Tag: Mitigation

Fresh Breeze from the Arab World

 

A milestone was passed today, when perhaps for the first time ever, an intervention by Saudi Arabia got an enthusiastic round of applause. Speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, Saudi Arabia delivered an intervention devoid of the finger-pointing that an ADP co-chair lamented about past sessions. The applause came when the Saudi speaker delivering the intervention stumbled over an unpronounceable English word, then recovered with grace, humour and dignity.

She went on to commit the Arab group to assume its fair share of efforts to combat global climate change, to move past finger-pointing, to implement new and renewable energy strategies, to delink growth from emissions, and then called for a principled approach based on equity and science. A breath of fresh air, and quite different from a Saudi intervention earlier this session that emphasised uncertainties in the climate science.

PS: After the advice offered from one of the co-chairs, no non-native English speaker should ever feel compelled to utter this 8-syllable word again. But even if it becomes treated as a 4-letter word, we still want it to happen!

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Costa Rica Carbon Neutral for 2020...Really?

 

Developing countries are rightly demanding more action as we work towards an ambitious deal in 2015. And in the spirit of an international agreement applicable to all, many developing countries are taking more actions domestically.

ECO commends developing countries, including Costa Rica, for committing to serious mitigation efforts. Indeed, Costa Rica pledged to be Carbon Neutral by 2021. “Wow!” ECO said at the time, “that is a tremendously ambitious target.” What a great example this country is setting. But a few years down the road, we find out that Costa Rica was attracted by some juicy gifts from the Chinese government and now is ready to receive a loan for building an oil refinery!

ECO wonders how an oil refinery fits in a carbon neutral scheme. How would Costa Rica balance these emissions? Carbon capture and storage is not looking like an option.

You are 8 years away from celebrating 200 years of independence, and the deadline that you chose yourself, voluntarily, to celebrate the start of oil independence. As you see, ECO is watching, and will keep checking on your commitments.

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Climate Finance: Deal Maker or Deal Breaker?

 

Sitting in Monday’s briefing for observer organisations, ECO was delighted to hear the incoming President identify progress on climate finance as a “clear priority” for COP19.

We couldn’t agree more! With the Fast Start period behind us and only a handful of countries with new money on the table, we’re in need of some giant strides between now and the end of Warsaw.

At a minimum, all developed countries must set out, in a way that ensures comparability, the climate finance they will provide over the period 2013-2015, that is comparable and commit to a roadmap for scaling up public finance and reaching US$100bn per year by 2020. The Green Climate Fund must not be left an empty shell – for a fourth COP in a row. And if we’re to confront the enduring “adaptation gap”, Parties should agree that at least 50% of all public climate finance between now and 2020 will be spent on adaptation.

So Poland, now is the time for a good hard think about what it will take to deliver this kind of progress by November. ECO’s advice: It’s time to bring in those who hold the purse strings. That’s right, we’re talking finance ministers. If you’re serious about some big decisions on finance, which ECO believes you are, then we need to involve Finance Ministries and Treasuries in the conversation as soon as possible. That means bringing them into the process before or early in COP19, not just having them swoop in at the end and try to cut last minute deals.

Then there’s the “in-session high-level ministerial dialogue” to prepare for. This is one opportunity we cannot afford to let slip. ECO is looking forward to seeing Finance Ministers sitting down to work out their new commitments and make decisions on promising new sources of public finance. If you put out the invitation, we’ll be sure to do our part in encouraging them to come along.

And when it comes to pathways for scaling up, ECO suggests you have a word with those lovely chaps chairing the Long Term Finance Work Programme. It’s time to gather these almost two years of deliberations into some clear decision options for Ministers, including on new and innovative sources of public finance.

Parties have been emphatic these last two weeks about the need for an ambitious deal that is guided by science as well as equity and capable of keeping warming to within 1.5-2oC. But developing countries simply cannot unlock their mitigation potential unless there is the necessary financial support. Furthermore, vulnerable countries must be given confidence that their escalating adaptation needs will be met.

