Tag: Mitigation

Holiday Plans Until 2023/24?

ECO was excited to see emerging convergence among Parties on five-year cycles in the new text. But ECO has one simple, but very important, question: when does it start? We are not on track to stay below even 2°C. We also know that without increasing the ambition of INDCs before implementation in 2020, the 1.5°C door will rapidly close.

We need a review of INDCs in 2018 and a re-submission pre-2020. Yet paragraphs 24 and 25 set the date for submitting or updating INDCs at 2020 or 2021. These paragraphs only do half the job. Those with 2030 targets are invited to ‘confirm or update’ them, but those with 2025 targets seem to be off the hook. Their 2020-25 efforts get no mention and instead they are invited to put forward a new (2030) target.

The first round of review would have to happen before 2020, so we can update insufficient INDCs that currently lock us into a 3°C pathway. The current weak ‘facilitative dialogue’ in the decision text has to be strengthened. To allow for this first round in 2018, we should also look back and assess how well developed countries have implemented their pre-2020 commitments through a process of accelerated implementation. If we want to make the 5-year cycle more effective, it should consider not only INDCs but also means of implementation.

Another important question: does the stocktake influence individual countries’ targets? From that perspective, we are very sad to see ‘ex ante’ review disappear from the text. ECO hopes that delegates are not planning too long a holiday. You all deserve nice holidays after this hectic conference. But get the world back on track first.

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Shuffling Deck Chairs on Iceberg-free Waters

ECO is concerned to see that the L.6 adopted ADP text leaves open the option of continuing to generate and trade offset credits. To keep global average temperature increase to 1.5ºC or less—and ECO is excited to see support from new quarters on this imperative—we should phase out all fossil fuel emissions no later than 2050.

Using offsets is like ‘shuffling deck chairs on the Titanic’. Delaying action might be OK for ships sailing in iceberg-free waters. But iceberg-free waters are what we’re in Paris to avoid. And offsets effectively reduce the ambition of the cap they are applied to. The INDCs already place us on track for a world that’s 3°C warmer (hence icebergs unlikely). Weakening their already woeful ambition would put us at even greater risk of climate catastrophe.

If markets are to be used for mitigation purposes, ensuring environmental integrity and contributions to sustainable development are imperative. Trading should be under ambitious caps, expressed as multi-year national carbon budgets. Credits should be real, permanent, supplemental, verified and ensure no double counting. Shares of proceeds would help to create needed new and additional climate finance.

The Clean Development Mechanism created structures that could transform it from an offset mechanism to one that acts as a channel for climate finance. This would give wealthier countries an MRV-able channel to contribute to their climate finance obligations and help countries in need of support achieve mitigation outcomes. It would also reduce some risks of double counting. The private sector could still contribute in a spirit of corporate social responsibility, but, again, as climate finance instead of offsets.

We need real emissions reductions brought about through transformative change. There is just not enough room in the remaining global carbon budget to waste time shuffling offset credits.

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Rising Ambition Must Lift All Boats!

And planes, too! ECO is thrilled that Parties are coming around to a target of 1.5°C. But how would we all feel if we got back home and realized—oops!—we left out two huge emitters? International aviation and shipping emissions are equivalent to the carbon emissions of the UK and Germany, are not included in national targets. These emissions are expected to grow up to 270% by 2050. Leaving them out of the agreement would be letting efforts to keep temperature rise under 1.5°C just float on by.
ICAO and IMO are the right UN agencies to regulate these sectors. But, they need to step up their ambition quickly. They can, and must, tackle bunker emissions  in a way that accommodates equally both differentiation and the principles of non-discrimination under which these agencies operate.
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New Zealand’s Shell Game

New Zealand will devote NZ$20 million to research methods for reducing its agricultural emissions over the next four years. Prime Minister John Key announced this news last Monday at COP21. Agriculture accounts for half of the country’s total emissions.
What the Prime Minister failed to mention was that, earlier this year, AgResearch cut a net 56 jobs, including researchers in the area of greenhouse gas emissions. AgResearch is the agricultural research institute owned and funded by the government. This funding shortfall was approximately NZD$5 million in 2015. Over four years this would – wait for it – add up to NZD$20 million.

At the time those cuts were made, the Science and Innovation Minister was quoted as saying, ‘AgResearch has seen significant change in its areas of research that people value, and what I mean by people I mean the sector that pays for their research…So some areas that were perhaps very important 10 or 15 years ago have less support these days’. Here’s hoping the money is applied in time to reemploy New Zealand’s researchers before the country falls even further behind in mitigating its greenhouse gases.

