ECO welcomes the capacity building decisions adopted yesterday.
Given the increased expectations that have been placed on developing countries by the Paris Agreement, capacity building—as well as other means of implementation—will be crucial to enable these Parties to successfully implement their commitments. This is especially true for those Parties with the least capacity, and for those most vulnerable to climate impacts.
Cooperation on matters related to capacity building represents, perhaps, one of the most promising avenues for accelerating implementation of the Paris Agreement. Working together can enable Parties to develop collective ambition, while simultaneously providing important benefits for participating countries. The adoption of the Paris Committee’s terms of reference will enable the Committee to become operational as early as next year, and to rapidly initiate its work.
The decisions adopted yesterday also invite the Paris Committee to take into consideration cross-cutting issues such as gender responsiveness, human rights and indigenous peoples’ knowledge. ECO welcomes this important mandate. It will enable the Committee to support Parties as they implement climate actions in a manner that is coherent with existing human rights obligations and related international principles, such as the Sustainable Development Goals.
ECO hopes this commitment to consider cross-cutting principles in climate action, as reiterated in Paris, will also be reflected in the negotiations under the APA more broadly. For instance, future Nationally Determined Contributions should reflect this approach and highlight synergies with other related international norms, such as human rights, the rights of indigenous peoples, gender equality, just transition and food security. Parties should not shy away from making the universal attainment of human rights a reality through coherent implementation of the Paris Agreement: we now know that the Paris Committee will be supporting them along the way.
Donald Trump’s election as the next U.S. president was a [unexpected][climatic][
Understandably, delegates and reporters have questions about the implications of a Trump administration for domestic emissions reductions. ECO is confident that the rapidly expanding deployment of clean energy solutions by states, cities, and businesses across the country is enough to continue the drive to decarbonise the US energy economy, regardless of the actions that a President Trump takes—or doesn’t take. But a cut back on federal policy leadership, will no doubt impair the US meeting its 2025 emissions commitments.
President-elect Trump emphasised his campaign promise to create millions of new jobs for American workers. The most effective way to do this is by embracing the renewable energy revolution. While there are divisions between Democrats and Republicans on climate policy, there has been bipartisan support for investments in clean energy as well as in climate resilience. Trump’s infrastructure investment initiatives could provide a vehicle to address both of these needs.
ECO is also concerned about prospects for continued US finance and technology support for developing country mitigation and adaptation actions under a Trump administration. But what gives ECO hope is the coalition of US development, faith, environmental, and business groups has been actively engaging with both Democrats Republicans in Congress, educating them on how this assistance is not charity or a hand-out, but rather a smart investment with economic, environmental, and security benefits to Americans. This coalition will now work to make sure that Trump and his team understand this reality.
It’s clear that countries will continue to move ahead with the commitments they made under the Paris Agreement no matter what Trump does, as these commitments are in their own national interest. An increasing number of governments understand that decisive climate action helps reduce the impacts of climate change on their people and brings many public health and economic co-benefits.
But if President Trump decides not to honour America’s commitments under the Paris Agreement, he will quickly learn that this negatively impacts his ability to get support from other countries’ leaders on trade, terrorism, and other issues important to him. Climate change has become a geopolitical issue of the top order, and any country perceived as not doing its fair share to confront the climate threat will suffer consequences for its standing in the world. Tuesday’s US elections did nothing to change these fundamental realities.
June 23: the day those careful, reserved Brits voted to leave the EU. Wow. The outcome sent shockwaves around the world. Alas, the climate keeps changing and ECO hasn’t stopped demanding that the UK, and the EU’s other 27 member states, shoot for higher climate ambition.
In practice, the UK won’t leave the EU until 2 years after they trigger “Article 50”—which, rumour has it, will not happen until 2017. In the meantime, the UK, the EU and its other 27 member states will all need to ratify the Paris Agreement. Brexit may be an upheaval, but it is not an excuse for delaying ratification. ECO calls on the EU to speed up its effort sharing decision and show that collaboration on climate must persist regardless.
And as for the UK’s own leadership on climate change, ECO was not impressed when it heard the UK was merging their climate department with business and industry. Some stressed the opportunities to be gained through integrating climate considerations into industrial projects, but it’s up to the UK to prove them right. The final outcome remains to be seen, but, dear United Kingdom, ECO will not let you off the hook.
The prospects for COP22 in Marrakech could have been muted after the historic Paris COP. The news that the Moroccan presidency will make pre-2020 climate action the focus of COP22 made us giddy with delight!
With the Global Climate Action Agenda now formally recognised under the Paris Agreement, it can be strengthened based on the lessons learned in the first year. It was with joy that we learned that the champions for pre-2020 climate action-Laurence Tubiana and Hakima El Haité-plan to start consultations on the way forward next month.
Anxiety hit when we started getting mixed messages about the Action Agenda’s future. Is it to be a platform where any and all actions are shown? Or a platform where the most impressive initiatives are to be given due credit?
