Angela Anderson - United States CAN at the UNFCCC Climate Talks in Tianjin China talking to OneClimate.net
Michelle Medeiros from Greenpeace International speaks to OneClimate.net about the different approached to climate change in the US and China
You’ve heard about all the trouble with the logging loophole in LULUCF. But there’s another important agenda on emissions from non-forest lands under the Kyoto Protocol.
Several ideas such as mandatory accounting for cropland management and grazing land management, and the introduction of a new activity category of wetland management, have languished with very little discussion. Yet Parties seem to think they are on the downhill run wrapping up LULUCF.
Emission from biofuels (processing crops and burning them as transport fuels) also risks being mostly ignored at a time when they are expected to grow rapidly as an alternative to fossil fuels.
There are issues with data availability and accuracy in accounting for these activities. But that is no excuse for deferring action in the second commitment period. One thing that can be done is to use a hotspots approach, concentrate MRV efforts on identifying the lands with the most significant sources of emissions, and estimate these activities in the most accurate and practicable way whilst commencing on a SBSTA program to introduce more comprehensive accounting.
The new rules could well make a huge amount of forest management emissions vanish through a loophole, but even worse, also fail to capture significant emissions arising from the other land use activities.
There is still time to construct a complete agenda for LULUCF rules with integrity for the next commitment period, but there is not a moment more to lose.
A fossil is awarded to New Zealand, as an ambassador for all Annex I Parties, for bluntly declaring that if they don’t get the rules they want on forest management, they’ll have to change their overall emission reduction target. Does this mean that the LULUCF sector is just a slush fund and Copenhagen pledges are open for renegotiation if the slush fund disappears?
In this issue
- No time to Lose
- The EU Chooses
- LULUCF: The second agenda
- Fossil of the Day: New Zealand
Intervention at the opening of the KP Plenary at Tianjin Session 2010.
There are a number of puzzled-looking lawyers in the hallways in Tianjin right now, and ECO admits as well to being puzzled by the refusal of China and Brazil to allow the legal matters contact group to discuss elements set out in the KP chair’s scenario note this week.
It seems that since the beginning of time, developed countries have obstructed progress in the KP on the numbers discussion. This may go some way to explaining the behaviour of some developing countries in the legal matters group. However, this procedural dispute has now consumed every session of the contact group this week to the point where the KP chair was called in to intervene, to no avail.
Clearly China and Brazil are in favour of continuing the Kyoto Protocol. So ECO is surprised at their opposition to a discussion of Option B, which includes number of important elements such as assessment and review, refinement of the compliance mechanism, and provisions for entry into force of amendments, among others. Given how short the time is, these discussions are necessary to advance understanding of what the second commitment period will mean for Parties taking quantified emissions reduction commitments (QERCs). To do otherwise puts the future of the Protocol at risk.
In Wednesday’s stock-taking plenary, many developing countries strongly advocated for a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol. And the EU, Australia, New Zealand and Norway have stated that they are prepared to take new commitments under Kyoto. However, they indicated that they can only do so once they have a clear idea of what the rules will be for the second commitment period, including the matters that were to be considered by the legal contact group this week.
ECO strongly supports the need to reach agreement on these underlying issues so that agreement can be reached on QERCs. At the same time, ECO cautions that loopholes the developed country Parties have tried to negotiate for themselves must be removed, so as to ensure the environmental integrity of the agreement and help close the gigatonne gap.
ECO encourages all parties to the Protocol to take the advice of the KP chair when he was called to arbitrate the dispute: Parties should listen to each other’s proposals and get on with the negotiations. We couldn’t agree more. We don’t want a gap between commitment periods, and the KP should not be held for ransom by anyone.
The LULUCF negotiations are heading towards the worst possible outcome for forests and are dragging down climate mitigation as a whole. With each passing day it looks more and more likely a deal will be cut that allows developed countries to increase their annual emissions into the foreseeable future without any real accountability. Do the national leaders who committed to ‘deep cuts’ in Copenhagen really know what is happening here in Tianjin? Shouldn’t somebody tell them?
Yesterday Parties had a chance to consider an alternate path. In an open session, Tuvalu proposed that countries should take responsibility if their emissions increase relative to the first commitment period. It’s one way to create some basic accountability for changes in forest management.
But this proposal was roundly rejected by some Annex I Parties with the excuse that it would be too politically difficult to account for these emissions in a fair manner. The cursory treatment of Tuvalu’s proposal lasted less than an hour, leaving the distinct impression that developed countries would be happy never to discuss it again.
The quick dismissal of viable accounting options is a travesty in light of the nearly two years wasted on developing a ‘reference levels’ approach that would allow developed countries to increase exploitation of their forests and artificially enhance their weak national targets.
And it gets even worse. A large proportion of emissions from bioenergy, supposedly a low carbon energy source, will disappear entirely – unaccounted for while trees are harvested under weak forest management rules and counted as zero carbon in power stations.
ECO has learned not to expect much at all from the LULUCF negotiations. But the citizens of a world increasingly threatened by climate change should reject this blatant abdication of accountability and responsibility, and demand that developed countries live up to their commitments to reduce emissions and protect and enhance forest carbon sinks.
This has been what might be called a year from climate hell with floods, droughts and scorching temperatures across the globe. But those steering the debate on climate
financing are slow to get the point. As now envisioned, climate funding will bypass the most vulnerable.
The vast majority of the grossly inadequate existing flow of climate finance is focused on mitigation. For example, only 7.45% of major public funds reported at
climatefundsupdate.org are for adaptation.
And there’s not much evidence to suggest that this basic pattern will change with fast-start finance. Adaptation and the needs of the most vulnerable are still too often the forgotten step-children.
Going forward, ECO isn’t suggesting that there’s too much financing for mitigation – au contraire! But it is vital that adaptation gets its fair share of attention and funding. A new global climate fund is just the place to make this happen.
To ensure that the most vulnerable benefit from adequate, predictable and sustainable financial contributions, we propose that a fair pre-allocation of funding for adaptation is crucial.
Specifically, the finance text should
ensure that at least 50% of overall funding counted against UNFCCC commitments should be dedicated to adaptation, and at least 50% of money channeled through the new fund should be allocated to adaptation.
These proportions may need to be revised over time, but this is the balanced approach we should take now.
And if we don’t, surely it will be a recipe for disaster for those who are already the hardest-hit.