Tag: Mitigation

From Promises to Delivery

The Paris Agreement sets a clear vision for the world to keep global temperature rise to 1.5°C, through a full decarbonisation of the global economy. It also provides a framework to improve action on mitigation, adaptation and finance through regular reviews and renewed commitments – for all countries simultaneously.

With the Paris Agreement clearly setting out the task that lays ahead, this year Parties need to create provisions under the Paris Agreement that will enable, incentivise and enforce action at a national level. This requires a delicate balancing of provisions that enable national action and those that create obligations. Civil society has an important stake in this process and must be listened to.

We cannot forget that current commitments are wholly inadequate to keep warming to 1.5°C. At current emission levels, we will use up our entire 1.5°C compatible carbon budget by 2020.  Urgent action is needed now. The Technical Examination Process (TEP) should focus on identifying actionable solutions that can close the gigatonne gap and the barriers to these solutions. But identifying solutions is not enough – the newly appointed champions for pre-2020 action should produce a scenario note for the next 2 years showing how they intend to address barriers and enable actual implementation.

The next best opportunity to rectify the current shortfall from the inadequate (I)NCDs will be at the 2018 “facilitative dialogue to take stock of the collective efforts of Parties”. Parties must start preparing themselves from now for the (re-)submission of NDCs in 2018. This review must take relevant findings from the upcoming IPCC Special Report on 1.5°C and the INDC synthesis reports into account.

Additionally, countries need to dial up the ambition of their INDCs in line with climate objectives, with adequate support to developing countries and a clear view on the economic, social and environmental co-benefits that come with low carbon development.

The question mark over finance needs to be removed. Uncertainty in scale, delivery and scope of climate finance is and has been the biggest impediment towards progress. A roadmap to the US$100 billion annually is urgently required. This roadmap must close the financing gap in preparing for and addressing rising climate impacts, be rooted in predictability and based on transparency between developed and developing countries. The result must be support for the most vulnerable in dealing with impacts through adequate and predictable climate finance, especially via the loss and damage mechanism.

The success of COP21 and Paris Agreement is not a given – history will judge it based on the scale of results achieved by countries in the following years and decades. These results depend to a great extent on the scale of financial flows between countries for enabling national action. ECO hopes that countries will be true to their word, and the Agreement will be fully implemented.

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‘Round Midnight

As ECO went to press, the Committée de Paris had just resumed its work again. The outcome of the final round of negotiations is still uncertain. That need not stand in the way of a hard-nosed analysis of the new text, though, with the really big issues still left to be decided. Overall, ambiguity is the mot de vogue with several decisions still bracketed yesterday now ‘simply’ postponed. ECO makes a final plea to ministers and their heads of state, who will be asked to weigh in at the last minute:

Ambition
Parties chose to land in the ‘well below 2°C’ zone, while still pursuing a 1.5°C warming limit. This is, however, not compatible with GHG emission neutrality somewhere in the second half of this century. Full decarbonisation, with no tricks (like non-permanent offsetting and geoengineering), is needed and should be what those who claim to be ambitious fight for!

Differentiation
The endless variations in the new text trying to reframe the Convention’s preambular ‘common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities and their social and economic conditions,’ [ECO’s emphasis] are a reflection of a genuine global struggle to come to terms with new realities. ECO does not romanticise the past, nor ignore historical responsibilities. The Paris Agreement can only deliver on its goal if all respect the Convention in full.

Finance
Which brings us to means of implementation. The floor of US$100 billion seems to now be established. But the agreement does not enough to ‘shift the trillions.’ ECO believes the Paris Agreement sends a signal to investors about the long-term direction. It pays lip service to setting a carbon price. Yet, Parties are about to fail in their duty of care, which would make them commit to finally end all fossil fuel subsidies, stop financing carbon-intensive investments or indeed commit to divestment.

INDCs
That the current INDCs, many of which are conditional on adequate international support, are not enough to limit warming to well below 2°C, let alone 1.5°C, is acknowledged and shockingly taken for granted. For now, there is no plan to close the resulting gap. We do not need to wait until 2018 for the IPCC to tell us that the pathway we are on forecloses limiting warming to 1.5°C. Independent assessments have already shown that developed countries in particular are lagging behind. The facilitated dialogue in 2019 merely opens the door for countries to rethink their lack of ambition. In 2025, ECO does not want to be looking back on the Paris Agreement, and with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight judge that this was a grave error. The five-year cycles of updating and enhancing #### (shall we just call them NDCs?) can start immediately upon entry into force.

