2014. A year full of challenges, big time!

Enrique Maurtua Konstantinidis
Fundación Biosfera, CANLA

In Bonn GRULAC endorsed Peru’s nomination as COP host for 2014. In the last day of negotiations, Peru’s Minister of Environment himself notified Parties about Peru being the COP 20 presidency. This is great news for Latin America; and the COP will certainly bring a lot of focus on the issues that concern the region.

But 2014 is not just another year, COP 20 will not be a transitional COP, neither something to diminish. Many international climate events will mobilize media attention, people, citizens and politicians to ramp up ambition in the year (2014) countries should present targets on both mitigation and finance. Besides the regular intersessional and ADP sessions, UN General Secretary, Ban Ki Moon, called world leaders to meet for highlighting the urgency of decisions in this matter (in 2014). Venezuela on the other hand proposed to host the traditional ministerial Pre-COP, but they have decided to do things differently and to invite all Civil Society to participate in a non-traditional manner. The list of important events in 2014 concludes with the FIFA World Cup in Brazil ,which will have all attention from all around the world, especially the attention of Brazilians.

With all this happening around Peru as the COP Presidency and with so many milestones to be achieved, there is a very interesting challenge ahead. Finance pledges have to be on the table, and mitigation pledges have to be clear. Also a legal architecture of the new legal instrument should be approved in Lima, Peru by th end of 2014; this is key.

Peru has a good potential as a facilitator, and many coutries are expressing their support, we will have to see how Peru manages the pressure and how constructively countries work to let Peru conduct successful meetings in a year full of expectations.

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CAN’s Leadership Development Programme and Its relevance to the South

 

Sixbert Simon Mwanga
Climate Action Network-Tanzania

Yes, it is true that CAN is the largest and most vibrant network in the world working on climate change. Members of the Network work closely to address the causes and harmful impacts of climate change. About 850 NGOs invigolate CAN’s coordination in more than 90 countries of the earth with varying levels of development and diffuse geographical locations.

CAN uses multi-dimensional approaches to address the catastrophe of climate change in different parts of the world. No doubt, different regions of the world are affected  differently and the level of impacts differ much from one region to another. Hence, “no one size fits all.” To respond to and fill the knowledge gap in the South, CAN has been undertaking both short and long term training to its members especially from the global south.

In 2012, CAN initiated the Leadership Development Programme. 8 Fellows were selected from 8 countries of the world. From Tanzania I was selected to join other fellows.

The usefulness of the programme to the South
The main challenge of the south is the knowledge  gap on what is going on at the global level in terms of science, UNFCCC discussions, decisions and their implications to the south. This programme comes with unique opportunity to bridge that gap as it involves training of the Fellows on the UNFCCC processes, its decissions and their implications to a given region or country. This also gives Fellows confidence to communicate relevant decisions made to the local media and community of the participant’s region or country.

The programme has helped to create a sense of awareness as to what the science says and its meaning at local levels. LDP Fellows are given unique opportunity to interact with recent scientific reports and scientists who are normally available at UNFCCC workshops to dissermination their findings. These kinds of information  and interactions are important to the south as they give confidence to the Fellows and the Fellows can then inform the public and recommend appropriate action.

The project also builds capacity to engage delegates and undertake meetings with country delegations during the UNFCCC discussions and decisions. This provides good opportunities for representing public concerns. It might be hard to believe but it is true that most of the UNFCCC delegates from the south have limited understanding of what is happening at the ground. The reason is that some of the delegates are living in towns and are fully engaged in other activities at their offices.

It is undoubtedly true that the programme is costlly. However, the harmful impacts of climate change are already beyond the means for mitigation and adapatation in the south. Furthermore, when aid is given through one window, it seems as if half of it is always taken back via another.  So thanks to CAN for investing in bridging the knowledge gap between leadership capacity, UNFCCC discussions, decisisions, climate science and the best ways to communicate them at local levels for informed actions.

