Tag: Mitigation

Conditional NDCs Must Unlock Ambition

Every single assessment of the NDCs has indicated that Parties are not on track to meet the 2°C goal of the Paris agreement, let alone 1.5°C. Fortunately, some Parties have already put forward the seeds of a possible solution to this problem. Some have used their contributions to specifically indicate additional mitigation potential that could be unlocked with technology, finance and capacity-building support. These efforts, conditioned upon the delivery of support, represent an additional 2.4 GT of emissions reductions in 2030.

If we identified 2.4 GT of additional mitigation potential through contributions without any guidance, how many more GTs could be unlocked if developing country Parties indicated how much they can contribute to the international effort if a specified level of support was provided (in addition to what they could do with their own resources)? Developed countries should then honour their dual obligations to deliver mitigation efforts within their own borders as well as deliver support to unlock efforts in developing countries that are conditional on receiving support. More than any other space in the negotiations, partially conditional NDCs emphasise how critical the delivery of finance, technology and capacity building is to achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement. And they offer an opportunity for countries to work collaboratively to unlock additional emissions reductions.

As Parties pursue further discussions on the features to be included in future NDCs, ECO can only hope that they will all agree that clarity on conditional and unconditional efforts is a key feature that can help to unlock greater ambition by quantifying the levels and nature of support required.

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First Rule of Holes: When You’re in One, Stop Digging

Now that the Paris Agreement has been signed by 193 parties and ratified by over 100, one message is very clear: the era of fossil fuels is over. But it seems that not everyone has gotten the message. In many countries, the coal lobby stubbornly believes it can delay the inevitable.

Let’s take Brazil as an example. Brazil likes to boast about being a climate champion. But its Congress just approved a billion-dollar subsidy to the coal industry. Equally problematic, this comes at a time when coal represents less than 5% of electricity generation in Brazil, but over 20% of emissions. Has anyone in the Brazilian Congress done the maths?

The coal industry spends a fortune on lobbying. But President Temer now has the chance to veto this subsidy, as tens of thousands of Brazilians have urged him to do. The world is watching closely, and expects meaningful action from a country that could otherwise be one of the first to reach 100% renewables.

But it’s not only Brazil where coal still dreams of a future. Forbes Magazine recently described Japan as having a “renewed love affair with coal”, with over 40 new plants being built, planned or proposed before 2020. If implemented, this would be a nightmare for the climate.

Perhaps even worse, Tokyo’s renewed love for coal isn’t confined to home. As the world’s biggest contributor of public financing for coal projects, Japan invested over $22 billion overseas from 2007 to 2015, including funding for several proposed coal projects in–wait for it–Brazil. It’s high time for Japan to stop sleepwalking, catch up with the times and stop funding the dirty fossils of the past, both at home and abroad.

Turkey’s situation is nearly as sickening. The country won COP22’s inaugural Fossil of the Day award yesterday, in part for its absurd plans to build 70 new coal power plants that would add over 70 GW of dirty energy capacity. Just writing that sentence makes ECO nauseous. No matter how you cut it, this blatant denial of physics is bad, bad medicine for an ailing climate. If Turkey wants to be taken seriously, it needs to take some remedial lessons and get back on track for renewables. The coal financiers investing there and in the Balkan region are big players: largely Chinese money channelled through different development banks.

All around the world, the coal industry is desperately attempting to defy the laws of physics. It wants us to believe that when you’re in a hole, if you keep digging you just might get out. Thankfully, ECO had an excellent physics professor and has sounder advice: when you’re in a hole, stop digging. One thing is certain–if we are to deliver on the promise of the Paris Agreement, every country must show more ambition when it comes to emission reductions. Getting rid of dirty coal would be a great place to start.

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All Hands on Deck!

Many of us have spent years in the UNFCCC bubble, where every bracket, and every comma (especially the commas) matter. Slowly, though, we are lifting our gaze and seeing that there is more to action already occurring on the ground. One concrete example is right in this COP’s backyard—the Ouarzazate Solar Power Station. It is one of the world’s largest solar thermal power plants. It will provide renewable energy to more than one million Moroccans. ECO is impressed by such an innovative project.

This project convinces us that we can learn from the good things already happening out there. Non-state actors, such as cities and regions, businesses, and civil society groups are paving the way by demonstrating ambition and concrete achievements. Can these “outside processes”, such as Global Climate Action (GCA), help increase ambition inside these processes?

Another question remains: How can non-state actors help raise ambitions for the 2018 facilitative dialogue, including leading by example through setting science-based targets? And how can the efforts by state actors help to ensure credibility, ambition and transparency in voluntary initiatives and coalitions under the heading of GCA?

So-called inside and outside processes are both needed to function well. Each can enable and assist the other to create virtuous cycles so that all actors can do more.

ECO and our friends will be exploring these issues at a CAN side event Tuesday 8 November at 3pm in room Bering. Please join us.

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Year of the Turkey

Everyone loves a good COP — so much so that even though delegates are roaming around a half-finished conference centre. And although we don’t know where the 2017, 2018 or 2019 COPs will be hosted, we do know one thing: 2020 could be Year of the Turkey.

The Government of Turkey’s bid for the 2020 COP has caught the eye of some who happened to find themselves wandering around the colourful pavilions in Area D. It cannot overshadow the awarding of the Fossil of the Day award for most ironic agenda item request. Despite having not yet even ratified the Paris Agreement (like the hundred odd countries that have), yesterday Turkey had the nerve to ask for an agenda item on financial support under the Paris Agreement and the Green Climate Fund. Brave, courageous, audacious—or simply ludicrously out of touch?

