Tag: Mitigation

INDCs for Parties

INDCs Image

Parties: as you return home to do your INDC homework, ECO reminds you that sequencing is important. Remember to do so on your commitments on finance, mitigation and adaptation assignments, and to do so with fairness and equity in mind. For the first batch of students with submissions due in March, your tasks are clear:

  1. Ensure that the INDC presents enough information so that you can determine the amount of greenhouse gas emissions that will be emitted over the entire commitment period. Ask yourself: “Can I tell how many tonnes my country is going to emit over this period?”. Then add more information until the answer is: “Yes!”
  2. Ensure that the type of the mitigation INDC fits your country’s profile. All developed countries capable should provide an economy wide GHG emissions carbon budget to 2025. Other countries in a position to join them should do so—the more the merrier!
  3. Ensure that the INDC provides clear and transparent information on the role of the forest and land sector. A full proof way is to count the tonnes that the atmosphere sees.
  4. For countries with high responsibility and capability, the INDC should include a finance contribution. For countries that will require financial support, the INDC should indicate financing needs.
  5. Ensure that you provide a description on how your INDC is fair and ambitious. Here’s a simple way to do this is to answer the following questions. 1) In your opinion, what’s left of the carbon budget, and is it compatible with 1.5°C and 2°C and the objective of the convention? 2) How many tonnes of this budget do you do you intend to claim? 3) Why is this your country’s fair share? Before getting too creative, reflect what would happen if other countries applied your criteria.
  6. Outline what your country is doing to cope with the ever-increasing impacts of climate change, and if you are a developing country, describe your needs for finance and capacity building to implement adaptation strategies that are up to this challenge.
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In Defence of an objectives section

Let’s start with the big questions: Why are we here? Is it the beautiful mountain panorama overlooking a magnificent lake, the long working days or the joy of spending more money, than average, for just about everything? No, ECO doesn’t think so either. We’re here to save civilisation, secure our children’s future, keep global warming below 1.5 C; and to pave the path to get there.

The agreement needs to send a signal to the rest of the world that we’re heading in the right direction towards a transition to a carbon-free future. It’s not rocket science that putting the common objectives section at the beginning of the document sends a signal that this is exactly what we will do.

Clarity at the start of the document will give structure to the text and establish the overall goal supported by all of the subsequent elements of the agreement. Ergo, ECO will defend Section C until it runs out of ink to voice our never-ending support. It’s Section C that will provide a clear direction knitting together all the pieces, outline the drivers and our shared aspirations.

Section C on objectives must:

  • Set the direction towards a resilient world in which we phase-out fossil fuel emissions and phase-in renewable energies, as soon as possible, and no later than 2050.
  • Reflect requirements for finance, technology and capacity building for creating that resilient world and outline the MOI for developing countries; to help them peak their emissions before subsequently reducing them, ensure human rights, indigenous rights, gender equality and a just transition to decent work opportunities for all.
  • Make clear that Parties understand the need for adaptation and preparedness will depend on on how fast emissions may be reduced.

We all know climate change is a systemic challenge. An agreement that does not start with a frame to enable a systemic response simply wouldn’t work. We need to get this right from the start.

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The emissions abyss

The main focus here in Geneva is on shaping the Paris agreement for the post-2020 period. Nevertheless, it is critical that we do not lose sight of the need to increase our climate actions from now up to 2020 as well.

Even if a global climate agreement is reached in Paris this December, most of the proposals and targets for cutting emissions won’t kick in until after 2020. But the coming five years are absolutely vital in the battle against climate change.

During these five years global emissions should be peaking and then falling, or at the very least, levelling off. At the moment the pre-2020 period doesn’t seem to have much priority in most countries, despite the fact that emissions must peak within this decade to keep global warming below 2°C. It is no secret that with current emission trends we are heading for a 3.6 to 4°C scenario; just check the IPCC’s work. We can’t allow emission figures to drift ever upwards — otherwise the long-term goals will become even harder to meet.

We know that many countries have already started taking actions on climate change at the national level. But we also know that these have not gone far enough. The arguments that action on climate change will negatively affect growth or poverty eradication are no longer valid. Many things can be, and should be, done right now. From scrapping coal-fired power stations and reducing deforestation, to increasing renewables and improving energy efficiency, there are plenty of ways to limit pre-2020 emissions and close the gigatonne gap.

