Tag: Mitigation

Be Trudeau To Your Word

The United States has dominated COP22 headlines with orange becoming the new black. However, ECO noticed there is another corner of North America that has a key role to play in negotiations. Yes, we are looking at you, Canada. ECO waits with bated breath to see how consistent Canada will be with their policy and action.

It was thrilling to see Canada involved in hammering out the Paris Agreement last year. Their efforts now mean that eyes are on them to help ensure they get the details right at COP22, the time for implementation. To date, the delegation has been constructive in negotiations, aiming to get the necessary pieces in place by 2018. Canada has also been heard on the boulevard of Bab Ighli heralding a Pan-Canadian Climate Plan it is developing to meet its 2030 commitments.

While ECO is very pleased to see such progress, apparent contradictions between Canada’s climate policy leadership and energy infrastructure decisions dampen our joy quite a bit. Canada recently approved a controversial liquefied natural gas project, and rumour has it that other polluting projects are in the pipeline.

No conference is complete without a heckler, and this one has been no different: Earth Institute Director Jeffrey D. Sachs warned that it is not acceptable for a country like Canada to dream of decarbonising its own economy while making a living from oil and gas exploitation. Although carbon sequestration is part of the plan, it must be clear that offsetting and compensating will not do the trick here. Canada must not behave like a “drug pusher of fossil fuels to the rest of the world,” said Sachs.

ECO suggests it is time for Canada to do some soul searching. Their leadership is needed now more than ever, and it can’t be destabilised by internal contradiction. Instead of merely offsetting their emissions, ECO urges Canada to instead offset the devolution proposed by their neighbouring North American country by being consistent with their commitments. There’s no point in having a cool and charming Prime Minister if you don’t deliver when it comes to the real deal.

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Event: 100% Renewable Energy for 1.5°C

When: November 15, 1830-2100

Where: Arctic Room, Area E

Hosted by the COP 22 Presidency, in partnership with the Climate Vulnerable Forum, this exciting event brings together a diverse group of leaders from civil society, governments, and businesses for an unprecedented dialogue.

“100% Renewable Energy for 1.5°C” will make the case for a transition to 100% renewable energy as the ethical, feasible, financially sound, and logical approach to address climate change and keep global warming below 1.5°C.

Full programme and speaker overview available at www.climatenetwork.org

Access to the event is by RSVP only using this link: http://bit.ly/2g8VaBM

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Marrakech: From Regime-Building to Ambition-Building

Dear Ministers, We warmly welcome you to COP22 with its cool breeze and dusty trails.

The entry into force of the Paris Agreement less than one year after COP21 is a remarkable achievement. But if ECO has learned anything in more than 25 years of climate change negotiations, it is to not rest on its laurels.

Last week presented us with a stark reminder that all countries need to focus on delivering the promises of Paris. Ministers, you came to Marrakech to spell out the necessary details of the decisions taken in Paris, and by doing so seek to underpin real climate action at home.

You came to tell fellow ministers how, inspired by the Paris Agreement, you have taken immediate further action, so that the ambition gap can be closed. This early action is essential to achieving the Paris goal of limiting warming to 1.5°C.

Sadly, what in COP-land is called the 2016 ‘facilitative’ dialogue began with only limited preparation and ended with recycled statements. ECO calls on you to use this weeks’ high-level part of the facilitated dialogue to present your enhanced ambition for mitigation, adaptation and support.

The next big moment in climate politics will come in 2018. The IPCC report will spell out the implications of the 1.5°C goal and—you read it here first—there will be a major push to raise ambition and revise the current 2025 and 2030 NDCs upwards. As, collectively, if today’s NDCs are set in stone the window for achieving the global goals you just set in Paris will be already closed.

The facilitative dialogue 2018 (FD2018) is key to closing the ambition gap. FD2018 needs to be prepared with all the usual trimmings including COP guidance to the Presidency and Secretariat, an agenda, submissions by parties and observers; an expert dialogue, and technical papers. To stay below 1.5°C it is crucial that we go beyond mitigation and address the insufficient means of implementation (finance, technology, and capacity-building) required to unlock the conditional NDC’s potential.

It is said that money ‘makes the world go round’. The issue of finance is rightly receiving a lot of ministerial attention. It is clear that adaptation really needs more attention. So, how about committing to enhance efforts to finally achieve the magical balance between mitigation and adaptation, and confirming the Adaptation Fund as an instrument of the Paris Agreement? Two politically important signals that seem appropriate for an African COP. Funding for adaptation is what Africa and the developing world as a whole need most urgently.

You must be just as surprised as ECO (and just a tad annoyed?) to find that many of the draft decisions from the first week of this COP do little more than postpone the inevitable. They are largely procedural, as Parties did not find common ground, be it on agriculture or the date by which the Paris rulebook must be completed (answer: 2018). Instead, there is the ‘Appel de Marrakech’, a most gentle call to action by our host, not a COP Decision. You have come at just the right moment to insert some spirit into the documents.

