Mahlet Eyassu from Forum for Environment-Ethiopia speaks on what is needed on climate financing before the conclusion of the Durban UN Climate Talks in December 2011.
Wanun Permpibul from the Renewable Energy Institute of Thailand Foundation speaks about the catastrophic flooding in Thailand. She addresses what is needed in Panamá at the climate negotiations in order to make progress in Durban, at the annual COP, to help locally with adaptation to climate change in Thailand.
Media Advisory – Webcast Notice
7 October 2011
UNFCCC CLIMATE TALKS IN PANAMA
NGO BRIEFING ON THE NEGOTIATIONS
[Panama City, Panama] Climate Action Network - International will host a media briefing, webcast live, to provide reactions to the week of UN climate talks in Panama, which kicked off on Saturday and ends today. Panelists will speak about the outcomes from this week as well an outlook towards the Durban climate talks to be held at the end of the year.
The briefing takes place in Panama City, Panama, on Friday, October 7, at 12:00 local time (17:00 GMT), UNFCCC Press Conference Room, Room San Lorezon, Atlapa Convention Center.
It will be webcast live at: http://bit.ly/UNFCCCwebcast
What: Briefing on the UNFCCC climate negotiations in Panama
Where: Press Conference Room (San Lorenzo), Atlapa Convention Center, Panama
Webcast: via www.unfccc.int and at: http://bit.ly/UNFCCCwebcast
When: 12:00 local Panama time (17:00 GMT), Friday, 7 October 2011
Who: International NGO experts on UNFCCC negotiations
Climate Action Network - International (CAN) is a global network of over 700 NGOs in 95 countries working to promote government and individual action to limit human-induced climate change to ecologically sustainable levels. For more information go to: www.climatenetwork.org
For more information please contact:
David Turnbull, CAN International, +12023163499 (US mobile), or +50764751851 (local mobile in Panama)
Ecological Christian Organisation (ECO)
The United Nations declared that 11.5m people currently need humanitarian assistance across East Africa and many more could join them. The BBC reported that millions in Somalia and across the Horn of Africa face dire food shortages due to the worst regional drought for decades. On Tell Me More today, Al-Jazeera English correspondent, Azad Essa, told host Michel Martin that "in a word, the situation is quite horrific." The Horn of Africa region is now full of environmental refugees who do not have real hope in this real world. Their hope could be in the climate talks in Panama City that represent the best and last chance to get climate change negotiations back on track and prepare for a legally binding agreement at COP17 in Durban, South Africa.
In Uganda, the impacts of climate change are continuing without serious interventions to help vulnerable communities to cope. The recent emergence of landslides in areas without such history is leaving communities isolated, their survival networks and social structures weakened. On March 2 2010 over 358 people were killed by landslides at Nametsi Village, Bududa district, in Eastern Uganda. Landslides killed more 50 people in Bulambuli district, towards the end of August 2011 in Eastern Uganda. This is a region hit by drought, with many requiring food aid following the lack of April-May rain, these torrential rains, flooding and landslides are crippling the ability of communities to overcome poverty. Climate change impacts are making it even worse for communities to meet their needs and the government of Uganda to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), reduce poverty, and enhance human development. For us in Uganda, the parties attending the climate change talks in Panama City should come up with a text on long-term finance, which should be easily accessed by vulnerable Countries like Uganda.
Environmental protection is necessary to prevent climate change disasters in many countries from getting worse. In Panama City, measures must be taken to accommodate the needs of environmental refugees through expanding finance, technology, and capacity building commitments to developing countries. There is also need by parties to strengthen counting rules and methodologies to eliminate loopholes and explore innovative approaches to close the mitigation gap. Developed countries, therefore, should increase the ambition of their mitigation commitments unconditionally because of their historical responsibility. The Kyoto Protocol should be extended to the second commit period and attempts should be made to desist from failing to reach a legally binding climate change regime in Durban, South Africa, in December at the final UN Climate Talks of 2011. It is also important to note that the cost of inaction in clear and the future of the next generation is at a crossroad.
ECO has been clear in its call for a three-part outcome in Durban: adoption of a strong second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol; a mandate for negotiation of a more comprehensive and ambitious longer-term climate regime based on both scientific adequacy and the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capacities; and a package of decisions facilitating near-term action on all four building blocks of the Bali Action Plan and implementation of the Cancun Agreements.
