Tag: Mitigation

A parable for our time

Far back in the mists of time, Parties agreed on a Durban Platform. Concerned that the train of negotiations might leave the station and quickly gather speed, Parties proceeded to have a two-year “contemplation phase” in an effort to stay on track.

They then decided to go into a “workshop phase” where they were expected to express their basic desires to their benign and all-knowing spiritual guides. These guides would then translate these desires into suitable language for polite company before presenting them to the outside world. But some of the travellers began to complain that they preferred their own words, however unrefined and divergent.

The language of the much-anticipated central covenant of all the peoples was given special treatment, since agreement was not needed immediately. It was particularly elevated and deliberately vague, so that the travellers would not begin to bicker over the details. But some began to rebel against the ritualistic debates and increasingly frustrating attempts to discover exactly what others were talking about, and what they might be able to agree on once they had to make decisions.

More of them started putting forward their own versions of the covenant. Though the guides paid little attention to their crude efforts, they did generously offer the possibility of going into a side carriage on their own and return with more worthy offerings. But they never said what fate would await these offerings.

Meanwhile in the main carriage, the travellers continued to offer up their modest ideas, in the hope the guides would find some of them worthy to put into their non-covenant. But most of them looked in vain for a true representation.

However, the words of one wise traveler resonated from beyond the dawn of time: “Discussions in the absence of negotiations cannot prosper.”

Then began a clamour for true negotiations –to engage with the actual words of their fellow travellers, and not the words of the guides. More and more of them made this demand, but fearful of the consequences if the travellers became too aware of the real divisions among them, the guides preferred to hold to their more refined version as long as possible…

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Beyond binary

ECO has always believed that the Convention, with its Annexes and principles, need not, and must not, be a straight jacket that restricts the ability of the UNFCCC to adapt to emerging realities. While some developed countries give the distinct impression that they would like to sweep the Annexes (and perhaps the whole Convention) aside and start over, there are now some developing countries showing how we can move forward by building on the current structure of the Convention.

Different proposals have been put forward that provide interesting ways to move past a binary world to cross the rigid firewall.

The LDCs proposed an interesting idea in this regard: Annex I Parties should adopt economy-wide targets, and non-Annex I Parties “in a position to do so” (the so-called “POTODOSO countries”) should do the same. Both of these groups – all parties with economy-wide commitments – would then inscribe these commitments in Annex A to the new agreement. This would be an elegant way of using the current Annexes to ensure no backsliding, while progressing beyond an exclusive reliance on these commitments. ECO could imagine other creative ways to do the same thing.

Another way of moving beyond a binary world is the route proposed by Brazil (yes, that Brazil!). Making clear they did not support a bifurcated approach, Brazil proposes “concentric differentiation”, where Annex I countries with absolute reductions targets are at the centre of concentric circles of less rigorous commitments going outward. (ECO is paraphrasing here.)

So far, so good (or, “so far, so Art. 4.1/4.2”, as it were). But where Brazil advances the discussion is by saying that everyone should be encouraged to move towards the centre over time. This would pave the way for voluntary graduation, and prevent any voluntary backsliding. Many countries should be prepared to move close to (and some into) the coveted inner circle now. ECO is sure they know who they are.

Not content to just signal an interest in an enhanced interpretation of the Convention, Brazil also made a very useful suggestion on finance. Brazil recommended that developing countries indicate South-South financial contributions and collaborative actions in their INDCs. The LDCs’ and AILAC’s submissions also call for financial contributions from an expanded group of countries, while placing primary responsibility on Annex II Parties.

ECO wonders how developed countries will justify their refusal to talk about finance in their INDCs when developing countries are willing to do so.

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Want concrete deliverables from WS2? Switch to RE and EE now!

In the TEMs followup meeting yesterday , ECO was reminded of the need to move beyond never-ending discussions into concrete action under Workstream 2. It also appears that the areas where Parties show the greatest interests are renewable energy (RE) and energy efficiency (EE). In their Technology Needs Assessments (TNAs), Parties have also expressed their priorities for mitigation technologies, and guess what? They begin with EE and RE. The science tells us that to limit global temperature rise to below 1.5°C, we need to phase out fossil fuels by 2050 and phase in 100% RE as quickly as possible. This means that in the pre-2020 period, we should be rapidly scaling up RE to at least 25% globally, along with doubling the rate of EE.