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What’s this about streamlining?

It’s Wednesday, and the spirit with which we began the week seems to be vanishing. And quickly at that. ECO wants Parties – facilitated by the ADP Co-Chairs – to continue negotiating with the same spirit they started off with, robustly and with purpose. It’s great that Parties feel ownership of the text, and this can be gauged by the inputs made to the text. Now is the time to begin identifying ways to streamline the text, while ensuring all inputs for an ambitious Paris agreement are retained.

The draft contains some promising ideas that must be nurtured and developed further in order for the text to remain ambitious. ECO knows Parties are busy this week, so we wanted to remind them of these core ideas so they don’t get lost in the streamlining. In the context of reminding Parties of the need to have a long-term goal within the text, ECO is particularly happy to see references ensuring we stay on a 1.5°C trajectory. This trajectory can only be achieved through a phase-out of fossil fuel emissions and phase- in of 100% renewable energy, enabling sustainable energy access for all, no later than 2050. This goal should be complemented with commitments by Parties to close the short-term mitigation gap, and to operationalise enablers like finance, technology and capacity building to fill in the foundation for achieving this goal.

An adaptation goal reflecting the co-dependency between mitigation ambition and subsequent adaptation needs is crucial, as is incorporating a public adaptation finance goal. Related but separate, remember Parties: a loss and damage mechanism should be given enough breathing room in the text to accommodate the growing needs of vulnerable communities, and should also be given its own source of finance.

ECO hopes it is clear that the ambition called for by science requires major scaling-up of finance. A clear pathway with milestones for reaching US$100 billion annually by 2020 would be a start. That treatment must be just the beginning though. Also important is a clear understanding of innovative financial mechanisms, as well as a plan for continued scaling-up of public finance. These are key elements that must be reflected within the text alongside a broad public finance target.

Last, and by no means least, a review mechanism enabling timely, 5-year assessment periods and an increase in ambition across various elements is critical to guarantee accountability and environmental integrity in the new agreement.

ECO has flagged only a few of the key elements here; there are many others requiring elaboration and a common understanding as the streamlining process proceeds. We look forward to Parties keeping these key elements in mind as the text is reviewed.

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It’s no mystery: scale it up!

Workstream 2 is great: without it, no long term goal matters, however it’s expressed. 2020 is simply too late unless parties take bold actions in the next 5 years. ECO was thrilled to see all of yesterday devoted to the 2015 technical examination process.

It is high time to move beyond identifying promising options and admiring great examples to the question of how we can scale up, replicate and implement. We need an effective mechanism to harness opportunities for additional ambition in the 2015-20 period. Here are a few simple suggestions:

  • Focus the next TEMs of the solutions that have garnered the most support so far and those offering the largest potential benefits (deployment of renewable energy and energy efficiency at scale as well as on those that cut fossil fuel subsidies);
  • Move beyond identifying options and examples, instead focus on implementation: how can existing barriers be overcome and and needs addressed?;
  • Get specific about how existing institutions such as the TEC, the CTCN and the GCF should support best practices identified in Workstream 2;
  • Create new partnerships and recognise existing initiatives that bring together pioneers and deliver significant additional mitigation results.

There also need to be criteria to distinguish meaningful initiatives from the greenwash. To ensure initiatives really help close the emissions gap; quantify their contributions, and allow for regular follow-up. Thursday’s session on Workstream 2 gives delegates another opportunity to focus on on such outcomes as well as well as opportunities for countries can increase their current targets.

Avoiding further action until the post-2020 period is not an option. Why so many parties seem convinced it might be remains a mystery.

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Reduce coal technology exports, MFN!

Parties in the Workstream 2 Technical Expert Process yesterday coined a new acronym: MFN, “More, Faster, Now.” ECO is not a fan of acronyms for acronyms sake but this one could prove useful, particularly for those parties with a dirty coal habit.

It emerged that a number of OECD parties—Japan, South Korea, and Germany among them—have spent nearly US$15 billion over the past 10 years on exports of coal technologies abroad. This has made these fossil fuel projects cheaper than clean and renewable energy solutions.

Renewable energy solutions have innumerable benefits: the MFN mantra is more action on climate change at a faster pace, starting now. Spending billions on technology exports to advance the use of the world’s dirtiest fossil fuel does exactly the opposite.