ECO has some ideas that could help as guiding principles to select/exclude initiatives for the Global Climate Action Agenda. We are certain that strong criteria, combined with a clear, efficient governance structure, should be applied to cooperative initiatives which include non-state and subnational actors. Guiding principles could be based on:
1. Significance: It is important that the initiatives have significant adaptation or mitigation benefits.
2. Transformational: The Action Agenda and TEP should represent the gold standard of initiatives that contribute to the system changes required for a low- to zero-carbon economy.
3. Science-Based: Initiatives should be based on the best available science. They should offer concrete, measurable, and time-bound objectives to help facilitate tracking progress.
4. Transparent: Strong and transparent accountability mechanisms that ensure trust, legitimacy and credibility.
5. Just and Fair: Initiatives under the Action Agenda and TEP should represent equitable solutions that do not threaten human rights or result in adverse environmental impacts.
6. Additionality: Initiatives should enable the involved countries to deliver more emission reductions or support than they would have done otherwise.
We don’t have all the answers, but these guiding principles offer the basis for further discussion. The Global Climate Action Agenda and TEP must have the necessary integrity to ensure that they contribute to closing the ambition gap by 2020 in a manner that protects environmental integrity and human rights.
Parties chose to land in the ‘well below 2°C’ zone, while still pursuing a 1.5°C warming limit. This is, however, not compatible with GHG emission neutrality somewhere in the second half of this century. Full decarbonisation, with no tricks (like non-permanent offsetting and geoengineering), is needed and should be what those who claim to be ambitious fight for!
The endless variations in the new text trying to reframe the Convention’s preambular ‘common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities and their social and economic conditions,’ [ECO’s emphasis] are a reflection of a genuine global struggle to come to terms with new realities. ECO does not romanticise the past, nor ignore historical responsibilities. The Paris Agreement can only deliver on its goal if all respect the Convention in full.
Which brings us to means of implementation. The floor of US$100 billion seems to now be established. But the agreement does not enough to ‘shift the trillions.’ ECO believes the Paris Agreement sends a signal to investors about the long-term direction. It pays lip service to setting a carbon price. Yet, Parties are about to fail in their duty of care, which would make them commit to finally end all fossil fuel subsidies, stop financing carbon-intensive investments or indeed commit to divestment.
That the current INDCs, many of which are conditional on adequate international support, are not enough to limit warming to well below 2°C, let alone 1.5°C, is acknowledged and shockingly taken for granted. For now, there is no plan to close the resulting gap. We do not need to wait until 2018 for the IPCC to tell us that the pathway we are on forecloses limiting warming to 1.5°C. Independent assessments have already shown that developed countries in particular are lagging behind. The facilitated dialogue in 2019 merely opens the door for countries to rethink their lack of ambition. In 2025, ECO does not want to be looking back on the Paris Agreement, and with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight judge that this was a grave error. The five-year cycles of updating and enhancing #### (shall we just call them NDCs?) can start immediately upon entry into force.
Loss and Damage
The fight for loss and damage continues in dark corners of Le Bourget. To the most vulnerable, we say: Stay strong! To the blockers: You let the genie of liability and compensation out of the bottle. Please put it back in, as nobody is calling for it in this agreement.
Transparency, MRV and Compliance
After a decade of building confidence and trust through these talks, the Paris Agreement still reflects the fear that transparency on implementation and meaningful review of outcomes could be punitive. Shining a light is something ECO has done since 1972. In light of the bottom up character of the INDCs and the facilitative nature of the proposed review we urge all to lighten up and embrace transparency.
On a related note, ECO always understood the Durban mandate was ‘to develop a protocol, another legal instrument or an agreed outcome with legal force under the Convention applicable to all Parties,’ to mean an international agreement would have some teeth. Simply put: the bracketed wording on ‘compliance’ needs to be included in the Paris Agreement.
ECO is shocked that countries have surgically removed human rights from the core climate change agreement.
A broad coalition of civil society organisations and indigenous peoples have come together to collectively support joint text for Article 2, the heart of the agreement. All attempts were made to keep it simple for Parties. Instead, civil society’s voices are being ignored. You forgot that you represent us. You forgot that your job is to speak for us.
President Hollande: When you said that ‘COP21 would be a new step for human rights’, what exactly did you mean?
ECO praises Mexico and other champions for their work in promoting human rights in the operative text of the agreement. We owe it to the world’s vulnerable—those least responsible for and most impacted by climate change.
Today, Friday, a new moon will rise over Paris. ECO still has hope it will mark a new era. The change that is needed takes all of you. Soit brave!
The negotiations on the Paris Agreement have reached crunch time, and ECO is concerned that the crucial issue of loss and damage might be crunched at the last minute, as the Thursday text contains several options on loss and damage. ECO is hearing that there have been some constructive discussions in the last days. At the same time, some Parties are insisting on red lines on aspects that others have not even put to the forefront.
