Tag: Mitigation

Agreements and Disagreements


A permanent Action Agenda building on the lessons of the Lima Paris Action Agenda could narrow the gap between current emissions trajectories and those required to limit global temperature rise to below 1.5°C.   

Some of the elements of such a permanent Action Agenda seem to be falling into place. Nobody disagrees about the importance of closing the gap or of identifying menus of good policy options that could be scaled up or replicated. Nobody disagrees about the benefits of involving non-state actors. There is a growing consensus that we need to appoint two high-level champions to facilitate the development of initiatives that help to close the gap.

However, it gets murkier from there. Though developed countries can and should launch unilateral and cooperative actions with their own resources, developing countries will require additional finance and technological support to take extra action. Yet some parties seem to think that this should not be discussed.

Similarly, it is clear that climate change impacts are increasing and that we need to develop additional initiatives to scale up adaptation actions. Yet, the fate of a Technical Examination Process for adaptation is still hotly debated, and here too some Parties do not want to discuss ways to increase support for adaptation.

ECO would like to remind Parties that the real measure of success for Workstream 2 will be whether it helps us to address climate change in the short term. This can only be done if developed countries increase their targets and if enough financial and technological resources are made available for mitigation and adaptation action on the ground.


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1.5: Possible Ambitious Required International Success

Yesterday’s Joint Contact Group on the 2013-2015 review saw Saudi Arabia–supported by its shadows Oman and China, attempt to block clear conclusions from ADP and COP’s two years of excellent work on the long-term goal. Worse, those countries are trying to prevent progress towards a COP decision on strengthening the limit for acceptable warming, which has its foundations in the robust climate science contained in the Structured Expert Dialogue (SED).

The SED found that the previously accepted ‘guardrail’ opinion, that 2°C of warming is safe, is inadequate. Now we know that the line of defence must be set lower. Yesterday, many countries–including the members of the Climate Vulnerables Forum–echoed that concept in an impressive declaration, calling for a warming limit of 1.5°C.

2°C of warming would result in catastrophic impacts on sensitive global ecosystems. Arctic sea-ice will disappear, glaciers will melt, and ocean acidification will destroy coral reef ecosystems. In other words: disaster for the climate and disaster for our planet.

The good news is the SED concluded that keeping warming well below 2°C is still possible through deep emission cuts. These cuts can be achieved through full decarbonisation of energy systems, along with scaling-up of low-carbon energy technologies by approximately 90% by 2050. ECO expects that parties will want to demonstrate unambiguously–through a COP decision–that they take science seriously and that the Paris agreement will build on the basis of the outcome of the SED.

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1.5ºC Means Serious Long Term Goals

This week is kicking off with a major focus on vulnerable countries and resilience. As Obama’s opening speech said, ‘no nation large or small, wealthy or poor is immune to the impacts of climate change’. That is why today’s declaration by the Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF)–a platform of 20 countries whose people, economies and ecosystems are at risk of irreparable damage as a result of rising temperatures–is of huge importance.
These 20 countries have not only pledged to fight for climate justice, but also to demonstrate how such justice can become a reality. Making 1.5°C real will require a clear and rapid transition away from fossil fuels. It means that countries must agree to decarbonise globally and transform to a 100% renewable energy system by 2050. It also means a Paris Ambition Mechanism that will ensure targets are reviewed before 2020 and then renewed and revised upwards on a 5-year rolling cycle–to keep survival and a just transition within reach. It requires richer nations both to fulfil their promise of providing US$100 billion of climate finance by 2020 and to take the lead in making this the floor for future support for mitigation, adaptation and loss and damage.
ECO wholeheartedly supports countries’ demand to limit the global temperature rise to no more than 1.5°C. If our goal is not to secure the survival of whole countries, then what is it? This is a simple moral imperative that should unite us all.
If ECO had only one wish, it would be that the voices of the most vulnerable should resonate through the negotiating halls of Le Bourget and their demands be supported and championed by all Parties, especially the EU, US, and other countries that pride themselves on being partners in global solidarity.
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Do You Recognise Me?

On the first day of any COP, ECO always finds itself wandering the halls, orienting where the best coffee is, or where the plenaries will be. It goes without saying that ECO is pleased to see old friends and familiar faces working towards a safer climate future. But, with so many people in Le Bourget, there were certainly a few moments today trying to place people. Is that the Guardian reporter, or the delegate from India?

This is also sometimes the case when looking at the many pieces that will make up the Paris package. For example, most people see the Lima Paris Action Agenda (LPAA) as a forum to bring together state and non-state actors to accelerate cooperative climate action.

