Climate change is already negatively affecting the lives and livelihoods of poor men and women. Yet it is estimated that less than a tenth of climate funds to date have been spent on helping people in vulnerable countries adapt to the impacts of climate change. The poor are losing out twice: they are hardest hit by climate change they didn’t cause, and they are being neglected by funds that should be helping them. Climate finance can and must be made to work from the bottom up, particularly for women smallholder farmers.
Dearest delegates, we gather you’ve been working hard behind those mostly closed doors. But let’s face it, following the failure of Copenhagen to deliver a fair, ambitious and binding agreement, the refusal all this year to set aside differences and focus on areas of convergence may yet scupper the UNFCCC talks. At Cancun, you will bear a heavy responsibility.
If one were to believe the international media, the story of Tianjin has been a high stakes standoff between the US and China, ‘I won’t do till you do’ stalling, and negotiating paralysis. So let’s unpack that a bit.
On the one side there is the United States, the emissions superpower that so far has not submitted itself to internationally binding carbon reduction commitments, and really has to do far more than a measly 4% reduction target on 1990 levels. A commitment on long-term finance would suit the Americans much better than a tone of righteous indignation. And though it pains us to say it, as in Bali, the US should step aside if it is not able to make real commitments, and let the world conclude an ambitious deal.
On the other side, China has been working hard at home to implement a commendable low carbon vision. China could propel the negotiations forward by agreeing to international consultation and analysis of its low carbon actions.
There are, however, more than two countries in the world and every country has something to offer in the negotiations. Whilst things have not gone smoothly this week, we gather that Parties made some incremental progress. However, incremental progress does not cut it with the planet, nor will it be sufficient at Cancun.
Creating momentum requires commitment. At Cancun we need to refuel and take aim at the most ambitious level of agreement possible across all elements. Crucially, we need to map out the next important step of our journey to a fair, ambitious and binding deal in South Africa. A failure to plan our route – with a timeline, workplans and format for negotiations – will have us meandering along the dirt tracks as if we had all the time in the world, whilst climate destruction takes the fast road.
A positive development at this meeting is that negotiators have begun to grapple with the package for Cancun. The fact that a vast majority of Parties are seeking a legally binding outcome in the LCA track is self-evident.
But we are also pleased that so many Parties have expressed willingness to recommit to the Kyoto Protocol with a second commitment period. That must be crystal clear in the Cancun package.
It is essential that the stand-off in the legal matters group ends, otherwise there may be unintended consequences to the future of the Kyoto Protocol.
Parties gave assurance in Bali that there would be no gap between commitment periods. But that’s not what is happening, and carbon markets, already soft since Copenhagen, will likely weaken further.
Here are essential elements of the package to contemplate between Tianjin and Cancun:
Discussions on finance have focused on the establishment of a new fund under the Convention. The COP should also establish an oversight body to perform crucial functions such as ensuring coherence of the financial mechanism, coordination, and assuring a balance of funding.
We know that some countries have been working hard to bridge the divisions on these issues. At Cancun we expect that Parties will establish a Fund with democratic governance, providing direct access for developing countries, and functioning under the guidance and authority of the COP.
Technology often tops the lists of potential outcomes in Cancun, yet the details have remained elusive in Tianjin. The key question is the institutional arrangements of a multilateral mechanism, with the aim to scale up and speed up the use of climate friendly technologies. Here again, governance should be placed under the authority of an entity whose mission is focused on limiting warming to 1.5o C.
Mitigation clearly is a most essential element of the package. Despite this, negotiators chose to dive into contention rather than seeking convergence. A focus on developed country pledges, the NAMA mechanism, as well as NAMA design, preparation and implementation took form only on Thursday.
In preparation for Cancun, Parties should replace their ‘dog ate my homework’ excuse with a willingness to agree rules that will ensure the environmental integrity of their emissions reductions.
Before Cancun, we recommend catching up on the science. Preventing dangerous climate change clearly requires more substantial emissions reductions. A balanced Cancun package will require Annex I parties to show how they are going to meet their moral obligations and to act in line with the science. We recommend acknowledging the gigatonne gap between current pledges and science based targets, and agreeing a route to South Africa that addresses ways to close the gap.
Everybody appears to agree that capacity building is both vital to success and key to movement in Cancun. The principles were well-established as early as COP 7, and developing countries (particularly LDCs, SIDs and Africa) have been clamouring for years for a dedicated capacity building framework with real resources and a genuine desire to succeed. And yet still nothing happens. How long will it take at this rate?
The logging industry must be thrilled at how forest negotiators mangled the
LULUCF accounting rules this week. The proposal forwarded to Cancun undermines the environmental integrity of Kyoto by hiding increases in emissions and awarding false credits to loggers.
Because so much time was spent on devising these accounting tricks, minimal
attention got paid to emissions from land-use change beyond forests – another potential loophole. The only proposal for managing forests that has any environmental integrity was given short shrift.
