Fossil deja vu as Aussies abandon their neighbors on loss and damage

   
Photo Credit: David Tong, Adopt A Negotiator

The First Place Fossil goes to – again - Australia. Withdrawing from climate action and finance for developing countries is already like a slap in the face of those suffering from the impacts of climate change. Simply expressing solidarity with the Philippines, as they did on Wednesday in the loss and damage negotiations, is not sufficient to repair the damage Australia caused.

Even worse, in the same negotiations, Australia gave a gold star performance in obtrusiveness.  Their first point was to attach conditions and list the things Australia would not broach talking about. This included objecting to rehabilitation funds – even though this is an area of work already agreed to last year.  Then Australia objected to provisions of insurance in the Convention process – even though insurance is even mentioned in the Convention. They insisted that the work programme on loss and damage should be ended when institutional arrangements are agreed, although many Parties have highlighted the usefulness of past work programme activities in their submissions, and a substantial discussion on the future activities has yet to happen.

Happily in contrast to Australia – the majority of other countries showed a constructive spirit. However, Japan gets a dishonorable mention for supporting Australia's obstructive and belligerent stance.

                                                       
                                                       Photo Credit: David Tong, Adopt A Negotiator

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Warsaw Negotiations Discuss The When, Where and How of Taking Climate Action


[Warsaw – Poland] – November 14, 2013: Countries have just begun negotiating the questions of where, when and how countries make their climate action offers for the 2015 global action plan at the Warsaw talks, according to CAN policy experts.

Jennifer Morgan from WRI said it was imperative a more transparent and systematic approach was taken to lodging offers.

The failure to agree what information to include in offers and the fact that they were lodged very late in the game negatively affected the outcome of the last major climate negotiation session in Copenhagen in 2009.

"We need to be able to measure  overall climate action effort can be measured and countries need to be able to contrast and compare each others' effort," Morgan said.

"This could be one of the key outcomes of this meeting, and though its early stages, these discussions are happening," she said.

Tom Athanasiou from EcoEquity said many countries were also beginning to speak – in general terms – about a way to analyze and review whether pledges were fair.

"But it's time to get far more specific, and to speak of simple things.  We have a science review, but how are we going to do an equity review, which we need just as desperately," Athanasiou said.

"Dealing with fairness needs to go from being a blocker in these negotiations to a solution."
ON DEMAND WEBCAST of PRESS CONFERENCE AVAILABLE HERE: http://unfccc4.meta-fusion.com/kongresse/cop19/templ/play.php?id_kongresssession=6901&theme=unfccc
READ WRI's PAPER ON SETTING AND REVIEW PLEDGES:  (http://www.wri.org/publication/pathway-climate-change-agreement-2015-options-setting-and-reviewing-ghg-emission) http://www.wri.org/publication/pathway-climate-change-agreement-2015-options-setting-and-reviewing-ghg-emission

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Contact:
For more information or for one-on-one interviews with NGO experts, please contact Climate Action Network International’s communications coordinator Ria Voorhaar on +49 (0) 157 317 35568 or rvoorhaar@climatenetwork.org.

Climate Action Network (CAN) is the world’s largest network of civil society organizations working together to promote government action to address the climate crisis, with more than 850 members in over 100 countries.
Climate Action Network-International
Rmayl, Nahr Street, Jaara Building, 4th floor
P.O.Box: 14-5472, Beirut, Lebanon
Phone: +961.1.447192

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‘I am an Australian . . .’

I am an Australian. Which is quite an admission in these halls at the moment.

People keep coming up to me and asking what’s going on? Why is my government doing such terrible things on climate policy? Why are they so addicted to coal? Why are they so determined to go backwards? How can they trash their climate policies when the rest of the world is meeting here in Warsaw to try and move forward on climate? And particularly when our neighbouring countries, especially the Philippines, are suffering such devastation.

But the main question they ask me is - do the Australian people support all of this negativity and destruction?

The answer to that question is they categorically do not. The majority of Australian people do not support repealing the carbon price, trashing renewable energy support, dismantling the Climate Change Authority and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and winding back support for a long-term target of reducing carbon pollution by 80% by 2050.

If you want evidence of that look no further than the story of Australia’s Climate Commission. One of the first things the new government did was shut down this publicly funded body. But within only one week, over 20,000 Australians donated to get this vital organization back on its feet.

