Tag: Australia

Missing Money for the Green Climate Fund earns first Fossil from Lima Climate Talks

The first Fossil of the Day in Lima at the UN Climate Talks goes to Australia, Belgium, Ireland, Austria, Iceland, Greece and Portugal for being the only developed countries who have so far failed to contribute to the Green Climate Fund. After a string of encouraging initial contributions, it seems a few free-riders within Annex 2 believe they are off the hook on this one. Their intransigence translates into several billions of dollars missing in the fund’s coffer - that’s money not being spent helping developing countries reduce their pollution and adapt to climate impacts. This is not acceptable and stands to jeopardize the Paris agreement, under which all countries are expected to take action. To the free-riding ministers: Don't forget to sign your check before you land in Lima.

 

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Ministers, Remember the KP?

The KP has its fans for good reasons, like legally binding commitments, its base year and common metrics, not to mention its compliance regime. ECO knows that the KP is not perfect, but it’s the best we’ve got, and it has to serve as the baseline for the new regime. And Ministers, ECO must be loud and clear – we must see more ambition.

The news that virtually none of our KP Ministerial friends will be joining us is highly distressing. The KP matters, both politically and practically.  The Protocol is the mechanism that demonstrated and institutionalised political leadership from developed countries. The second commitment period and a commitment to increase ambition from ALL developed countries pre-2020 was a key part of the package in Durban that resulted in the launch of the ADP. 

It’s not just ECO asking for more ambition. We think the Antarctic ice sheet melt might have been a sign that Ministers should do more, or perhaps that the cacophony of voices around the IPCC fifth assessment report analysis would have spurred them into action.

So where is developed country leadership right now? ECO reviews the state of play.

Those still making it legal….

EU, here we are again: "yes, but." Yes, Europe has made a real effort and arguably leads the world on climate action. It's on track to overshoot KP commitments and can boast during today's ministerial. But only a few key political supporters blocked tougher targets from becoming a reality. Those deeper 2020 cuts could surely (and still can) be met. And if they aren't, it sets Europe back for the post-2020 period by forcing lower ambition, while leaving excess credits in the system that will be held over to make compliance easier and ultimately undermining real decarbonisation.

Norway, with your wealth and high potential for renewables, you of all countries should be able to show that securing prosperity without destroying the climate is possible. But that means planning for life beyond oil and no longer wreaking havoc via your state-owned company Statoil pursuing ever dirtier and riskier oil in the Arctic and in the Canadian tar sands business. Drop your double-standard on climate action.

Australia, Tony Abbott's messed it up again. The latest rumour ECO has heard is that the G20 will exclude climate change from the agenda. Did Tony not notice the strong signals sent by two G20 members about cutting emissions and regulating coal? Ha! If anything should be excluded, it should be mining and burning more coal. But from a country that has a measly 5% reduction target for 2020, ECO is not surprised and might be laughing but for the impact of that dirty coal…

Those who jumped ship

Japan, Canada, New Zealand and Russia: it’s the same old song, so we won’t sing it. But we all do know how it goes.

That one big country that never did join in the end….

USA gave a great big kick to coal at the beginning of this week. ECO supposes it’s better late than never, but there is still a lot of ground to make up and greater cuts to be made. So keep going and this time, be sure to bring it to the party!

Clearly the developed world still has a lot of work to do to fulfil its ‘leading’ role. A lack of ambition from developed countries could be the perfect excuse, were any country seeking one, for avoiding commitments or ambitious actions in the future. But ECO is confident that no country will stoop to such crass opportunism. All countries are now fully aware of the scale of the global effort required and the need for urgent, ambitious and equitable actions. In Mexico and Indonesia, more action is underway. 

The game is on Minsters, there are less than 500 days left to get your act together.  So step up and deliver.

 

 

 

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Amateur Australians scoop fossil pool with finance furphy

In a case of doubling down on a dastardly display, the Australian Government was today handed the Fossil of the Day award for an unprecedented fourth time in a row at the Warsaw climate negotiations.