Let’s make something else clear: building a long-term structure for fair and effective international action on climate change is important, but what really matters is meaningful action supporting peoples and communities already suffering the negative effects of climate change, and collective emission reductions at the scale and pace needed to avert even more catastrophic impacts in the future. The best legally binding treaty instruments in the world don’t amount to much without emission reduction ambition in line with the science and financial resources commensurate with the need.
Coming out of Panama, there has been some progress in developing draft text on many of the elements of the Bali Action Plan and the Cancun Agreements. But the prospects for linked agreements on extension of the Kyoto Protocol and the negotiations on a longer-term legally-binding instrument are not bright, absent significant changes in the negotiating positions of a number of key countries. Let’s look at them in turn.
EU. Fair or not, the EU holds the key to the Durban outcome. If the EU does not come to Durban with the clear goal of adopting a second commitment period (not some fuzzy political commitment) the Kyoto Protocol will wither and die. On Thursday, the EU laid out a clear set of elements for negotiations over the longer-term treaty that would assure that a KP second commitment period is a bridge to a more comprehensive and ambitious legal framework. EU environment ministers need to be careful not to set overly stringent conditions for such negotiations when they meet next Monday in Luxembourg.
Australia and New Zealand. While the view from atop the fence is nice, these countries need to get off of it and make clear they are ready to join with the EU, Norway, and others in embracing a second KP commitment period.
Japan, Russia, Canada. These countries claim they are bailing out of Kyoto because it doesn’t cover a large enough portion of global emissions. They need to come to Durban prepared to reconsider their position if agreement can be reached on launching negotiations on a longer-term treaty regime, or risk being perceived as multilateral treaty-killers, not treaty-builders.
US. The one developed country that stayed out of Kyoto, in part because the Protocol didn’t include major developing countries, claims it is willing to enter into negotiations on a new legally-binding instrument. But it has set very stringent conditions for the launch of such negotiations, while acknowledging that these conditions almost guarantee no agreement on a negotiating mandate in Durban. Meanwhile, the US is struggling to meet its already inadequate emissions reduction commitment, and has been reluctant to discuss ways of meeting the $100 billion by 2020 annual climate finance goal its president committed to in Copenhagen. At the very least, the US must contribute to such discussions in Durban, not attempt to block them.
The LDCs and AOSIS. The moral power of the most vulnerable countries needs to be heard, highlighting both the existential crisis they face and the reprehensible failure of those responsible for the problem to face up to it. These groups support both the extension of the KP and a mandate for negotiation of a new legally-binding instrument; they must continue to work together in Durban to achieve both of these goals.
The BASIC countries.All four of these countries are leaders in taking domestic actions to limit their emissions growth as their economies continue to rapidly develop. Their leadership is also needed on the current fight to preserve a rules-based multilateral climate treaty regime. They should certainly continue to demand a second Kyoto commitment period. But they should also call the US’s bluff, by indicating their willingness to negotiate a more comprehensive long-term treaty regime including binding commitments for all but the Least Developed Countries, as long as it’s truly based on principles of equity and common but differentiated responsibility.
All countries must come to Durban prepared to negotiate in a spirit of compromise if we are to achieve the ambitious package of decisions needed to address the mounting climate crisis. Ministers must take full advantage of their time together before Durban, at both the pre-COP ministerial consultations and the likely pre-Durban meeting of the Major Economies Forum, to explore constructive solutions to the current roadblocks to such a package of decisions. Then in Durban, they must work actively under the guidance of the South African presidency to bring the deal home. Their citizens need – and expect – nothing less.
ECO is pleased to see the discussions on long-term finance in Panama finishing on a better note than they started. Too many hours in Panama were lost as developed countries pondered whether there was a need to even discuss how to mobilize the money they committed in Cancun. At one stage one developed country party even seemed to query what climate finance was.
Let’s hope all that is now water under the bridge (or through the Panama canal). Yesterday the EU joined their partners in AOSIS, the Africa Group, India and Saudi Arabia in submitting text on long-term finance. As ECO goes to press, there is news that Japan and even the US are bringing their own ideas to the table. That sounds like consensus on the need to negotiate a package on long-term finance in Durban. The homework countries face until then, is what that package will contain.
