Tag: Mitigation

Time to Get Serious About Loopholes

Here’s a quick reminder: According to the latest UNEP report, the weak pledges from Annex I countries get us only about a third of the estimated emissions reductions that are needed if we want to have a two-in-three chance of avoiding more than 2° C warming. Unfortunately we have even more bad news: loopholes!

Loopholes are weak rules that undermine reduction targets, usually resulting from political bargaining. The largest loopholes are:

  • The carry-over of ‘hot air’ due to the over-allocation of AAUs during the first commitment period.
  • ‘Creative’ accounting rules for forestry and land-use emissions (LULUCF) for Annex I countries.
  • CDM credits from projects that are either over-credited or not additional (would have been built anyway).
  • Double counting – attributing emission reductions to both developed and developing countries.
  • Emissions from aviation and shipping (“bunkers”) currently not accounted for under the Kyoto Protocol.

We took a closer look at the loopholes and compared their total size to the cumulative emission reductions that could be achieved with the current Annex I pledges. We found that the current ‘loopholes’ in the system could negate their pledges.

In the worst case, they could leave Annex I countries with sufficient allowances and credits to revert to a BAU trajectory, and could even enable the carry-over of surplus allowances beyond 2020.

As you can see, a graph says more than 1,000 words. Our findings match those of the UNEP Report, the Stockholm Environment Institute and others.

The size of these current loopholes is staggering. Strong action is required now to effectively and efficiently close these loopholes if we want to preserve the possibility of staying below 2° C warming. 

None of the technical issues around the loopholes are insurmountable.  If developed countries are serious about fulfilling their responsibility to lead the fight against climate change, they need to put ambitious targets on the table that are in line with the science and do away with all these rotten loopholes. 

There is no plan(et) B. Every passing day of inaction closes the door that much further on preventing catastrophic climate change.

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Words to the Wise

At one point in her Thursday briefing for NGOs updating the 50+ issues under negotiation, the Executive Secretary spoke of how various texts were “maturing” since Panama.

What an interesting choice of words! As we prepare to head into the second week, ECO hopes that attitudes mature along with the texts. Maturity implies a certain wisdom and yet at times this week there has been a distinct lack of such in these talks.

For example, it is unwise to continue to stall on ambition while the evidence for dangerous climate change mounts, the vulnerability of communities around the globe increases, and the time to protect ecosystems and the people who depend on them drains away.

It is unwise to stall on a second commitment period for Kyoto, putting that instrument at risk and undermining political will throughout the negotiations.

It is unwise to block a mandate towards a comprehensive legally binding agreement, sending signals beyond the ICC that the international community is less than fully committed to solving the climate crisis. And finally it is unwise to backtrack from implementing Cancun when the hard-won gains on finance, MRV and the Review are so vital to the future of the climate response regime.

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Launching the ‘Ambition Work Programme’


We are hearing delegates are having sleepless nights because of the yawning gap between current mitigation pledges and what’s needed for a credible 2° C pathway. Perhaps not all of them are genuinely worried because of the implications for humanity.

Some may just feel uncomfortable to be reminded that they have not done the homework they gave themselves back in Cancun. Developed countries promised to look at options and ways to increase levels of ambition, and then actually increase them. It really isn’t a hard concept to grasp.

There may be some further relief in paras 36-38 and paras 48-51 of last night’s new texts. Both texts include a key line: the recognition of the existence of the ambition gap. Parties that attempt to block this recognition into a COP decision can expect to be in a bright spotlight on this matter.

The next logical step is contained in the new text on developed country ambition: to launch work to address (as in “close”) the gap.

The new UNEP report clearly identifies this possibility. But instead, we see some tendencies toward stalling rather than making progress towards the 2° C objective. Work needs to start now, as every year of further waffling and delaying tactics will make the task much harder.

Closing the ambition gap will require effort on all sides -- both developed and developing countries.

Developing countries have pledged more mitigation until 2020 than developed countries but can do more (and certainly must be provided sufficient and reliable support to do so). Not all developing countries have pledged their NAMAs yet, and some countries may well be able to increase ambition of already pledged NAMAs.