Loss and Damage
The fight for loss and damage continues in dark corners of Le Bourget. To the most vulnerable, we say: Stay strong! To the blockers: You let the genie of liability and compensation out of the bottle. Please put it back in, as nobody is calling for it in this agreement.

Transparency, MRV and Compliance

After a decade of building confidence and trust through these talks, the Paris Agreement still reflects the fear that transparency on implementation and meaningful review of outcomes could be punitive. Shining a light is something ECO has done since 1972. In light of the bottom up character of the INDCs and the facilitative nature of the proposed review we urge all to lighten up and embrace transparency.

On a related note, ECO always understood the Durban mandate was ‘to develop a protocol, another legal instrument or an agreed outcome with legal force under the Convention applicable to all Parties,’ to mean an international agreement would have some teeth. Simply put: the bracketed wording on ‘compliance’ needs to be included in the Paris Agreement.

Human Rights

ECO is shocked that countries have surgically removed human rights from the core climate change agreement.

A broad coalition of civil society organisations and indigenous peoples have come together to collectively support joint text for Article 2, the heart of the agreement. All attempts were made to keep it simple for Parties. Instead, civil society’s voices are being ignored. You forgot that you represent us. You forgot that your job is to speak for us.

President Hollande: When you said that ‘COP21 would be a new step for human rights’, what exactly did you mean?

ECO praises Mexico and other champions for their work in promoting human rights in the operative text of the agreement. We owe it to the world’s vulnerable—those least responsible for and most impacted by climate change.

Today, Friday, a new moon will rise over Paris. ECO still has hope it will mark a new era. The change that is needed takes all of you. Soit brave!

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An Ounce of Prevention Is Worth a Pound of Cure

Some countries (including Saudi Arabia) have questioned the scientific basis for the need to limit temperature increases to 1.5°C. ECO would like to remind everyone, but especially these countries, that Article 3.3 of the Convention (remember it?) states that ‘Parties should take precautionary measures to anticipate, prevent or minimise the causes of climate change and mitigate its adverse effects. Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty should not be used as a reason for postponing such measures’. ECO calls upon Parties to enhance their implementation of the Convention to fulfil this agreed mandate.
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Carbon Markets: All Cards on the Table

The new draft text still features brackets around the sustainable development mechanism provision. Decisions to be made in the next 24 hours include whether offsetting will be allowed (please, NO!), whether developed countries will be able to play the offset generation game, accounting rules, guiding principles and a share of proceeds for climate finance purposes.

ECO suggests:

  • Disallowing the use of offsetting. To achieve the 1.5C goal, we need to focus on emissions reductions
  • Enhancing inclusion of ’environmental integrity‘. by inclusion of the additional principles‚ real, permanent, verified and supplemental for any international exchange of mitigation outcomes under this mechanism
  • Elaborating how to avoid double counting. ensuring a corresponding adjustment by both Parties for an exchange of mitigation outcomes covered by their ###
  • Establishing eligibility rules to participate in carbon markets. If offsetting is to be allowed (against ECO’s stern advice) developed countries should definitely not compete with developing counties for project financing. It would be inequitable. Use of international credits should be supplemental to ambitious national action. Only countries with absolute, multi-year targets (budgets) should be allowed to engage in markets
  • Aachieving sustainable development.  Given the goal of the mechanism is to support sustainable development, there should be a work program agreed to develop modalities for sustainable development indicators and a ‘do no harm’ assessment.
  • Crating new and additional climate finance. Agree a share of proceeds on all use of markets including in 3.20 (and ideally universally)
  • Achieving net atmospheric benefit. Any new offsetting mechanism (still not listening to ECO??) should reduce emissions through the cancellation of a share of credits used.
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Response Measures: Lost in Transition

Developed countries in the Convention must ‘take into consideration’ the impacts of the ‘response measures’ [in 4-2-8(h) and 4-2-10]. An interpretation is that victims of mitigation measures such as energy efficiency or alternative energy policies in the North could be compensated for decreased sales. This idea, regularly put forward in the UNFCCC by the Saudi Arabia, is mostly seen as an insult to vulnerable countries such as SIDS, where impacts of climate change are of a much greater magnitude.