This is getting silly, folks. It's almost like the new Australian Government is trying to compete with Commonwealth brother, Canada, for being handed the most fossils in a UNFCCC session.

After being handed their first fossil, on Monday, for refusing to make any new finance commitments, Australia has today gone even further with their nasty rhetoric, willfully and completely undermining the very concept of climate finance. The Australians said obligations for new, predictable and reliable finance from developed countries are “not realistic” and “not acceptable.” This is nothing short of an attack on an important cornerstone of the UNFCCC.

In the same statement, Australia said that climate finance “is not welfare transfer. Indeed. Climate finance isn’t welfare – it’s a moral obligation (sorry Australia, it might not be acceptable to you, but it’s true) and a legal commitment that developed countries have made because of their responsibility in causing climate change.

New, additional, adequate and predictable finance – which must primarily be public money if it is to reach the poorest countries and communities and meet UNFCCC obligations – is not an optional part of the UNFCCC. It’s a key building block without which the entire international climate architecture falls apart.

Whether or not this is Australia’s explicit intention in making its comments yesterday (we wouldn’t dare jump to conclusions), it clearly deserves a First Place Fossil award.

Clarifying Clarifications

The two panels on quantified economy-wide emission reduction targets by developed country Parties left ECO feeling that there was something missing since Bali - like four years perhaps? - or a bit of ambition?

Surely Parties can cite 1(b)(i) from the Bali Action Plan in their sleep (“comparable” – remember)? Yet, as St Lucia pointed out, we still have different base years and metrics. That’s not going to help spotting the loopholes and freeloaders - oh sorry...everyone’s acting in good faith so no need to worry about transparency.

All in all, there are some surprisingly unsophisticated approaches on the table from some rather sophisticated economies – putting forward point targets rather than carbon budgets. And yes, ECO’s talking about those north of Latin America. This includes no clear idea how international credits used by states and provinces are going to affect the national level.  ECO was intrigued at issues for California being considered “within the noise” of measurement. Yes, who could possibly be concerned about accounting problems within an economy the size of Australia?

 And talking of the latter – ECO believes the EU’s urgings were heard loud and clear.  Australia and New Zealand, you’re wanted in the KP.  As they say in those parts, “Come on Australia.” 

All in all, some in the Umbrella group must have been wishing they had their brollies to hide behind. Can’t imagine how “banking and borrowing” can be used with inventories and point targets? Well no problem in adding a ban to the UNFCCC rule book then... And funny how those with issues with their emissions trajectories seem to be the keenest for flexibility and most concerned that harmonisation might prevent full participation. A tip to New Zealand – choirs and rugby sides seem to manage it. 

So to clarify all that clarity, ECO supports South Africa's proposal for a common accounting workshop before Doha to assist the successful conclusion of 1(b)(i).  

ECO was rather more encouraged to see some of the good progress on NAMAs presented by developing country panellists. And just a reminder to those who seem to have forgotten exactly what NAMA stands for – it’s Nationally Appropriate Mitigation ACTIONS. It’s apparent that here, too, provision of detailed information is important because it gives more clarity on what measures countries are undertaking. And this clarity will provide confidence and facilitate access to further support. On this note, ECO is having a bit of difficulty seeing the support – more of this in a minute.

Now, even with the focus on actions rather than outcomes, it is still vital that we are able to understand what emission reductions have been achieved below BAU. Not to hold developing countries to a particular goal, but to track emission reductions on a country level in the context of collective efforts.

Panel 2 on means of support seemed to have a great deal of agreement.  Capacity building and, again, this cleverly invisible means of support for developing countries to be able to develop and design effective long-term NAMAs (aligned with low carbon development pathways) was emphasised time and time again.

 Particularly notable was how this was coming almost equally from both sides of the 1(b)(ii) equation – from developing countries in order to be able to act, and from developed countries in order to ensure value for their hard-to-find money. Given this last factor, ECO is left absolutely baffled as to why many developed countries seem to believe they have a logical basis for their determination to block the capacity building negotiation in the LCA. (But hey, ECO has gotten used to being baffled by flights of logic from developed countries many times before.) And let’s face it – some of those non-KP developed countries seem to need a bit of capacity building to help them produce their QELROs.

