Tag: Mitigation

An EU of (WS)2 Minds

Did you know ECO can be in several rooms at the same time? Usually, ECO finds this quite helpful. Sometimes, though, it just leaves us thoroughly confused.

Take the case of the EU yesterday. In the contact group discussions, the EU stressed that Parties’ targets are not strong enough and ambition needs to be increased to respect the 2°C guardrail, suggesting textual changes accordingly. ECO could not agree more on this point. In a different room at exactly the same time, the CMP was meeting, and ECO heard other Parties stressing that targets are not strong enough and ambition needs to be increased to respect the 2°C guardrail. So Parties suggested a contact group to consider pre-2020 targets and guess what: the EU forcefully rejected this proposal, even though they supported increasing ambition just down the hall.

Can you please just make up your mind?

Now, the EU might be concerned that a CMP contact group would only look at commitments under the KP, meaning those of a limited number of developed countries and not all Parties. If that were the case, ECO would be even more confused. Why has ECO not heard any support from the EU for a process on accelerated implementation in the Workstream 2 negotiations, which would be exactly the forum to discuss this?

We all know emissions need to peak before 2020 to stay below 2°C, so ECO hopes it will hear the EU and other Parties who opposed the CMP group (looking at you, Norway and Australia) support this process in the Workstream 2 decision today.

 

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Where Is the Bridge Builder? 

 

Yesterday, the Climate Vulnerable Forum declaration sent a resounding call to make the 1.5°C target real. Today, we continue to focus on the reality of climate impacts. 

Developing countries are at risk of acute climate damage and enormous adaptation costs. The European Union has a major role to play in ensuring the Paris agreement is fair and strong on this crucial issue. The EU has traditionally been a bridge builder in the negotiations. The EU needs to put its engineering skills to work. The EU should work closely with CVF countries to build unity and improve climate ambition. 

That means ensuring the Paris outcome truly supports countries to be resilient to climate impacts. A long-term goal on adaptation and a commitment to setting 5-year quantified financial targets are core elements. Our global resilience depends on the long-term target we set, so decarbonisation by 2050, and rapidly increasing ambition until we get there, are essential. 

No one is immune to the impacts of climate change. EU citizens are already experiencing severe floods and heat waves. In the last 30 years, Europe has seen a 60% increase in extreme weather events. Even in the EU, the poorest suffer most. Global solidarity must start in Le Bourget–ECO is looking to the EU to bring us together.

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Truly Transformational: African Renewable Energy Initiative 

The Africa Renewable Energy Initiative (AREI) was launched yesterday, representing a breakthrough on renewable energy development. AREI could help Africa leapfrog into low-carbon development. As one African dignitary said at the launch: ‘Sunshine should do more than nourish our crops, it must power our homes.’
The goal of AREI is to build at least 100GW of new and additional renewable energy generation capacity by 2020, and 300GW by 2030. That’s double the entire current electricity generation in Africa, which is roughly 150GW!  
AREI shows what can be achieved when there is political will and collaboration among key stakeholders. The African Ministerial Conference on the Environment, the New Partnership for Africa’s Development, the African Group of Negotiators, the African Development Bank and  UNEP have all worked together to bring this initiative off the ground. ECO can only hope that this Africa-grown initiative will receive the financial and technical support it deserves from developed countries.
   
ECO remembers when the idea for a renewable energy initiative in Africa was first proposed in a Technical Experts Meeting. We hope that yesterday’s launch will inspire similar ambitious action in other countries and regions, as well as broad support for an action agenda in the ADP. AREI is a perfect example of what ECO loves: transformative initiatives that contribute to closing the emissions gap, while realising development co-benefits. Workstream 2 could help launch other such initiatives and match them with finance and other support to ensure that they can be scaled up, replicated and tracked. 
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Loss and Damage: On the Brink of Disaster or the Verge of a Solution? 

ECO was pleased to hear so many Heads of State recognise that climate change is already resulting in severe impacts. Leaders of the most powerful countries acknowledged the existential threats to the most vulnerable. ECO hopes that negotiators are listening to their bosses.  

