THE POST-COPENHAGEN ROAD
A fair, ambitious and binding deal is needed more urgently than ever. Climate science is more compelling by the day. Impacts are coming harder and faster. Disastrous flooding in Pakistan, heat waves and forest fires in Russia and hottest recorded temperatures around the globe, amongst other devastating climate-related events, all point to the need for urgent action. Levels of warming once thought to be safe, may well not be, 1.5˚C is the new 2˚C.
Copenhagen was a watershed moment for public interest and support for climate action – and people have not lost interest. More people in more countries than ever have put their governments on notice that they expect a fair,
ambitious and binding global deal to be agreed urgently. Trust-building is essential after the disappointment of Copenhagen. Developed country leadership must be at the core of trust building efforts. Countries must show
their commitment to the UNFCCC process by driving it forward with political will and flexible positions, rather than endless rounds of repetitive negotiations. Many countries are troublingly pessimistic for Cancun, and are working to lower expectations. While others, including countries most vulnerable to climate change, maintain high expectations.
Challenges ahead of Cancun
There are many challenges to getting a full fair, ambitious and binding deal at Cancun, including:
- Lack of a shared vision for the ultimate objective of the agreement, and the equitable allocation of the remaining carbon budget and emissions reduction/limitation commitments;
- Sharp divisions on the legal form of an eventual outcome;
- Failure of the US Senate to pass comprehensive legislation this year; and
- Current economic difficulties facing many countries, which make it difficult to mobilize the substantial commitments to long-term climate finance needed as part of any ambitious agreement.
Positive moves afoot
However, more and more countries, both developing and developed, are stepping up their efforts to pursue low-carbon development and adaptation, despite the absence of an international agreement. This can be seen in a variety of ways:
- Investments in renewable energies have continued their exponential growth, increasing to 19% of global energy consumed;
- Progressive countries are working to move the negotiations forward;
- There is a growing perception that low-carbon and climate-resilient development is the only option to sustainably ensure the right to development and progress in poverty reduction.
So, what does a pathway forward look like?
Firstly we must learn the lessons of Copenhagen. The “nothing’s agreed until everything’s agreed” dynamic from Copenhagen could mean that nothing would be agreed in Cancun. An agreement in Cancun should instead be a balanced and significant step toward reaching a full fair, ambitious & binding deal at COP 17 in South Africa. This will require parties to work together in good faith to create sufficient gains at Cancun, and a clear roadmap to South Africa. This paper outlines how that could be achieved.
It is no surprise that finance has been pushed to what ECO hopes is actually the last day of COP22. Until last night, an agreement to give the Adaptation Fund a future life under the Paris Agreement had not been found. ECO is well aware of the question marks many developed countries have about whether (or how) the Adaptation Fund should serve the Paris Agreement. Well, that can be sorted. Just decide to work it out. When? Next year.
ECO finds it unwise to leave COP22 without a clear political decision that the Adaptation Fund will serve the Paris Agreement. This would be seen as a blow to the spirit of cooperation and solidarity, which were so eagerly celebrated with the announcement of the Marrakesh Action Proclamation. Also the Fund holds significant importance to many, given the successful delivery of adaptation support.
As if this wasn’t enough for the final finance stretch of COP22, the long-term finance decision is also still in limbo. While developing countries are asking for increased adaptation finance, developed countries want to see their roadmap welcomed, even if that implies accepting their accounting methodology, which has considerable gaps. The delivery of the roadmap could be recognised as a contribution to enhance transparency in how developed countries intend to meet their US$100 billion goal.
That is, if Parties settle on wording that does not prejudge the outcome on the accounting modalities. Such recognition should conclude that planned increases in adaptation finance are obviously welcome, though balance between mitigation and adaptation finance have yet to be achieved. Developed countries must enhance their efforts to achieve that balance. Job done. What are you waiting for?
This week, ECO saw some developed countries and regions finally making pledges to the Adaptation Fund. This unique instrument has served an important niche function in the landscape of financing for climate adaptation efforts in vulnerable countries. In the context of some Parties hemming and hawing about whether the Adaptation Fund should be continued, these pledges confirm what ECO and others have known all along: the Adaptation Fund is relevant and necessary. So ECO extends kudos to Germany, Sweden, Italy, and the Walloon and Flemish Regions of Belgium.
While cheering the $80 million committed to the Adaptation Fund this week–reaching the Fund’s fundraising goal for COP22 –it’s important not to lose track of the broader perspective. There is a growing gap between pledged adaptation finance and science-based estimates of adaptation finance needs. The recent United Nations Environmental Program Adaptation Finance Gap Report estimates that $56-73 billion are needed for adaptation in developing countries annually now, rising to $140-300 billion in just 13 years.
