Tag: Mitigation

Paljon onnea Suomi!

ECO congratulates Finland on its brand new Climate Change Act. The Act gives legislative power for an emissions reduction target by 2050 of at least 80%. ECO would have preferred at least 95%, but hey, this is a leap in the right direction for Finland, which hasn’t shown such strong climate leadership in the past. Moving forward, Finland’s climate policy will not depend on political fluctuations. We applaud the long-term thinking! Please open your vodka bottles, and join ECO in a toast: "Kippis!"

Now, who’s next? If a cold, isolated country with lots of energy intensive industry can do it, so can you!

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Fresh air for fresh brains

ECO hopes that a fresh breeze of air in Bonn will give the Chinese delegation a break from Beijing’s filthy air, and perhaps a fresh perspective on the negotiations.

Last year, 92% of China’s cities failed to meet national air quality standards. The government has since mandated provinces to curb coal consumption, the biggest source of air pollution, in particular of PM2.5 (particles smaller than 2.5 mm in diameter). A number of provinces have put forward specific coal control measures and some have even pledged to reduce absolute consumption by 2017. The aggregate of these provincial measures will reduce the country’s coal consumption by 655 million tonnes from a business as usual scenario by 2020.

ECO knows that there are significant co-benefits between addressing air pollution and mitigating greenhouse gases emissions. Over the past decade, China’s coal burning has accounted for half of the world’s CO2 emission growth. Slashing coal power generation will not only be good for the Chinese people, but also for the global community.

Provincial cuts to coal-based power generation will translate to roughly 1,300 million tonnes of emissions reductions, equivalent to the combined total annual emissions of Australia and Canada. If China delivers on these plans with a full implementation and by expanding its coal caps to broader regions, then its emissions pathway will be almost in line with the IEA’s 2°C scenario. Other countries must do their fair share to if China is to have confidence moving forward.

ECO thinks that the Minister’s further clarification on China’s proposed submission by March 2015 is a timely step in the right direction that needs to be built upon. China should also communicate its domestic successes here in Bonn to help build momentum in the international climate negotiations. More transparency will help build trust, enhance collective ambition, and might just allow everyone to breathe more easily.

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The Visionary Few in the ADP Ministerial

Something revolutionary happened in the ADP ministerial yesterday even though most Parties repeated worn out positions, there were a visionary few that outlined a vision for Paris in line with what science demands! 

First, the Marshall Islands, supported by Grenada, noted the “need to fully decarbonise our economies by the middle of century”. AILAC entertained the notion of “possibly [going] carbon neutral” by mid-century to stay below 2°C, while Norway said “we need to approach zero net emissions by the middle of the century”. The Netherlands, Germany and others made similar comments. Clearly, some governments have taken the findings of the IPCC’s AR5 to heart (or was it ECO’s opening article on Wednesday on the need to phase out all fossil fuels by 2050 and phase in 100% renewables?). Over the coming days - and in those UN Climate Summit statements! - ECO looks forward to hearing more countries outlining their vision for a fossil-free world.

It is necessary to turn this vision into concrete action. Countries like Norway need to drop their double-standards on climate action and get the state-owned company, Statoil, to leave fossil fuels in the ground.   All countries need to increase their efforts pre- and post-2020. However, ECO was really excited to hear China say it would table its proposed post-2020 contribution by the March 2015 deadline. Others, like Brazil, who noted that it would only be ready sometime “before Paris” clearly need to pick up their pace.  ECO wonders if countries like Brazil are concerned about having their contributions considered in a civil society review? ECO is even more confused about the idea that some Parties only want to “commit to submit” at the Climate Summit. Of course, ECO would prefer that Parties submit what they will commit.

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WTF! TXT! - INF NDCs

Tuesday saw a draft text was released on what information Parties will be required to include in the announcement of their initial post-2020 contributions, and the process to review these for adequacy and equity.  Much detail is still needed, but ECO welcomes this draft as a good development. Way to go Parties! Please continue to work at this speed!

As Parties ruminate over this text, ECO thought it should mention few points.