Now that a wave of energy transition is sweeping the world, with 100 big cities and 43 vulnerable countries committing to 100% renewable energy, and insistence that oil should stay in the ground, no Party can be seen as responsible for lost sales of oil products. Markets, recent technologies and individual actions by citizens or businesses are responsible for this development, not Parties.

This concept shouldn’t be a laughing matter anymore. Diversification by fossil fuel dependent industries or countries is not only necessary for the climate. It also makes business sense.  A new article in the draft (4-9-e former 4-9-f in L6), applicable to all Parties, insists on ‘resilience of socio-economic systems’ and on ‘economic diversification’.

Fortunately, some progress is being made on this unilaterally. Saudi Arabia’s GDP (market exchange values) in 2014 was about US$753 billion; the value of its total export was about $373 billion, of which oil alone stood for $285 billion. The value of oil revenues has declined to only 38% of its GDP. Saudi Arabia should be proclaiming its success, and showing others how to  diversify their economies in such a way. The Saudi example demonstrates that there is no need for Article 3.15’s cooperative mechanism to address the adverse effects of response measures.

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Checklist for 1.5°C

ECO is happy to hear so many Parties supporting a 1.5°C temperature limit. To see if these Parties are serious about 1.5°C, ECO will be looking at the following points:

  • first round of review in 2018 to improve current INDCs of developed countries and enable implementation of conditional INDCs of developing countries
  • stronger action before 2020, including enhanced implementation of pre-2020 commitments
  • long-term global goal of phasing out all fossil fuel emissions by 2050 leading towards 100% renewable energy with access for all
  • review of INDCs and means of implementation every 5 years
  • provision of adequate and predictable finance
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Midnight in Paris, and the Morning After

The appeal of Paris, the City of Light and Love, is enormous. Up to 40,000 people came here to claim their fair share of the Paris Agreement. But the story of Paris is not only a story of love and light. In recent weeks, Paris has also shown its resilience in the face of terror. ECO wishes to remember the lives lost in Paris, Beirut, and countless other tragedies.

We need to lift the veil of romantic mystery surrounding the draft Paris Agreement and the package of decisions. On this morning after, ministers have to look each other in the eye over breakfast, in the bright light of day, and remember they are now in this relationship for the long haul. The text presented on Wednesday afternoon by French Foreign Minister Fabius, based on the work of the ADP and after four days of consultations among governments at the total exclusion of civil society, resembles a weak pre-nuptial prepared by lawyers, not a strong declaration of love. It starkly lays out important choices that need to be made today!

We urge all to accept the science: staying below 1.5°C is critical to avoid the high risks for people and nature associated with any higher warming. ECO says: support option 3 in Article 2 and set a collective long term goal of full decarbonisation by 2050 (Art. 3.1 option 2).  The existing INDCs are not enough to avoid dangerous warming. Good intentions need to be matched by concrete actions and commitments. Simply asking for ambitious climate action is not enough. Finance needs to be mobilised and provided, not bracketed. ECO supports Article 6.4 option 2. Firm commitments of [more than] 100 billion [US$] beyond 2020 are what enables those least responsible to deliver on the promise of INDCs.

In the absence of absolute targets and compliance, country pledges need objective international review. Such a review should be on the basis of equity as well as responsibilities and capabilities. How this important review, which is urgently needed to ensure the ambition gap is closed, became merely a facilitative dialogue in 2018/2019, cannot be explained. We urge you to return to the table with a real mechanism to increase ambition on all fronts—mitigation, adaptation and means of implementation—by 2018. Doing that can create the basis for a transparent MRV system that all countries trust. Trust that is currently lacking. Another close look at the implementation of pre-2020 commitments will also help build trust. Without enhanced action before 2020, the door to a 1.5°C pathway will close.

The largest bulk of emissions from international shipping and aviation was entirely omitted from the text, but wasn’t forgotten by ECO. As these emissions are outside the purview of the INDCs and growing rapidly, a failure to address them could undermine other efforts. Address bunker emissions in the Paris agreement.

Ensure resilience can be achieved in the Paris Outcome through strong provisions on adaptation. Don’t confuse loss and damage with adaptation. All elements of Article 5 need your support–displacement, permanent and irreversible damage and financ–without fighting the non-existent bogeyman of compensation (which no Party has put on the table here).

