Tag: Australia

“CAN Collectibles”: AUSTRALIA

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National term of endearment/greeting: Mate
Annual alcohol consumption: 10 litres per person per year
Annual cheese consumption: 12 kilograms per person per year
Best things about Australia: Sun, surf, sand. Great Barrier Reef irreplaceable natural asset currently under threat from the coal industry. Excellent coffee.
Worst things about Australia: World's smallest, killer jellyfish. Dangerous addiction to coal.
Things you didn't know: 89% of Australians live in an urban area. 24% of Australians were born in another country. No one drinks Fosters.
Existing unconditional pledge on the table: 5% below 2000 levels by 2020 (4% below 1990)
Existing conditional pledge (upper end): 25% below 2000 levels by 2020
Next step to increase ambition by COP18: This year: a KP QELRO consistent with cuts of at least 25% below 2000 levels by 2020. And a commitment to work in the ADP process to raise ambition further (toward 40% by 2020)
Rationale: Australia has set conditions for moving its target from 5% to 15% to 25%. The conditions for the 15% target have been met, according to government briefings
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Building a Tower of Climate Fighting Power

Like the Secretariat, our LCA chair and many other delegates in the Maritim, ECO also has experience with the trials and tribulations of construction projects. But not to worry. Yesterday, AOSIS and the LDCs presented a new blueprint for a sturdy and livable structure that can be a functional home for all of us, with a minimal carbon footprint and protection from the increasingly uncertain elements.

To build a good foundation, AOSIS has designed some strong pillars to replace or reinforce the flimsy developed country pledges. For instance, the EU, which has been mixing only 20% cement with sand for its concrete, can strengthen its climate edifice by rising to 30% concrete or even more. This is required to meet the building codes anyway, so why skimp and risk collapse?

New Zealand should raise its level to at least 20%. And in Australia, government papers, forced by NGOs to be made public, show that the conditions for its 15% target have already been met.

Belarus, Ukraine and Kazakhstan will need to dig deeper foundations in the second commitment period to prevent vast amounts of hot air.

Canada, which has been out of compliance with building codes for some time, has decided to build tar sand castles and has given up on any construction that will last more than a few years.

Moving from the foundation to the ground floor, AOSIS, troubled by the United States, Canada, Russia and Japan ¨C fleeing the building and planning to build their own shanties ¨C warns they must use comparable construction standards, and prepare for the visit of the building inspector. As long as they remain in the Convention, they must demonstrate that their efforts are comparable to those of Kyoto buildings, and will achieve results consistent with the best available science.

Adequate housing for all requires scaled up contributions to the building fund, which is why the LDCs are unhappy with the lack of reliable and predictable finance. Conventionland’s wealthier residents, who have already built comfortable homes with high carbon footprints, have thus far refused to give a clear timetable towards meeting the US$100 billion commitment by 2020. They only seem to be offering play money and junk bonds to add up to the $100 billion.

With a strong foundation laid, the LDC architects have proposed that a mighty Durban Tower can be built in a few years on the same institutional structure as the current, modest Bali Tower. The venerable old Kyoto Tower will be dwarfed by the combined ambition of these two new structures, which will have ample space for mitigation, adaptation, finance, technology transfer and capacity building. The new towers will be in full compliance will all codes. Regular visits by monitoring, reporting and verifying teams, checking up on finance and mitigation actions, will be welcome events.

The initial sketches from Durban are about to become detailed blueprints, full of shovel-ready projects that will be built for the occupants well in advance of the construction schedule.

The LDCs, like all of us, have placed their futures in the hands of a new Project Manager who we trust will not be satisfied with the current low level of ambition. All the settlers in Conventionland must spare no effort in ensuring the post-2020 Durban Tower reaches new heights, with clear milestones for each coming year.

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Getting the Durban Deal Done

ECO has been clear in its call for a three-part outcome in Durban: adoption of a strong second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol; a mandate for negotiation of a more comprehensive and ambitious longer-term climate regime based on both scientific adequacy and the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capacities; and a package of decisions facilitating near-term action on all four building blocks of the Bali Action Plan and implementation of the Cancun Agreements.

Let’s make something else clear: building a long-term structure for fair and effective international action on climate change is important, but what really matters is meaningful action supporting peoples and communities already suffering the negative effects of climate change, and collective emission reductions at the scale and pace needed to avert even more catastrophic impacts in the future. The best legally binding treaty instruments in the world don’t amount to much without emission reduction ambition in line with the science and financial resources commensurate with the need.

 Coming out of Panama, there has been some progress in developing draft text on many of the elements of the Bali Action Plan and the Cancun Agreements.  But the prospects for linked agreements on extension of the Kyoto Protocol and the negotiations on a longer-term legally-binding instrument are not bright, absent significant changes in the negotiating positions of a number of key countries.  Let’s look at them in turn.

