All week, the expression “enabling environments” kept coming back into use during the finance sessions. Several Parties raised questions about what it actually means. ECO has a few worries of its own. Since this week has been about gathering feedback and building convergence, a bit more clarity on this term needs to be enabled.
Will developing countries need to establish some sort of “appropriate conditions” in order to attract greater flows of private finance? And what would those conditions be? Surely countries would not be required to relax their environmental or labour regulations just to allow the private sector to extract extra profit. Right?
And would the expansion of “enabling environments” reduce developed countries’ obligations to provide adequate levels of public climate finance to support extra action in vulnerable developing countries. Surely not.
These are just some of the questions that strike ECO upon hearing the echoes of “enabling environments”. It would be both a shame and slightly ironic if these concerns rang true, making the overall environments even less enabled to address the needs of affected people, ecosystems(?) and communities.
ECO totally supports the shift of overall financial flows and investments away from high-carbon to low-carbon and climate resilient activity. But that should happen alongside continued provisions of public finance, part of which is crucial to support ambitious policies and targets, strong and effective country institutions, and informed and empowered policymakers and civil society.
Maybe “enabling environments” will turn out to be more than a buzzword, but this can only happen if negotiators enable an environment for discussions and clarity on the type of policies, targets and institutions it should include.
ECO has spent years calling for serious discussion on differentiation, and was pleasantly surprised when, yesterday, one materialised. Even better, the “spin off” meeting unfolded as a probing exercise that cast some real and useful light.
The fundamental question – what is the purpose of differentiation? – saw lots of good answers. One, offered by Mali, was that a proper differentiation system would ensure that all countries, whatever their level of development, could make their “best efforts”. ECO wants to add that in an economically stratified world like ours, a differentiated regime is key to equity, trust, solidarity, and action.
If the level of effort is nationally determined, one crucial point – repeatedly noted – is that we must not lose focus on the need for developed countries to take the lead. Self-differentiation, the theme of yesterday’s discussion, is what we have to work with. And clearly, we have to make it work.
The EU said that it never wanted self-differentiation, but rather a “spectrum of commitments” that takes the complexity of the modern world into account. Can we reach that same goal by a path other than self-differentiation? It won’t be easy, but that’s because the only spectrum currently open is one of nationally determined actions.
Such happy outcomes are possible, but not without principle-based ex-ante assessment. ECO was a bit taken aback when China went out of its way to insist that such assessment, and even“common indicators,” were doomed to lead to “name and shame.”
ECO wonders if naming and shaming is always a bad thing though. After all, there really are leaders and laggards among us when it comes to climate action. China helpfully added some perspective to this view yesterday when it argued that the existing “categories” had not, in fact, dissuaded the developing countries from voluntarily, and substantively, increasing their ambition.
On this point, ECO is happy to agree. But this seems to support the need for a principle-based assessment, one capable of identifying such ambition where it exists and constructively highlighting where more work needs to be done.
ECO is pleased that Parties have started substantive discussions on the important issue of loss and damage. Equally, ECO is glad to have been helpful to Parties with our debunking mechanism–as was mentioned in today’s loss and damage facilitated discussion, which dove into the hard questions. Key amongst them were:
If we’re creating a durable agreement at Paris, in the context of available science, how could we justify not including loss and damage in this durable agreement?
The answer for this question was given in the moving intervention from Dominica about the devastating impact of Hurricane Erika, supported by the many references by others to the need for finance for the impacts of climate change. Zambia also pointed out that the circumstances of vulnerable countries are likely to be very different in 20 or 50 years–some of these countries will face existential crises in that time frame. As the Marshall Islands, the US and others noted, this is an existential question for low lying countries–and not an end-of-century problem. It is real and urgent , and it is not going away. Vulnerable countries need certainty and they need permanence that we will deal with the threats to their existence.
Will developed countries accept loss and damage in the Agreement?
An argument that Parties would accept loss and damage within the Decision but not the Agreement only serves to reinforce concerns that developed countries are not treating loss and damage with the seriousness it deserves. If placing it in the Decision indicates you’re committed to it, then go all the way and put it in the Agreement. Demonstrate that it is part of our long-term commitment to dealing with climate change.
Why include loss and damage in the Agreement, when we have the Warsaw Mechanism?
The mandate for the Warsaw Mechanism is narrow and contested. Let’s remember that developed countries have argued against including finance for loss and damage in the work plan, despite it being included in the WIM. Any agreement needs to reflect the latest science and reality on the ground, requiring a broader and deeper mandate, including a comprehensive approach to managing risk and comprehensively addressing climate displacement.