If not, loss and damage will be a sticking point for negotiations this week. We are sure that many ministers will not be happy when the new text on Saturday looks just like the current one. That is, one ‘non’-option to exclude loss and damage completely, and one option for a 5-paragraph comprehensive loss and damage mechanism under the agreement.

If negotiators are in fact listening to their bosses, they can make substantial progress on loss and damage this week. They need to elaborate further options to address L&D within the Paris agreement, combined with immediate steps to address key concerns through the COP decisions.  

There is no obstacle to putting institutional arrangements in the Paris agreement. Negotiators can also leave open the possibility of future amendments. Either way, negotiators can make progress. There is no time for brinkmanship.

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Agreements and Disagreements

 

A permanent Action Agenda building on the lessons of the Lima Paris Action Agenda could narrow the gap between current emissions trajectories and those required to limit global temperature rise to below 1.5°C.   

Some of the elements of such a permanent Action Agenda seem to be falling into place. Nobody disagrees about the importance of closing the gap or of identifying menus of good policy options that could be scaled up or replicated. Nobody disagrees about the benefits of involving non-state actors. There is a growing consensus that we need to appoint two high-level champions to facilitate the development of initiatives that help to close the gap.

However, it gets murkier from there. Though developed countries can and should launch unilateral and cooperative actions with their own resources, developing countries will require additional finance and technological support to take extra action. Yet some parties seem to think that this should not be discussed.

Similarly, it is clear that climate change impacts are increasing and that we need to develop additional initiatives to scale up adaptation actions. Yet, the fate of a Technical Examination Process for adaptation is still hotly debated, and here too some Parties do not want to discuss ways to increase support for adaptation.

ECO would like to remind Parties that the real measure of success for Workstream 2 will be whether it helps us to address climate change in the short term. This can only be done if developed countries increase their targets and if enough financial and technological resources are made available for mitigation and adaptation action on the ground.

 

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1.5: Possible Ambitious Required International Success

Yesterday’s Joint Contact Group on the 2013-2015 review saw Saudi Arabia–supported by its shadows Oman and China, attempt to block clear conclusions from ADP and COP’s two years of excellent work on the long-term goal. Worse, those countries are trying to prevent progress towards a COP decision on strengthening the limit for acceptable warming, which has its foundations in the robust climate science contained in the Structured Expert Dialogue (SED).

The SED found that the previously accepted ‘guardrail’ opinion, that 2°C of warming is safe, is inadequate. Now we know that the line of defence must be set lower. Yesterday, many countries–including the members of the Climate Vulnerables Forum–echoed that concept in an impressive declaration, calling for a warming limit of 1.5°C.

2°C of warming would result in catastrophic impacts on sensitive global ecosystems. Arctic sea-ice will disappear, glaciers will melt, and ocean acidification will destroy coral reef ecosystems. In other words: disaster for the climate and disaster for our planet.

The good news is the SED concluded that keeping warming well below 2°C is still possible through deep emission cuts. These cuts can be achieved through full decarbonisation of energy systems, along with scaling-up of low-carbon energy technologies by approximately 90% by 2050. ECO expects that parties will want to demonstrate unambiguously–through a COP decision–that they take science seriously and that the Paris agreement will build on the basis of the outcome of the SED.

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1.5ºC Means Serious Long Term Goals