On the information needed

The annex is a positive start about the upfront information requirements for the Nationally Determined Contributions. The overarching objective is that the proposed contributions by countries should be quantifiable, comprehensible, comparable and reproducible. For developed countries, this process should be straightforward and it’s already possible to start filling in some of the required detail – like a common base year of 1990; that the commitment will be an economy-wide absolute reduction and so on. There cannot be any backtracking from the Kyoto Protocol approach of multi-year carbon budgets based on common metrics. This type of commitment should be expanded to a broader group of countries and should at least include all OECD countries. The mitigation component should also allow for the tabling of solution oriented contributions, particularly as countries move towards a 100% renewable future. This is fundamental for a large number of countries with low emissions, but also low energy access. Their greatest challenge is to build a renewable energy system with access for all, rather than to reduce emissions per se.

To avoid locking in low levels of ambition, and to stay in sync with IPCC assessment reports and political decision-making cycles, ECO thinks that all parties should bring 5-year contribution periods. This means that the first set of contributions should have a common end date of 2025. Parties in a position to commit to several budget periods, and could also come with a 2030 target. But “what about the long-term” you may ask? And you are quite right, dear reader. Paris must send signals for the long-term, making it necessary for Parties to indicate when their emissions are likely to peak and where they are going in 2030, 2050 and other time-posts.

ECO is pleased to about the finance section. This must stay in (as ECO can already think of a few Parties with fingers on the ‘delete’ button!). The provision of climate finance is an integral part of the fair share for developed countries (and, post-2020, of countries with comparable levels of responsibility and capability in accordance with the equity framework/indicators). Information on the provision of finance must be included when tabling initial contributions. All countries should spell out how they plan to mobilise additional finance and shift investment patterns, such as through setting policy frameworks or deploying public finance.

Adaptation is a fundamental element of the 2015 Agreement.  Many parties have expressed concern over the need to ensure equal importance, and ECO shares these concerns. Yet ECO is also concerned that some parties seem to think a contribution on adaptation alone is a sufficient contribution to the 2015 agreement. Clearly it’s not!  Adaptation is best addressed as part of the broader discussions on the 2015 Agreement, rather than just through the contribution preparation process. In a similar vein, ECO would like to stress that there are a number of issues related to finance, technology and capacity building which need to be addressed in the 2015 agreement. This goes far beyond merely being part of the discussion about intended nationally determined contributions. 

 

ECO has many friends around the world. These friends are very knowledgeable about cutting emissions and transitioning to renewable energy. ECO’s friends are eager to help countries. It should be a no-brainer that civil society should be consulted and included in the domestic preparation processes for developing proposed contributions. ECO heard Brazil mention in yesterday’s Ministerial that they are consulting broadly with stakeholders as part of their preparations. To further facilitate independent assessments, the secretariat could also help out – they could be mandated to prepare a compilation and synthesis of the national contributions as well as establish an electronic bulletin board so that Parties and stakeholders can post comments and questions to others about their contributions. How’s that for one idea? Imagine how many more Parties could receive if it asks civil society. 

Having now covered all the substance, ECO would like to remind Parties of the firm deadline for when this homework is due – and that it’s no later than the first quarter of 2015. This is necessary so that ECO’s friends and others can conduct an ex-ante review for equity and adequacy. What would be the point of having all these nice discussions if our combined efforts do not solve the climate crisis?

On the review of initial contributions

ECO was glad to see that the concept of an ex-ante review for equity and adequacy was included in the text. This was hotly debated in Warsaw, but to little avail - Lima must do much better. The text as it stands now just says “further specification of modalities”. To help parties in their elaboration on modalities, ECO proposes that these should include:

  1. Agreement on an official space within the ADP where civil society and research organisations can present the outcomes of their assessments of the proposed commitments at the June 2015 session. And make no mistake dear Reader, there WILL be a civil society review of your initial contributions! This shouldn’t be too much of a lift as ECO assumes Parties will definitely be carving out some time next June to ask each other about their own targets. We would just like to make sure that we will be invited to the party (as we always invite you to ours!).
  2. A deadline for resubmitting contributions prior to COP 21. Hopefully the original proposals are ambitious and fair enough, but there needs to be a space to resubmit revised contributions if this is not the case.

There are two further things that would help with the ex-ante review process. First, Parties should specify the list of indicators in the annex against which parties must justify their proposed post-2020 contributions.  These indicators should include those on adequacy (e.g. carbon budgets used, mitigation pathways followed), responsibility (e.g. start date from which responsibility is calculated, which gases are included, etc.), capability (e.g. GDP, GDP per capita, poverty, etc.), the sustainable development need, and adaptation need.  .