How would the Warsaw Mechanism interact with the Paris agreement?
The WIM can do important work between now and the implementation of the Paris agreement, and this should answer some of the questions that Parties now have. It could also have a role to play in implementing the functions outlined in the Agreement, while remaining open to be changed if needed.
And, delegates, remember that ECO is always ready to help if there are more questions!
ECO has joyfully watched the birth of a new vision for the world’s economy – one where fossil fuel emissions are rapidly phased out, and clean, renewable sources of power are phased in. Millions of citizens from the global north and south, thousands of leading businesses, faith leaders and health professionals are now demanding this transition.
We all passionately believe in this vision — not least because science tells us that without it, and early deep cuts in GHG emissions, we will not be able to achieve the ultimate aim of the Convention: the stabilisation of GHG concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.
If our global energy systems are not fully decarbonised by 2050 there would be neither equity nor fairness. It would mean a world where hard-won development is lost to dangerous climate change. The transition must happen in a fair, just and sustainable manner. Those with greater responsibility and capability must act first and support others to get to a new energy future. That means insuring that we do not neglect the challenges of adapting to the climate change impacts happening already today.
In this spirit, ECO has some proposals:
- A long-term goal on mitigation that reflects the need for differentiation. This means that specifying the time-scales for decarbonising at the national level should reflect Parties’ differing responsibilities and capabilities, and what support is available to them. Bearing this in mind, all Parties should show clear but differentiated trajectories to phasing in 100% renewable energy and phasing out fossil fuel emissions.
- Those with the greatest responsibility and means to must act now by increasing their existing pre-2020 ambition obligations.
- Achieving this transformation will require strong outcomes on pre- and post-2020 finance. Countries requiring support may want to consider national emission reduction commitments with unconditional and conditional components, with the latter put up for matching support.
- A long-term goal for 2050 must be combined with a robust mechanism to increase ambition over time. Progress towards a long-term goal should be the defining factor over each 5-year cycle.
- There also needs to be a long-term goal to enable and support adaptation alongside the mitigation one. The Parties that are committed to a fair and equitable outcome in Paris — and ECO hopes that this is everyone! — should never allow the two goals to become separated and lonely.
As part of a Paris outcome that respects these five suggestions, a long-term mitigation goal will embody the Convention’s fundamental principles and help achieve its ultimate objective.
ECO has noticed lots of talk about “houses” as nations work to construct a new climate agreement. Just as location is important in selecting a house, Parties will be carefully considering the location of key text to be agreed in Paris: what goes in the core agreement, decision text, and supplementary instruments or lists. ECO has some advice to ensure that the right house is built.
ECO believes that a package deal with careful placement of issues is critical to a Paris outcome that safeguards ambition, accountability, and equity, while taking into account national circumstances. Amongst other things, the core legal agreement should:
Establish key principles to guide implementation, including human rights for all.
Introduce strong, durable commitments for the post-2020 climate regime, including a commitment to phase out fossil fuel emissions and phase in 100% renewables for all by 2050; and global adaptation and technology goals.
Provide a means for Parties’ to anchor Nationally Determined Contributions as legal commitments, with an introduction of 5-year commitment and review cycles for both action and support.
And as for the COP decisions? They are necessary to create the operational foundations to ensure ratification and implementation of the core agreement. And they are particularly appropriate for elements that may need to be revised over time, for operationalising high-level principles from the core agreement, and for pre-2020 work programmes, including those needed to raise pre-2020 ambition and climate finance.
Annexes and/or supplementary instruments can play a critical role in enhancing transparency and accountability. The core agreement should establish a legal connection to one or more annexes, schedules, or lists detailing differentiated national mitigation targets and actions. Mitigation commitments should be additionally recorded in a document and database managed by the Secretariat, in a way that ensures transparency and enables unilateral ambition enhancement without requiring ratification.
And after you sign on the dotted line in Paris for your new home, you can make one or more political declarations to complement the agreement. But ECO reminds countries that political declarations are no substitute for legally binding instruments or COP decisions. ECO certainly wouldn’t feel comfortable moving into a new home on a handshake deal, and you wouldn’t either, would you, Parties?
Dear Developed Countries: Newsflash — Loss and damage must be in the Paris Agreement. We keep hearing some really lame arguments as to why you’re keeping it out.
Lame argument 1: We don’t need L&D in the Paris Agreement as we have the Warsaw International Mechanism for L&D and its review in 2016.
