reminded that they have not done the homework they gave themselves back in Cancun. Developed countries promised to look at options and ways to increase levels of ambition, and then actually increase them. It really isn’t a hard concept to grasp.

There may be some further relief in paras 36-38 and paras 48-51 of last night’s new texts. Both texts include a key line: the recognition of the existence of the ambition gap. Parties that attempt to block this recognition into a COP decision can expect to be in a bright spotlight on this matter.

The next logical step is contained in the new text on developed country ambition: to launch work to address (as in “close”) the gap.

The new UNEP report clearly identifies this possibility. But instead, we see some tendencies toward stalling rather than making progress towards the 2° C objective. Work needs to start now, as every year of further waffling and delaying tactics will make the task much harder.

Closing the ambition gap will require effort on all sides -- both developed and developing countries.

Developing countries have pledged more mitigation until 2020 than developed countries but can do more (and certainly must be provided sufficient and reliable support to do so). Not all developing countries have pledged their NAMAs yet, and some countries may well be able to increase ambition of already pledged NAMAs.

It would be really good for the work programme to have a deadline set for COP 18 in Qatar as well as a set of clearly articulated outcomes. Otherwise we could end up here forever (or at least until the world melts around us).

By COP18, Parties should have studied all possible options to close the ambition gap, and developed countries should have moved up their pledges in line with science, i.e. to more than 40% below 1990 levels by 2020.

As for inputs, why not ask parties to provide submissions on how to share out the 25-40% reductions, have the Secretariat compile a technical paper, and then negotiate the targets and how to square them with the existing pledges.

In turn, developing countries can register NAMAs that will result in emissions reductions well below business as usual (with sufficient support).

Much work remains to operationalise the NAMA Registry, to establish guidelines for NAMAs, and to register both NAMAs and support. Once these not insignificant tasks are completed (with substantial progress when we meet in Bonn in May 2012), the Secretariat will need to assess whether there is a shortfall in support, and how much this amounts to.

One element of the ambition work programme that Parties should launch here in Durban includes those low carbon strategies that developed countries should launch and implement to achieve near-zero decarbonisation by 2050.

And developing countries need to be encouraged (whilst receiving the support they need) to develop their own strategies. SBSTA should turn toward working out the guidelines for those strategies. All this would provide a significant first step in a more productive

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Fossil Subsidies: Hiding in Plain View

Looking to fill gaps?  Eliminate fossil-fuel subsidies!

On the way to Durban, ECO was rereading some of the past articles that have graced its pages. One that is particularly striking and poignant is from Bonn in June 2011. Title: “Developed country UNFCCC climate finance commitments in 2013”.  Article text: “0”. 

It is also striking just how many articles there have been on the need to close the gigatonne gap and stay as far below 2° C as possible.  If only there was a way to kill two birds (figuratively, of course, as we would not want to upset the CBD) with one stone – oh wait,there it is – eliminate fossil-fuel subsidies!

The OECD recently estimated that USD $45 to $75 billion a year has been spent on fossil fuel subsidies in its member countries in recent years.  And the IEA in its 2011 World Energy Outlook finds another USD $400 billion globally in consumption subsidies. 

Imagine if much of that money was used to support renewable energy, energy efficiency, adaptation and other climate-related measures so sorely needed?  Capitalization of the Green Fund would be a cinch! 

As for the gigatonne gap, a joint report by IEA, OECD, the World Bank and OPEC (yes you read that right) showed that phasing out subsidies to fossil-fuel consumption alone could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 6.9% in 2020. That’s “more than Kyoto” right there and is only a portion of the subsidies that need to go.  (Of course, to assuage concerns over energy access, any phasing out of consumption subsidies in developing countries needs to be supported by climate finance to support safe renewable forms of energy – though we also know that consumption subsidies are socially regressive with only 8% of that $400 billion reaching the poorest 20%, according to the IEA).

So it is thrilling to see that “Removing fossil fuel subsidies and/or reporting thereof” is listed as a means to increase the level of ambition of Parties in the “matters relating to paras. 36-38” text.  As ECO has stressed many times before, the current targets and actions pledged by Parties are insufficient to keep warming below 2° C, let alone 1.5° C. 

Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem likely the gap will be completely closed in Durban.  So it is essential that the process next year further clarifying targets and actions and closing that gap include the consideration of phasing out fossil fuel subsidies. 

Phasing out fossil fuel subsidies can also contribute to efforts by developing countries to achieve a significant deviation from business as usual emissions by 2020, again with the proviso of climate finance to ensure energy access for all.  ECO expects to see this linkage made explicit in COP decision text adopted at here in Durban. MRV negotiators (hint, hint!) may also wish to draw inspiration from the OECD’s inventory on fossil fuel subsidies and how this could be incorporated and improved upon by reporting under the UNFCCC.

CAN Talking Points - Mitigation - June 2011


A.  Clarify assumptions behind pledges:Developed countries must clarify their assumptions on domestic efforts and the use of carbon offsets, LULUCF accounting and AAU carry-over. Developing countries should provide information on key factors underlying BAU projections, e.g. energy use or economic development. They should also clarify what emissions savings they plan to achieve independently and what additional savings could be achieved with support.

B.   Close loopholes and agree common rules:Parties should seek to minimise or close off loopholes, such as bogus LULUCF accounting rules, AAU carry-over or new hot air from weak 2020 pledges in certain developed countries. This must lead to agreement on improved common accountingand reporting rules showing the true emissions of each country.

C.  Clarify conditions and move to the high end of pledges:By Durban at the latest, developed countries must move to the high end of their pledged ranges. Developed countries with conditional (upper end of) pledges must clarify these conditions, identify which conditions been met and indicate what is needed to meet the remaining conditions.

  1. Increase overall effort to get the world on a 1.5°C/2°C pathway:By Durban at the latest, Parties must begin negotiations to increase overall ambition, beyond the high end of current pledges[1]. This must lead to developed countries moving towards more than 40% reductions by 2020, but also developing countries increasing their overall effort, supported through international climate finance.
  2. Make progress on Low Emission Development Strategies:Between now and Durban, Parties should, through additional workshops, develop common templates and guidelines and review procedures for the Low Emission Development Strategies.

[1]Even in the best of all cases (countries implementing the high end of their pledges using strict accounting rules) global emissions are likely to be between 5 (UNEP) and 10 (Climate Action Tracker) GtCO2eq above what they should be for a 1.5°C/2°C emissions pathway.



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