As countries start announcing their contributions at the Climate Summit in September, significant process on this issue needs to be made here.  So keep going!

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CAN Intervention: KP Ministerial Dialogues at SB40s, 6 June, 2014

Thank you President Korolec and Minister Pulgar-Vidal, 

I am speaking on behalf of the Climate Action Network.

Distinguished Ministers, 

This Ministerial meeting is a result of your previous agreement that developed countries' targets for 2020 needed to be more ambitious. This promise was the precondition of the Durban agreement to start the negotiations for the 2015 agreement. Even more importantly, increasing your near-term targets is essential if we are to keep the window to keeping warming below 1.5 degrees C open. This need to revise the 2020 targets applies to all developed country Parties, both inside and outside of the Kyoto Protocol. 

We are disappointed to see that very few ministers have bothered to come here. Is this because Ministers have not been briefed about what is necessary to avoid even more devastating climate impacts than the world is already experiencing? Or is it because Ministers know this all too well, but did not dare to come here to admit that they are going to do nothing in the face of the undeniable scientific evidence of what a failure to act now will mean? 

While some Parties are making more progress in cutting emissions than others, what unsettles us the most is that not a single developed country has indicated their intention to increase their targets for 2020, neither those countries that remain under the Kyoto Protocol or, even worse, from those who have stepped outside (or were never in).  What we have heard today is nothing less than a spectrum of non-commitments. 

Thank you.

 

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ADP: Ambition Delivery, Please?

The week began on a high note with positive signals coming from some major emitters, they’re moving in the right direction, but all countries can go further and faster. ECO expects - and the world needs - more positive signals alongside concrete additional commitments between now and the Ban Ki-Moon Summit in September, COP20 in Lima, all the way to the March 2015 deadline.   

You might be asking, what about today? ECO has been perusing the information note for this Ministerial and noticed its four objectives for the session, so here’s our take on what your role is on:

1. Motivating the Parties to do more

ECO promises to have our cheerleaders - in custom outfits in your national colours, chanting in your native language - out for any Minister announcing new mitigation, financial commitments or actions pre-2020, in any session. This offer remains open through to the Ban Ki Moon Summit!

2. The political implications of the IPCC findings, for both mitigation and adaptation

The results of the AR5 are crystal clear. 

All fossil fuel emissions need to be phased out and we need to start immediately if we want to remain within the lowest temperature limit of 1.5oC. It’s not just about phasing out all the bad stuff, we need to phase in the good stuff too - a 100% renewable future with energy access for all. 

WGII reflects that our adaptation response to current extreme weather events remains low, highlighting an “adaptation deficit” in both developing and developed countries. ECO is concerned that this is being replicated in the ADP. Let’s be clear: a 2015 agreement is not politically or practically feasible without addressing the deficit. The ADP must have significant support to scale up adaptation action for developing countries if it wants to protect the most vulnerable people and ecosystems.

Adaptation has long been given a lower priority in the negotiations, including in the ADP. ECO is pleased to see many developing countries now seriously considering what a new agreement needs to deliver to match their growing adaptation needs, and address loss and damage. A key element is more resources provided by rich countries. We also need to start thinking on how we can all be preparing for the impacts of climate change. Ask yourselves, Ministers, what would climate change look like if we took it as seriously as we did the global financial crisis? This is a global challenge and we need radical changes to protect our planet from a climate disaster. Take off your party political hats, and put on your thinking caps! We need bolder and braver policies to protect us from climate change.  

3. The preparation of nationally determined contributions from all Parties

ECO has many wise friends in many countries. These friends would like to help support the ADP by conducting an independent civil society review of initial pledges on both adequacy and equity. This review will cover not only mitigation offers, but also what rich countries are planning to provide on climate finance (for both mitigation and adaptation), as a crucial element of those countries’ fair share in the global effort. Ministers, our friends don’t bite...unless you’re timid with your ambition!  The ADP needs to create a formal space for civil society reviews, and the independent analyses and reviews we expect other expert groups (like UNEP) to produce, as to inform the process.  This is extremely important and must not be allowed to fall through the cracks. Concrete signals on this assessment process today and an agreement on it in Lima are critical.

4. Providing political guidance and support for the ADP

Ministers, though sometimes you may suspect otherwise, ECO does like you! We get very upset when you don’t show up to things (see yesterday’s edition). It’s up to you to lead the convoy as we head to Paris. Climate change is the most pressing challenge of the 21st century and this calls for continued political engagement at the highest levels until the crisis is solved.