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Obviously the world is changing…

 

Lama Ghaddar
IndyACT

Changes are happening on different levels: political, economic and demographic.

Arabs’ policies are changing too… the Arab region is already being impacted by climate change. They will have to survive through important economic challenges and environmental threats in the near future.

Arabs countries were drilling the earth for black gold and ignoring the climate change deterioration. What changed after hosting the 2012 December UN Climate negotiations (COP18) in an Arab Country? Apparently, Arabs are now more headed for green-growth policies that seek to make the processes of economic growth more environmentally friendly, more resource efficient and more resilient without slowing down their growth pace. Arabian governments are remedying the situation and they are looking and planning for strong strategies that enable them to implement and build their strength, resilience, and democratic institutions.

“Qatar and PIK announce creation of climate change research institute” a title that drew my attention. I thought that it is worthwhile to share it with the rest of the world.

A new Climate Change Research Institute and a Global Climate Change Forum are being set-up and it will be based in Qatar. It will seek to fill critical gaps in research on mitigation, adaptation and climate resiliency for key regions such as tropics, sub-tropics and dry lands. The aforementioned institutes are the first of their kind in the region. A country whose wealth is founded on fossil fuels, Qatar, will have much attention is directed toward itself. We are all waiting for the results of this amazing initiative, hoping that Qatar will inspire the rest of the Arab world to start developing longterm strategies that address the economic, social and environmental challenges facing this region. Governments should integrate into their policies and plans climate change mitigation and adaption to its effects.

Today Arab countries are undergoing seminal transitions politically and demographically. So together, Arabs countries and communities can make a progress towards an Arab green economy and a stable region. It is time to join developed countries and unite our efforts.

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Countries Must Commit at Warsaw to put numbers on the table in 2014

Friday, June 14, Bonn – Germany:  Climate Action Network called for nations to agree a 2014 deadline for releasing their new carbon pollution reductions pledges before the close of the main climate talks in Warsaw this November.

The call came as the latest round of talks closed in Bonn today having made incremental progress on the shape of a comprehensive climate deal to be agreed in 2015.  But Greenpeace UK political advisor Ruth Davis said a deadline for pledges was vital for the negotiations to remain on track.

“This deadline is needed partly to give enough time to assess the pledges against the latest climate science, and partly so that countries can compare their efforts,” Davis said. “Having enough time to negotiate these targets is vital to avoiding the kind of last minute scramble that made the 2009 Copenhagen summit such a disaster.”

These negotiations were held against a backdrop of the worst-on-record flooding in Eastern Europe and extreme weather in the US. German and New York officials stated this week that they would spend billions fortifying their cities against future extreme weather, showing that the costs of climate change are already being tallied in rich countries as well as poor.  

With climate change already impacting millions across the world, the Climate Action Tracker initiative said this week current pledges put the world on track for 4 degree C warming. This would result in devastating impacts for the planet and its people.

With that in mind, Lina Li, from Greenovation Hub in Beijing, said the Bonn talks failed to make major progress on an international mechanism to cover the loss and damage caused to communities by the effects of climate change. Also missing in action was substantial progress on the review  which would assess whether the agreed global temperature limit of 2 degrees Celsius was adequate.

Areas for substantial discussion in Warsaw include the thread that pulls the climate negotiations together: financial support for developing countries to adopt a low carbon development strategy that reduces emissions and helps them adapt to climate impacts. 

“While most countries have shown a cooperative spirit in the talks so far this year, the Warsaw negotiations will be a test of whether this can be maintained as we move towards more substantial discussions,” Li said.

Dorota Zawadzka-Stępniak, from WWF Poland, said the Polish government needed to invite the holders of the purse strings - finance ministers - to Warsaw to discuss real commitments to increasing financial pledges.

“For the Polish presidency to be a success, Poland must stop blocking enhanced climate action in the EU and adopt a progressive attitude towards its domestic climate and energy policy,” Zawadzka-Stępniak said. “We need to embrace a low carbon pathway and make a strategic shift in the Polish energy system in order to be a credible partner in the negotiations.”  