ECO reminds Parties here on the last day of the “Africa COP” that current pledges to the Adaptation Fund–although most welcome–will contribute to plugging a mere 0.1% of the adaptation finance gap. ECO urges developed country Parties to mind this gap by stepping up with pledges closer to the scale of the problem when planning future budgets for adaptation support.
In Marrakech, adaptation finance has remained a sticking point between Parties. When it comes to adaptation finance, wealthier countries have continued their common refrains: “There’s just not enough public money”;“Our cupboards are bare”;“It’s complicated”. The Africa Adaptation Initiative has yet to find any developed country willing to support it, a state of affairs made even sadder by the fact that Marrakech is an African COP.
According to Parties’ own biennial reporting, G7 governments plus Australia are providing roughly $3.4 billion per year in public finance for adaptation activities in developing countries. In contrast, these same governments are providing nearly $67 billion per year in subsidies and public finance to support oil, gas, and coal production, both domestically and abroad.
Yes, you read that right – the G7 plus Australia are giving nearly 20 TIMES as much public money to fossil fuel companies as they are to support adaptation in developing countries. ECO wonders why are these countries are buying more flamethrowers when the world is already burning.
This hypocrisy is not going unnoticed at COP – see Japan’sFossil of the Day for its high levels of fossil fuel finance. As indicated in the UNEP Adaptation Finance Gap report, there’s no shortage of need for investment in climate-resilient, low-emission infrastructure. If governments want to be seen by their peers as taking the Paris Agreement seriously, they need to stop funding fossils and start funding climate solutions.
On the positive side, this means that as governments continue to line up with the Paris Agreement, shifting money away from fossil fuels and aligning financial flows with low-emission development, tens of billions of dollars in public money will be freed up and will need a new home.
The charming, narrow streets of Marrakech’s Medina teach you to share and co-exist. Perhaps the COP’s large open venue has had the opposite effect on Parties. Yesterday the High Level Ministerials twice passed over or delayed the opportunity to listen to civil society, doubling down the exclusion of civil society from most of this COP.
In the spirit of co-existence, multiple civil society constituencies—youth, women, farmers and environmental NGOs—brought together their diverse perspectives to convey their priorities on adaptation finance in just a few minutes, though to no avail. So ECO steps forward to provide space to voice their concerns.
Adaptation, a pillar of Paris Agreement, needs urgent, ambitious, and transformative public climate finance for vulnerable and impacted communities. The recently released US$100 billion roadmap shows that adaptation finance flows by 2020 will double the current levels. Yet that will still fall far short of the parity with mitigation finance that the Paris Agreement asks for. That gap cannot be filled by profit-seeking private finance, which favours mitigation activities. As well, that will favour richer developing countries, because they are more capable of absorbing private investment. That’s why developed countries should prioritise adaptation to help protect development gains in developing countries.
The methodologies applied by developed countries have consistently exaggerated the climate-relevance of actual funding. Also, instruments such as loans, equity or guarantees may be counted at face value instead of the underlying net assistance. The roadmap should only be seen as an input to the discussion but not as a blueprint, as it would bypass ongoing discussions on finance accounting under the SBSTA.
Adaptation finance requires a robust institutional set-up. The Adaptation Fund is already operational. It has delivered innovative financing approaches on the ground and has a well-developed project pipeline that needs funding to serve urgent needs of vulnerable communities. For this reason, we call for the Adaptation Fund to serve the Paris Agreement in co-existence with Green Climate Fund, as already enshrined in the Paris Agreement. ECO acknowledges and applauds the pledges from Germany and Sweden to replenish the fund.
Of course, climate finance should be counted as new and additional to existing commitments on Official Development Assistance, such as the commitment to dedicating 0.7% of GNI to ODA.
Lastly, developed countries should also fully support that addressing loss and damage has become the third pillar of climate action and is critical to co-existence on the planet. Loss and damage finance needs to be truly additional, over and above what has been pledged for adaptation and mitigation.
Addressing the adaptation finance gap and ensuring that finance gets directed to those who need it most must be the next chapter in the global fight against climate change, and it needs to be written down here and now, in Marrakech.
The Capacity-Building Initiative for Transparency (CBIT) is up and running. Eight donors — (Australia, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Sweden, Switzerland and the Wallon Region in Belgium) have joined the US, UK and Canada to pledge more than US$50 million to the CBIT.
The first set of projects have already been approved by the GEF for implementation in Costa Rica, Kenya, and South Africa. Finally, a global coordination platform is being put in place to share lessons learned and engage with partners to help deliver more country projects. This came less than a week after negotiators approved the terms of reference of the Paris Committee on Capacity Building (PCCB). The PCCB’s membership is almost complete with the first meeting set for May 2017.