It just so happens that RE and EE are the two issues that have been most thoroughly analysed throughout the TEMs. Being armed with a good understanding of the policies that are needed for a rapid scaling-up of these approaches marks a potential turning point for transforming understanding into action.

In a Workstream 2 decision, Parties should explicitly call on the GCF and other international funding institutions to prioritise, within their mitigation windows, investments in tried and tested policies that promote sustainable renewable energy and energy efficiency. All multilateral energy funding should only flow towards clean and sustainable renewable energy technologies, and highly efficient industrial and demand-side applications. This funding will have to come from somewhere, so developed countries should indicate what kind of support (finance, technology and capacity building) they intend to make available under Workstream 2, in addition to the actions that they themselves will take. To help, ECO has an idea: Lima could be the time for a TEM session to consider how actions with high mitigation potential could be supported.

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Turn Back Japan: Don’t Go From Nukes To Coal

The tragic Fukushima nuclear accident showed the world how dangerous and unsustainable nuclear technology is. As affected people continue to suffer, it’s clear that nuclear is not an option for the Japanese people any more. ECO was encouraged to see the rapid expansion of renewable energy since the disaster thanks to the feed-in-tariff introduced in 2012. The focus on energy efficiency by individuals and companies also proves that there is still plenty of potential for energy efficiency improvements in Japan. That’s why ECO is astounded by the news that there are now plans for the construction of 25 new coal-fired power plants (totalling 13,640MW) between 2016-2027. They would emit more than 82 Mt CO2 per year. Shockingly, most of these plans were conceived after the Fukushima accident, and it is expected that more plans will come.

Energy transition is an urgent need in all countries, and it is key to get the direction of the transition right, Japan! Hint: when we talk about energy transition we are talking about transitioning away from, not towards, high-carbon technology. Coal a the dirty fossil fuel. The IPCC warns that if we don’t shift investments away from high-carbon infrastructure, future emission reductions will be difficult.

ECO hopes that Parties have read the IPCC report, but in case some important details got lost in translation: coal is not needed as an alternative to nuclear. The Japanese government’s own research shows that Japan has large renewable energy potential.

ECO has learnt that Japan is finally starting discussions about its own INDC today. Here’s our friendly tip: stop the coal expansion. It would help you put forward an ambitious reduction target by March 2015.

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CAN Intervention: ADP Technical Expert Meeting on Non-CO2 GHGs at ADP2-6, 23 October, 2014

My name is Natasha Hurley and I'm speaking on behalf of the Climate Action Network. 

We welcome the organization of today's Technical Expert Meeting on non-CO2 greenhouse gases, which has certainly been a timely and useful opportunity to take stock of the mulitple initiatives on HFCs and other gases that are already being rolled out in many countries and regions around the world. 

However, we need to be reassured that all the good talk and presentation of real-world evidence will result in a global scaling up of climate action in the very near term. 

We think these Technical Expert Meetings should be seen as a final springboard towards action to plub the growing mitigation gap and that they should make a sustained and lasting impact. In short, these discussions should not just be a one-off talking shop. 

We heard a lot in teh previous session about the host of initiatives aimed at curbing the use of HFCs worldwide, and the growing market in climate-friendly energy-efficient alternatives. This is one example where global action could be taken immediately, in fact as soon as next month at the 26th Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol in Paris. 

So we urge Parties here to take full advantage of today's discussion and use the existing institutional framework under the Montreal Protocol to implement a global phase-down of HFCs. 

From our perspective, this would be convincing proof that the TEMs are able to help deliver wha they were set up to do, which is to provide concrete results in the very near future. 

Thank you Chair. 

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The “5” is just about the difference between 9 and 3.9

Delegates with long memories (and probably more than a few gray hairs) will recall the Article 9 review. Initiated, as the KP requires, at CMP2 in Nairobi, the review failed to achieve much of note. Its second iteration, in Poznan, failed to agree to any further substance. Does anyone even remember whether it led to a third review?

