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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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.

Does Anyone think that there is no gap?

Hearing no objection it is so decided. So can ECO take it then, that, thanks to the challenging question by the European Union in Thursday’s workshop on developed country mitigation pledges, there is universal agreement that there is a gap? Fine.

So let’s move to the next step: looking at ways to increase ambition (to close the said gap), which was among the agreed purposes of the workshop, yet tacitly but plainly avoided by most developed country presenters. The European Union, at least, made a good faith attempt on the issue, and, yes, including more gases and sectors is among the things to look at. Yet ECO missed a slide explaining what the MRV- able conditions the EU has to move to (at least!) a 30% target. Instead, we were slightly amused when told that even the 20% target would be hard work. ECO reminds Parties that current EU legislation allows for more than half of the effort needed between 2013 and 2020 to be covered by carbon offsets instead of domestic action. That would also mean that with current emission levels (-16% below 1990 levels), no more domestic action is needed until 2020.

Yet, ECO’s readers will know the story of the one-eyed among the blind. Canada merrily implied that its pathetic target be comparable to the EU’s (considering that Canada is suggesting an increase over 1990 levels), and smartly dodged the question by a delegate how a target that is even weaker than its current Kyoto target could possibly constitute progress towards meeting the 1.5°C/2°C challenge. Canada’s Southern neighbours had, likewise, not much to offer, except maybe the notion that one needn’t be worried about the gap now because the review could maybe fix it later. ECO wonders if the US understands that leaving the gap unaddressed now, will require very, very steep reductions to make up for the delay, and if the US will be the country to champion that.

Delegates planning to attend today’s spin- off groups on developed country mitigation might want to keep in mind the conclusion by the co-chairs at the end of the workshop: that there is a gap, that there is some resolve to address it, and that further work needs to be done. ECO couldn’t agree more and suggests a four step approach for today’s informal sessions: (1) Developed countries make clear what their net domestic emissions will be in 2020; (2) Parties agree to close the loopholes by Durban, e.g. on hot air or carbon offset use, and have Parties not use bogus LULUCF projections meant to hide emissions but use historic reference levels and cover all emissions (see separate article in this issue); (3) Developed countries move to the high end of their pledges, by Durban, as a first important step; and (4) begin addressing the remaining gigatonne gap, by recognizing its size and a firm resolve in Durban to close it through a fair sharing of the globally needed mitigation effort, based on responsibility for emissions and capability to cut them.

And now: it is so decided!

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