Ordinary Australians are keen for action on climate change because we’ve lived through its beginnings. We’ve seen “one in a hundred year floods” happen in Queensland twice in a period of just twelve months. And in the same period Queensland copped it with Cyclone Yasi – the worst cyclone in nearly 100 years. We’ve had the worst drought ever within the last decade – and parts of the country are in drought again. In Sydney, where I live, we just had devastating bushfires, in October – mid Spring! But of course none of this comes close to the devastation of Typhoon Haiyan.

Recent polling showed that the majority of Australians want a higher target (15% or 25%), as our country’s independent Climate Change Authority recommended. And 65% of people said they wanted stronger action on climate change.

The Coalition that Prime Minister Abbott leads have a long-standing policy of supporting this target range, set back in 2009, along with the conditions for moving up the range. We need immediate clarification from our the government on where they now stand.

Most Australians know it’s in our national interest to get serious about climate change. Not only because we along with so many of our neighbours are so vulnerable to climate change, but also because unless we increase our target and take more action, we’re in danger of falling behind the rest of the world.

So listen up, Prime Minister Abbott. We’re expecting you to come to the Ban Ki-moon Summit in September 2014. We’re expecting you to put a real target for 2020 on the table, along with long term goals for mitigation and climate finance that reflect Australia’s fair share. And we Australians will be pushing every day to make sure you do this. Starting this Sunday – where Australians in every corner of the country will be at a National Day of Action (www.theheat.org.au).

(This is an edited version of a statement by Julie-Anne Richards at yesterday’s CAN press conference.)  

 

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Farewell to Fossil Fuels

 

It’s not enough to cap emissions or reduce their growth.

To prevent warming of 2°C or more, net emissions need to be brought to zero. This was a key message from the IPCC presentations in yesterday’s expert dialogue on the 2013-2015 review.

The IPCC concentration pathway that keeps below 2°C implies that fossil fuel emissions  must peak before 2020 and get to zero by 2070 (see IPCC WG1 Figure TS.19).  And it would have to be much faster if we don’t want to rely on negative emissions after 2070, or peak and decline doesn’t happen early enough, or we take into account “surprise factors” and feedbacks not included in the models.

On Tuesday, the International Energy Agency released their latest World Energy Outlook, again repeating their message that meeting the 2°C target (with about 50% likelihood) means that two thirds of proven fossil fuel reserves must remain in the ground. Furthermore, three quarters of the world’s proven but not yet in production oil reserves will have to remain untapped – leaving no space for Arctic oil.

ECO wonders when countries will truly accept this reality – that we simply need to get rid of fossil fuel altogether, and leave vast majority of the oil, coal and gas we’ve found in the ground.

 

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Please Don't Split Up

ECO found this letter in the waste bin next to Plenary 1. Can we help make this relationship work . . . ?

My dearest,

Since our winter holiday in Copenhagen, where you proposed our marriage, I feel that you have never stopped breaking your promises. All we do is talk, talk and talk some more – and yet, you still don't get it.  

You have to stop spending all your money on expensive cars and fancy jets, and start helping me and the family. This is the last straw.  I need reassurance that we have a future, that we will grow old together.

I need action rather than words. Tell me what the future will bring – you and I need a global roadmap to the 100 billion so I know you really mean what you promised. Don’t try to cheat on me; don’t make some private company fulfill your promises. It really should be all public money. Don't forget your promise to send an immediate check for our children's Adaptation Fund, and make sure you order that transfer to our GCF saving account by 2014. And finally, I really need you to commit at least 50% of our savings to be spent for adaptation.  

Look, darling, we really need to sort this out. If you do not get your act together now, I really don't think I can marry you in 2015.

Yours,
Nona N. Nexone

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EU: where is your short-term mitigation ambition?

Closing the Short-Term EU Mitigation Gap

We all know that if the ambition gap is not closed or significantly narrowed by 2020, the door will close on many options to limit temperature increase to 1.5° C.

An interesting truth is that the EU has already met its 20% target for 2020 eight years ahead of schedule. Including international offset credits, European greenhouse gas emissions were actually down nearly 27% on 1990 levels in 2012!

