Tag: June Bonn 2014

SDGs? Whazit? And what’s climate got to do with it?

In a land far far away, a bunch of busy bees are currently negotiating the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This brainchild of the Rio+20 Summit should provide for a successor to the MDGs, and is supposed to end poverty and bring on sustainable development. Since March last year, the members of the Open Working Group on SDGs have been working on an inspirational, aspirational and otherwise brilliant ‘To Do List’ (the goals) for international development over the next 15 years. Their recommendations are due to be delivered to the UN General Assembly by September 2014. The next round of negotiations starts on 16 June.

What will end up on the goals list, depends on a battle that is yet to come. There are already some things in place like gender, health, education, food and agriculture, energy and water. There’s also some new kids on the block too, like climate change, ecosystems, forests and cities. Amongst all of these, the climate change goal is having the hardest time staying alive. At the moment the working group’s report’s zero draft has it on life support but a number of powerful countries are trying hard to pull the plug. These murderous intentions are only being kept at bay by a handful of brave countries and groups, like the LDCs, some island states, Bangladesh and Guatemala. Far too many others are just watching the battle from the sidelines.

It’s time to do some soul searching on why a climate goal is worth having.

Is it because addressing climate change is a pre-requisite to ending poverty and achieving sustainable development? Or because the IPCC has hammered it home, time and time again, that climate change disproportionately affects the poorest and that action cannot wait another minute? Or because some leaders agree that climate change is the greatest threat to development? Heads of States will find it hard to credibly justify the SDGs in September 2015 without climate change goals while academia, civil society and even the private sector (and of course, ECO too!) realise that this is the most pressing challenge of our generation .

Now that we get that, what’s that got that to do with the UNFCCC?

A set of climate-blind SDGs agreed in September 2015 wouldn’t set a nice stage for an ambitious climate agreement a few weeks later in Paris would it? Since the SDGs cover areas like energy, agriculture, water, forests, oceans, cities and economic growth, they can, and will, massively contribute to both mitigation and adaptation action. If you strive for low-carbon and climate-resilient DEVELOPMENT, you might throw the occasional side glance at those DEVELOPMENT goals.

Both processes are currently looking at the same pots for money and they intersect during implementation where (hopefully!) the same national strategies will guide climate and development action.

For ECO, it seems pretty straightforward that climate change must be strongly and credibly reflected in the SDGs and we want to encourage the Bonn clique to connect with their mates in New York - go!

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Basking in the double glow of the copious lighting and the bright sunlight shining into the “computer centre greenhouse” today, Ludwig was cool as a cucumber. Thanks to the temporary air conditioning system snaking its way in from the back garden. Merely three metres from this newly arrived AC-monster, Ministers (or rather their stand-ins) waxed lyrical (except for you Trig!) on the subject of stepping up climate action, burrowing into their extra layers against the arctic conditions. The Maritim has been home to the UNFCCC’s intersessionals since the Punic Wars (says Ludwig). But its management has apparently been incurious as to some recent developments in this world of ours. With a major renovation now on the cards, perhaps the most concrete thing that can come out of this session would be for the UNFCCC to call for a passive re-construction. Certainly passivity is an area in which Parties have shown themselves to excel.

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Paljon onnea Suomi!

ECO congratulates Finland on its brand new Climate Change Act. The Act gives legislative power for an emissions reduction target by 2050 of at least 80%. ECO would have preferred at least 95%, but hey, this is a leap in the right direction for Finland, which hasn’t shown such strong climate leadership in the past. Moving forward, Finland’s climate policy will not depend on political fluctuations. We applaud the long-term thinking! Please open your vodka bottles, and join ECO in a toast: "Kippis!"

Now, who’s next? If a cold, isolated country with lots of energy intensive industry can do it, so can you!

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Fresh air for fresh brains

ECO hopes that a fresh breeze of air in Bonn will give the Chinese delegation a break from Beijing’s filthy air, and perhaps a fresh perspective on the negotiations.

Last year, 92% of China’s cities failed to meet national air quality standards. The government has since mandated provinces to curb coal consumption, the biggest source of air pollution, in particular of PM2.5 (particles smaller than 2.5 mm in diameter). A number of provinces have put forward specific coal control measures and some have even pledged to reduce absolute consumption by 2017. The aggregate of these provincial measures will reduce the country’s coal consumption by 655 million tonnes from a business as usual scenario by 2020.

ECO knows that there are significant co-benefits between addressing air pollution and mitigating greenhouse gases emissions. Over the past decade, China’s coal burning has accounted for half of the world’s CO2 emission growth. Slashing coal power generation will not only be good for the Chinese people, but also for the global community.

Provincial cuts to coal-based power generation will translate to roughly 1,300 million tonnes of emissions reductions, equivalent to the combined total annual emissions of Australia and Canada. If China delivers on these plans with a full implementation and by expanding its coal caps to broader regions, then its emissions pathway will be almost in line with the IEA’s 2°C scenario. Other countries must do their fair share to if China is to have confidence moving forward.

ECO thinks that the Minister’s further clarification on China’s proposed submission by March 2015 is a timely step in the right direction that needs to be built upon. China should also communicate its domestic successes here in Bonn to help build momentum in the international climate negotiations. More transparency will help build trust, enhance collective ambition, and might just allow everyone to breathe more easily.

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[A]daptation in the [A]DP

ECO would like to remind Parties that “adaptation to climate change” represents an immediate and urgent global priority. The 2015 agreement must make a significant contribution to deliver an adaptation approach that adequately responds to the immediate needs of, and future threats to, the most vulnerable developing countries and ecosystems. This can only be achieved if the agreement recognises that insufficient mitigation ambition directly increases adaptation needs as well as loss and damage.

The Cancun Adaptation Framework (CAF) has given adaptation a strong voice under the UNFCCC. For the 2015 agreement, Parties need to continue to pursue the CAF principles and this begins with a review of the CAF in light of what has been, and will be, delivered on the mitigation front. This directly determines adaptation needs.

The National Adaptation Plan process is one of the major elements of the CAF that should be part of the 2015 agreement. For that to be achieved, substantive progress on further development and implementation must be made well in advance of Paris.

ECO welcomes Parties’ proposal to include global adaptation goals in the 2015 agreement, especially on specific actions and finance.

Adaptation needs to be treated with the same priority as mitigation when it comes to finance and means of implementation. Do you remember when developer countries pledged USD$100 billion per annum by 2020 in Copenhagen? ECO does. Making $50 billion of public finance available must remain a key ask for developing countries and the steps towards achieving it should be taken NOW!


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