Tag: Second Commitment period

Australia and the KP: True Love or a One Night Stand?


Australia and the KP: True Love or a One Night Stand?

Dear Australia,

I‘ve been waiting for your call for months now. When we first met you gave me flowers and whispered sweet promises and commitments in my ear. Though you’ve taken years to take our friendship further, we have now been seeing each other for a while. I’ve grown to like your company and it hurts that you’ve stopped returning my calls.

I know over the last few years you have had trouble at home – especially with  your ex, Mr. Abbott, complaining that you should not be seeing me any more. But you still haven’t called, even though he sent me a little note recently saying that he’s happy for us to get together.

My good friend the EU has also been talking to you about linking up for dinner (and maybe sharing an Emissions Trading System?). This would certainly be easier if we all went to the same restaurant. Just imagine how awkward it would be if we all accidentally ended up in the same space, sharing the same air, but sitting at different tables. I don’t think the EU will want to have too much to do with you unless you and I are getting on.

Please Australia, it's time you called.

Yours faithfully,


The Kyoto Protocol


Australia and the KP: Time to Come Clean

Many ECO readers will recall the standing ovation Australia received in Bali in 2007 when the newly elected Labor government formally handed over the instrument of ratification of the Kyoto Protocol. The mood in the room was one of excitement and anticipation.

Fast forward almost five years and the spotlight is again on Australia as we wait with bated breath to see if they will join the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol.

Since 2009, Australia has been calling for a “Kyoto-plus” outcome from the current round of negotiations. Yet throughout this year, their negotiators have walked a diplomatic tightrope, refusing to rule Australia in or out of the second commitment period of the Protocol. The official line has been that they need to see all final amendments before they can make up their mind. In ECO’s humble opinion, this is little more than a delaying tactic. Clearly no country should be expected to sign up to an international treaty until they have seen the final wording, but this should not stop them from signalling support in principle.  

If truth be told, the major barrier to the Australian government declaring its support for Kyoto CP2 has been political. As anyone from Australia will tell you, implementing effective climate change policies in the land down under is no easy task, with the two major political parties deeply divided on the best way forward. The Government, therefore, deserves our admiration for persevering with the introduction of a national carbon price in the face of a highly effective scare campaign against such measures.

Yet it appears that the fate of Australia’s involvement in the second commitment period may be separated from the political fight over a carbon price. Earlier this month, the leader of the main opposition party, Tony Abbott, declared support, in principle, for joining the second commitment period. There also seem to be good levels of public support, with a recent poll indicating that close to 60 percent of voters would support Australia joining Kyoto CP2.

The benefits for Australia are obvious. Signing on to Kyoto CP2 would strengthen Australia’s reputation within the negotiations, aligning it with other countries that support a top down, rules-based approach to a global climate deal. It would also remove the risk of being shut out of the Kyoto Protocol’s carbon markets.

Why wouldn’t Australia publicly announce in-principle support? With no obvious political barriers in place, the longer Australia delays, the more it looks like they are using the KP CP2 as a bargaining chip, presumably to extract something in other areas of the negotiations. If indeed this is Australia’s strategy, it is a high risk gamble. As we saw in Bonn in May, the political deal struck in Durban last year remains fragile and the last thing we need is Australia playing hardball with a key pillar of the Durban deal.

The Bangkok talks present a perfect opportunity for Australia to end the speculation and declare its intention to join the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol. This will provide much needed momentum in the lead up to Doha and equally ensure that the spotlight is put back on those countries who are truly opposed to a fair, ambitious and binding global deal.       

Come on Australia, you raised our expectations back in 2007, and just like a new partner, we had high hopes for something more. Will you meet the promise we imagined with starry eyes back then? We’re waiting by the phone to hear your response. Waiting for those two little words: I do.