Finance will be the glue that holds the 2015 deal together. Real progress on this front will be a major step towards an ambitious outcome.

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ADP: A Detailed Proposal

With less than 5 months until COP19, there is much homework for Parties to do on specific proposals for the nature and structure of the 2015 deal. By Warsaw, Parties need to broadly be able to answer the 5 Ws (who, what, where, when, why and how) for all elements of the deal. Take mitigation for example.

Who – well that’s easy – all Parties.

What – binding mitigation commitments that respect Parties' common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities in a dynamic manner, and long term global temperature and reduction targets that provide a strong signal to the investment community that fossil fuels are done!

Where – in a Protocol.

When – for the 5 year commitment period of 2021-2025.

Why – to save your gluteus maximus (and the planet).

How – ECO really hopes the answer to this question is obvious considering how much airtime Parties have been giving to CAN’s Equity Reference Framework these past two weeks.

Hummm…upon reflection, perhaps the homework is not that challenging, as all that is needed is to flesh out the “what” to be committed. This should ensure that Parties have enough clarity on the nature of commitments to be able to table initial offers by the Ban-Ki Moon Summit in the autumn of 2014.

Of course, the final agreement is not all about mitigation. Thus ECO was pleased to see in the draft conclusions for the ADP a technical paper on adaptation costs for each degree of temperature raise. Mitigation, adaptation and loss and damage exist in a continuum. Less ambition on mitigation means substantially more efforts are required to adapt. Similarly, if adequate actions for adaptation are not taken in time, we need to spend more resources to address loss & damage. This technical paper should be focused on the cost-temperature interaction – anything on “adaptation opportunities” (which seems like an oxymoron) can be addressed elsewhere.

Staying with the ying and yang relationship of adaptation and mitigation for a minute, ECO sees a much greater lift on the workstream 2 side of things. Here the list of possible actions is known – increased targets, new pledges, phasing out fossil fuel subsidies and HFCs, enhancing renewable energy and energy efficiency and so on. While AOSIS made a constructive suggestion on the technical way forward, what is really needed is political will and actual commitments. The Obama/Xi announcement on phasing out HFCs is a step in the right direction, but still needs to be translated into firm action.

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Poles Apart

 

Poland is an extraordinary country. It has overcome many years of oppression and poverty to transform itself into a significant economic powerhouse and a proactive European player on diplomacy.

But it appears the Polish government is willing to risk their status as rising international star, and allow its politics to be captured by high carbon incumbents.

If the Polish government continues to pursue this position, it is quite likely that the EU will lose patience, and a diplomatic backlash is quite possible. This will result in Poland losing its say to shape the future of Europe’s energy regime, widening the gap between its ageing and inefficient energy infrastructure and a more dynamic, smarter and innovative power system across other EU countries.

ECO wonders if the Polish government is kicking itself in deciding to put their names forward for the Presidency of COP19 later on this year. Warsaw will not be a Poznan. Back in 2008, the Poles were still only agitators as opposed to today’s outright blockers of the EU’s energy and climate ambitions. Poznan was a low-key COP, unlike Warsaw, which should agree on the outlines of an Equity Reference Framework for the post-2020 deal; outline further efforts on public finance (with the engagement of Finance Ministers); close the pre-2020 mitigation gap; affirm the political significance of the Loss and Damage debate and set in place a series of processes to deliver a 2015 agreement.

Warsaw will be a high profile event. But Poland’s diplomatic strategy is flawed – they are invisible, and there is an emerging disquiet amongst many Parties and observers if they were the right choice. Among those are established voices such as Raul Estrada-Oyuela, a legend to those of us in the climate and diplomatic arena, who unforgettably locked delegates in the room in Kyoto to hammer out the subsequent protocol, who calls Poland’s ability to host such an important event into question, based on the Polish SBI chair’s failure to resolve this issue. (Link to Estrada’s letter here http://bit.ly/estrada-oyuela)

What is needed from the Polish government is not just to be a rising star, but a sophisticated diplomatic actor that understands how to build consensus around ambitious action climate change. An actor who has a more mature and deeper understanding of its national interest. An actor who understands that a reliance on coal undermines the long term prosperity of its own people, and recognises that modernising its economy is essential if it is to compete in a globalised world.   Instead, what we have is a government that plans to build new coal fired power plants and open new lignite reserves, which recent studies state have the worst implications upon health within the EU, and that also displace 20,000 people.  Such aggressive coal expansion, and its persistent objections to greater European ambition, cannot be reconciled with its desire to be an international player in the run up to 2015.