John Key wants to look like a climate champ, but simply moving money around isn’t going to cut it. The climate isn’t a shell game. Perhaps you could try again by supporting the Pacific Islands, New Zealand’s neighbours, in their push for a 1.5°C long-term target. Or by upping New Zealand’s pitifully low 2030 emissions reductions target. Or, at the very least, by implementing a plan to reduce the 50% of New Zealand’s emissions that do not come from agriculture. So many options!

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Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien

Non, Rien de rien
(No, nothing of nothing)
Non, Je ne regrette rien
(No, I regret nothing)

Dear Ministers: Welcome to Paris. As you have no doubt already seen, negotiating texts have been prepared for you. A bit chaotic perhaps, but good enough, and all the options are on the table.

You also have probably realized that two very different deals could be assembled out of these options. The first deal might be called the no-regrets deal. That’s the deal that allows all of us to leave Paris with a fighting chance to keep warming to 1.5°C.

The other deal that could be pieced together out of these options is often referred to here in the hallways of Le Bourget as the ‘minimalist deal’. But it might be more accurately called the 3-degrees deal.

ECO wants to make sure you leave COP21 with zero regrets, content and with the knowledge that you have done your utmost to deliver an ambitious and equitable outcome that addresses the needs of the most vulnerable.

There are many tell-tales for recognizing the 3-degrees deal. The most telling point might be the proposal that we don’t return to the table to assess our progress and ramp up ambition until 2024. Under this deal, we accept the INDCs as the most we can get at this point, and we look to ramp up our efforts in 2030. Under that timeline, we’d be folding our cards and giving up on limiting warming to 1.5 (or even 2) degrees.

The mitigation ambition of the agreement, and the long-term direction of travel, needs to be anchored through a 1.5 degree target. 1.5°C as a direction of travel is pointless if we don’t have the vehicles to make the journey. The Paris agreement has to include provisions that enable a consistent increase in ambition towards achieving the long term goals embedded within the agreement.

To avoid travelling too far down the wrong path, we need to accelerate our effort to move off the 3-degree pathway. Provisions within the agreement should synchronise, assess and ratchet up Parties’ various commitments in 5-year cycles, including by matching conditional INDCs with means of implementation. All these provisions should build from the accelerated implementation within the pre-2020 period by revising and improving existing INDCs by 2018 at the latest. Taking stock of where we are every 5 years would provide the necessary flexibility in the regime to change course if needed. The stocktake should not just be oriented towards implementation. It should also inform future commitments. The scope of the stocktake needs to incorporate all elements of the agreement to get a truly holistic picture.

If we want to get onto the pathway that holds temperatures well below 2 degrees, we have to provide long term certainty on finance. This agreement can help provide that by setting collective targets for the provision of financial support that should be set and updated in 5-year cycles, with separate targets for mitigation and adaptation. The provisions must provide clarity on how developing country contributions are defined and progress to give the confidence to enhance ambition.

And speaking of adaptation, we must ensure we don’t leave anyone behind. Adaptation goals must be part of a Paris agreement to keep people and planet safe in the view of rising impacts. Adequate support is required to deal with them. This agreement must also increase adaptation finance with an improved balance between mitigation and adaptation finance, aiming to reach a 50:50 balance by 2020 under the US$100 billion pledge.

Loss and damage must be anchored as a stand alone issue in the agreement. A robust institution is vital to develop approaches to address permanent and irreversible impacts and also coordinate the increasing climate-induced displacement.

Finally, none of this works without provisions that enable greater transparency–of action as well as support. Support and capacity building on MRV is a necessity in this regard; methodologies must be scientifically credible and fair.

The two deals are clear. We can have the no-regrets deal or we can have the 3-degrees deal. The question now becomes: Who will bring us to the no-regrets deal?

Ministers, for all of us to be able to look our children in the eyes, we must be able to demonstrate that we are taking care of their future, not just getting through today.

Car ma vie, car mes joies
(Because my life, my joys)
Aujourd’hui, ça commence avec toi
(Today, it begins with you)

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Below 1.5–to Stay Alive

Last week’s Joint Contact Group (JCG) on the 2013-2015 review failed to come to a single conclusion on its three year work, which had included the ‘Structured Expert Dialogue’ (SED). SED’s findings were: 1)We are not on track to a ‘below 2°C path’. 2) 2°C warming would be dangerous. 3) Keeping warming to below 1.5°C would avoid many disastrous impacts.