10 Points of Action

Ministers – thank goodness you are here. Your delegations may have been burning some midnight oil in the last few days – but they have left the hard decisions for you! Here’s what your agenda for the next 4 days looks like:

1.  Don’t just “Mind the Gap” – do something! Ministers, at Durban you must show that you live on the same planet as the rest of us and acknowledge that the current mitigation pathway puts us on track for over 4° C warming. You must explicitly acknowledge the 6 to 11 Gigatonne gap, agree to a 2012 work plan to close the gap by increasing developed country targets to at least 40% by 2020, and provide guidelines and timeframes for NAMAs to be registered and supported where required. The ambition work plan must include clear markers through 2012, including submissions, technical papers and a dedicated intersessional meeting, to ensure we don’t have another year of wishy washy workshops with outcomes.

2. Commit for the long term. Negotiators have made no progress at all in setting a peak year and a long term global goal for emissions. Ministers now should explicitly agree that each country contribute their fair share to the globally needed mitigation effort, leading to a peak by 2015 and a reduction of global emissions of at least 80% below 1990 by 2050.

3. Stop spinning wheels in the Review. Ministers need to ensure that the Review will be effective, and limiting the scope will help it get off the ground as an effective instrument. We must focus on the important things: reviewing the long-term goal and the overall progress towards achieving it. Leave the biannual reports under MRV to cover the inputs like the means of implementation.

4. High Time for legally binding. A 5 year long second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol is an absolute necessity as it contains important architectural elements which are crucial to ensure that mitigation commitments are legally binding and have environmental integrity. Nobody believes that a temperature rise of 4° C might be OK. So now is the moment to act decisively. An LCA mandate to agree a comprehensive legally binding instrument can build on the KP. Parties need to go beyond their long stated positions and immediately kick off negotiations toward a comprehensive, fair, ambitious and binding agreement to be agreed no later than 2015.

6. KP is essential – but it must have integrity. When added together, loopholes in the KP could wipe out Annex I ambition for the second commitment period.

In LULUCF, hidden and unaccounted emissions could significantly undermine Annex I targets, and cause us to doubt your commitment. Ministers must therefore ensure emissions from forests and land use are accurately accounted and reject the options on the table with the lowest environmental integrity.

All of the parties to this relationship know that the hot air / carried over AAUs is a bad joke that threatens to sour our relationship.  To keep it pure we need you to retire your surplus AAUs, or at least reduce them to 1%. Flexible mechanisms need clear rules and governance structures to avoid double counting of both emissions and finance, strengthen additionality testing and ensuring the standardization frenzy does not leave us with a highway for free-riders. Let’s start by keeping CCS and nuclear out of the CDM and let’s exclude coal power projects. Last but not least, we do indeed need stakeholder involvement in the CDM. Don’t back down, we are counting on you!

PS: CDM’s little brother JI has been up to a bunch of no-good stuff: hot air gussied up in new clothes (ERUs) is still hot air.

7. Fill the Fund. Operationalising the GCF in Durban is essential but not nearly enough – an empty fund is no good to anyone. We need initial capitalization of the GCF from developed country Parties in Durban. Reaching $100 billion per year by 2020 will require a commitment to scaled up finance from 2013 onward and clear progress on innovative approaches to generate finance. In Durban, parties should move forward on the establishment of mechanisms in the shipping and aviation sectors in a way that reduces emissions, generates finance, and ensures no burdens and costs on developing countries. Countries must also agree to a detailed one year work programme under the UNFCCC to consider a full range of innovative sources of public finance and report back to COP 18 with a proposal for action.

8. Gear Up and Deliver Technology. Technology is heading in the right direction, but speed is needed! Don’t be held back by other laggards. The Tech Mechanism could be operational by the end of COP 18.

9. Feel the Love for Transparency and Stakeholders. Your negotiators excised stakeholders’ right to participate from the IAR text and subject to heavy bracketing in ICA. But we know, Ministers, that you recognize the worth of engaging stakeholders to create a better process – rather than having us only campaign from the outside. Current text also falls short on common accounting rules for Annex I countries and clarification of pledges for all countries. Surely we’ve learned from the financial crisis! Robust reporting, such as Biennial Reviews and Biennial Update Report guidelines, including tables for reporting actions, and a common reporting format for finance must be agreed in Durban, so countries can complete their biennial reports in time for the first review. And where would this relationship between us and the planet, be without compliance for our commitments!