Therefore, it is a no-regrets option to make these reductions legally binding domestically and internationally, and adopt a 40% reduction target for 2020. And the EU has a concrete opportunity to do so in the context of revising its commitments under the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol before May 2014.

A key policy instrument here is the EU Emissions Trading System, the world’s first international cap-and trade system, covering nearly half of the EU’s carbon emissions. The European carbon market must be reformed quickly as it is increasingly ineffective as a tool to control pollution. It suffers from an oversupply of almost two billion emission allowances, mainly due to a record use of international offset credits, which has caused the carbon price to crash to under less than 5 Euro.

What's needed is a bold decision to remove surplus allowances permanently from the market and to adopt a steeper emissions reduction trajectory.

Based on its experience with domestic targets, the EU is well-placed to call for a framework that hastens the roll-out of renewables and energy efficiency through enhanced international collaboration.
The EU should ensure its 2020 climate and energy package demonstrates how ambition leads to success. At stake is not only the EU’s credibility but indeed the integrity of its climate policy.

 

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AUSTRALIAN CARBON PRICE REPEAL DRAGS COUNTRY BACK TO THE FOSSIL ERA


Photo Credit: David Tong, Adopt A Negotiator

It has been millennia since the rumble of dinosaurs has been heard, but now in 2013 at COP19 to the UNFCCC we find ourselves among prehistoric fossils once more. 

Overnight, the Australian government tabled legislation to repeal effective climate policy. Instead they hope to bring in an almost Orwellian-named “direct action plan” which they claim will meet their paltry 5% reduction target. Though if it doesn’t, which most leading economists agree it will not, further funding or even a Plan B are low on the list of the new government’s priorities.

As well as repealing the carbon price (hence hurling Australia back into the abyss of time, as opposed to the more than 40 countries, states and provinces who have moved into the modern times with a carbon price), in equally grim news, the bills will also strip $435 million in funding from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency and remove $10 billion of investment in clean energy. This comes amongst uncertainty around Australia’s 2020 targets, with a lack of clarity on whether the new policy regime will meet 5% and a review of a review of a possible review to take place in 2015 as to any further commitments.

In an extra outrageous statement the Prime Minister Tony Abbott opened the new parliament with the bold claim to the Australian people that “as far as the government is concerned, the adults are back in charge.”  All of this earns Australia today’s first place Fossil of the Day award.

For the people who might not know this country, let’s us describe it a bit. This country has increased its carbon emissions 124% from 1990 levels. In the past few years, this country is recording the largest relative increase in annual carbon emissions. If you still don’t know what country this is, here is an other clue: this country is the 4th biggest coal investor in the world. If you still cannot figure it out, this is an Annex 1 country without any pledges. Also, this country has recently issued an exemption to all state owned electricity production companies on all environmental permits and legally binding environmental investments until 2021.

38% of this country’s electricity production comes from state owned plants. Have you guessed yet? Today’s second place Fossil goes to Turkey.

It seems that previous fossils were not enough for Turkey to take its responsibility so we're hearing rumours like the country has closed down their Interministrial Climate Change Coordination Council as well as they dismantling other institutions that have to work on climate change. But the last thing we saw from participant list was unbelievable. Turkey didn't bring one single person from the Ministry of Environment, even from Climate Change Department. We don't want to believe that Turkey came to UNFCCC for a tour of Warsaw’s sights. We also don't want to believe that Turkey is here with Ministry of Energy to participate to Coal & Climate Summit. We're giving this fossil to Turkey for their love of coal and dismantling climate policies and institutions but we also want you to know that you still have a chance to be loved. Now be responsible and take your pledge!

What is worse than appalling action on climate change? Having an appalling record on climate change AND congratulating others for their appalling climate policies. With Australia taking steps to dismantle its climate protection program and its carbon price, the Canadian government jumped at the opportunity to take Question Period talking points to the international stage. Canada’s rejection of carbon pricing in favour of an ineffective regulatory approach has been demonstrated to be the wrong way to actually get emissions down – with the government’s own estimate putting their projected 2020 emissions 20% above their Copenhagen target. We shake our heads in disbelief that a government publicly congratulates others on moving backward and dodging their responsibility on climate change while people are dying from climate impacts. That’s why we award Canada the Fossil of Disbelief today.