In contrast, the Article 3.9 review led to agreement of commitments for the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, inscribed in Annex B to the KP (as required by the article).

The mandates in both articles defined the “who” (Parties) and made the legal requirement strong (“shall”). “When” was defined clearly for both, but the key difference was in “what” each review was to achieve.

The Article 9 mandate did not define what exactly “what” was to be achieved, and what action would need to be taken as a result of the review. In contrast, Article 3.9 was clear that its requirement was to establish “commitments for subsequent periods” which would be included “in amendments to Annex B”.

Why is this relevant to what needs to be agreed in Lima?

Some Parties are still under the impression that a 10-year commitment period with a vaguely defined review in the middle can hope to raise ambition, forgetting that such reviews, like Article 9, have a poor record of achieving further action.

Only agreement in Lima that the Paris Agreement should operate in 5-year commitment periods can give confidence that Parties will indeed ratchet up their ambition fast enough in the post-2020 world. The US has been a welcome champion for this, and ECO hopes that this will become one of their top outreach priorities.

The EU needs to express its openness to this, as a bare minimum, in the Council conclusions at the end of this week. Monday’s ECO already gave you a checklist for other reasons why 5 is the magic number.

So what is needed? A legally binding requirement in the Paris agreement to negotiate new commitments in common 5-year cycles going forward. The Article 3.9 mandate should serve as a template for that article.

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If you love me, make it official

ECO fought alongside many of you to win a second commitment period for the Kyoto Protocol. Whilst it’s not all that we wanted and it’s a shadow of its former self, it still has some valuable elements worth keeping alive in the international climate system. The international rules-based system and its common MRV system, alongside its common land use accounting rules, common base year, common sectors and gases, common commitment period (of five years) all aid transparency and understanding.

But the second commitment period still languishes in legal limbo. Not enough Parties have signed on. In fact, only 18 countries so far have ratified the amendments, with only one of them being a developed country. Until at least three quarters of Parties have done so, KP CP2 will not be legally binding.

ECO hopes that others will follow the lead of these 18 Parties and ratify, showing their public support for the important rules-based system embodied within the KP.

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Will the INDCs add up to a safe climate?  The truth is out there.

Many countries are already working hard to prepare their INDCs. ECO has said repeatedly that INDCs need to be assessed for adequacy (do INDCs sum up to <2°C?) and equity (are countries doing their fair share?). The INDCs must include all the elements, and also set out an assessment phase between March 2015 and Paris. This must include:

  • all important timelines for INDC communication by March/June 2015;
  • requirements for a proper assessment including the equity indicators of adequacy, responsibility, capability, development need and adaptation need; and
  • a process for conducting assessments.

Following the first batch of INDCs in March, the Secretariat should prepare a compilation paper and public online database, to be updated as INDCs continue to be submitted or amended. The Secretariat should also arrange for an assessment of the collective adequacy of all received INDCs at a June 2015 workshop series, that is also periodically updated. The series of workshops at the June session should:

  • give governments an opportunity to clarify their INDCs by responding to questions from other Parties and observers;
  • present the outcome of the assessment of collective adequacy to verify if we are on track towards staying well below 2°C; and
  • facilitate equity reviews of received INDCs, including opportunities for observers to present their own equity assessments.

These workshops should create momentum towards more substantive ongoing review and ratcheting processes. The purpose of the exercise isn’t to finger-point but, instead, should lead to the up-scaling of INDCs before they are inscribed as part of the new agreement. Parties have different options to improve their ambition. Developed countries can increase emission reduction efforts, and adopt or improve RE targets or EE targets. Developed countries and others with similar capabilities can put up more finance or other MOI support for mitigation actions in developing countries. Developing countries have options as well, for example, they can increase actions without requiring support or outlining additional activities they could undertake if international support is there.

A final note: developing countries have many reasons to support an assessment with an equity review. It would raise overall ambition, support development, build cooperation and can be a way to ensure developed countries can’t walk away from their equitable shares.

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