Tag: Shared Vision

Family members pitted against each other.

Is this the latest trashy TV soap? No, just the day-to-day inner workings of the Trump administration.


The US administration may make a decision on its continued participation in the Paris Agreement today (though we’ve heard that a few times before). Pulling the U.S. out of Paris would be wildly out of step with what the vast majority of Americans say they want (among them, numerous mayors, governors, senators, members of congress, business leaders civil society and faith leaders). It’s easy to get lost in the craziness of the never-ending White House soap opera — Ivanka and Jared versus Steve Bannon and Scott Pruitt, and on and on.


While the White House stumbles toward some sort of action on Paris, ECO know this much already: backing away from climate action would hurt the U.S. It will damage America’s diplomatic ability to cut good deals on trade, security, and development (and this American president really likes cutting good deals, or so we’re told). It will isolate the U.S. Government and U.S. companies when competing in the ever-expanding market for clean energy. And it makes will make it much harder for allies and partners to trust whenever the U.S. makes a commitment — who’s to say they won’t back out again next time, the thinking will go.


The Paris Agreement can and will endure. No one party can wreck the Agreement. No one party can undermine the immense and overwhelming collective will that helped birth this agreement in 2015. Indeed, we all play right into Trump’s hands when we react shocked and indignant every time he does something stupid and terrible for the global environment. Instead of giving him what he wants — a bunch of headlines about how Trump defies the international community yet again — let’s show him how damaging this decision really is – both economically and politically. A race to the bottom in our efforts to address climate change benefits no one, as climate change affects everyone.
Parties need to do more, to translate the Paris Agreement’s goals into reality. The Paris Agreement is bigger than any one country and bigger than any one individual.

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The COP of Action on the Right Pathway

ECO salutes a major step forward in the transition to a decarbonised and climate-resilient world. At 2.30pm in Room Atlantic, please come welcome the launch of the 2050 Pathway Platform, a new tool that allows state and non-state actors to share their plans and learn from one another’s strategies and approaches.

The launch of the Platform marks a high point in this COP. We have already seen the release of the first long-term strategies from several countries. Germany stole the show last week, followed by the US, Canada and Mexico yesterday, and the excitement is building to see which other countries will bring their plans forward with the Platform’s launch today. ECO has heard that 20 countries will be signing up alongside over 200 companies and numerous subnational actors.

Why are we so excited? It’s quite straightforward—the Platform is a concrete sign that countries and other actors are taking the PA seriously and mainstreaming climate planning into a long-term vision for national development – that’s what we need to limit global temperature rise to 1.5ºC.

While having a plan is no guarantee of success, without one, failure is certain. This is the first step towards developing a vision of how achieve our PA goals, and how quickly we need to accelerate action.

The 2050 strategies are vital to our climate goals as well as roadmaps to a better, more secure future. ECO salutes the front-runners and hopes that all G20 countries will join and bring out their strategies by 2018.


Q&A for the Ministerial Pre-COP meeting

The countdown to COP22 will intensify at the Ministers meeting on 17 October intended to clarify key issues before the conference. The incoming Moroccan presidency and outgoing French presidency have prepared a handy Q&A for Ministers to come prepared to the meeting. ECO has answered the most relevant questions for you exclusively in this issue of ECO.

Mobilisation of means of implementation 

1) What to expect for the roadmap towards the USD 100 billion? 

Like all good financial tools and plans, the roadmap needs to have clarity and predictability. It needs to provide an accurate and detailed forward-looking account of how the US$100 billion will be mobilised in addition to the existing efforts being made. This should include the types of instruments, sources, channels, etc. as well as public-private leverage ratios. ECO has said it dozens of times: greater clarity on financial support to mitigation and adaptation will generate confidence in developing country Parties. It will also showcase the amount of finance flowing in the coming years by 2020 which will help developing countries integrate NDCs into their planning and implementation. Of particular note would be building on the OECD’s 2015 report on progress towards the $100 billion goal. This means grants should be reported at face value and present net positive flows into developing countries.

2) What are Parties’ intended announcements/initiatives at the COP that would show support, action and momentum?

COP22 should assess and highlight pre-2020 ambition. That’s right, we never forget about what needs to happen now — in particular, means of implementation, the pledges made by countries within CP2 of the Kyoto Protocol, countries’ Cancun pledges, the NAMA registry, REDD+ and plenty of others. This assessment would show support, ambition and momentum in the context of the facilitative dialogue technical track. Ideally, this would be in the form of roundtable discussions amongst experts, facilitated by the High-Level Champions with representation of technical experts from UNFCCC institutions. The discussions from the technical track should be reflected in the form of a policymaker’s summary.

Strengthening action

3) How can the facilitative dialogue on action and implementation help Parties identify options to increase ambition through the implementation of existing decisions?

Why take one track when we can take two? This year’s facilitative dialogue should follow a two-track approach: first, a technical track to take stock of progress and identify implementation gaps.

The high level track overseen by the presidency should then provide the opportunity to discuss how the recommendations from the technical track should be taken forward. It should also provide the ministers with a platform to make announcements and pledges towards greater action as well as strengthening their own commitments. These discussions should then be reflected in a chair’s summary to be forwarded to the COP for its consideration. Said summary could be noted by the COP and its intent reflected within decisions from COP22 too. Overall, the two tracks make for a nice package to increase ambition.
4) How can the Global Climate Action Agenda and the work of the Champions be strengthened?
All mitigation initiatives associated with the UNFCCC should adhere to a set of strong, guiding criteria to ensure positive impact and avoid greenwashing. Giving the UN stamp of approval to greenwashers will undermine the UNFCCC’s credibility and make the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5°C more difficult to achieve. The process to develop criteria should be announced at COP22, and be facilitated by the Champions.

