Tag: Mitigation

Canada: the End of a Fossil-Filled Era?

Seasoned negotiators among you will recall that there was a time when Canada was not a shoe-in for the Fossil of the Year awards. While never perfect, Canada once had a reputation for punching above its weight when it came to the climate talks—a reputation that began to fracture in Nairobi, was crumbling by Bali, and a distant memory by the time Copenhagen rolled around.

Even bad things must come to an end.  In a dramatic election yesterday, Canada threw out the near-decade long rule of climate laggard Stephen Harper. Incoming Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has his work cut out for him. To be sure, his party’s election platform pushed some of the right buttons: promising to contribute Canada’s fair share to keep the world below 2°C; working with the premiers of Canada’s provinces to come up with a new INDC target and a strategy to meet it (within 90 days after Paris); phasing out fossil fuel subsidies; and investing $2bn in green infrastructure.

Sounds great, eh? Not so fast. ECO’s Ottawa correspondents report that Trudeau also talks about building new tar sands pipelines to get Canada’s dirty oil to market. It seems Trudeau is not yet the boldest when it comes to making the tough calls on Canada’s carbon bomb, the tar sands. However Paris might just be the push he needs to tell the world that his parliament will be stepping up to do Canada’s fair share in tackling the climate crisis.

Trudeau must come to Paris with a firm commitment to enshrine 2025 and 2030 targets in domestic law. These targets should include phasing out dirty energy and phasing in 100% renewable energy by 2050. They should also include providing Canada’s fair share of international finance.

The process must start with a meeting between Trudeau and the provinces’ premiers before they all leave for Paris. Then we can truly and loudly say in Paris: Welcome back, Canada!

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The Cure

ECO is eager for the discussions on Workstream 2 to start. Without a strong outcome on pre-2020 ambition, we are likely to lose any chance of keeping global warming to below 2°C, let alone 1.5°C. ECO would like to suggest a few surgical insertions for our patient to grow into a strong and healthy workstream:

  • Recognise the ambition gap and the need to close it: The efforts under Workstream 2 have to be informed by a clear purpose: the urgency of closing the pre-2020 gap.
  • Acknowledge the need for finance and the role of the Financial Mechanism: Like the Technology Mechanism, the Financial Mechanism should be given a role. Those environmentally, economically and socially sound opportunities identified under Workstream 2, particularly in renewable energy and energy efficiency, should receive priority support.
  • Task high-level champions with matching potential and support: Appointing champions can move Workstream 2 from discussion to implementation. They need a clearer mandate to enable coalitions and to match mitigation opportunities with the necessary support.
  • Criteria for initiatives: The champions and high-level dialogues will catalyse efforts, initiatives and coalitions. Criteria are needed so we can recognise those efforts that respect human rights, social safeguards, and environmental integrity.
  • Review of implementation of initiatives: Once initiatives are launched, we need to ensure they deliver. Assessing the impact of initiatives should be added as a task for the high-level dialogue.
  • Adaptation: The status of the the paragraphs in italics regarding a technical examination process for adaptation is not clear, but ECO knows that adaptation efforts and support are insufficient and must be enhanced from now until 2020.

ECO doesn’t hold a medical degree, but we are sure that to restore the health of the text the brackets must be removed, namely those around the paragraphs on accelerated implementation and high-level co-champions.

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United In Faith On Climate Action

The voices of many religions are amplifying the call to bring back real ambition to these climate negotiations.

Today, a statement signed by 154 religious and spiritual leaders from 50 countries will be handed over to Christiana Figueres. The Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist, Brahma Kumari and Sikh leaders are asking governments to reach zero emissions by mid-century, phase-out fossil fuels, commit to building climate resilience, and provide finance and support to poor and vulnerable countries.

Leading by example, these faith leaders have also committed to climate action by pledging to continue raising awareness on climate change and significantly reduce the carbon footprints of their organisations.