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HFCs: Finally Phasing Out One Man-Made Problem?

 

ECO was pleased to wake up Sunday to the news that Presidents Obama and Xi had agreed to work together to combat climate change by phasing down the super greenhouse gases, hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), under the Montreal Protocol. An agreement under Montreal could prevent emissions of 100 billion tonnes CO2e by 2050. First that great party on Saturday, and then this?!

For a while now, the EU has been busy pushing a COP decision at Warsaw that will urge Parties to begin this exact same process under the Montreal Protocol, and they are clearly excited to have China and the US in agreement. As Connie Hedegaard tweeted Saturday, “Welcome on board!” All eyes are now on the next intersessional meeting of the Montreal Protocol happening in a few weeks, hoping it will turn this political arrangement into concrete, short-term action, which must not stop at phasing down, but start phasing out with appropriate finance and technology support to developing countries.

HFCs are human-manufactured chemicals, primarily used in refrigeration, air conditioning and foam blowing, which were commercialised to replace the high-Global Warming Potential, ozone depleting, human manufactured chemicals phased out by the Montreal Protocol over the past 25 years. Yet, HFCs are also extremely harmful to the climate, with global warming potentials much higher than carbon dioxide. Fortunately, commercially available, climate friendly natural alternatives exist for most of their uses, and developed countries should ensure that these are provided to developing countries at an affordable cost to enable them to take a faster phase in.

Under the Montreal Protocol, all 197 Parties have accepted firm reduction commitments. These commitments are based on the legal principle of common but differentiated responsibilities that incorporates a grace period for developing countries and financial and technology transfer support. This allows them to implement mandated phase-out schedules after developed countries, in recognition of developed countries’ larger historical contribution to ozone depletion and developing countries’ right to continued growth and development. In addition, the Montreal Protocol has financially supported the phase-out of ozone depleting substances in developing countries through developed country contributions administered by the Multilateral Fund (MLF).

On Monday, the EU held a side event to discuss how to deliver progress on HFCs in practical terms. A far cry from some of the more theoretical debates happening elsewhere, this took a packed room through a demonstration of what the Montreal Protocol has achieved in terms of climate mitigation and technology transfer. A whopping 220 Gt CO2e have been avoided since the early 1990s alone, with the $3 billion channelled through the MLF. The message came across loud and clear: if you’re looking for bang for your buck, look no further than the Montreal Protocol. This led more than one participant to ask why we’re not using the tried and tested mechanisms already in place to get rid of these super greenhouse gases.

ECO wonders the same thing, and hopes Parties will stop their politics and get to work. ECO also calls upon developed countries to ensure that support is provided to financial and technology transfer to ensure these technologies are available at affordable costs to developing countries, and encourages a faster phase out to better technologies.

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A Road Paved in Questions

 

As the road to the 2015 agreement is beginning to be paved brick by brick, ECO wants to help Parties by giving them a direction in which this road should be built. Parties will be making submissions around how to further develop and operationalise the ADP work program. Here are a few questions that Parties should address in their submissions, which will help us to get closer to a fair, ambitious and binding deal.  

Equity

How could the principles of the Convention be operationalised into objective criteria and indicators to guide countries in seeking to identify their fair and adequate contributions to the globally needed mitigation effort and adaptation support and provision of the means of implementation?

What could be the suitable timelines up to 2015 to a) identify objective ex-ante criteria to develop an agreed list of indicators for identifying each country’s fair efforts, b) for countries to submit initial mitigation and finance commitments and c) assess and revise commitments based on the ex-ante agreed list of indicators?