Ministers, roll up your sleeves and get stuck in – the world needs your leadership!

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Over achievement or under ambition?

The EU has made no efforts to hide their personal satisfaction at projecting it will overachieve its 20% target for 2020. According to the EU’s KP "ambition" submission, they’re on a pathway to a reduction of 22.8% on average during the second commitment period. Not forgetting that the latest numbers released just a couple of days ago confirmed that the EU has already reached a level of 19.2% below 1990 levels in 2012.

This looks great at first glance, but there’s more to it. In reality the EU isn’t offering any hard commitments to achieve additional reductions. A 30%  reduction target has been, until recently, a lively political discussion in Europe even though NGOs are calling for a 40% reduction. The overachievement is not so much ‘over’ achievement as it is ‘under’ ambition.

EU cuts could be greater than projected without much more effort. There are additional national measures, as well as the  Energy Efficiency Directive which isn’t yet accounted for, which together could shave off another 3% or more by 2020. In talking about additional cuts, the EU's KP submission also tactfully notes the 1.6Gt of eligible ETS offsets without suggesting what to do about them. There are almost three-quarters of a GT in non-ETS offsets also allowed under EU rules. The answer is obvious: cancel the excess. Otherwise in reality EU emissions can either grow to 2020, or the 2030 target will be poisoned by banked emissions.

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Listen to the science

The IPCC was here in town yesterday to hand deliver its latest reports to you. Today, the UNFCCC will start formal consideration of the IPCC reports in the next round of the Structured Expert Dialogues (SED). This is part of the 2013-2015 review of the adequacy of the long-term global goal and the overall progress towards achieving it.

Ministers in Bonn should welcome the good news from the IPCC: it is still possible to limit global warming to 2C. The really big news is a clear finding that the overall “cost” to the economy for the needed changes is smaller than the rounding errors commonly found in long-term economic growth projections. It’s not just the scale of the total global investment in infrastructure that has to change dramatically; rather, it is the direction of the investment that has to change in order to decarbonise the world’s infrastructure. That means complete transformation of our energy sector and important changes to our society as a whole. Investments in renewables have to triple soon and proven fossil reserves have to be left underground.

The IPCC WGII shows that the costs of inaction are catastrophic. The risks of climate change are widespread, they concern every region and every sector. Ministers, be courageous and take decisive, ambitious action today. The people, biodiversity and ecosystems upon which they depend are counting on you. 

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Support farmers to adapt to climate change

Even though the objective of Article 2 is to stabilise global emissions before food production is threatened, impacts are already being felt around the world. Floods have damaged wheat fields in Pakistan and rice fields in Thailand. Heat waves have seriously impacted the yields of Russian wheat and US maize.

Global food security is at threat. Small-scale farmers produce the majority of the world’s food, yet they are the most food insecure, and most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.

Mitigation is of course essential to keep temperature below 1.5C - but the adaptation needs of developing countries, particularly their agricultural sectors, must have a high priority too.

Developed country Parties have suggested a focus on productivity levels. But as temperatures rise and precipitation becomes increasingly unpredictable, large areas in temperate and tropical countries may become progressively unsuitable for agriculture. ECO thinks that the SBSTA’s first step is build on detailed studies, like the report recently endorsed by the World Committee on Food Security, through mandating an assessment of climate change impacts on food production.

ECO asks Parties to provide support to the conservation of plant genetic diversity, and increase the resilience of smallholder agriculture systems. This will help small scale farmers to build their adaptive capacity, and help them integrate their farming systems in the local ecosystems.

Policies should be designed and implemented to enable small-scale food providers and other vulnerable populations to become more resilient to climate change through an integrated focus.

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US power plant rules: a second look

After celebrating the good news out of the US on new EPA regulations to cut carbon pollution from power plants, ECO has taken the time to take a second look at the proposed plan.

The good news is that the plan looks like the real deal - it will lower emissions and put the US on the right path. The puzzler is why the administration is leaving the low-hanging fruit on the tree. Analyses suggest there are far more gains to be achieved - in both emissions reductions and cost savings - by fully harnessing energy efficiency measures and renewable energy resources. The U.S. power sector is already well on its way to meeting the EPA’s draft 2030 target. ECO thinks the US should aim much higher, introducing other regulations to further reduce emissions. . 

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