A Tenuous Linkage

ECO cautiously welcomes the announcement made this week by Australia and the EU that they have entered into negotiations to link their carbon trading schemes by 2018. If implemented with ambition, this could be a positive step toward greater international cooperation in carbon pollution reductions.

However, ECO wants to respectfully remind delegates that if two dogs play together they will catch each other’s fleas. In the case of linking carbon markets together, weak ambition may be contagious. If neither emissions cap meets the targets that science suggests, then linking is only a gimmick.

Europe is already and will continue to face deficiencies in the EU ETS. Unless policymakers move to restore scarcity to the oversupplied European carbon market, they risk weakening incentives for zero-carbon development not only in Europe but also in the countries to which they link. Australia’s economy is the size of Spain’s, and could be overwhelmed by a flood of cheap European emission allowances, undermining climate action there. We note that this linkage is marginally better than allowing a flood of even cheaper CDM credits into the Australian scheme, which was a distinct possibility before changes were made in order to link with Europe, but, as feared, is likely to undermine climate action on both sides.

Full linking with the Australian scheme after 2018 also presents potential dangers for the EU. Since Australia’s 2020 climate targets remain considerably weaker than Europe’s, an insufficiently robust Australian cap could see a reverse flow of cheap Australian credits into the European market exacerbating the existing oversupply. Also, there is a danger that Australian land-based credits could enter the European scheme by the backdoor.

ECO urges the EU to act quickly and decisively to make structural adjustments to the EU ETS by permanently removing surplus emission allowances to fix the glaring problem of oversupply.

Australia regrettably had to do away with its intention to install a carbon floor price, which provided an important safety net to ensure a minimum level of investment in domestic pollution-saving activities. Removing this safety net means that other policies become even more important. ECO urges Australia to commit to extend and increase the Renewable Energy Target to at least 40 per cent.

Finally, ECO can’t help wondering…surely the EU did not forget to make joining the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol a pre-condition for bilateral negotiations between the EU and Australia to proceed?

Australia and the KP: True Love or a One Night Stand?

 

Australia and the KP: True Love or a One Night Stand?

Dear Australia,

I‘ve been waiting for your call for months now. When we first met you gave me flowers and whispered sweet promises and commitments in my ear. Though you’ve taken years to take our friendship further, we have now been seeing each other for a while. I’ve grown to like your company and it hurts that you’ve stopped returning my calls.

I know over the last few years you have had trouble at home – especially with  your ex, Mr. Abbott, complaining that you should not be seeing me any more. But you still haven’t called, even though he sent me a little note recently saying that he’s happy for us to get together.

My good friend the EU has also been talking to you about linking up for dinner (and maybe sharing an Emissions Trading System?). This would certainly be easier if we all went to the same restaurant. Just imagine how awkward it would be if we all accidentally ended up in the same space, sharing the same air, but sitting at different tables. I don’t think the EU will want to have too much to do with you unless you and I are getting on.

Please Australia, it's time you called.

Yours faithfully,

KP

The Kyoto Protocol

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Australia and the KP: Time to Come Clean

Many ECO readers will recall the standing ovation Australia received in Bali in 2007 when the newly elected Labor government formally handed over the instrument of ratification of the Kyoto Protocol. The mood in the room was one of excitement and anticipation.

Fast forward almost five years and the spotlight is again on Australia as we wait with bated breath to see if they will join the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol.

Since 2009, Australia has been calling for a “Kyoto-plus” outcome from the current round of negotiations. Yet throughout this year, their negotiators have walked a diplomatic tightrope, refusing to rule Australia in or out of the second commitment period of the Protocol. The official line has been that they need to see all final amendments before they can make up their mind. In ECO’s humble opinion, this is little more than a delaying tactic. Clearly no country should be expected to sign up to an international treaty until they have seen the final wording, but this should not stop them from signalling support in principle.  