Mitigation

What should be the global carbon budget and subsequent long term emission pathways indicative of emission levels at 2025, 2030 and 2050?

What information should Parties include about their targets and commitments in order to allow individual and aggregate assessment against adequacy and equity, including their views about a timeline that allows for this assessment and revision of targets well before COP21?

How to raise the level of ambition for developed countries’ 2020 targets?

How to close the pre-2020 ambition gap through advancing concrete solutions?

Adaptation

How should Parties scale up public finance for adaptation and ensure at least USD 50bn international public finance annually?

How are Parties going to deal with inter-connectivity between lack of mitigation ambition and increased need for adaptation, along with addressing loss and damage?

Finance

How to assess overall financial needs, as well as the links between the scale of financial needs for adaptation, the scale of loss and damage likely to be incurred and the level of mitigation ambition?

How do Parties see progress on applying both “polluter pays” and the principle of CBDR to generate new streams of finance?

Technology

What issues related to technology support need to be addressed by the ADP and how can technology transfer best leverage increased ambition?

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ECO’S “COMPROMISE” DECISION FOR WARSAW*

 

*By compromise, ECO mean somewhere in between what is scientifically needed and what YOU tell us is currently feasible.

The Conference of the Parties,

Recalling Article 4, paragraphs 1, 3, 4 and 5 and 7 of the Convention,

Reaffirming the unwavering commitment of parties to keep global average temperature increase well below 2 degrees C above pre-industrial levels and the continuum approach between mitigation, adaptation, loss & damage and finance that is required to ensure equity before 2020.

Reaffirming the urgency to address the current imbalance in mitigation and adaptation finance – in light of recent studies showing the adaptation and loss and damage costs in developing countries will very likely be well in excess of US$100 billion per year by 2020.

Reaffirming the need to raise mitigation ambition levels between now and 2020, and achieving emission reductions on the order of 8-13 Gigatonnes of emissions in the pre-2020 period, beyond existing commitments and actions registered under the UNFCCC.

Supporting the authoritative assessments demonstrating that staying well below 2°C will require several hundred billion of incremental finance per year and the shifting of trillions of dollars of existing private sector investments into low carbon technologies and solutions.

Emphasising that the commitment by developing countries to provide $100 billion for developing countries will be delivered in the form of new and additional public finance, through budgetary allocations from developed countries, supplemented by revenues from alternative sources of public finance

Emphasising the shortcomings of the main revenue stream for the Adaptation Fund in relation to the expected low price of CERs under the Clean Development Mechanism and the need for new and additional commitments by developed countries.

*********
Decides:

1. That developed country Parties shall provide jointly new and additional public finance amounting to an average of US$20 billion annually for the period 2013-2015, for mitigation and adaptation actions, including for REDD, technology and capacity building.

2. That for the periods of 2016-2018 and 2018-2020, developed country parties shall scale up financing in a linear manner from the current levels to reach $100 billion annually in public finance by 2020.

3. That developed countries shall allocate at least 50% of overall public finance to meeting developing country adaptation needs.

4. To establish a formal process to capitalise the GCF with an initial collective pledge of (…)** by COP19.

5. To call on the relevant bodies to design and implement global measures to raise new streams of public climate finance, particularly through:

i) Redirection of at least 100% of Annex 2 fossil fuel subsidies

ii) Carbon pricing mechanisms applied to the international aviation and maritime transport - in accordance with the principal of CBDRRC and existing commitments under the UNFCCC.

********

Welcomes

1. The pledges to the Adaptation Fund of (…)** collectively made by Annex 2 Parties for 2013/2014, as contained in Annex C of this decision, and those made by other Parties.

2. The initial pledges to the Green Climate Fund of (…)** collectively made by Annex 2 Parties as contained in Annex D of this decision.

3. The recent declaration by 11 EU Finance Ministers to earmark at least 100% of the revenue raised through their Financial Transaction Tax to the Green Climate Fund.