10.  An ambitious adaptation package at the African COP. Good agreements on Loss and Damage and the Nairobi Work Programme have already been reached. Wrapping up the package will require agreement on a strong Adaptation Committee including active civil society observers and direct reporting to the COP (as well to the SBs when COP does not meet). Furthermore, guidelines for National Adaptation Plans for Least Developed Countries must be adopted, plus modalities on how other developing countries can take these up. The prioritisation for LDCs must of course not be undermined.

A strong role for local, affected communities and civil society in national planning processes, building on the principles agreed in the Cancun Adaptation Framework, is essential. Finally, Parties must ensure that the Adaptation Fund does not dry up because of decreasing CER prices and lack of new pledges to the Fund from developed countries.

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Last year in Cancun, Japan was heavily criticized and often appeared in media breaking stories when they announced that they would never accept the 2nd commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol.

A year later in Durban, the Japanese delegation seems a lot more relaxed.  Nobody is writing about them and they haven’t even been designated for a Fossil yet.

Does this mean that Japan has reformed its ways and taken a revised position that is now acceptable?  Of course not!  Japan’s position is just as destructive as it was before, during and after Cancun. In fact, their position seems only to be getting worse with recent reconsideration of their 25% domestic target.

So let’s review. Japan has come to Durban with a position to refuse the 2nd commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol while having no strategic alternative or strong domestic policy in place. It is actually a very sad thing that a country that wishes to be a permanent member of the UN Security Council just cannot seem to play a positive role in these crucially important international negotiations on climate response.

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EU: Stand and Deliver!

Where does Connie Hedegaard, and where does the EU, really stand?

ECO has learned that in a hidden room in the parking garage of the ICC, the European Commission is now pushing the 27 member states towards an 8-year second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol. What is going on? Why would the Commission so blatantly cater to corporate interests and delay action?

If it prefers an 8-year commitment period, the EU will imply a starting date no earlier than 2021 for the much needed comprehensive, legally binding agreement.

So EU, whose side are you on? Are you with those who want to delay legally binding global action to beyond 2020? What about your desired peaking year?

The vulnerable countries have rightly insisted that a 5-year commitment period is needed. The negotiating process must reflect a sense of urgency matching the climate’s fast-changing reality. ECO suggests that 2020 is an easy date to remember. But it also pushes political responsibility for hard choices far enough into the future that it will hardly matter . . . well, except to those millions for whom climate change, failing harvests or havoc-wreaking storms and floods are already a daily disaster. EU, whose side are you on!

Just in case it needs repeating: ECO fully supports the EU’s aim of launching negotiations on a legally binding treaty between all parties, to be concluded in 2015 at the latest. That agreement should become operational in 2018.  A 5-year commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol would make the EU’s demand for a mandate more credible and send a persuasive message.  And we can all hope it will allow for some others at the table to come round to understanding how highly dangerous their current low level of ambition is.

Europe must stand with the most vulnerable countries in challenging those that want to freeze mitigation for this decade. Freezing mitigation does not counter global warming, delaying ambition does not generate ambition. Last but not least, don’t repeat old mistakes by slowing down negotiations because of a lack of action by the USA. That’s an excuse the world won’t buy ever again.


Arrgggh, Canada!

We really thought thought Canada couldn’t get any worse . . .

But now credible reports are saying that before the end of the year, Canada is going to formally withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol. This can only be seen as an unacceptable breach of trust in the global climate talks, where the vast majority of the world recognizes the urgent need for meaningful action on climate change including a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol.

With the intention to abandon Kyoto next month, Canada is negotiating in outrageously bad faith here in Durban. Countries should be asking why Canada is sitting at the Kyoto negotiating table with a hardly-secret plan to withdraw from the protocol. They should demand to know Canada’s position, and if they really are planning to let the world down, they should immediately leave the KP negotiations.

Canada has been singled out as a global laggard on climate change in recent years, so this newest and grandest failure is not a surprise. In the midst of dire warnings about climate risk from even the International Energy Agency, Canada’s position is both dangerous and immoral.