ECO hopes this misunderstanding can be cleared up, ASAP, starting at the OECD Export Credit Group deliberations later this year.

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Not on track

The Structured Expert Dialogue (SED) finished up yesterday. The EU delegate surmised things aptly: “We are not on track.”

With over 19 presentations, the message was loud and clear. We are, unfortunately, on a path that sees warming going well above 2˚C. And there were 70 presentations many of which documenting that even 2˚C warming is intolerable. We need to limit warming to 1.5˚C.

ECO is confident that these findings will be among the prominent results of the SED report coming out on March 20. And ECO hopes that policymakers will recognise the unique value of a dialogue informed by science and act accordingly.

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Workstream 2 is getting fashionable: It’s about time

Being in the country of clocks and watchmakers has put ECO in the mood for WS2 negotiations. WS2 is all about being efficient with the little time we have left, to ensure that greenhouse gas emissions peak well before 2020, and to start the transition to a 100% renewable energy world.

Negotiators are in dire need of a device to maximise their remaining time. While Parties have examined a wide range of potential parts, extolling the virtues of each, ECO believes the mechanics of a well-functioning device consist of only three pieces: renewable energy, energy efficiency and fossil fuel subsidy reform.

By narrowing discussion to these specific initiatives, Parties can save debate time and focus on concrete, implementation-orientated conversations with experts. The technical papers of 2014 and the technical expert meetings have identified the potential of these three tools, and we have clear examples across the world of Parties taking steps to develop them in meaningful ways.

Let us now look into the detailed work of how to scale up our preferred initiatives—the grease to make our time-maximising device work. Policy makers and those implementing these initiatives must frankly and plainly identify the challenges they face. Those providing support should then indicate how they can shift finance and technology to get the gears moving, while UNFCCC institutions and expert input can further smooth the workings.

ECO will be looking for proposals that build on work already done in 2014, have high mitigation potential, are immediately scalable or replicable, contain strong sustainable development objectives and co-benefits and — most importantly — are implementation-oriented.

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“Speaking on behalf of the EU & Norway”?

Norway likes its image of the good student who always completes its homework, and is on time at that. And so too with its INDC. Last Friday, we saw the Norwegian government publish its new emission reduction targets for 2030.

The idea is, surprisingly, to start negotiations with the EU, with the goal of being included in the entire EU climate framework—both ETS and non-ETS sectors. This would mean adopting all EU targets, including a 43% reduction in the ETS sector by 2030, and with a clear intention of buying as many ETS allowances as possible. The hope seems to be that this will reduce the need to bother the petroleum industry with more restrictions, and stop new regulations in the transport sector — an approach that may please some. The petroleum industry, increasingly active in the vulnerable Arctic, will soon have to face the reality that it has no place in the future renewable society.

One good thing that might come out of this alignment with the EU is that Norway soon might feel a need to leave the Umbrella Group, which definitely is not good company for a model student.

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Do the math: 0 fossil + 100% renewables = 1 convention-compliant mitigation goal

The final meetings of the Structured Expert Dialogue (SED) have begun! There are two life or death questions on the table: 1) “Is below 2°C enough to fulfil the goal of the convention?” and 2) “Is enough progress being made to achieve the goal?” The SED’s message is clear: science says warming of 2ºC will lead to numerous intolerable consequences that could be avoided if warming stays below 1.5ºC.

These consequences do threaten food security, increased extreme weather events, rising sea levels of more than 50cm with serious effects for many coastal zones and endanger the existence of several nations for starters. ECO is sadden by the reality that this list isn’t exhaustive.

Yesterday, AOSIS demonstrated what is required for the survival of many communities in small island states through proposing a “well-below 1.5ºC ” target to be included in the negotiation text for the Paris agreement.

Today, we hope more time is spent on on the second question. Real world evidence shows us: “no, impacts are worsening”, but experts still have an important part to play. When expertise and real world experience come together surely Parties have no choice but boosting their mitigation and adaptation ambition?

To be clear, whatever happens, we will have to phase out emissions to zero to reach any cap in warming, it is only a matter of timing. ECO is here to help with this advice: starting today, with completion by no later than 2050, we must phase out fossil fuels to zero and phase in 100% renewable energy.

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