Contact:

Ria Voorhaar
International Communications Coordinator
Climate Action Network – International
mobile: +49 157 3173 5568

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Stop Your Finger Pointing

Delegates: whilst you sat around the Maritim fountain enjoying the balmy weather, Germany suffered historic flooding. It’s a pity the flooding was the physical variety, and not a flood of ambition washing over these negotiations.

The SBI drowning in Russian bile was the disappointing low point of the last fortnight. Really? In two weeks you can’t agree on an agenda?! And you wonder why the public thinks you might be wasting their precious tax dollars. Perhaps Russia might like to pick up the bill for these last weeks, not to mention the bill for the extra climate impacts caused by this stalling.

While we’re on the subject of bills, let’s reflect on how much lower the climate damage bill will be if you raise your ambition (you might recall this is the objective of Workstream 2 – where we’ve yet to see an over abundance of concrete outcomes). The science is clear: the less you mitigate, the more you will pay to adapt – and to deal with ever more frequent climate related disasters.

But, happily, Warsaw offers you the opportunity to address this dearth of ambition, thus plugging a hole in the leaky climate boat.

ECO recommends two Ministerials at Warsaw. First - the Ambition Ministerial. Let your Ministers know that we are actually expecting them to work hard to close the yawning ambition gap whilst at Warsaw, not just tour the many mermaid statues. Workstream 2 needs to see concrete decisions on ways to accelerate deployment of renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies, as well as a clearly marked out timeframe for increasing developed country targets, and enhancing developing country action in 2014.

ECO was VERY pleased to hear of the Polish Government’s plans to engage Finance Ministers at Warsaw and the enthusiastic welcoming of this by many countries. Engaging Finance Ministers early and often will be important. We would encourage Finance Ministers to come to Warsaw ready to put $$$ on the table. A roadmap to scale finance ambition up to the US$100bn by 2020 will be an essential outcome at Warsaw.

The other essential roadmap to agree at Warsaw is a decision laying out the structure and timeline for further negotiations on the 2015 agreement. Yes, you made some progress here in the roundtable format. But as you agree yourselves, we need a more concrete and less watery path – starting in Warsaw. You might want to focus on this, amongst other things, in your September submissions.

To achieve the comprehensive, global plan we all need in 2015, let's seriously start down the path to agreeing to negotiating text by the end of 2014.

Between now and Warsaw we’ll have our first cool refreshing drink of impending doom from IPCC working group 1. Could the AR5 report on the physical science (spoiler: we're all in deep trouble as things currently stand) finally give you the momentum to agree at Warsaw a process to develop an Equity Reference Framework and to develop and put forward your country specific commitments during 2014 (allowing sufficient time to assess them against science and agreed equity indicators)?

We can’t afford to repeat the mistakes of Copenhagen, which we approached without any shared understanding of what was a fair share of effort and how we would capture it.

We also need progress in Warsaw on development of common accounting standards for both mitigation and finance.

So for now, sit back, relax, enjoy that final Weizenbier before you head home, content in the knowledge that you will be busy, very busy – filing submissions and getting ready to “move to a more focused mode of work at Warsaw” – which needs to not be a "transition COP" but a real step forward on both short term and long term solutions for the climate problem.

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Fresh Breeze from the Arab World

 

A milestone was passed today, when perhaps for the first time ever, an intervention by Saudi Arabia got an enthusiastic round of applause. Speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, Saudi Arabia delivered an intervention devoid of the finger-pointing that an ADP co-chair lamented about past sessions. The applause came when the Saudi speaker delivering the intervention stumbled over an unpronounceable English word, then recovered with grace, humour and dignity.

She went on to commit the Arab group to assume its fair share of efforts to combat global climate change, to move past finger-pointing, to implement new and renewable energy strategies, to delink growth from emissions, and then called for a principled approach based on equity and science. A breath of fresh air, and quite different from a Saudi intervention earlier this session that emphasised uncertainties in the climate science.