 EU.  Fair or not, the EU holds the key to the Durban outcome.  If the EU does not come to Durban with the clear goal of adopting a second commitment period (not some fuzzy political commitment) the Kyoto Protocol will wither and die.  On Thursday, the EU laid out a clear set of elements for negotiations over the longer-term treaty that would assure that a KP second commitment period is a bridge to a more comprehensive and ambitious legal framework. EU environment ministers need to be careful not to set overly stringent conditions for such negotiations when they meet next Monday in Luxembourg.  

 Australia and New Zealand. While the view from atop the fence is nice, these countries need to get off of it and make clear they are ready to join with the EU, Norway, and others in embracing a second KP commitment period.

 Japan, Russia, Canada.  These countries claim they are bailing out of Kyoto because it doesn’t cover a large enough portion of global emissions.  They need to come to Durban prepared to reconsider their position if agreement can be reached on launching negotiations on a longer-term treaty regime, or risk being perceived as multilateral treaty-killers, not treaty-builders.

 US. The one developed country that stayed out of Kyoto, in part because the Protocol didn’t include major developing countries, claims it is willing to enter into negotiations on a new legally-binding instrument.  But it has set very stringent conditions for the launch of such negotiations, while acknowledging that these conditions almost guarantee no agreement on a negotiating mandate in Durban.  Meanwhile, the US is struggling to meet its already inadequate emissions reduction commitment, and has been reluctant to discuss ways of meeting the $100 billion by 2020 annual climate finance goal its president committed to in Copenhagen.  At the very least, the US must contribute to such discussions in Durban, not attempt to block them.     

The LDCs and AOSIS. The moral power of the most vulnerable countries needs to be heard, highlighting both the existential crisis they face and the reprehensible failure of those responsible for the problem to face up to it.  These groups support both the extension of the KP and a mandate for negotiation of a new legally-binding instrument; they must continue to work together in Durban to achieve both of these goals.

The BASIC countries.All four of these countries are leaders in taking domestic actions to limit their emissions growth as their economies continue to rapidly develop.  Their leadership is also needed on the current fight to preserve a rules-based multilateral climate treaty regime.  They should certainly continue to demand a second Kyoto commitment period.  But they should also call the US’s bluff, by indicating their willingness to negotiate a more comprehensive long-term treaty regime including binding commitments for all but the Least Developed Countries, as long as it’s truly based on principles of equity and common but differentiated responsibility.              

 All countries must come to Durban prepared to negotiate in a spirit of compromise if we are to achieve the ambitious package of decisions needed to address the mounting climate crisis.  Ministers must take full advantage of their time together before Durban, at both the pre-COP ministerial consultations and the likely pre-Durban meeting of the Major Economies Forum, to explore constructive solutions to the current roadblocks to such a package of decisions.  Then in Durban, they must work actively under the guidance of the South African presidency to bring the deal home.  Their citizens need – and expect – nothing less.


Mixed Signals from the Land Down Under

Australia, the land down under, has an interesting position on a Kyoto CP2 at these talks. Their proposed Clean Energy Future legislation is currently going through their parliament and looks set to be passed prior to Durban. If this is the case, Australia will have a fixed price on carbon emissions, covering 500 companies, before moving to an Emissions Trading Scheme in 2015. It will also see an increase in the ambition of their longer-term target from 60% to 80% by 2050 based on 2000 levels.  ECO definitely welcomes these initiatives.  Furthermore it would seem that the stage is set for Australia to move to the higher end of its pledge and inscribe it in a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol.  Yet, unlike the EU (which also has legislation in place), Australia continues to resist calls to extend the KP. It remains a mystery as to what could possibly be holding Australia back!


A Slew of Fossils and Rays Awarded On Second to Last Day of Bonn Talks

16 June, 2011

A Slew of Fossils and Rays Awarded On Second to Last Day of Bonn Talks
Bonn, Germany – With just over a day left in the United Nations climate change
negotiations here, countries showed they still have plenty of energy left to delay
progress in the fight against climate change, while other nations showed they
recognized how important civil society is in moving the negotiations forward.
Frequent “winner” Saudi Arabia took another Fossil, joined this time by a surprise
blocker, Antigua and Barbuda, for trying to diminish civil society's role in the talks.
Meanwhile, four nations and the European Union earned a rare Ray of the Day for
supporting the very same civil society groups. Both were overshadowed by the fossil
for Japan's renewed refusal to extend its namesake Kyoto Protocol.