ECO points to the need to include the 1.5 degree goal in the new agreement based on common but differentiated responsibilities and strong financial support and technical assistance to developing countries. We are also seeing intriguing shifts. The EU said in SBI last Friday that limiting warming to 2 degrees is not enough for vulnerable countries. Germany, France, Italy and Australia have announced in the last days that they want a 1.5° goal to be included in the agreement.

Article 3.3 of the Convention requires precautionary measures, and ‘where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty should not be used as a reason’ not to act. So let’s act! Over to the COP President to take the results of these excellent three years of intensive work and make the conclusions public and official to the COP.

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The Gap In the Text

ECO is disappointed that Parties seem to have all agreed on the ‘no text’ options for the following numbers:
The emissions gap: [The emissions gap in 2020 is estimated to be 8-12 Gigatonnes] [The emissions gap in 2030 based on the current INDCs is estimated to be 12-18 Gigatonnes]
The adaptation gap: [The Adaptation finance needs alone will be USD 150 billion per annum by 2025 (even if we were on track for 2°C) yet the starting point for climate finance in 2020 is only USD 100 billion per annum]
The finance gap: [Recent analysis by the International Energy Agency finds that we need to up to $2 trillion annually worldwide by 2035 for the energy transition. This will require at least $166 billion in public finance per year]

These numbers are real, even if they do not appear in any text. Without a strong process to address these gaps, the Paris outcome will  be little more than an agreement to leave the leaders of 2030 with an insurmountable challenge. Instead, the Paris outcome could ensure that the gaps are filled:

1) Parties should agree to a five-year cycle where intended targets (for finance and mitigation) and contributions (for adaptation) are submitted well in advance of each commitment period. These intended targets should then be collectively reviewed against equity and climate science with ample time to improve their efforts.

2) More important, we cannot wait for the next round of INDCs to be developed to increase ambition. Parties must agree that they will revisit their INDCs, from the perspective of science and equity through a facilitative dialogue in 2017 or 2018 so that they can work together to increase these pledges before implementation begins. For such a review to succeed, finance commitments and adaptation contributions need to be part of the consideration.

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Staying Below 1.5oC Is Not Just About Science. It Is a Moral Imperative.


All countries questioning the urgent need to include a long-term goal to keep temperatures below 1.5°C should check their conscience.

For countries that have suffered the wrath of climate-related extreme events due to the current 1°C temperature increase, any attempt to negotiate a further increase in temperature is a violation of the right to life of many human beings and threatens the existence of ecosystems and species. Countries that have already been impacted by the hazards of climate change often do not have the time to adapt. They are therefore are at risk of loss and damage. Their realities must be reflected in the Paris Agreement.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations, in recognition of the risks faced by its member countries, is calling for accelerated investments in disaster risk reduction and adaptation. Support for inclusive resilience and risk management needs to be scaled up. It also needs to be sensitive to gender, culture and the needs of the most vulnerable. This is what ECO calls for in the decisions on loss and damage and adaptation for COP21.

Changes in the global climate system have already triggered enormous hazards. These have cost thousands of lives and put significant assets at risk in the most vulnerable countries. The scientific community responded to the calls of civil society organisations and the vulnerable countries, particularly the Climate Vulnerable Forum, by assessing the feasibility of keeping the temperature rise below 1.5°C through mitigation. ECO says that to hold your head high at COP21, you need a clear conscience. We will be watching for bowed heads in Le Bourget.

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Game Over For Hot Air?

ECO understands that several Parties are trying to get the high score for the new video game CAPMAN–our cute climate superhero fighting against Hot Air villains. Today’s winners are five EU countries (Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden and the United Kingdom) that decided to remove hot air by cancelling 634.9 million surplus units (AAUs) from the Kyoto Protocol’s first commitment period. They also promised to cancel significant additional amounts from the period up to 2020. These units result from the countries overachieving their Kyoto targets. Cancelling them is a welcome contribution to pre-2020 ambition.

The Kyoto Protocol is suffering from an 11 gigatonne hot air loophole. Under the current rules, the surplus AAUs cannot be used after 2020. However, there is still a risk that the use of other out-of-date carbon units, such as carbon offsets, dilute post-2020 mitigation efforts if Parties would allow them to be carried over.

ECO hopes that, in the race of who takes the most carbon out of the game, today’s initiative will be extended to all surplus units that could harm post-2020 climate commitments. The Paris agreement should incentivise climate actions that are new, additional and not recycled from the past.

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