It would be really good for the work programme to have a deadline set for COP 18 in Qatar as well as a set of clearly articulated outcomes. Otherwise we could end up here forever (or at least until the world melts around us).

By COP18, Parties should have studied all possible options to close the ambition gap, and developed countries should have moved up their pledges in line with science, i.e. to more than 40% below 1990 levels by 2020.

As for inputs, why not ask parties to provide submissions on how to share out the 25-40% reductions, have the Secretariat compile a technical paper, and then negotiate the targets and how to square them with the existing pledges.

In turn, developing countries can register NAMAs that will result in emissions reductions well below business as usual (with sufficient support).

Much work remains to operationalise the NAMA Registry, to establish guidelines for NAMAs, and to register both NAMAs and support. Once these not insignificant tasks are completed (with substantial progress when we meet in Bonn in May 2012), the Secretariat will need to assess whether there is a shortfall in support, and how much this amounts to.

One element of the ambition work programme that Parties should launch here in Durban includes those low carbon strategies that developed countries should launch and implement to achieve near-zero decarbonisation by 2050.

And developing countries need to be encouraged (whilst receiving the support they need) to develop their own strategies. SBSTA should turn toward working out the guidelines for those strategies. All this would provide a significant first step in a more productive

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The A-Z of MRV

Robust measurement, reporting and verification (MRV) is a critical part of the Durban outcome. But 24 hours before the new text is out, with Parties hard at work, ECO is concerned that key MRV elements are at risk of falling off the table.

First, let’s review the fundamentals: The reason we’re all learning the MRV alphabet soup is to support the implementation of commitments and actions, build confidence and ensure the environmental integrity of the regime. Seems obvious, right? Yet some of the proposals on the table would seriously undermine these objectives.

In addition, MRV must respect the framing principle of ‘common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities’ and reflect differentiation between developed and developing countries while aiming for good reporting from both. ECO worries that some developed countries are trying to erase those lines. 

And finally, as critical as MRV is to the Durban outcome, it’s just one piece of the picture whose outlines were drawn by the Bali Action Plan. MRV must always be viewed as part of the bigger picture of increased mitigation,
finance, technology transfer and capacity
development commitments.

Critical MRV elements that must be in the Durban outcome include:

  • Procedural transparency and meaningful stakeholder participation, including the ability to make written submissions to technical analysis experts and the SBI; pose questions in an SBI review session open to Parties and observers, and unrestricted access to all information (inputs and outputs).
  • Common accounting rules on emission reductions and enhanced removals for Annex I countries.
  • A process to clarify the assumptions underlying the pledges of all countries (e.g. gases, sectors, base years, assumptions on BAU) to be able to accurately assess the gigatonne gap and ensure comparability for Annex I countries. (More coming from ECO on these hot button issues.)
  • MRV outputs must be timely and include enough detail to enable a meaningful first periodic review between 2013 and 2015. Biennial reports, biennial update reports, and the first international assessment and review (IAR) and international consultation and analysis (ICA) should be completed as early as possible in 2014.
    Enough detail must be provided in biennial reports (BRs) and biennial update reports (BURs) to conduct an effective global assessment, including clarity on assumptions, underlying pledges and projections until to 2050, in 10-year increments.
  • The technical review teams, SBI and the COP should have the ability to comment on the status of implementation and issue recommendations in order to assist Parties in the implementation of their pledges and to improve reporting.
  • A compliance process for Annex I countries, including consequences for non-compliance such as suspension from the flexible mechanisms.
  • Improved MRV of finance through the adoption of a common reporting format in biennial reports and in the future revision to the guidelines for national communications.
  • Enhanced support for developing countries to produce their biennial update reports and national communications, and to participate in international consultation and analysis (ICA).
  • A summary of REDD+ activities, including actions, methodologies, accounting, safeguards and information systems should be included in biennial update reports and national communications.
  • Time-specific provisions to revise guidelines for national communications by COP 18 and for BRs, BURs, IAR and ICA based on lessons learned, by COP 22 in 2016.
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Media Advisory – Webcast Notice: Civil society reflections on the start of the COP17 and the roles of corporations and key Parties.