2016 may have been the year when the clean energy revolution took flight. Solar and wind energy are competing head to head with dirty power plants – and winning. Some countries have eliminated fossil fuel subsidies. However, 2016 has equally seen many announcements of new investments in climate-killing coal-fired power plants. If they are allowed to be built in your country, you may well be responsible for closing the door on meeting the Paris temperature goals. ECO is not surprised that our youth are taking governments to court over this fundamental injustice, and that they too are winning.

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Don’t Leave for Tomorrow What you can do Today

Popular wisdom suggests that you never put off until tomorrow what you can do today, because that increases the chances that you will get it wrong, miss deadlines, or both! Climate  ambition is not an exception to that rule especially when missing the deadline could mean losing lives, ecosystems and countries.

Paris Decision clearly states that NDCs do not set us on a well below 2ºC path (not to mention 1.5ºC). Therefore all countries must review and raise the level of ambition if we wish to achieve the Paris Agreement temperature goals.

So far ECO has not seen much enthusiasm for this from any country…except one! Argentina was the very first country to state that a review process for its 2015NDC will start right away after Paris… And it did!

ECO wishes that Argentina’s example will inspire other Parties,to do the same. That’s the only way to be ready for the Facilitative Dialogue in 2018, a decisive moment if we want to achieve the 1.5ºC goal set in the Paris Agreement.

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Real Climate Leadership Means Keeping Fossil Fuels In the Ground

Post-Paris, the gap between reductions needed to reach the global goal of limiting warming to 1.5°C and countries’ pledged reductions remains too wide. Between now and 2018, Parties need to figure out how to close that gap.

The science is clear. The only way to achieve the Paris Agreement commitments is to stop new development of fossil fuels and keep most of the world’s remaining fossil fuels in the ground.

Communities across all continents are taking up the call and demand that their countries halt the construction of fossil fuel infrastructure. In Argentina, indigenous Mapuche communities are mobilising to defend their traditional territories and halt corporate efforts to exploit the planet’s second-largest deposit of shale gas. In Australia, ranchers and other landowners are joining the Lock the Gate movement to block coal mining and unconventional natural gas operations. In the U.S., Sioux protectors in Standing Rock are defending their sovereignty to fight efforts to bulldoze sacred sites to build a $3.8 billion pipeline. This pipeline would threaten water supplies and facilitate the export of dirty fracked crude from the Bakken Shale. In the Philippines, the Asian Peoples Movement on Debt and Development together with other groups are at the centre of a national movement against coal mining and other dirty fossil fuel extraction. The movement combating fossil fuel development is powerful, global and growing.

This people power can’t just go unnoticed by Parties. The time is now to increase their pre-2020 ambition by ceasing investments in fossil fuel production and infrastructure.

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Germany’s Got a Long-Term View

Maybe being awarded the Fossil last Wednesday helped because Germany has pulled itself together and ended the fight between the ministries of environment, economy, agriculture and transport. It also finally published its 2050 climate action plan yesterday.

Let’s give them a big hug! We know, it’ been painful. Germany is now the first country to present a detailed long-term low greenhouse gas emissions development strategy outlining how it intends to decarbonise its economy. What ECO likes about the plan is that it includes interim targets for 2030, broken down by individual sectors: power, industry, transport, buildings and agriculture. This gives citizens, companies and investors the clarity they need. Germany also recognises its international responsibility, placing the plan (which includes an explicit reference to international climate finance and support for developing countries to implement their NDCs) in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals.

This has to be a short hug, though: Germany has to get back to work. Fossil lobbyists were successful in stripping many good elements from the plan. There are quite a few gaps in the document that need to be strengthened:

  • The headline targets—a range between 80 and 95% reduction by 2050—are still not enough to deliver Germany’s share of the global effort urgently needed to limit warming to 1.5°C. These need increasing.
  • The plan’s targets can only be achieved if Germany phases out coal. But the government lacked the courage to explicitly say so. This only creates uncertainty and makes a just transition for workers and communities more difficult to organise.
  • The call for the establishment of a commission with representatives from civil society to develop new opportunities for coal producing regions is a real necessity! ECO hopes that this commission is not going to be a meeting of fossil lobbyists. And given the urgency of the transition, why would you wait until 2018 for the first meeting? Minster Gabriel, we suggest inviting the commission, civil society and climate scientists for a Christmas brunch this year! The earlier, the better—and you might find a solution before next year’s elections?
  • ECO could not agree more that the EU emissions trading scheme needs to be reformed and strengthened so it can become an effective policy tool. What happened to the concrete idea of a floor price in the ETS being included in the plan?