If truth be told, the major barrier to the Australian government declaring its support for Kyoto CP2 has been political. As anyone from Australia will tell you, implementing effective climate change policies in the land down under is no easy task, with the two major political parties deeply divided on the best way forward. The Government, therefore, deserves our admiration for persevering with the introduction of a national carbon price in the face of a highly effective scare campaign against such measures.

Yet it appears that the fate of Australia’s involvement in the second commitment period may be separated from the political fight over a carbon price. Earlier this month, the leader of the main opposition party, Tony Abbott, declared support, in principle, for joining the second commitment period. There also seem to be good levels of public support, with a recent poll indicating that close to 60 percent of voters would support Australia joining Kyoto CP2.

The benefits for Australia are obvious. Signing on to Kyoto CP2 would strengthen Australia’s reputation within the negotiations, aligning it with other countries that support a top down, rules-based approach to a global climate deal. It would also remove the risk of being shut out of the Kyoto Protocol’s carbon markets.

Why wouldn’t Australia publicly announce in-principle support? With no obvious political barriers in place, the longer Australia delays, the more it looks like they are using the KP CP2 as a bargaining chip, presumably to extract something in other areas of the negotiations. If indeed this is Australia’s strategy, it is a high risk gamble. As we saw in Bonn in May, the political deal struck in Durban last year remains fragile and the last thing we need is Australia playing hardball with a key pillar of the Durban deal.

The Bangkok talks present a perfect opportunity for Australia to end the speculation and declare its intention to join the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol. This will provide much needed momentum in the lead up to Doha and equally ensure that the spotlight is put back on those countries who are truly opposed to a fair, ambitious and binding global deal.       

Come on Australia, you raised our expectations back in 2007, and just like a new partner, we had high hopes for something more. Will you meet the promise we imagined with starry eyes back then? We’re waiting by the phone to hear your response. Waiting for those two little words: I do.

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FOSSIL OF THE DAY: Week 1

 

First Place Fossils go to the USA, Canada, Japan, Russia, Australia, New Zealand and China.

The first 1st place Fossil goes to the USA, for its continuing attempts to block negotiations on sources of financing, and refusing to discuss how it will continue to scale up financing in 2013 and onwards, towards the agreed goal of US$100 billion by 2020. We know that the USA faces some deep denial issues internally, as well as avoidance issues in the negotiations around issues like equity, capacity building and an international mechanism on loss and damage. Until the US is willing to have a frank and honest discussion leading to substantive decisions, it will be an impediment to this process.

An additional 1st place fossil goes to Canada for – can you guess???? – reneging on their commitments to fight climate change by withdrawing from the Kyoto Protocol. While many of you enjoyed your first full night of sleep after Durban overtime, the Canadians had no such luck. Barely off the plane, Canada’s Environment Minister wasted no time in confirming the COP’s worst kept secret that Canada was officially pulling out of the Kyoto Protocol. Many delegates probably had already given up on Canada at that point, but those of us that live within that vast, beautiful, hockey-loving country have had to continue to bear witness to whatcan only be called the government of polluters’ puppets. While Canada’s actions are clearly in a world of its own when it comes to bad behavior in the Kyoto Protocol, there are others that are behaving in fossil worthy manner. Here, we’re looking at Japan and Russia for refusing to participate in the second commitment period and Australia and New Zealand for missing the critical May 1 deadline to submit their QELROS. Australia and New Zealand are on notice that we expect these submissions by the end of Bonn – though the sooner the better, as it is causing trouble in the KP.

And the final1st place Fossil goes to China for holding in abeyance the work programme on scaling-up pre-2020 ambition under the ADP. We agree with China that the ADP must not allow developed countries to jump ship from the KP and LCA to a weaker regime, but Parties can't hold critical parts of the Durban package in abeyance, which amounts to punting them to the other side of the moon. We can't hold the fight against climate change in abeyance!

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