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Ratification And What Next

October started with a real bustle of activity! This month, the Paris Agreement became one of the most swiftly ratified international treaties in history as it crossed the second of two thresholds required to enter into force, which will now occur on 4 November 2016. Expedited action by the European Union and seven of its member states (Austria, France, Germany, Hungary, Malta, Portugal and Slovakia) as well as Bolivia, Canada and Nepal ensured that the global community sailed past the Agreement’s emissions threshold.

Since the Paris Agreement opened for signature on 22 April, ratification has occurred at a breakneck speed. In just 5 short months, 73 countries representing nearly 57% of global emissions have joined the Paris Agreement, signalling their intent to continue the spirit of Paris and work together to address climate change.

The Agreement further provides that the first meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement referred to as CMA1—we can never get enough acronyms—will be held in conjunction with the next COP, next month in Marrakech.

This will be a significant for a number of reasons. CMA1 will be the first meeting of the governing body, which has authority over all substantive, procedural, administrative and operational matters. The Agreement and accompanying decisions anticipate a number of core decisions—including accounting guidelines, rules to elaborate the transparency framework and modalities for the global stocktake—to be adopted at CMA1. Due to the unanticipated speed of entry into force, Parties still need time to finalise these decisions.

Therefore it is very important that CMA1 to agree a process to ensure adequate time to negotiate these important technical details and be inclusive for those countries that have not yet had the opportunity to join the Agreement. ECO doesn’t believe that this time period should continue indefinitely though. If the closure of CMA1 is suspended during COP22, Parties should decide to have all rules developed by 2018.

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Forget Forecasting and Back Backcasting

We’re all familiar with forecasts. There’s not much to be done if you’ve planned your Sunday picnic when it’s set to rain. All that’s left is hoping, often in vain, that rain will turn into shine. Let’s flip this idea of looking into the future on its head. Instead of forecasting what is likely to happen, how about backcasting? If we know where we want to be, we can work backwards and plan how to get there!

Tackling climate change and enabling sustainable development dominated global negotiations last year. Successfully addressing these interconnected, mutually dependent challenges is essential, via the development of national long-term strategies for sustainable development and decarbonisation.

So let’s put backcasting into practice: we first need to know where we want to be. In Paris, countries agreed to pursue efforts to limiting global warming to 1.5ºC. To achieve this, a global phasing out of fossil fuels and phasing in of 100% renewable energy will be required by 2050, if not well before. By working back from 2050 to now, we can plan our path to get there individually and collectively, ensuring that we have time to change tracks if needed. The development of national long-term strategies for sustainable development and decarbonisation will provide us essential guidance on the impact of our current policy-making decisions., It is likely to show that achieving our long-term goals will require taking urgent action now. The more we raise our ambition in the short-term, the less steep emissions curbs will need to be in the future. See the logic?

For governments, backcasting through ambitious long-term strategies represents a significant opportunity to assess and plan for how their development needs and priorities fit. Furthermore, the resulting policies are likely to provide several co-benefits, while also contributing to countries’ fulfilment of both the aims of the Paris Agreement and the achievement of the 17 SDGs. Long-term planning will avoid locking in high carbon infrastructure and send a strong signal to the private sector, creating a positive policy framework for businesses to make informed decisions for shifting financial flows to climate-friendly investments.  

Recent discussions at the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development show that political momentum is building in the recognition of the need to address these challenges synergistically. The Paris Agreement requires long-term strategies to be delivered by 2020, but several countries have indicated they will deliver sooner than this. Between now and the facilitative dialogue at COP24 in 2018, there is a real opportunity to ramp up global ambition on climate change.


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Remember the Science: 2°C is Not Safe

When working at a microscopic level, we know there is a danger of delegates losing perspective. In June, the presentation of the Structured Expert Dialogue (SED) results saw intensive exchanges on new science, the impacts of climate change and how to keep warming at 1.5/2°C. But the end saw Saudi Arabia and others sideline an agreement to inform the ADP on their work and conclusions.

The SED found that the ‘guardrail’ concept, in which up to 2°C of warming is considered as relatively safe, is in fact inadequate due to the severe risks and potential irreversible impacts. Instead, the long-term goal should be defined as a ‘defence line’ and efforts should be made to put the line as low as possible. It’s important to note that more than 100 Parties already support limiting warming to 1.5oC, a group only likely to gain members in the run-up to Paris.

From the 10 key SED messages, ECO wants to reiterate three:

1) Warming of 2°C would lead to catastrophic impacts, slow down economic growth and hinder poverty reduction efforts considerably.

2) The world is not on track for a path towards a 1.5/2°C scenario. Past and recent global GHG emissions have accelerated, the emissions gap is growing, and the current Cancun pledges are more consistent with pathways limiting global warming to 3-4°C.

3) Keeping warming at 1.5/2°C is still achievable. Deep emission cuts are needed to keep warming at 1.5°C and below 2°C levels. This would require full decarbonisation of energy systems. Achieving this would not significantly affect global gross domestic product growth.

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A conversation about differentiation: How about Tuesday night?

ECO hates to spoil the fun — and yesterday’s plenary was great — but we can’t help but wonder about the disconnect between the Lima compromise on CBDR&RC and the framing on differentiation throughout the current elements text.

The Lima compromise says “CBDR&RC, in light of national circumstances”. This, just to state the obvious, is very different from saying that developed countries will do X and developing countries will do Y. Speaking of X and Y, or annex X and annex Y, the differentiation question is already straining to break into open discussion.

Such discussion — especially if well-facilitated — would be an extremely good idea, and suggests to Parties that one of the 6-8 pm slots here in Geneva should be used to start the conversation. How about Tuesday night?

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