Unfortunately, it is possibly the latter, given Turkey’s plans to support the opening of new coal plants and increase its greenhouse gas emissions in the near term. Instead of pretending to access financial support under the Agreement, Turkey should do the simple 1, 2, 3: ratify, increase ambition in its national climate action plan and move towards 100% renewable energy.

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Marrakech: Going Beyond Shoulder Patting to Action

The past year was tremendous for climate action. The Paris Agreement entered into force on Friday. HFCs are finally on their way out., The international shipping and aviation industries have started to reduce their emissions. With this success echoing through the COP halls, there couldn’t be a better time for a pep rally for COP22.

But, we are up against our greatest rival, and cannot afford time-outs. 2016 is set to be the hottest year on record, with a disastrous El Niño and massive coral bleaching in tropical seas. Carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere passed the dangerous 400ppm threshold and continues to rise.

While the NDCs that were pledged in 2015 bend emissions into a downward trajectory, we’re still not on a safe path. UNEP’s Emissions Gap Report shows that our climate curve remains on a pathway towards 3.4°C warming by 2100. It confirms that global emissions in 2030 will still be 25% higher than they should be for a 2°C pathway.

In ECO’s view, Marrakech should be the start of the process to strengthen countries’ ambition, in line with 1.5ºC and national long-term strategies.

The facilitative dialogues in 2016 and 2018, and the first global stocktake in 2023, are built-in mechanisms to assess progress and scale up ambition. They are the action points. COP22 should get the ball rolling on these by successfully concluding the 2016 facilitative dialogue and setting up a process to define modalities for the 2018 dialogue. This is a team strategy, and one that is set to win.

While we work on improving the NDCs, time is running out to keep warming to 1.5ºC. Additional action pre-2020 is critical. We need all hands on deck to deliver additional efforts under the Global Action Agenda and through a revised TEP process.

Other key issues that require significant progress include long-term adaptation finance goals and improving rules for accounting for climate finance, in the context of the US$100 billion roadmap. The need for real balance between mitigation and adaptation expenditures—as well as finding ways to finance loss and damage—are essential to move the finance agenda forward.

Indeed, the Warsaw International Mechanism for loss and damage will be evaluated for the first time here, and gives Parties an opportunity to take steps to strengthen it and give it financial muscle.

Finally, due to the unanticipated speed of entry into force, Parties still need time to finalise most of the decisions. To actually benefit from early entry into force, most of the rules to start implementation need to be finalised by 2018.

COP 22 must capitalise on the achievements of 2015 by delivering an ambitious agenda on NDC ambition, the pre-2020 process, and the WIM, to deliver a 1.5ºC future.

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Shipping Emissions: Sailing in Circles

The UN’s shipping body, the International Maritime Organization, had a mixed meeting last month. Where does this now leave the sector’s pledge to act? The IMO met to discuss air quality, as well as GHG emissions, but how does this level up from agreements made in Paris? We saw long awaited action on air quality, but it is disappointing that Parties couldn’t show equal ambition when it came to shipping’s climate impact.

The key issue at stake was whether the sector—with a CO2 impact greater than Germany—will pull together an emissions target in time for the 2018 facilitative dialogue. One proposal was to set a provisional target, and then update it when more data became available. But we are currently going down with this ship.

Following huge opposition from a group of member states and the industry, the IMO eventually settled for an “IMO Strategy” document to be developed and submitted to COP24. Under the agreed roadmap, the strategy includes neither a provisional target nor clear emission pathways and measures for international shipping. Rather it looks to short-medium-long term efficiency opportunities for international shipping. This is a euphemism for no action at least for the next 7 years, and a certainty of no wind in its sails.

While agreeing on a roadmap that looked into efficiency opportunities in one area, IMO failed in the other to make progress on reducing emissions by tightening the energy efficiency standards (EEDI) for ships. Current ships already meet the incredibly weak EEDI requirements for 2020. Thus, the only climate measure currently at the disposal of the shipping industry is having no impact on reducing emissions.

With IMO failing again, action at the European level may be required instead—something ECO hears European lawmakers are already working on. Outmoded policies, like ageing ships, need an overhaul from time to time.

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Unfacilitated Dialogue

There’s an elephant in the room at COP22. While the Paris Agreement sets ambitions, goals and a common cause for the planet, there is major concern with respect to the level of ambition in the NDCs. Ramping up ambition of the current NDCs is something everyone knows we have to address. So, let’s talk about it, shall we?

Last year, we agreed to a facilitative dialogue to ratchet up ambition in 2018. We have to get this right, otherwise we will not just have elephants but an entire savannah of weighty issues unaddressed. If NDCs are not increased around 2018, we will be stuck with inadequate targets until 2030, seriously jeopardising our ability to achieve Paris’s essential temperature goals. If the main outcome of the dialogue is just another recognition of the huge gap between current commitments and what must be done to cut emissions to stay below 1.5°C, we will have failed. We have to face the elephant and deal with the issue directly.

However, there isn’t a clear agenda item at COP22  to discuss this 2018 moment. The Paris decisions rightly recognise the importance of scaling up climate change efforts, but fail to provide direction on how country efforts should be increased over time. Critical questions that remain unanswered include: What will the format for discussion be? Who will participate? Who will be represented? And, what factors will influence the tone of the talks? For example, we know the IPCC 1.5°C special report will have a major impact, but what else?.

ECO believes the issue deserves a proper place for discussion. Parties should be creative about creating a slot for this topic. As a first step, the COP22 President should host transparent and inclusive consultations with Parties and observer organisations. Most importantly, we need clarity on the expected outputs of the dialogue. What actions will result from this process to close the ambition gap? Without concrete outcomes, this process will represent a huge missed opportunity. In two weeks’ time, we expect to at least have a decision that calls for Parties and observers’ views on how FD2018 should be conducted.

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