ECO is happy that things are moving fast on the capacity building front, including beyond the UNFCCC arena. A number of initiatives, consortia and networks emerged during COP22: the NDC partnership, which brings already more than 40 countries and major institutions to accelerate the implementation of NDCs; a network of about 30 universities to support the dissemination of the work of PCCB; and the south-south consortium of 10 universities from LDCs focusing on adaptation.
This also echoes the importance of education, raising awareness and public participation, which were hailed as critical during the education day, to reach the goals of the Paris Agreement. It is also good to see the request in the latest draft of the COP decisions to invite the SBI to develop guidance on ways to enhance the implementation of training, public awareness, public participation and public access to information so as to enhance actions under the Paris Agreement, for adoption by CMA1.
ECO is concerned about the survival of the Adaptation Fund. Created in the old times of the Kyoto Protocol, it was given the chance for a new life through the Paris Agreement. However, the way developed countries are “revisiting” its existence has us really worried about all those issues we thought we had clarified in Paris.
“We fully support adaptation finance”, they say. “But we don’t see how the Adaptation Fund itself is ‘technically and legally’ ready to serve the Paris Agreement. The Fund was created to be supported by Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) revenues. Since that has failed, we will have to rethink the Fund itself”.
Readers, can ECO remind our dear negotiators to re-read some old decisions they took right here in Marrakech back in 2001 when the Fund was established?
Let’s remind each other that 15 years ago we decided to establish the Adaptation Fund, period! We also agreed that the CDM would fund it, along with other sources, including finance provided by Annex I Parties (developed nations).
We truly hope that these rhetorical battles will end soon and Parties acknowledge once and for all the importance of the Adaptation Fund serving the Paris Agreement.
On Monday, while we were busy following the negotiations, the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) announced that preliminary data shows that 2016’s global temperatures are approximately 1.2° Celsius above pre-industrial levels. They warned that 2016 will very likely be the hottest year on record, with global temperatures even higher than the record-breaking temperatures of 2015.
Many parts of the world are becoming less habitable due to the effects of a warming climate. As developing countries face the wrath of climate change at their doors, the need for adaptation finance to help people cope with floods, droughts, sea level rise and other climate extremes is urgent and growing. This year’s El Niño has opened our eyes to the kinds of impacts that extreme weather events can have on vulnerable populations, leaving over 400 million people affected. El Nino has led to record droughts in a year that has also seen record levels of CO2 and the highest temperatures ever. In Africa alone, an additional 40 million people face hunger because of climate change and El Niño. The struggle to adapt is real, and financing solutions to build resilience and adapt is fundamental and urgent – and a lifeline for many of the world’s poorest countries and communities.
At today’s Adaptation Finance Ministerial, ECO urges all developing country Ministers to be strong, loud and clear in demanding an increase in allocation of adaptation finance from developed countries.
The recently published Finance Roadmap to $100 Billion, a proposal to double adaptation finance from developed countries, is simply not enough. If this proposal becomes a reality, adaptation finance will only amount to 20% of the $100 billion by 2020. This is a long way from the objective of Article 9.4 of the Paris Agreement, namely that allocation of adaptation and mitigation finance would be “balanced”.
A number of developed countries and institutions have yet to follow through on their commitments to provide finance for adaptation–and in actuality could go beyond their adaptation finance commitments. These include major donors such as Japan, the European Commission Institutions and Norway, amongst others. ECO urges all developed countries to LISTEN to the adaptation financing needs of developing countries and ACT.
Parties will be leaving Marrakech with plenty of work ahead to enhance action and support in order to address loss and damage. With key decisions now reached, let’s take a moment to look at the main tool in the loss and damage toolbox: insurance.
The ability to cope with loss and damage from climate change is going to involve financial mechanisms, including insurance. ECO hopes and expects that many more vulnerable communities will be supported in their efforts to cope with the losses and damages they are already facing. Such support must be guided by pro-poor principles including accessibility, participation of affected communities in designing the support, and the integration of insurance within a comprehensive risk management approach. Importantly, those who have contributed fewer emissions to global carbon pollution cannot and should not be expected to pay for protection against mounting climate risks. In other words, an equitable and rights-based approach to insurance must include financial support to make premiums affordable.
But let us get one thing straight: it’s not possible to insure ourselves out of the climate change problem!
So whilst ECO strongly welcomes efforts to expand climate risk insurance, we urge Parties to waste no time in developing a comprehensive approach to loss and damage that includes raising finance, addressing slow-onset events and non-economic losses, and a long-term, rights-based approach to migration, mobility and displacement, in the context of climate change.
The framework for the WIM’s five-year work plan shows us where we need to start. ECO urges Parties to give the WIM the resources and support it needs to expedite its work, and become an effective tool for addressing loss and damage in all its dimensions. 2016 very sadly gave us many examples of loss and damage, so it’s now vital for the world to get cracking!