ECO responds: Despite being agreed nearly 2 years ago, the WIM has yet to make progress. Its mandate is heavily contested and some developed countries have sought to undermine the only clear mandate in the agreement, the one that deals with finance. Some vulnerable countries are concerned that the 2016 review is a thinly disguised attempt to review the WIM out of existence. By embedding the important functions of the WIM into the Paris agreement, we can alleviate these concerns. There should be no argument against this by those who genuinely want to see the WIM succeed.
Lame argument 2: L&D is just adaptation, and that’s already in there.
ECO responds: Adaptation to having your home, community, places of worship and livelihood destroyed in super storm Cyclone Pam or Typhoon Haiyan is not possible. These are not impacts that can be adapted to — and given inadequate mitigation, they will likely increase further in the coming years. The IPCC acknowledges the limits to adaptation and makes it clear that even with high levels of adaptation there will be residual L&D.
Lame argument 3: L&D will cost too much.
ECO responds: The worst impacts of climate change on the poorest countries will have substantial costs. Compensation is one element of L&D, but there is a spectrum of needs for addressing L&D, some of which are outlined in Part III of the Co-Chairs tool. Clearly, rich countries that developed using fossil fuels and polluted the atmosphere have a major responsibility. So does the fossil fuel industry, which is responsible for two-thirds of climate pollution. Moreover, there are alternative sources of finance that can be drawn upon – including a fossil fuel extraction levy which could easily raise $50 billion a year initially, increasing with time, until fossil fuels are phased out. This could pay for a significant portion of the L&D needs, alleviating the objections of rich countries to paying for loss and damage.
Delegates — we’re clearly on a pathway to temperature increases well exceeding 1.5°C, any agreement that doesn’t include provisions to address the worst impacts of climate change on the most vulnerable will not be judged acceptable by your constituents at home.
August 3 - New York: The world has updated its to do list to drive solutions to our biggest problems - poverty, inequality and climate change - after the new Global Sustainable Development agenda was finalised in New York on Sunday in preparation for ratification by world leaders at a major UN summit in September. The agenda, which includes a landmark set of 17 goals, acknowledges for the first time that countries need to address climate change as a developmental challenge, decoupling growth from environmental degradation. Governments will need to raise their ambition to start delivering on these goals by producing a universal and legally binding Paris agreement on climate this December to shift to a low-carbon economy.
For the first time, these global goals acknowledge that the world can’t deal with these crises in isolation, said David Nussbaum, Chief Executive of WWF-UK. "We can – in our generation – stamp out extreme poverty and achieve sustainable development. But with climate impacts already hitting the most vulnerable people hardest, it’s clear that we will not meet these global goals unless we take decisive action on climate change, get an ambitious and universal climate agreement with legal force in Paris and manage to address the existing emissions gap – as rightly acknowledged by the post-2015 summit outcome document agreed at the UN in New York yesterday.” Nussbaum said. “That’s why we welcome the newly minted post-2015 sustainable development framework, which features climate action as a headline goal, as well as it running through many other goals like a green thread. The new framework recognises that addressing climate change and eradicating poverty are profoundly connected.”
“Many countries will need to drastically alter policies in favour of people and planet if they take this new to do list for the planet seriously. To tackle poverty and dangerous climate change, we must urgently end the fossil fuel era and deliver 100% renewable energy for all" said Daniel Mittler, political director of Greenpeace International. "These goals will mean nothing unless governments at the Paris climate summit complete the task and agree to phase out fossil fuels and switch to 100% renewable energy for all by 2050.”
The Sustainable Development Agenda has laid the groundwork for such a signal, according to Wael Hmaidan, director of Climate Action Network International. “In New York, this week governments have failed to acknowledge the need to have ‘a world free from harmful emissions', which is needed to address the climate challenge, but there was a strong recognition that there is a need to follow more ambitious emission reduction pathways to stay below 2 or 1.5 degrees temperature rise. Beyond these temperatures economic development will become severely hampered.”
Neil Thorns, director of advocacy at CAFOD, welcomed the progress that these new goals represent in relation to the MDGs understanding of our shared responsibility to care for our common home. “Pope Francis’ powerful statements recently have reminded us that we must stand in solidarity with the poorest people and the environment, and that we must phase out fossil fuels in favour of renewable energy to do this. The goals alone are not a solution to our world’s problems but a stepping stone we need to build on in the climate talks in Paris and through meaningful implementation of these goals over the next 15 years. This is our responsibility for present and future generations.”
About CAN: The Climate Action Network (CAN) is a worldwide network of over 950 Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) from over 110 countries working to promote government and individual action to limit human-induced climate change to ecologically sustainable levels. www.climatenetwork.org
Contact: Mark Raven, CAN International, email: email@example.com, phone: +90 53626 88406