Canada is acting on behalf of polluters, not people. It is no secret that Canada’s climate and energy policy is focused on rapidly expanding their tar sands oil production and attempting to kill clean energy policy abroad.

Yesterday, activists around the world protested against Canada’s push to open markets to dirty oil at the expense of the climate. In Canada, Greenpeace activists used LED emergency lights to write “Climate Fail” in huge letters on the lawn of Parliament -- a message that is even stronger following yesterday’s revelations.

Demonstrations also took place in capitals including Paris, Berlin, Oslo and Stockholm as well as outside of the Department of Transport in London, protesting the UK’s support for allowing tar sands oil into the EU.

Canada’s plan is a slap in the face to the international community. Canada is isolating itself even more in these talks as a country that not only is refusing to take meaningful action at home, but also one that has lost the trust and respect of the international community here in Durban and around the world.

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Don’t Lose Sight of the Laggards

ECO has consistently called for a second commitment period to the Kyoto Protocol and has long decried the decision of George Bush not to ratify the KP.  Furthermore, ECO is dismayed that the countries that respectively put the Kyoto in the KP, brought it into force and started negotiations for its second commitment period – Japan, Russia and Canada – are behaving like petulant toddlers, hiding in the corner rather than joining the Kyoto party. Meanwhile, other countries - the EU, Australia, New Zealand, Norway and others -  are expressing various degrees of lukewarmness about the KP second commitment period.

However, this analysis misses what is needed from two other groups of countries in order to have a balanced package in Durban, both in terms of the form and substance of the outcome. The KP second commitment period is absolutely essential. But the global climate crisis requires global action.

Thus support from developing countries for a mandate for a legally binding agreement under the LCA, which ECO thinks needs to be in the form of a protocol or other appropriate legal instrument is fundamental to the solution.  

However, there is another group of countries that seem to be trying to escape responsibility.  The non-KP developed country[s], from which and about there has been the greatest silence of expectations, need to be called out. It seems clear that whatever is agreed under paragraph 1.b.i of the Bali Acton Plan (developed country mitigation) in Durban, it will be in the form of a COP decision, but it is also clear that ALL developed countries need to offer more than inadequate pledges as their contribution to the global effort to avoid a 4  ̊C world. Those that remain in the KP will at least maintain a solid legal framework with economy-wide targets and a strong common MRV and compliance system, even if their current targets are at woefully low levels. ECO would love to explore with Parties ideas to strengthen 1.b.i so that it does not become the grotesque poster child of a pledge and review 4  ̊C world.

LULUCF Rules… Which Rules?

It is tough to spot the actual emissions reduced through the current thicket of different Annex I country pledge formats. And many countries suggest to further obscure the actual impact by including complex means of accounting for sources and sinks from land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF).

In the Annex I mitigation workshop on Thursday, AOSIS highlighted the potential contribution of lax LULUCF rules to the gigatonne gap, as described by UNEP. The Secretariat’s recent paper on the assumptions and conditions of Annex I Parties’ targets begins to clarify the extent to which Annex I countries will rely on the LULUCF sector to comply with their targets.

However, the question remains: which LULUCF rules are we talking about? These rules for the 2nd commitment period have not yet been decided!            ECO seconds the statement made by St. Lucia on Thursday that there is a pressing need for much greater transparency regarding what assumptions Parties are using in their LULUCF accounting, and encouraging the use of common methodologies.

Targets without clear LULUCF accounting rules are like a box of chocolates – you never know what you are going to get. To remedy this situation, ECO thinks Annex I Parties should take the suggestion that Colombia made in Bangkok – to submit tables showing what

their commitments would be under different accounting options, including the different options on the table for LULUCF. These tables would make the role of this sector clearer to everyone.  They would also illustrate clearly which countries are relying on their forests to help meet their targets, and which Parties are expecting to use delayed accounting for wood products or the exclusion of emissions from natural disturbances in their accounting.

It is impossible to make informed decisions on targets until it is clear what rules underpin them. With the kind of clarity and transparency Colombia has requested, Parties may be able to complete the task of decision-making that they failed to finish in Cancun.

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