Just a reminder what we are talking about: In broad terms, loss and damage is harm resulting from climate change that cannot be adapted to. That’s why we don’t think it makes much sense to deal with it as a subset of adaptation, although there are linkages. Extreme weather events like hurricanes and floods are what catch the greatest attention in the media, but it also includes ‘slow onset events’ like sea level rise, which are likely to make life worse for many more vulnerable people over the coming decades than extreme weather. It also covers permanent events like loss of land.
Loss and damage is of current and growing importance, which makes it a vital component of a climate agreement that sets the framework for the future. As far as money is concerned, it will definitely be needed, but there is no need—and this speaks in particular to the USA, Canada, as well as the EU, to trouble yourselves with discussions about compensation, although it was not mentioned in the previous agreement drafts. There are lots of issues that don’t relate to money that are of equal importance. For example, setting up a climate displacement facility and helping the millions that will be displaced or forced to migrate due to climate change, plus generally advancing the issue under the Warsaw International Mechanism (WIM).
NGOs are united in our call for both the WIM and loss and damage to be anchored in the Paris agreement. This is not, and has not been, an excessive ask by vulnerable developing countries. So, countries, get on and agree on a landing zone that gives affected people the assurance that the loss and damage they face will not be ignored, and start building up the international response, including through the WIM. The future governing body will have freedom to find new or additional answers, if required. The Paris Agreement is crucial for changing course. Do not let the perfect be the enemy of the good.
Such a political moment is almost in the cards, though a few words need to be added to the facilitative dialogue paragraph (para 20) to empower the dialogue to inform the review of not only future but also current INDCs. Moreover, the all-important words “and equity” should be added here, just as they appear in the global stocktake article (albeit still bracketed). Also, the scope of this dialogue should be expanded to reach beyond mitigation. This dialogue could take place in 2018 or earlier, so let’s just call this moment ‘2018’ for now.
What must happen between now and 2018? First, developed countries must continue to deepen their contributions, upping their pre-2020 ambitions and meeting the $100 billion goal. Second, the conditional pledges in the first round of INDCs need to be addressed. In particular, developing countries, especially those with inadequate capacities, must be supported as they seek to clarify their conditional INDCs. Critically, conditional INDCs must be ‘matched’ with the support that’s needed to animate them. This, more than anything else, would increase trust in ‘the process’ and provide the incentives that low-capacity countries need to confidently commit themselves to ambitious zero-carbon transition plans.
Third, middle-income developing countries must be incentivised to take ambitious actions over time. Here, ECO is thinking of taking explicit account of their development needs and evolving capabilities. This essentially means taking advantage of the brief period between Paris and 2018 to begin a serious debate about the objective criteria for CBDRRC that we need to support dynamic, equity-based differentiation. These criteria must be debated, and reflected upon, so that we can finally develop a shared understanding of equity indicators and equity reference frameworks.
An important element of trust building is closing the finance gap. Raising ambition over time will require clarity on how countries with capabilities comparable to those of developed countries contribute to the finance flows. Although it is fine to say that, for example, only the developed countries will contribute to the first $100 billion, this is not a rule that will scale to the challenge of providing the second $100 billion, nor the third…
The differentiation challenge can no longer be pushed aside. Not if our claims to support a 1.5°C pathway are more than rhetoric. If we’re to have any real chance at staying below 1.5°C, all countries must increase the pace of their transformation. The wealthy countries must lead by increasing their ambition. The emerging economies must follow soon, leapfrogging to very low-carbon and zero-carbon development paths. By so doing, they will define steps that all countries can follow, as they find the ways and means needed to do so. This is the real challenge of differentiation, and it requires bravery on all sides.
Let’s rewind a bit. In a loss and damage special edition of ECO last June, we supported LDC’s calls for compensation language in the text. However, in a laudable response to concerns expressed by the US and other developed countries about this language—and in a powerful display of unity—the G77 agreed to remove this language from the text.
That really should have been the end of the story. Rather than seeing it as the constructive bridging proposal that it was, the EU stonewalled; others stayed silent, while the US, having wanted to exclude the text entirely, is now pushing for specific language in the text to exclude compensation and liability.
Are there legal reasons to do this? ECO says no. The lack of reference to compensation in both the bridging proposal and compilation text means, well, no reference to compensation. The language, with its talk of exploration and approaches, is far from anything that could be relied on to establish liability on a legal basis.
So let’s be very clear—the rationale for this language is rooted in politics, not law. And it seems that other developed countries, like the EU and Australia, are standing silently behind it.
ECO’s message to these countries is clear: if you want to avoid liability for loss and damage, agree on strong mitigation, finance and tech transfer targets, so that your impact on the rest of the world is reduced. You must also support adaptation and loss and damage. You can show your goodwill by being constructive and engaging with what is on the table. Recognising responsibilities, including moral ones, is not a sign of weakness but a sign of true strength.