Standing united across differences, while combining a scientifically sound mitigation target, finance, support to the most vulnerable, and taking action at home…is all ECO ever asks for.

ECO suggests that Parties take note from these spiritual leaders and continue the negotiations in good faith

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ECO’s Recipe For Success

While France is renowned for its mouth watering cuisine, the negotiating text for COP 21 will need major changes to avoid leaving a bad taste in everyone’s mouth.

The co-chairs have brought from the kitchen an incomplete meal with bland elements of uncertain origin. Crucially, the entire non-paper lacks that key ingredient necessary to stay in the running for a Michelin star: ambition.

To start with, the ambition and durability of the international climate regime must be secured through a review and revision mechanism based on the principles of equity and CBDR, which should work to increase Parties’ ambition over time in order to limit global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.

Clearly, the proposed “Global Stocktake” does not make that cut. CAN proposes the adoption of a Paris Ambition Mechanism (PAM) that would link and synchronize Parties’ mitigation, finance and adaptation commitments in 5-year cycles. The PAM should combine a scientific review of the adequacy and equity of Parties’ commitments with implementation support for countries that wish to act beyond their domestic capabilities. It should hold the first round of reviews well before 2020.

A good chef thinks through a meal, from the amuse-bouche to the digestif. Likewise, this deal must be thought through all the way to the long-term goal.

That’s why countries must commit to reach full global decarbonisation and a transition to 100% renewable energy by 2050, and to develop national decarbonisation strategies based on accelerated deployment of efficiency and renewable technologies.

The adaptation section of the agreement should include a call for increased financial support for adaptation, and recognise that rising temperatures will require greater adaptation efforts and that adaptation needs will escalate with lower level of mitigation ambition.

On loss and damage, the Paris Agreement can’t merely note the problem; it must ensure that institutional arrangements under the Agreement will continuously strengthen support for loss and damage—in a separate section from adaptation.

The current draft does not ensure the predictability and adequacy of future financial support. At the last session, the G77 called for the Paris Agreement to establish collective targets for financial support set in periodic intervals. To ECO, this makes a lot of sense, especially if there are separate targets for adaptation and mitigation support from public sources, accompanied by real action to shift private and public investments.

Firm commitments by developed countries and others with comparable capacity and responsibility to contribute to meeting those targets should be inscribed into the agreement. ECO also suggests re-inserting language to support recipient countries in assessing their requirements for enhanced action, to facilitate such support.

The COP decisions on pre-2020 action must catalyse implementation on the ground by strengthening the TEPs, appointing high-level champions to further good mitigation opportunities, and matching them with the necessary finance, technology, and capacity building support. The text must also create processes to identify adaptation support and cooperation needs at different levels. Crucially, developed countries must demonstrate how they intend to scale up public finance in order to meet their commitment to mobilise US$100 billion per year by 2020.

Paris must put in place a means to avoid the double counting of credits used in international transfers, setting durable principles to ensure the quality of any credits used and their contribution to sustainable development.

Finally, a palatable Paris Package must ensure respect for human rights, responding to the needs of people and communities through strong public participation provisions.

Only when such a menu is prepared will ECO be able to truly say: bon appétit!

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Our Human Rights to Clean Air And Clean Water

In September, more than 40 countries called for human rights to be included in the Paris Agreement. Human rights, gender equality and the issue of a just transition dominated the discussion in the negotiations on the preamble and Section C at the last ADP session in Bonn. 

Since this is a party-driven process, the co-chairs should be responsive to the Parties. Now, however, the Parties are left asking: Why has any mention of human rights been axed from the core agreement and included only in the preamble to the COP draft decision text? And why has the just transition language been dropped entirely from the draft Paris agreement text? The fleeting reference in the chapeau of the draft decision to the need for just transition strategies is not sufficient.