Disclaimer

** "there is not enough space on this page to specify the number of billions ECO is expecting"

For official CAN positions, please refer to www.climatenetwork.org

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ADP Workstream 2 Roundtable – Talking, Yes, but Walking the Walk?

 

Listening to the ongoing discussions in the ADP Workstream 2 on short term mitigation ambition, ECO suspects that some might not have read—or have forgotten—the size of the pre-2020 mitigation ambition gap. For all the rhetoric in the room, one might be convinced that nations have forgotten that they have the power to decide whether the world will remain below the 2°C threshold  scientists maintain as critical. Technologically and economically feasible trajectories to remaining below the 2°C level have been outlined. Without acting now, they are wilfully choosing to neglect the known mitigation ambition gap science has shown, as well as the opportunities that exist to bridge it.

In this context, ECO would like to remind delegates of what India, China and others have helpfully underlined during Workstream 2 (WS2) discussions thus far: the time has come for developed countries to do their “fair share” in reducing emissions by at least 40% by 2020 (and reflecting on their consumption patterns).

The 2014 Kyoto Protocol ambition review is one opportunity for nations to reflect on the comparable upward revisiting of pledges; for instance, the EU has achieved its 20% target years ahead of schedule but with no expressed intention, yet, to step up its own ambition until 2020; or Australia, for whom, recent research shows, upping their pledge from 5% to 25% comes at essentially zero net costs.

A cornerstone in WS2, clearly, are those International Cooperative Initiatives, of which we need many, given the size of the gap - but (as suggested by a few Parties) those must lead to new ambition rather than window-dressing existing (low) ambition. Right-on! Addressing international bunkers emissions from marine and aviation transport would be two prime ICI candidates, if ECO was to suggest a few, alongside phasing-out HFCs under the Montreal Protocol, which would also allow for making use of its existing funding mechanism. Another additional initiative would be to start, in earnest, what South Africa has called for during the early days of this session: immediate phase-out of fossil fuel subsidies in developed countries. Doing so, notes ECO, would free up billions of Dollars, Euros, Pounds or Yen for climate finance, including support for developing countries to gradually shift their fossil fuel subsidies both to renewable energy and energy efficiency.

ECO continues to be pleased by the engagement of AOSIS and their pragmatic approach of a step-by-step technical process to identify best practices suitable for scaling-up, overcoming the barriers to, and creating incentives for, new action in the areas of renewable energy and energy efficiency. Moreover, ECO commends their calls to elevate the results of the technical analysis to the ministerial level for agreeing to concrete action in 2014.

Yes, surely there are other mitigation areas to cover, too. And ECO could not agree more with the Philippines (and others) that similar approaches are needed in order to enhance pre-2020 adaptation – but ECO suggests this happens in parallel and need not stop us in advancing on other joint action. What ECO likes about the AOSIS proposal is that it could develop concrete plans to mobilise the entire UNFCCC architecture (e.g. for an action programme on renewable energy) with no new burdens for countries, yet the opportunity to participate in initiatives to expand renewable energy use. In that vein, ECO was pleased with Switzerland’s affirmation (from earlier this session, supporting India’s) that WS2 is not about shifting burdens from developed to developing countries. After all, such joint action to identify barriers and possible incentives could also help to better understand the financial and technological needs of developing countries, creating another pull for developed countries to deliver on their 100 billion per year by 2020 financing promise from Copenhagen and Cancun.

Funding, alas, remains key, as South Africa stressed yesterday once more, calling for scaled-up financing trajectories by developed countries in time for the Warsaw finance ministerial roundtable, and early and regular replenishment of the empty Green Climate Fund (GCF). The GCF could become a central pillar in the upward spiral of increased climate finance helping to trigger increased ambition. Meanwhile, the lack of clarity on scaling up short and mid-term climate finance is likely hampering ambition. Perhaps another theme for the upcoming Warsaw climate finance ministerial roundtable?

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June 2013 Climate talks: mid session briefing on mitigation

 

Credit: Adopt a Negotiator

Jan Kowalzig, gives an overview of what has happened so far in the Bonn UN climate negotiations after one week on the topic of mitigation.

 

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