Two upcoming meetings in the meantime may give them some ideas. First, the final session of the Transitional Committee will start to clarify the ambition of the Green Climate Fund. Many developed countries have said they are waiting to hear more about the contours of the fund being created before committing the resources that will ensure it is not an empty shell. ECO hopes that the final meeting will again capture the imagination of governments North and South. The world needs a new kind of fund to meet the climate challenge and spur commitments at the scale of resources needed.
Second, G20 finance ministers and leaders will discuss the report they requested from the World Bank and IMF on sources of long-term climate finance. The leaked preliminary report indicated an encouraging analysis of the potential to raise large sums from the international shipping sector, without hitting the economies of developing countries. ECO was told the report will show that a $25 per tonne carbon price will increase the costs of global trade by just 0.2%, while generating around $25 billion per year. ECO was particularly pleased to hear that the World Bank and IMF have found that it is possible to compensate developing countries by directing a portion of these revenues to them, ensuring they face no net incidence as a result of these measures. That would be a unique international solution to the high and rising emissions of a unique international sector.
ECO has never questioned the legitimacy of the UNFCCC process to take the final decisions on questions such as sources of finance. But any responsible country that is serious about generating the scale of resources so urgently needed – especially by the poorest countries – will not ignore such strong evidence to help do that.
So ECO leaves Panama with cautious optimism on the finance track. Countries have finally come together to negotiate text. With the inputs they will receive from the Transitional Committee meeting and the G20, there is every chance they can arrive in Durban ready to strike the real deal on long-term finance that developing countries need.
There are nine days left before the members of the Transitional Committee (TC) tasked with the design of the Green Climate Fund (GCF) will gather in Cape Town, South Africa for their fourth and final meeting before the COP in Durban.
It is clear that discussions are in a critical phase. The outcome of the TC meeting will likely determine whether the GCF will become a major driver for change that allows developing countries to shift towards a sustainable, low-carbon and climate-resilient development pathway, or alternatively become just another business-as-usual instrument. Will the Fund initiate a shift in the global financial architecture towards increased ownership for those who face the harsh reality of climate change impacts and wish to harness the benefits from low-carbon development? Or will it be another body with difficult access procedures for developing countries and thus lag behind the urgency of response that is needed? Success is possible in Cape Town, but there is also a real risk of failure.
ECO would like to encourage all TC members to do their utmost to conclude a strong and ambitious GCF which gives the developing world the bold means necessary to address climate change. Concluding their task will not be the endpoint for the design of the Fund, but rather a starting point which will hopefully provide the framework from which the key pillar in the international fight against climate change will emerge. Thus, ECO urges the TC members to focus on finding common ground, seeking compromise and show that the GCF is a joint response by the global community to the urgent problem which we are facing with our backs against the wall. It will not be perfect from its inception, but has to be a solid foundation on which to build.
Importantly, the TC must ensure that the Fund is credible from its inception, and ECO would like to urge the TC members to ensure that the outcome of their discussions is one which civil society can continue to defend. We seek assurance that civil society will be given at least the same attention as the private sector in the procedures of the GCF – for example, through active observer seats on the board and strong in-country participation.
The GCF will be a key channel for adaptation finance, and many civil society organizations have long experience in addressing the needs of peoples most affected by climate change. We seek assurance that a balanced allocation between adaptation and mitigation will be achieved to correct the major global over allocation towards mitigation that exists. We seek assurance that the GCF will enable direct access to funds for developing countries, notwithstanding the fact that reliable fiduciary standards are an important part of direct access design.
We seek assurance that environmental, social and gender safeguards are consistently and effectively applied with a view to reducing the risk that GCF resources are harming the people they are intended to help. Finally, we seek assurance that the GCF will be a key driver of low-carbon, climate-resilient and gender-equitable development pathways thus providing developing countries the help they have long been promised to alleviate poverty and achieve their development goals. There is still a chance to come up with a great result in Cape Town, the world will be watching.