A human rights-focused approach offers a holistic picture of the connections between the economic, social, cultural, ecological and political dimensions of the fight against climate change. The new text must integrate human rights as a cornerstone issue in order to deliver effective climate solutions to the world’s poorest and most marginalised people. And just transition strategies must be acknowledged as key components of national climate strategies—starting with the initial round of INDCs—not seen as an afterthought. As we move forward aggressively to decarbonise the global economy, a basic sense of fairness demands that we don’t leave affected workers and communities behind.

Civil society has formed a united front on the issue of human rights. We call on Parties to enshrine human rights in the operative text of the new Paris deal so it can be implemented where it matters: on the ground and in impacted communities.

 

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Coal: A New Climate Solution?

Burning coal is many things: its dirty, carbon intensive, expensive and, a massive threat to public health. Its also not a solution to the climate crisis. This should be evident to anyone familiar with the warnings from the IPCC and IEA. The construction of coal plants will soon lock in emissions that will exceed 2°C warming. Approximately 80% of the worlds coal reserves cannot be burned if we are to stay below this threshold. 

Many of this understand this, although, apparently this is not evident to Japan. 

Japan has relentlessly argued that burning unlimited amounts of coal in slightly more efficient plant is a core solution to climate change. To advance its fairy-tale vision of a coal-fired, climate-safe world, Japan has systematically obstructed common sense proposals to limit global coal subsidies. Japan has opposed language in the finance text that would call on countries to limit international support for high carbon investments. It has funded coal plants and claimed it as part of its climate finance contributions, rejecting the consensus of other major contributors that this is inappropriate. And perhaps worst of all, it has blocked any compromise agreement at the OECD level that would limit public subsidies for the export of coal technologies. 

To see just how regressive Japans intransigent support of its coal industry really is, compare their position to that of China, which recently committed to take steps to strictly control its public support for coal plants, both at home and abroad. Better yet, compare it to that of Kiribati. Faced with the existential crisis of warming-induced sea level rise, Kiribati has called for a global moratorium on new coal mines to facilitate the transition away from burning coal.

Its hard to see how Japan subsidising coal plants will help Kiribati. Its not hard to see how it will help its own industry.

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CAN Briefing Paper: Text suggestions Mitigation Long-term goal & Decarbonization strategies, October 2015

~~If the Paris Agreement is to make a difference, it has to mark the beginning of the end to the fossil fuel era. It must send a clear and convincing signal to investors and decision makers at all levels, that from now on, any high-carbon investments are high-risk investments.
 
As a key element of such an agreement, governments must admit and agree, for the first time, that we are no longer in the business of managing emissions. Fossil carbon emissions must simply be phased out to zero in a very short period of time, if we are to stay below 1.5 ºC warming. This, in reality, means phasing out fossil fuels and decarbonizing the global economy.

To achieve full decarbonization in a way that is just, achieves wider sustainable development objectives, and respects national sovereignty, each country should develop a strategic national decarbonization plan to shift rapidly from a high-carbon economic growth model to sustainable development.
 
National decarbonization plans would facilitate the alignment of international obligations (Agenda 2030, UNFCCC mitigation targets and adaptation goals) and national plans and legislation, by ensuring that implementation of the sustainable development goals on agriculture, infrastructure, cities, production and consumption, and ecosystems, forests and land use are integrated and catalyzing cross-sectoral action at the national and local government levels.
 
Based on the above CAN suggests the following text amendments and changes to the October ADP draft text.

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CAN Briefing Paper: Text suggestions WS2, October 2015

~~Parties to the UNFCCC recognize that current pre-2020 mitigation efforts are insufficient to get the world onto an emissions pathway consistent with the 1.5°C limit. The ADP Workstream 2 (WS2) was set up to address this gap in pre-2020 ambition, which, according to UNEP, is at least as 8-10 Gt CO2e in 2020.

CAN believes the revised draft COP decision for pre-2020 climate action  holds merit as a basis for building a strong WS2 outcome in Paris. The final decision must however enable a move from discussion of opportunities to implementation on the ground. This document highlights crucial elements in need of further development as well as detailed textual proposals.

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