[Durban, South Africa] Climate Action Network – International will host a media briefing, webcast live, to outline civil society expectations for a successful outcome of UN climate talks in Durban beginning this week.

International NGO experts will discuss civil society reflections on the first couple of days of COP17, look into the finance negotiations, and highlight the country groups that are having positive contributions to the negotiations.

The briefing takes place at the UNFCCC conference venue, on Wednesday, December 1, at 12:30 local time (10:30 GMT), Kosi Palm (ICC MR 21 ABCG) NGO Press Conference Room.

It will be webcast live at: http://bit.ly/CANwebcasts

NGO experts on the panel will include: Raymond Lumbuenamo of WWF, Central Africa; Kelly Dent of Oxfam, and Ilana Solomon of ActionAid USA.
What: Briefing on the UNFCCC climate negotiations in Durban

Where: Kosi Palm (ICC MR 21 ABCG) NGO Press Conference Room, UNFCCC conference venue, Durban

Webcast Live via www.unfccc.int, or at: http://bit.ly/CANwebcasts

When: 12:30 local time (10:30 GMT), Wednesday, December 1, 2011

Who:     Raymond Lumbuenamo – WWF, Central Africa
    Kelly Dent - Oxfam
    Ilana Solomon – ActionAid USA

Climate Action Network (CAN) is a global network of over 700 NGOs working to promote government and individual action to limit human-induced climate change to ecologically sustainable levels.  For more information go to: www.climatenetwork.org

For more information please contact:

David Turnbull, CAN International, +27 (0) 78 889 6827 (local mob)

Every day at 18:00 local time CAN gives the Fossil of the Day to the Parties that obstruct the negotiations the most. You can watch the Fossil ceremony at the CAN booth in the DEC building and get the press releases every day at: http://www.climatenetwork.org/fossil-of-the-day


CAN Intervention First Indaba Durban, November 30, 2011

Thank you, Madame President. 

My name is Alden Meyer from the Union of Concerned Scientists, and I am speaking on behalf of the Climate Action Network.

CAN believes there are three sets of actions that Parties must take here in Durban:

First, Kyoto Protocol parties must commit at Durban to a ratifiable second commitment period that starts in 2013 and ends in 2017. Also, the loopholes threatening the environmental integrity of the Kyoto Protocol must be closed.

Second, it is essential that the commitments and actions of all Parties be inscribed in one or more legally binding instruments. To that end, Parties must agree here in Durban to launch negotiation of such an instrument to be adopted by 2015, and to be in force by 2018 at the latest.  These negotiations should bebased on principles of common but differentiated responsibility and respective capabilities, equity and adequacy.  The purpose is notto renegotiate the Convention, but to further advance its effective implementation and help fulfil the Bali Action Plan.

Third, we need a set of decisions in Durban to advance all of the elements of the Bali Action Plan: adaptation, finance, mitigation, technology, and capacity building.

On adaptation, we need a clear roadmap to ramp up assistance to vulnerable countries who are already suffering serious impacts of climate change.

On Finance, Parties should adopt the governing instrument of the Green Climate Fund, agree a trajectory to ramp up financing towards the 2020 goal of at least $100 billion per year, and adopt a work plan to consider innovative sources of public finance to help meet this goal.

Finally, if we are to meet the 2 degrees C target and keep alive the option of staying below 1.5 degrees C, we can’t wait until 2020 – or even until completion of the science review in 2015 – to substantially raise ambition on mitigation. Here in Durban, Parties must agree upon a dedicated work program for 2012, with the goal of taking specific actions on mitigation at COP 18 in Qatar that will help close the well-recognized gigatonnes gap. 

This is admittedly an ambitious agenda.  But the peoples of the world expect no less. 

Thank you again, Madame President, for this opportunity to share our views.



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