Yet, from another perspective, the LPAA could also be seen as something else–the first test for a more permanent high-level action agenda that Paris should establish. A permanent high-level engagement platform would be a key element of a strong Workstream 2 decision. As proposed by AOSIS, this action agenda would be led by two high-level champions, who are prominent global individuals with the stature and connections to rally the world to close the emissions gap to 1.5°C.

Given the important example the LPAA would set, it needs to get off on the right foot. This would start with excluding initiatives involving fossil fuel companies. And areas like energy efficiency, renewable energy, cities and forests (which all currently have a prominent space in the LPAA) should continue to be the focus of the permanent action agenda.

To ensure that we have an action agenda in 2016, which focuses on transformational outcomes that help close the gap, the Workstream 2 decision should set a clear criteria for future initiatives. Additionally, there should be provisions to track progress and hold stakeholders accountable for making progress after the cameras and lights go off.

So, as you watch the LPAA action days this coming week, remember that there is more than meets the eye.

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Dead Heat in First Fossil of the Day Awards of the Paris Climate Summit

As world leaders up the ante on the opening day of the Paris Climate Summit, the first place Fossil of the Day award is a double-act. New Zealand claims a top spot for rather hilariously, or not, urging countries to phase out fossil fuel subsidies while shelling out big bucks to prop up fossil fuel production, to the tune of US$80 million.
Prime Minister John Key showed a degree of hypocrisy by claiming, at a Friends of Fossil Fuel Subsidy Reform event, that New Zealand is a leader on fossil fuel subsidy abolition–despite the country’s fossil fuel production subsidies increasing seven-fold since his election in 2008. His phony grandstanding came just a week after claiming that New Zealand ‘doesn’t need to be and shouldn’t be a leader in climate change’. Are you getting mixed signals too?
Joining New Zealand on the winners podium (drum roll please) for a First Place Fossil Award is Belgium! With environmental leadership as murky as a tall glass of Weisse beer, its four regional governments from four different parties are still bickering over how to implement the EU climate and energy package since 2009.
Today, Belgium is lagging behind on their carbon pollution reduction and renewable energy targets. Because of this bickering blocking a Belgian climate agreement, the country also lags behind in providing sufficient and durable climate finance. The severe state of gridlock in the Belgian environment office makes ECO wonder if some of the political bigwigs are having 5 boxes of Guylian Chocolates in one sitting whenever progress is to be made. That probably also led to the Environment Minister missing the train to Paris. Why? Because the government was negotiating the restarting of old nuclear power plants that were canned over a year ago.
And look, only a couple of hours after receiving the Fossil, Belgium reached an agreement. Not one on climate, noooo. One on more old nukes for the coming decade. Belgium is moving…backwards.