Furthermore, the damage this proposed decision can do to REDD accounting is not to be underestimated. To prevent another Marrakesh, the damaging impact of forest accounting on the targets will have to be addressed in the broader KP numbers discussion.
From time to time this week, the curtain has lifted on the Dante-esque world of the REDD+ Partnership. We have been mesmerised by the heroic, if misguided, struggle between the co-chairs and the rest of the world. However, we are also saddened that what could be a valuable institution has become a farce. We can only hope that things will get better.
A focused atmosphere prevailed in the adaptation talks, which are progressing on content and may eventually deliver a compromise agreement. ECO reminds parties that the adaptation framework must include operational elements and result in action on the ground.
To move forward, Cancun must clarify the functions of the adaptation committee, enable a tangible solution on loss and damage, finally put response measures back in its box, and search for balance between adaptation and mitigation funding, including a pre-allocation scheme.
This has been what might be called a year from climate hell with floods, droughts and scorching temperatures across the globe. But those steering the debate on climate
financing are slow to get the point. As now envisioned, climate funding will bypass the most vulnerable.
The vast majority of the grossly inadequate existing flow of climate finance is focused on mitigation. For example, only 7.45% of major public funds reported at
climatefundsupdate.org are for adaptation.
And there’s not much evidence to suggest that this basic pattern will change with fast-start finance. Adaptation and the needs of the most vulnerable are still too often the forgotten step-children.
Going forward, ECO isn’t suggesting that there’s too much financing for mitigation – au contraire! But it is vital that adaptation gets its fair share of attention and funding. A new global climate fund is just the place to make this happen.
To ensure that the most vulnerable benefit from adequate, predictable and sustainable financial contributions, we propose that a fair pre-allocation of funding for adaptation is crucial.
Specifically, the finance text should
ensure that at least 50% of overall funding counted against UNFCCC commitments should be dedicated to adaptation, and at least 50% of money channeled through the new fund should be allocated to adaptation.
These proportions may need to be revised over time, but this is the balanced approach we should take now.
And if we don’t, surely it will be a recipe for disaster for those who are already the hardest-hit.
In this issue:
- The Legal Impasse: High Noon at the KP Corral
- LULUCF on the Leading Edge of Failure
- Faire Shares Finance for Adaptation
- Denmark Lays the ZCAP Groundwork
One may well wonder, what could the climate change debate possibly learn from other fields? ECO looked around a bit and discovered some interesting things about the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
The recent replenishment meeting of the Global Fund ended earlier this week in New York. And despite the lingering recession in many parts of the world economy, the respective contributions resulted in pledges of $11.7 billion over the next three years, an increase of 20% compared to 2008-2010. That is good news and shows that the international community is still able to take action when urgent global challenges have to be addressed.
Of particular note for the climate debate is that the Global Fund is the pioneer in direct access. Donors seem to trust its approach, which so far has financed programmes in 140 countries. The United States is #1 among donors and has pledged $4 billion for the next period.
Furthermore, the Global Fund has some innovative institutional features which ECO thinks should be considered in the setup of the new climate fund.
First, the Fund itself is an administratively autonomous international financing institution, with its own Secretariat based in Geneva. The only formal link to an existing institution is that the World Bank serves as Trustee. The Global Fund was set up very quickly, with the Secretariat being established six months after the principal decision to establish the Fund, and the first grants were approved three months later.
On the national level, multi-stakeholder country coordinating mechanisms are the key players. These include the government and stakeholders such as NGOs, scientists and the private sector. This is an instructive example given the diverse responses that climate change will require on all levels of society in developing countries.
On the international level, the Fund is steered by a board composed of 20 voting members – 14 from governments/regional organisations and one each for the private sector, private foundations, developing country NGO, developed country NGO, and a representative from local communities. Representatives from international organisations are members of the Board without voting rights. It is a global partnership to
address a true global challenge.
Of course, the climate fund can’t just be a copy of the Global Fund. For one thing, the scale of climate resources must very soon be significantly higher than the $3 billion a year in the Global Fund budget.
In order to fully prepare for the future, one must learn from the past. For instance, the US proposal, supported to some degree by other countries, that would set up the climate fund as a kind of reinvention of the GEF, does not do so. Instead, the future climate architecture should take note of lessons like those offered by the Global Fund.
The El Nino/La Nina-related monsoon floods that have devastated Pakistan since July highlight the fast growing need for an international risk transfer mechanism for weather-related events.
With the sheer size and protracted duration of the disaster, as well as donor
fatigue, disaster response funding has fallen far short of the mark in Pakistan’s time of need. UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon bemoaned the fact that too little aid is coming too late to help the estimated 21 million homeless and flood-affected people of Pakistan.
How could an international insurance mechanism within the UNFCCC process help in case of such events? The first step is to link serious risk reduction measures to wider climate risk management strategies.