ECO truly appreciates that the European Union still supports the Kyoto Protocol (KP), and is heartened by the commitment of the EU to continue (what some might call) ranting about the importance of a legally binding regime. This week, ECO has been particularly pleased to see that the EU started to show some more readiness to accept a second commitment period of the KP. And ECO understands, from the EU’s stated preference for a comprehensive legally binding outcome of the future framework, that the commitments under the Protocol are going to be kept legally binding.
Of particular concern to ECO is that some representatives from particular European countries favor other positions. Understandably it can be hard to make 28 mouths express the same, clear and coherent position but this is, indeed, urgently needed.
ECO believes that the EU should fight harder to ensure that, in Durban, the KP will move into a legally binding second commitment period with broad participation and binding rules. How would anyone understand that the EU believes it would be easier to build a legally binding regime after abandoning the only legal building block we have?
It is in the EU’s, and the planet’s, own interest to ensure that its commitment to the Kyoto Protocol goes beyond a political declaration. Moreover, if the EU is really keen to get all countries to negotiate a legally binding outcome in the LCA, promoting a political commitment to the KP does not seem the best strategy. Increasing ambition means going up, not down.
Next Monday, when the EU member states' environment ministers meet in Luxembourg, the EU has the chance to unambiguously put its position on paper and ECO believes the time has come to do so and take on a clear leading role. To accept and adopt a second commitment period of the KP does not require anything more than what the EU is already doing, so ECO would find it difficult to understand that the EU denied this breath of fresh air to the current climate talks.
ECO believes the EU could gain a lot if it could leave Durban as the Party that (once again) shaped the outcome of the COP and helped to save the only existing pathway to a global legally binding agreement.
Photo Credit: Manjeet Dhakal
Climate Change Program Manager
Forum for Environment
We are now in Panama, for the intersessional which is the last meeting before the Conference of the Parties (COP) in Durban. The 17th COP will be in Durban, South Africa, which make this a very important COP for Africa. Africa along with Least Developed Countries and the Small Island States are the most vulnerable to the adverse impacts of climate change. Even though Ethiopia is one of the least developed countries that is showing a rapid economic growth, it is still being affected by drought.
At the moment the Horn of Africa, including Ethiopia, is confronted with recurring climate change related disasters, in particular prolonged droughts and floods. This drought is said to be the worst in 60 years. Drought is not something new for Ethiopia nor the Horn. However, it has become more recurrent and severe in the last decades. Climate change is making the matters and problems worse for us who are under-developed.
In order to address the impacts of climate change, countries are negotiating under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). In its 15th and 16th meetings an agreement was reached that developed countries will be supporting adaptation and mitigation actions of developing countries. We are now approaching the end of 2011, where the fast start finance of $30 billion for the years 2010-2012 is about to end. The other decision we have is the one on long-term finance to mobilize $100 billion by 2020. So far there are no pledges from the developed countries for the year 2013 and onwards. That is a worry for us coming from the developing world. We have learned some lessons from the fast start finance, which is not new and not additional to the ODA, but is just relabeled as climate finance, given in the form of loans instead of grants. There is an imbalance between adaptation and mitigation with more money going to mitigation actions instead of adaptation.
Forty member countries of the transitional committee are designing the Green Climate Fund (GCF) of whose works will be presented in Durban to be approved by the Conference of Parties (COP). However, most developed countries do not want to have any form of discussion on long-term finance which is supposed to fill this fund. With all of these climate related disasters happening in most parts of the world, especially developing countries being the most vulnerable and having no capacity to adapt, adaptation finance is very crucial for us. It is a matter of survival and should be taken seriously by others. Developed countries need to get more serious and commit themselves to discuss the sources of finance that will feed into the new fund. If we want an outcome in Durban, most discussions and texts need to happen here in Panama.
It is good to note that, developing countries at the local and national level are also working to raise funds for their adaptation and mitigation actions. In my organization back home, Forum for Environment-Ethiopia, we have started an initiative to raise funds, which can be used for some local adaptation actions. We have started implementing the green tax initiative in which 1% of our salaries are deducted every month. We have done this for the past year and have raised small amount, which has not been used yet. Now we want this to be taken up by other organizations at the country-level to show our commitments by raising more money and taking local initiatives. We have started the process of engaging others to hopefully have a larger impact. Progress in Panama in all issues, especially finance, is very important for us to achieve something in the African COP in Durban.