PS: After the advice offered from one of the co-chairs, no non-native English speaker should ever feel compelled to utter this 8-syllable word again. But even if it becomes treated as a 4-letter word, we still want it to happen!

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Costa Rica Carbon Neutral for 2020...Really?

 

Developing countries are rightly demanding more action as we work towards an ambitious deal in 2015. And in the spirit of an international agreement applicable to all, many developing countries are taking more actions domestically.

ECO commends developing countries, including Costa Rica, for committing to serious mitigation efforts. Indeed, Costa Rica pledged to be Carbon Neutral by 2021. “Wow!” ECO said at the time, “that is a tremendously ambitious target.” What a great example this country is setting. But a few years down the road, we find out that Costa Rica was attracted by some juicy gifts from the Chinese government and now is ready to receive a loan for building an oil refinery!

ECO wonders how an oil refinery fits in a carbon neutral scheme. How would Costa Rica balance these emissions? Carbon capture and storage is not looking like an option.

You are 8 years away from celebrating 200 years of independence, and the deadline that you chose yourself, voluntarily, to celebrate the start of oil independence. As you see, ECO is watching, and will keep checking on your commitments.

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Climate Finance: Deal Maker or Deal Breaker?

 

Sitting in Monday’s briefing for observer organisations, ECO was delighted to hear the incoming President identify progress on climate finance as a “clear priority” for COP19.

We couldn’t agree more! With the Fast Start period behind us and only a handful of countries with new money on the table, we’re in need of some giant strides between now and the end of Warsaw.

At a minimum, all developed countries must set out, in a way that ensures comparability, the climate finance they will provide over the period 2013-2015, that is comparable and commit to a roadmap for scaling up public finance and reaching US$100bn per year by 2020. The Green Climate Fund must not be left an empty shell – for a fourth COP in a row. And if we’re to confront the enduring “adaptation gap”, Parties should agree that at least 50% of all public climate finance between now and 2020 will be spent on adaptation.

So Poland, now is the time for a good hard think about what it will take to deliver this kind of progress by November. ECO’s advice: It’s time to bring in those who hold the purse strings. That’s right, we’re talking finance ministers. If you’re serious about some big decisions on finance, which ECO believes you are, then we need to involve Finance Ministries and Treasuries in the conversation as soon as possible. That means bringing them into the process before or early in COP19, not just having them swoop in at the end and try to cut last minute deals.

Then there’s the “in-session high-level ministerial dialogue” to prepare for. This is one opportunity we cannot afford to let slip. ECO is looking forward to seeing Finance Ministers sitting down to work out their new commitments and make decisions on promising new sources of public finance. If you put out the invitation, we’ll be sure to do our part in encouraging them to come along.

And when it comes to pathways for scaling up, ECO suggests you have a word with those lovely chaps chairing the Long Term Finance Work Programme. It’s time to gather these almost two years of deliberations into some clear decision options for Ministers, including on new and innovative sources of public finance.

Parties have been emphatic these last two weeks about the need for an ambitious deal that is guided by science as well as equity and capable of keeping warming to within 1.5-2oC. But developing countries simply cannot unlock their mitigation potential unless there is the necessary financial support. Furthermore, vulnerable countries must be given confidence that their escalating adaptation needs will be met.

Finance will be the glue that holds the 2015 deal together. Real progress on this front will be a major step towards an ambitious outcome.

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ADP: A Detailed Proposal

With less than 5 months until COP19, there is much homework for Parties to do on specific proposals for the nature and structure of the 2015 deal. By Warsaw, Parties need to broadly be able to answer the 5 Ws (who, what, where, when, why and how) for all elements of the deal. Take mitigation for example.

Who – well that’s easy – all Parties.

What – binding mitigation commitments that respect Parties' common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities in a dynamic manner, and long term global temperature and reduction targets that provide a strong signal to the investment community that fossil fuels are done!