ECO is a friend of the learning process and ratchet mechanisms and hopes that Germany will revise its 2050 plan and work to increase the EU’s NDC, bringing it in line with the Paris obligations in time for the first review of ambition in 2018! Only then can Germany again be a role model—especially for other G20 states, as Germany will hold the Presidency in 2017.

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Unfinished Business

ECO readers know that to keep warming to well below 1.5°C, we need to increase ambition before 2020. The good news is that there are countless opportunities for reducing emissions more quickly. Developed countries in particular have responsibility for increasing their ambition and providing the necessary support so these opportunities can be realised.

Marrakech needs to deliver an ambitious outcome on pre-2020 action—both on mitigation and means of implementation. The package should include progress on finance (particularly the roadmap to US$100 billion and outcomes from the High-Level Ministerial Dialogue on Long-Term Finance), strengthening of capacity building, a new framework for Global Climate Action, and meaningful outcomes from the Facilitative Dialogue on ambition and support (which should be reflected in a COP22 decision). ECO would like to remind delegates that the Facilitative Dialogue is not about congratulating yourselves on existing activities. The technical part should focus on identifying concrete ways to do more, individually and in collaboration, so that Ministers can agree on and announce new actions to close the pre-2020 gap next week.

Here are a few ideas ECO would like to suggest:

– Parties who have not yet ratified the Doha Amendments should; can you believe we still have to say this.

– Take a good look at the outcomes of the Technical Examination Process, and announce which opportunities for increased ambition Parties are willing to put into practice.

– Form partnerships between developed and developing parties to enable more ambitious action in developing countries, for example with funding for NAMAs.

– Commend Parties on track to surpassing their 2020 targets and encouraging them to take this into account as they revise their targets for the next round.

– Seize opportunities presented by the agreements reached at ICAO and in Kigali under the Montreal Protocol; and voluntarily agreeing to begin implementation earlier.

– Request a report on the opportunities for more ambitious targets under the Action Agenda, for consideration at the next Facilitative Dialogue in 2018.

Parties, you have been examining options and discussing possibilities for enhanced short-term ambition for years. Now is the time to act!

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Gathering Speed on Pre-2020 Action

In preparation for the high-level part of the Facilitative Dialogue on enhancing ambition and support taking place next Wednesday, ECO would like to raise the profile of the helpful guiding questions proposed by the Presidency. In particular, we would like to ask, what immediate domestic steps should countries take to raise overall ambition?

ECO wouldn’t be ECO without proposing concrete ideas for immediate domestic action. Before convening for the 2016 Dialogue, Parties should consider policies that: improve energy efficiency, for example in buildings, remove fossil fuel subsidies, price carbon emissions, scale up renewable energy procurement procedures, divest national pension plans and other public funds from fossil fuel companies, require financial institutions to report on investment in fossil fuels, retain and restore natural forests, improve agricultural practices, reduce wasteful consumption, in particular food waste, or subsidise public transport—and that’s just to name a few!

Developed countries must take lead by scaling up their own actions and support. In this context, accelerated ambition must mean no new fossil fuel infrastructure. Even the potential carbon emissions from the oil, gas, and coal in the world’s currently operating fields and mines would take us beyond 2°C of warming.

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Equity After Paris

This is an unjust world, but the climate transition cannot not be. If we’re to have a real chance at the Paris temperature targets, we must avoid narrow nationalism and commit to equity. Yet, even after the Paris breakthrough, equity is treated as an irritant or a danger by even by some of our high level champions. several of whom are prone to railing against “burden sharing” and even “carbon budgets.”

ECO begs to differ, noting the Paris Agreement established a Global Stocktake process that is explicitly to be conducted “in the light of equity.” It would not be wise to conduct a first major assessment in 2018 (code name “facilitated dialogue”) of our various climate actions without considering equity.

Do we imagine that poor countries are going to develop strategies for decarbonisation—which have to be visionary and ambitious by their very nature—without substantial and predictable channels of support? And what about the need to face together the immense suffering and destruction that we hide with dry UNFCCC jargon? We need to start talking, with all due seriousness, of the equity challenges on this front.

This must be a just transition, or it won’t happen at all.

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Watch Your Budget

When it comes to how much our planet is warming, what counts is the cumulative emissions that we’ve pumped into the atmosphere. This is a matter of physics, not politics. In its 5th Assessment Report, the IPCC provided global carbon budgets—or the amount of carbon we could emit—and still hold global warming to certain temperatures. To have a 66% chance for staying below 1.5°C, we have now only some 200 gigatonnes of emissions left. If we accept a 50% chance, we have 350 gigatonnes.

Five years of current global annual emissions (38 gigatonnes of CO2 per year) would entirely consume the remaining carbon budget for a 66% chance of staying below 1.5°C . Accepting the higher budget for a 50% chance would give us 9 years.

To avoid blowing the 1.5°C carbon budget and give ourselves a chance for reaching the goals of the Paris Agreement, annual emissions need to go down steeply before 2020.

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