The second is to ensure that an international insurance approach, supported by the international community, catalyses adaptation and risk management in countries facing rising climatological risks. The benefits
should include incentives focused on risk reduction, and advance planning for adequate
financial resources when and where they are needed.
Experience has shown that insurance mechanisms can make payouts rapidly. In the Caribbean, CCRIF insurance payouts were the first to reach Haiti after the calamitous earthquake – a month before humanitarian donations began flowing.
One challenge is the difficulty of guaranteeing that insurance payouts will be used
effectively and appropriately by participating governments. One way to address this concern is to establish national climate change funds to serve as the recipient of
international insurance payments. Bangladesh has such a fund, governed by a multistakeholder committee (rather than a government ministry). In this approach, payment distribution modalities can be devised before disaster strikes. This also complements wider adaptation strategies by encouraging the coherence of risk management strategies and ex ante planning.
Chapter 2, paragraph 8 of the AWG-LCA text considers the establishment of international insurance coverage as one function of a broader mechanism to address loss and damage from climate change. Devastating events – the flooding in Pakistan is an exemplary case – underscore the urgency. This kind of mechanism should be one of the operational elements of the adaptation framework negotiated in the UNFCCC process and should be financed from a share of international funds provided for adaptation.
Finally, setting up regional pilot programs through fast-start finance could generate important lessons on the specific operational modalities of such a mechanism. That will catalyse adaptation, promote more effective risk management, and support humanitarian efforts in vulnerable countries.
In this Issue:
- Learning from the Global Fund
- Turning Opportunities into problems
- The next time the water rises
- Bunkers has an important shipment to deliver
In this Issue
- Greetings from Chinese NGOs: Huanying lai Tianjin! Welcome to Tianjin!
The Adaptation Fund Leads by Example
Next Sunday, October 10, the day after the close of the Tianjin conference, the world will take action – over 5,000 actions, to be precise, in more than 165 countries around the globe.
The 10/10/10 Global Work Day organized by 350.org and many others will highlight the public appetite for action that has only grown stronger since Copenhagen.
And herein lies one of the great ironies of our time. Public support for action on climate change is mounting in every country, and yet at exactly the same time, the climate negotiations are increasingly coloured by calls for lowering expectations and questions about the credibility of the multilateral process.
There is a climate crisis, and there is a crisis of confidence in the international process. Both require urgent action. Following the stalemate of Copenhagen, this week’s meeting and the Cancun COP are critical.
Let’s not fool ourselves – a failure to
deliver now will land the UN process in a royal mess. Failure to deliver tangible
results in Cancun could well see a repeat of the WTO experience . . . meeting after
The Kyoto Protocol is the first needed and legally binding response. A second commitment period for the KP is one essential building block toward a fair, ambitious and binding (FAB) deal that needs to be finalized at COP 17 in South Africa.
We hear a lot in the KP discussions about the importance of ‘the other track’. ECO has no doubt on this point: only by showing good faith in the KP can Annex B parties secure progress in the LCA. They must stop stalling and commit at Cancun to the second commitment period of the KP. It is crucial to the world’s effort to limit climate change.
Trust-building is essential. And make no mistake, developed country leadership is central to that. The current pledges by Annex B parties and existing loopholes put us on a path that far overshoots the threshold for dangerous climate change. But all countries must show their commitment to the UN process by showing political will and flexible positions.
We must learn the lessons of Copenhagen and move beyond ‘nothing is agreed until everything is agreed’. Reverting to the pre-Copenhagen grab bag of text is a recipe for recreating the Copenhagen stalemate.
To make real progress in Cancun, it is imperative to seek convergence and reduce the wide range of options in the text to workable proportions. That will allow for political decisions to be made at Cancun, where Parties must agree a clear mandate for a full fair, ambitious and binding deal to be concluded in South Africa. It is no exaggeration: the credibility of this process and the fate of future generations are both at stake.
What are substantive examples of tangible progress? Here is a starter kit to help go further and faster.
In the area of adaptation, the insurance mechanism can be put on track; a committee can start working with the most vulnerable countries on an insurance mechanism, and regional adaptation centers can be set up.
In the area of deforestation, the level of ambition should be quantified.
On finance, the governance of the new fund with a strong relationship with the Convention can be agreed, as well as the sources and scale of funding.
On mitigation, pledges should be formalized, and in doing so, the gigatonne gap needs to be recognized, and a process launched to deal with the gap.
On technology, a work programme can be agreed that empowers the committee to deliver specific technology action programs on solar concentrated power, building efficiency, and many others.
Finally, to fulfill the mandate contained in the Bali Action Plan, a decision on the next commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol is needed. This decision should include clarity on the legal outcome to be delivered in South Africa.
This week, ECO again suggests, Parties should make offers, not demands. The purpose here in Tianjin is not to force fouls, but to use teamwork to create a safe climate.
Dear negotiators, we have said this before: you are the only team we have that can save the planet.