This week is kicking off with a major focus on vulnerable countries and resilience. As Obama’s opening speech said, ‘no nation large or small, wealthy or poor is immune to the impacts of climate change’. That is why today’s declaration by the Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF)–a platform of 20 countries whose people, economies and ecosystems are at risk of irreparable damage as a result of rising temperatures–is of huge importance.
These 20 countries have not only pledged to fight for climate justice, but also to demonstrate how such justice can become a reality. Making 1.5°C real will require a clear and rapid transition away from fossil fuels. It means that countries must agree to decarbonise globally and transform to a 100% renewable energy system by 2050. It also means a Paris Ambition Mechanism that will ensure targets are reviewed before 2020 and then renewed and revised upwards on a 5-year rolling cycle–to keep survival and a just transition within reach. It requires richer nations both to fulfil their promise of providing US$100 billion of climate finance by 2020 and to take the lead in making this the floor for future support for mitigation, adaptation and loss and damage.
ECO wholeheartedly supports countries’ demand to limit the global temperature rise to no more than 1.5°C. If our goal is not to secure the survival of whole countries, then what is it? This is a simple moral imperative that should unite us all.
If ECO had only one wish, it would be that the voices of the most vulnerable should resonate through the negotiating halls of Le Bourget and their demands be supported and championed by all Parties, especially the EU, US, and other countries that pride themselves on being partners in global solidarity.
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Do You Recognise Me?

On the first day of any COP, ECO always finds itself wandering the halls, orienting where the best coffee is, or where the plenaries will be. It goes without saying that ECO is pleased to see old friends and familiar faces working towards a safer climate future. But, with so many people in Le Bourget, there were certainly a few moments today trying to place people. Is that the Guardian reporter, or the delegate from India?

This is also sometimes the case when looking at the many pieces that will make up the Paris package. For example, most people see the Lima Paris Action Agenda (LPAA) as a forum to bring together state and non-state actors to accelerate cooperative climate action.

Yet, from another perspective, the LPAA could also be seen as something else–the first test for a more permanent high-level action agenda that Paris should establish. A permanent high-level engagement platform would be a key element of a strong Workstream 2 decision. As proposed by AOSIS, this action agenda would be led by two high-level champions, who are prominent global individuals with the stature and connections to rally the world to close the emissions gap to 1.5°C.

Given the important example the LPAA would set, it needs to get off on the right foot. This would start with excluding initiatives involving fossil fuel companies. And areas like energy efficiency, renewable energy, cities and forests (which all currently have a prominent space in the LPAA) should continue to be the focus of the permanent action agenda.

To ensure that we have an action agenda in 2016, which focuses on transformational outcomes that help close the gap, the Workstream 2 decision should set a clear criteria for future initiatives. Additionally, there should be provisions to track progress and hold stakeholders accountable for making progress after the cameras and lights go off.

So, as you watch the LPAA action days this coming week, remember that there is more than meets the eye.

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Dead Heat in First Fossil of the Day Awards of the Paris Climate Summit

As world leaders up the ante on the opening day of the Paris Climate Summit, the first place Fossil of the Day award is a double-act. New Zealand claims a top spot for rather hilariously, or not, urging countries to phase out fossil fuel subsidies while shelling out big bucks to prop up fossil fuel production, to the tune of US$80 million.
Prime Minister John Key showed a degree of hypocrisy by claiming, at a Friends of Fossil Fuel Subsidy Reform event, that New Zealand is a leader on fossil fuel subsidy abolition–despite the country’s fossil fuel production subsidies increasing seven-fold since his election in 2008. His phony grandstanding came just a week after claiming that New Zealand ‘doesn’t need to be and shouldn’t be a leader in climate change’. Are you getting mixed signals too?
Joining New Zealand on the winners podium (drum roll please) for a First Place Fossil Award is Belgium! With environmental leadership as murky as a tall glass of Weisse beer, its four regional governments from four different parties are still bickering over how to implement the EU climate and energy package since 2009.
Today, Belgium is lagging behind on their carbon pollution reduction and renewable energy targets. Because of this bickering blocking a Belgian climate agreement, the country also lags behind in providing sufficient and durable climate finance. The severe state of gridlock in the Belgian environment office makes ECO wonder if some of the political bigwigs are having 5 boxes of Guylian Chocolates in one sitting whenever progress is to be made. That probably also led to the Environment Minister missing the train to Paris. Why? Because the government was negotiating the restarting of old nuclear power plants that were canned over a year ago.
And look, only a couple of hours after receiving the Fossil, Belgium reached an agreement. Not one on climate, noooo. One on more old nukes for the coming decade. Belgium is moving…backwards.

 

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