Where – in a Protocol.

When – for the 5 year commitment period of 2021-2025.

Why – to save your gluteus maximus (and the planet).

How – ECO really hopes the answer to this question is obvious considering how much airtime Parties have been giving to CAN’s Equity Reference Framework these past two weeks.

Hummm…upon reflection, perhaps the homework is not that challenging, as all that is needed is to flesh out the “what” to be committed. This should ensure that Parties have enough clarity on the nature of commitments to be able to table initial offers by the Ban-Ki Moon Summit in the autumn of 2014.

Of course, the final agreement is not all about mitigation. Thus ECO was pleased to see in the draft conclusions for the ADP a technical paper on adaptation costs for each degree of temperature raise. Mitigation, adaptation and loss and damage exist in a continuum. Less ambition on mitigation means substantially more efforts are required to adapt. Similarly, if adequate actions for adaptation are not taken in time, we need to spend more resources to address loss & damage. This technical paper should be focused on the cost-temperature interaction – anything on “adaptation opportunities” (which seems like an oxymoron) can be addressed elsewhere.

Staying with the ying and yang relationship of adaptation and mitigation for a minute, ECO sees a much greater lift on the workstream 2 side of things. Here the list of possible actions is known – increased targets, new pledges, phasing out fossil fuel subsidies and HFCs, enhancing renewable energy and energy efficiency and so on. While AOSIS made a constructive suggestion on the technical way forward, what is really needed is political will and actual commitments. The Obama/Xi announcement on phasing out HFCs is a step in the right direction, but still needs to be translated into firm action.

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Poles Apart

 

Poland is an extraordinary country. It has overcome many years of oppression and poverty to transform itself into a significant economic powerhouse and a proactive European player on diplomacy.

But it appears the Polish government is willing to risk their status as rising international star, and allow its politics to be captured by high carbon incumbents.

If the Polish government continues to pursue this position, it is quite likely that the EU will lose patience, and a diplomatic backlash is quite possible. This will result in Poland losing its say to shape the future of Europe’s energy regime, widening the gap between its ageing and inefficient energy infrastructure and a more dynamic, smarter and innovative power system across other EU countries.

ECO wonders if the Polish government is kicking itself in deciding to put their names forward for the Presidency of COP19 later on this year. Warsaw will not be a Poznan. Back in 2008, the Poles were still only agitators as opposed to today’s outright blockers of the EU’s energy and climate ambitions. Poznan was a low-key COP, unlike Warsaw, which should agree on the outlines of an Equity Reference Framework for the post-2020 deal; outline further efforts on public finance (with the engagement of Finance Ministers); close the pre-2020 mitigation gap; affirm the political significance of the Loss and Damage debate and set in place a series of processes to deliver a 2015 agreement.

Warsaw will be a high profile event. But Poland’s diplomatic strategy is flawed – they are invisible, and there is an emerging disquiet amongst many Parties and observers if they were the right choice. Among those are established voices such as Raul Estrada-Oyuela, a legend to those of us in the climate and diplomatic arena, who unforgettably locked delegates in the room in Kyoto to hammer out the subsequent protocol, who calls Poland’s ability to host such an important event into question, based on the Polish SBI chair’s failure to resolve this issue. (Link to Estrada’s letter here http://bit.ly/estrada-oyuela)

What is needed from the Polish government is not just to be a rising star, but a sophisticated diplomatic actor that understands how to build consensus around ambitious action climate change. An actor who has a more mature and deeper understanding of its national interest. An actor who understands that a reliance on coal undermines the long term prosperity of its own people, and recognises that modernising its economy is essential if it is to compete in a globalised world.   Instead, what we have is a government that plans to build new coal fired power plants and open new lignite reserves, which recent studies state have the worst implications upon health within the EU, and that also displace 20,000 people.  Such aggressive coal expansion, and its persistent objections to greater European ambition, cannot be reconciled with its desire to be an international player in the run up to 2015.

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