Finally, we should protect people by ensuring human rights, including the rights of indigenous peoples and gender equality, and protect the integrity of ecosystems. Climate technologies need to be of the highest social and environmental integrity. Doing so will encourage far more than [50] [60] countries to ratify the Paris Agreement. It can thus enter into force and facilitate early action, which is essential to avoid dangerous warming.

Dear lovers, the time for playing games is over. After four years of talks, these stark choices are all that remain. The warm words and sincere pledges by heads of state need to be turned into legally binding commitments. Dear Ministers, your people—children and grandchildren, farmers, workers, nature lovers, faith leaders and so many more—ask you to at least give all of us a chance to survive.

Fluctuat nec mergitur
‘Elle est agitée par les vagues, et ne sombre pas’
‘She is tossed by the waves, but does not sink’
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Holiday Plans Until 2023/24?

ECO was excited to see emerging convergence among Parties on five-year cycles in the new text. But ECO has one simple, but very important, question: when does it start? We are not on track to stay below even 2°C. We also know that without increasing the ambition of INDCs before implementation in 2020, the 1.5°C door will rapidly close.

We need a review of INDCs in 2018 and a re-submission pre-2020. Yet paragraphs 24 and 25 set the date for submitting or updating INDCs at 2020 or 2021. These paragraphs only do half the job. Those with 2030 targets are invited to ‘confirm or update’ them, but those with 2025 targets seem to be off the hook. Their 2020-25 efforts get no mention and instead they are invited to put forward a new (2030) target.

The first round of review would have to happen before 2020, so we can update insufficient INDCs that currently lock us into a 3°C pathway. The current weak ‘facilitative dialogue’ in the decision text has to be strengthened. To allow for this first round in 2018, we should also look back and assess how well developed countries have implemented their pre-2020 commitments through a process of accelerated implementation. If we want to make the 5-year cycle more effective, it should consider not only INDCs but also means of implementation.

Another important question: does the stocktake influence individual countries’ targets? From that perspective, we are very sad to see ‘ex ante’ review disappear from the text. ECO hopes that delegates are not planning too long a holiday. You all deserve nice holidays after this hectic conference. But get the world back on track first.

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Shuffling Deck Chairs on Iceberg-free Waters

ECO is concerned to see that the L.6 adopted ADP text leaves open the option of continuing to generate and trade offset credits. To keep global average temperature increase to 1.5ºC or less—and ECO is excited to see support from new quarters on this imperative—we should phase out all fossil fuel emissions no later than 2050.

Using offsets is like ‘shuffling deck chairs on the Titanic’. Delaying action might be OK for ships sailing in iceberg-free waters. But iceberg-free waters are what we’re in Paris to avoid. And offsets effectively reduce the ambition of the cap they are applied to. The INDCs already place us on track for a world that’s 3°C warmer (hence icebergs unlikely). Weakening their already woeful ambition would put us at even greater risk of climate catastrophe.

If markets are to be used for mitigation purposes, ensuring environmental integrity and contributions to sustainable development are imperative. Trading should be under ambitious caps, expressed as multi-year national carbon budgets. Credits should be real, permanent, supplemental, verified and ensure no double counting. Shares of proceeds would help to create needed new and additional climate finance.

The Clean Development Mechanism created structures that could transform it from an offset mechanism to one that acts as a channel for climate finance. This would give wealthier countries an MRV-able channel to contribute to their climate finance obligations and help countries in need of support achieve mitigation outcomes. It would also reduce some risks of double counting. The private sector could still contribute in a spirit of corporate social responsibility, but, again, as climate finance instead of offsets.

We need real emissions reductions brought about through transformative change. There is just not enough room in the remaining global carbon budget to waste time shuffling offset credits.

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Rising Ambition Must Lift All Boats!

And planes, too! ECO is thrilled that Parties are coming around to a target of 1.5°C. But how would we all feel if we got back home and realized—oops!—we left out two huge emitters? International aviation and shipping emissions are equivalent to the carbon emissions of the UK and Germany, are not included in national targets. These emissions are expected to grow up to 270% by 2050. Leaving them out of the agreement would be letting efforts to keep temperature rise under 1.5°C just float on by.
ICAO and IMO are the right UN agencies to regulate these sectors. But, they need to step up their ambition quickly. They can, and must, tackle bunker emissions  in a way that accommodates equally both differentiation and the principles of non-discrimination under which these agencies operate.
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