Australia! Please Explain!

Australian PM Tony Abbott said yesterday that he will cut greenhouse gases by no more than 5% below 2000 levels by 2020. This shock move would back away from Australia's longstanding commitment to a 15% to 25% target range.

However, the PM has previously indicated that his "off the cuff" remarks can't really be taken as gospel. Sometimes, you see, he gets carried away in the heat of the moment, and so only written statements could really be trusted as actual policy.

Obviously, it would be more than just a smidge of bad karma if Australia would walk away from the higher end of its target range at the same time as the worst ever typhoon wreaked havoc on their neighbours, the Philippines. This is particularly notable as the PM’s Coalition has endorsed the 15% to 25% range on more than one occasion – twice so far in 2013 alone.

Now let’s turn to the notion that Australia would review the conditions for moving to the 15% level because it is not "looking to make further binding commitments in the absence of very serious like binding commitments from other countries".

ECO suggests maybe Australia should have a word with their red-white-and-blue Umbrella Group mate. Even the US has committed to a 17% reduction by 2020 – weak as that may be, it’s now higher than Australia's 5% including adjustment for a different start date.  And as the Australian Climate Change Authority made clear only a week ago, Australia's 5% target puts it behind not only the US, but also China, in terms of targets and action.  Imagine that!

So we assume that this was simply one of those Abbott-branded “off-the-cuff gaffs” – and the government will promply set the record straight. Maybe you might ask a friendly Aussie delegate how that is going.

Surely, in the face of the devastation wrought by Typhoon Haiyan, Australia will move to at least the top end of its range and – need we add, commit as well to substantial future climate finance.

 

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Climate Policy Experts Update on Negotiations as Countries Air Opinions on Loss and Damage in Wake of Typhoon

Warsaw, Poland - November 13, 2013:  NGO experts will offer a briefing to media today on developments in UN climate negotiations being held in Warsaw which have been overshadowed this week by the tragic typhoon in the Philippines which will cost that country USD14 billion in loses, not to mention the human cost.

They will detail ways in which the recent super typhoon has changed the dynamic here in the workshops and plenary sessions of COP19, including in a workshop yesterday on the loss and damage mechanism which is expected to be agreed here in Warsaw. 

In addition, countries have made their voices heard in a workshop on how the urgent need to cut carbon pollution in the short term is starting to influence the kind of global agreement that will be signed in 2015 to deal with climate change after 2020.

Meanwhile, the Australian Government continues its efforts to dismantle climate action, tabling legislation overnight to repeal its carbon tax. 
 

Who:

  • Sven Harmeling, Climate Change Advocacy Coordinator, CARE
  • Martin Kaiser, head of delegation, Greenpeace    
  • Julie-Anne Richards, international coordinator, Climate Action Network Australia

What: Climate policy experts to brief journalists on developments in the negotiations in Warsaw.

When: 11am CET, today Wednesday November 13th. 

Where: COP19 Venue, National Stadium Warsaw, Press Conference Room 2 located on Level -2/Zone E6, right next to Plenary 2.

The press conference will also be webcast live here: http://unfccc4.meta-fusion.com/kongresse/cop19/templ/ovw_live.php?id_kongressmain=259

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Japan: Cool Earth 50 or Scorched Earth?

Rumour has it that that Japan, the third largest economy in the world, is going to announce its new 2020 target here in Warsaw. This would be Japan’s contribution to closing the gigatonne gap, right?

But ECO is puzzled by the target number circulating in media reports. At first we thought Japan must have made a mistake on where to put the decimal point.  But it seems the number really will be one digit smaller than it should be.

In fact, if the reported number is true, Japan would be increasing its emissions above 1990 levels.  Surely it cannot be true, Japan! ECO doesn’t want to believe wild rumors and instead expects Japan will present a target that honors the name of "Cool Earth 50" -- a plan the current Prime Minister originally released to reduce CO2 emissions by 50% by 2050.

The devastating catastrophe in Fukushima taught us that nuclear is not the solution for climate change. It is good to hear that nuclear is not included in the target the government is considering, but that cannot be the reason for a low target.
ECO hopes that two and a half years after the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami, Japan finally shifts its energy development fully to renewables and takes the lead in raising the level of climate ambition.

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