The Fossils as presented read:

"The Second place Fossil goes to Saudi Arabia and Antigua and Barbuda for blocking
attempts to enhance NGO participation. Saudi Arabia is a frequent winner of these
awards and really needs no explanation. They have a long history of blocking just
about everything from legal issues to adaptation, agendas to observer participation.
The Saudis should be isolated for their obstructionist ways and not allowed to dictate
text on this or any other issue. As for Antigua & Barbuda, it breaks our heart to give
your individual country the fossil, but to suggest that we would be moving too fast to
allow NGOs to make interventions without submitting written statements in advance
is just ridiculous! In the fight against climate change, speed is of the essence! For
prompting a lack of engagement and transparency, you two get the fossil!"

"Japan earns the First place Fossil. Yesterday, we heard again Japan’s well known
position that it will not inscribe a target under a second period of the Kyoto Protocol
under ANY circumstance. It is very regrettable that we see no room for flexibility.
The Kyoto Protocol second commitment period is the heart of a Durban package and
Japan’s unchanged position will jeopardize the success of the Durban meeting.
Market mechanisms, which Japan favors so much, may not be used anymore if Japan
doesn’t have a target under the Kyoto Protocol. Is this really OK, Japan? Lack of a
target under the international legal framework would weaken implementation of
domestic policies and actions and lose international competitiveness in a low carbon
economy. We don’t really understand."  

"The Ray of the Day goes to a group of countries who have stood strong for
transparency in the face of attacks from countries hoping to hide behind closed doors.
They clearly recognize the productive and important role NGOs play in this process
and have done all they can to suggest improvements, propose compromises, and shine
a light on this process in the hopes of supporting not only civil society but in so doing
also the global effort to address climate change. On a side note, if more Parties had
similar positions on transparency to these, perhaps we could avoid protracted fights
on agendas and other matters in the future, simply in order to avoid embarrassment.
For these actions in support of transparency, accountability and civil society, we
award this Ray of the Day to the EU, Mexico, Bolivia, Philippines, and Australia."
About CAN: The Climate Action Network is a worldwide network of roughly 500
Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) working to promote government and
individual action to limit human-induced climate change to ecologically sustainable
levels. www.climatenetwork.org
About the fossils: The Fossil of the Day awards were first presented at the climate
talks in 1999  in Bonn, initiated by the German NGO Forum. During United Nations
climate change negotiations (www.unfccc.int), members of the Climate Action
Network (CAN), vote for countries judged to have done their 'best' to block progress
in the negotiations in the last days of talks.



Increasing Ambitions

ECO is sure that negotiators noticed the irony when Australia noted that 104 developing countries have yet to submit NAMAs. If that was a plea for increasing ambition, then ECO couldn’t agree more. But, did it have to come from a country that is committed to a pathetic unconditional target that is nowhere near a pathway consistent with 1.5/2°C? ECO believes there is hope. Australia has also suggested for the gap to be recognized and ambition to be increased.

It remains to be seen if Australia applies this to its own pledge when it comes to finding out who will do what to close the 5-12 gigatonne gap. While that discussion will come soon enough, there are more areas where Australia and other developed countries can focus on for now. In Saturday’s informal group, the co-facilitator smartly suggested that discussions should focus on ideas for a work programme. Alas, the aim of such a work programme is quite easy to define, as the gigatonne gap that results from the lack of ambition to at least avoid the worst impacts of climate change is clearly visible.    

ECO had previously suggested that the first logical step would be to get clarity on developed countries’ net domestic emissions in 2020 resulting from current pledges – this would clarify what Annex I commitments really mean. ECO has noted that, on a related matter, the United States does not want to even discuss common accounting rules, and ECO speculates how that ties up with its continued attempts to dress-up its low pledge as comparable to the EU’s.

The next area to be covered in the work programme would be to once-and-for-all close off the loopholes, such as bogus LULUCF projections, or rules to keep hot air into the system. Thirdly, ECO would like to encourage (as often as needed) developed countries with conditional (upper end) pledges to clarify (i) what part of the conditions has been met so far; and (ii) what is needed to fulfill the remaining conditions. ECO believes everyone would find these talks much easier if such clarification would be made in a way that allows an objective assessment of these conditions, so that countries can indeed move to the upper end of their pledges. Finally climate-friendly readers will agree that a work programme that’s worth the work would result in (i) recognizing the size of the gap; and (ii) agreeing a process to close it.

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Australian World Environment Day Rally

Yesterday Australia witnessed huge rallies across the country – of people actually calling for a new tax. Rallying to support the Gillard Government’s plan to introduce a carbon tax in July next year – tens of thousands of people in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth, Canberra, Brisbane and Hobart (I bet some of you didn’t know that Australia even had that many cities!) – said YES to a carbon tax.  This undermines the concerted campaign from big coal, and a certain opposition party running a relentlessly negative campaign.  With luck this will add upwards pressure on the starting price of carbon when the tax is introduced in July 2012.

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