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Le Tour du COP

Bonjour and welcome to the 21st edition of Le Tour du COP!
Participants in Paris have two weeks to show the world what they’re made of. ECO welcomes the ADP’s early start and expects governments to treat COP21 as a turning point, where they agree to a transformation that is much faster;  just; and has the needs of the most vulnerable at its core.
~ECO’s ultimate guide for winning the race~
Well-built Cycles: As any bike rider can tell you, increasingly ambitious cycles are essential for reaching the finish line.
ECO urges countries to adopt a Paris Ambition Mechanism that ensures that the overall ambition across all elements is assessed and scaled up in 5-year time frames. Contributions should be regularly updated to be in line with the 1.5-degree C limit, on the basis of regular science and equity reviews.
Current INDCs should be reviewed and ratcheted up as soon as possible, and well before countries begin implementation in 2020.
Long-term Goal: To maintain the right speed and direction, you need to know your final destination. ECO expects governments to agree to a 1.5°C temperature goal and operationalise it with a long-term goal of full global decarbonisation and 100% renewable energy access for all by 2050.
Finance: Securing the yellow (or should that be green?) jersey requires teamwork. This kind of collaboration can be fuelled by establishing collective targets for financial support to be set by the CMA every 5 years, with distinct targets for adaptation and mitigation.
Developed countries and other countries that are in a position to do so (because their levels of capability and responsibility are comparable to developed countries) would commit to contributing to meeting these targets.
Adaptation: To stay in the race for a climate-safe planet, we must be resilient by scaling up adaptation action urgently.
The Paris agreement must adopt a global goal that advances adaptation and builds resilience for all communities and ecosystems. It should recognise that higher temperatures will require greater adaptation efforts.  Achieving the adaptation goal is a common responsibility, and will require support to developing countries.
Loss and Damage Action: A durable climate regime must be able to respond to the impacts of climate change that can’t be prevented through mitigation or adaptation. The Paris agreement must be equipped with a separate provision on loss and damage, with  robust institutional arrangements and financial support to vulnerable developing countries to address these kinds of impacts.
Pre-2020 Action and Support: If you stay too far back in the pack, at some point you can’t make up the distance needed to win the race. The future of our planet is too important to risk waiting too long to make our move. Immediate action is needed to address the ambition gap. ECO urges developed countries to implement, accelerate and strengthen their pre-2020 commitments, while all countries cooperate to do more.
Through a strong Workstream 2 decision, governments must also agree to create a menu of workable policy options to scale up action. To maintain momentum, two high-level champion positions should be created and filled with leaders with a profile capable of incentivising high-level cooperation built around the good ideas coming out of the TEP. The champions should also coordinate the development and scaling up of mitigation and adaptation initiatives by matching good ideas with necessary means of implementation. These initiatives should be presented at annual high-level meetings, which can also review future progress.
Crucially, developed countries must present a plan on how they are going to meet their $100 billion promise, how to improve the imbalance between mitigation and adaptation, and specifically how support from public sources will increase until 2020.
Transparency and Integrity: The Tour has seen its fair share of unsportsmanlike conduct. To keep all Parties on their best behaviour, the Paris agreement should contain a strongtransparency framework, including MRV, to maintain trust and ensure transparency of action and support.
The new agreement must also ensure emissions reductions are real, additional, verifiable, and permanent; avoid double counting of effort; are supplemental to ambitious national mitigation; contribute to sustainable development and ensure net atmospheric benefits.
Respect for Human Rights: Good team leaders look after their people. For the Paris outcome to promote effective climate policies that benefit those affected by impacts of climate change, it must include an operative, overarching reference to human rights.
On this road through many negotiations, we have made it through some difficult stages and the finish line for an agreement is in sight. The pieces needed for a strong outcome in Paris are within reach. It is now up to our leaders to finish strong and deliver the result our world so desperately needs.
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Play It Straight on Workstream 2 and Adaptation 

The dynamic, lovable beast we know as Workstream 2 is our best apparent opportunity to bend the emissions trajectory downward by 2020. It has also been a beacon of hope that Parties can work together to develop climate solutions. Also, some of these solutions, such as renewable energy and energy efficiency, have massive co-benefits beyond emission reductions.
Over the past year, the scope of Workstream 2 has widened. It expanded beyond closing the pre-2020 emissions gap. Discussions now also include addressing the pre-2020 ambition gaps on adaptation and finance, and should include means of implementation. On the face of it, this is a good thing. There’s much immediate need for adaptation action, and an equally substantial need for support. Focus from Parties could help accelerate overall action in these areas.
Even so, some nights, especially after the Bonn intersessional, ECO has laid awake concerned that discussions on adaptation might be used by some to slow down overall progress on Workstream 2. Progress on both adaptation and closing the pre-2020 emissions gap are critical to the fate of the vulnerable. And, refreshingly, Workstream 2 largely has been a space where Parties have worked constructively, rather than played games. This should continue.
By avoiding duplication and properly placing the Adaptation Technical Examination Process within the decision text, Workstream 2 can provide an important contribution to adaptation in general, while also keeping our eyes on that looming emissions gap.
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WS2 and Adaptation: The Talk of the Talks

ECO hears rumours that Parties have discussed the possibility of having a Technical Examination Process (TEP) on adaptation, and we’d be delighted if this was true. After all, there are more gaps in these negotiations than even ECO can keep track of, from gigatonnes to dollars. Adaptation appears to be one of the victims of process, and seemingly never has its time to shine. Finance for adaptation remains grossly insufficient, and more action is needed to increase the resilience of vulnerable communities and ecosystems.

An adaptation TEP might just be the match made in heaven to ensure that there is  both a technical conversation with concrete recommendations and political commitment, which would in turn increase adaptation actions. It’s high time to  kickstart  action on the ground.

However, while Workstream 2 can be a great vehicle to get adaptation off the ground, it needs to be done in earnest. An adaptation TEP has a lot to offer to vulnerable people by engaging experts and catalysing action. But it must not become a topic that slows down the good pace of WS2 that has been evident this past week.  Nor can it become a delaying tactic for the remaining thorny bits, including the many pivotal mitigation elements.

Even with the prospect of happy union between TEP and adaptation on the table, these precious elements should not fall by the wayside. Parties need to stay engaged with the issues at hand: accelerating the implementation of mitigation in the pre-2020 period, appointing high-level champions, and ensuring the necessary support is provided. Only after we’ve locked down these essential elements of WS2 should we export other possibilities.

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