1st Place Fossil of the Day to the US and 2nd Place Fossil to Australia and New Zealand
The 1st place Fossil goes to the US for refusing to even discuss its mitigation and finance commitments under the Bali Action Plan.
In the developed country mitigation spin-off group yesterday, the US stated its disagreement to even discuss such vital elements for developed country action in the pre-2020 period as comparability – which includes common accounting – addressing the ambition gap and compliance. Important as workshops and technical papers are, they do not build a transparent regime that enables countries to show that they are acting in good faith to reduce their emissions. The good news is that he US did not state disagreement to discussing a QELRO for itself, so we look forward to seeing the US’s domestic carbon budget to 2020!
In the LCA finance contact group yesterday, some developing countries asked for a mid term finance commitment from their developed country counterparts. Instead of giving reassurance and using the opportunity to build trust in this currently toxic atmosphere, the US asked those developing countries if they had thought of a mid-term mitigation plan themselves to “deserve” this mid-term climate finance. However, the US seems to have forgotten that climate finance should not be held hostage by the mitigation discussion. Climate finance is needed to address adaptation needs for the most vulnerable countries. Besides, the US itself was the leader in brokering the $100bn deal three years ago.
The 2nd place Fossil goes to Australia and New Zealand for not submitting a QELRO carbon budget into the Kyoto Protocol. These countries continue to vacillate on whether they will follow the shameful example of Russia and Japan (and let us not even mention Canada). Our time in Bonn has shown that the international community is growing very impatient as it continues to wait and see if Australia and New Zealand deserve its scorn or its applause.
1st Place Fossil of the Day to the US and 2nd Place Fossil to Australia and New Zealand
New Zealand has landed in a pickle over its forest accounts. The age structure of NZ’s plantations means that major harvesting is due to start late this decade and continue into the 2020s. Combine this with the new afforestation/reforestation debit-credit rule and the gains NZ wrangled in LULUCF look likely to evaporate – its carbon accounts skewed into the negative. ECO might even have a rare twinge of sympathy for NZ.
But ECO has no sympathy for New Zealand when it comes to gross emissions. They’ve continued rising since 1990 and are projected to continue rising, even with its much-talked-about-but-rather-weak Emissions Trading Scheme.
Worse, having agreed in Cancun that developed countries should write a low carbon development plan, New Zealand is showing no sign of writing one. It certainly has no plan to get gross emissions on a downward trajectory.
Instead New Zealand is planning just everything possible to increase emissions: dairy farming expansion, unprecedented levels of coal mining, a major road building programme, more oil and gas exploration, and, to cap it all (no pun intended) off, the state owned mining company wants to dig up 1.5 billion tonnes of lignite and turn it into fuel and fertiliser.
It’s no wonder New Zealand wants rules for setting QELROs that would enable it to meet its 20% by 2020 target and end the second commitment period with over 22 million spare AAUs – a tidy sum for a small country.
So, where does all this leave New Zealand’s decisions on CP2 of Kyoto, its 2020 target and its QELRO? NZ is quietly desperate to accommodate its planned increase in gross emissions and expected blow-out in net emissions. With no intention of actually reducing gross emissions, NZ’s only course of action is to play with the accounting system. This means trying to ensure maximum carry-over of surplus AAUs from CP1 to CP2, securing access to the cheapest carbon credits possible (euphemistically “full recourse to carbon markets”) and a handout of AAUs from new accounting rules.
It looks like New Zealand’s decision on CP2 will depend on who New Zealand wants to be friends with and whether the accounting system is sufficiently favourable. Failing to meet a voluntary commitment under the Copenhagen Accord has political consequences, but failing to meet a binding commitment under CP2 has political and economic consequences. So no surprises then that New Zealand has not submitted its QELRO, is focused on the accounting and has also created an impossible hurdle (see the demand for a "balancing agreement" in its recent submission) in case an excuse is needed to bail from the Kyoto ship.
Like the Secretariat, our LCA chair and many other delegates in the Maritim, ECO also has experience with the trials and tribulations of construction projects. But not to worry. Yesterday, AOSIS and the LDCs presented a new blueprint for a sturdy and livable structure that can be a functional home for all of us, with a minimal carbon footprint and protection from the increasingly uncertain elements.
To build a good foundation, AOSIS has designed some strong pillars to replace or reinforce the flimsy developed country pledges. For instance, the EU, which has been mixing only 20% cement with sand for its concrete, can strengthen its climate edifice by rising to 30% concrete or even more. This is required to meet the building codes anyway, so why skimp and risk collapse?
New Zealand should raise its level to at least 20%. And in Australia, government papers, forced by NGOs to be made public, show that the conditions for its 15% target have already been met.
Belarus, Ukraine and Kazakhstan will need to dig deeper foundations in the second commitment period to prevent vast amounts of hot air.
Canada, which has been out of compliance with building codes for some time, has decided to build tar sand castles and has given up on any construction that will last more than a few years.
Moving from the foundation to the ground floor, AOSIS, troubled by the United States, Canada, Russia and Japan ¨C fleeing the building and planning to build their own shanties ¨C warns they must use comparable construction standards, and prepare for the visit of the building inspector. As long as they remain in the Convention, they must demonstrate that their efforts are comparable to those of Kyoto buildings, and will achieve results consistent with the best available science.
Adequate housing for all requires scaled up contributions to the building fund, which is why the LDCs are unhappy with the lack of reliable and predictable finance. Conventionland’s wealthier residents, who have already built comfortable homes with high carbon footprints, have thus far refused to give a clear timetable towards meeting the US$100 billion commitment by 2020. They only seem to be offering play money and junk bonds to add up to the $100 billion.
With a strong foundation laid, the LDC architects have proposed that a mighty Durban Tower can be built in a few years on the same institutional structure as the current, modest Bali Tower. The venerable old Kyoto Tower will be dwarfed by the combined ambition of these two new structures, which will have ample space for mitigation, adaptation, finance, technology transfer and capacity building. The new towers will be in full compliance will all codes. Regular visits by monitoring, reporting and verifying teams, checking up on finance and mitigation actions, will be welcome events.
The initial sketches from Durban are about to become detailed blueprints, full of shovel-ready projects that will be built for the occupants well in advance of the construction schedule.
The LDCs, like all of us, have placed their futures in the hands of a new Project Manager who we trust will not be satisfied with the current low level of ambition. All the settlers in Conventionland must spare no effort in ensuring the post-2020 Durban Tower reaches new heights, with clear milestones for each coming year.
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.