Deja vu? Or a renewed focus...

And now we’re all here again, what is it that needs to be accomplished?

Clearly, on the KP track lamentably little progress has bee made over the past four years. ECO suggests that the following issues must be agreed this year, as a priority:

  • LULUCF accounting rules – Annex I countries must stop trying to hide emissions from forest management and commit to reduce them instead.
  • CDM/JI/emissions trading modalities – These must be revamped to avoid double counting of mitigation and financial support obligations, and to keep inappropriate sectors, such as nuclear and CCS, out of the CDM.
  • New sources and sectors and other accounting rules around them (the “other issues”) should include new gases to the extent that is technically possible, and use the new IPCC AR4 global warming potential (GWP) measures over the 100 year timescale.
  • The commitment period length, base year and the other modalities that will define the calculation of the quantified emission reduction obligation (QERO) and assigned amount from country pledges (here's a free hint! correct answers for the first two are: 5 years, 1990).

When the KP was first negotiated, Parties agreed targets first, and the following years turned into excruciating negotiation exercises that ended up agreeing a series of loopholes. ECO has long maintained that the rules should be negotiated first, so that the science-indicated reduction target of at least 40% on 1990 levels by 2020 can be fairly shared between the Annex B Parties.

For this reason, negotiating time in Bonn and for the intersessionals should be concentrated on clearing these issues, so that the targets and then the discussion on QEROs can be resolved rationally and equitably, based on a clear and common understanding of the underlying scope and rules of accounting. In the short term, then, negotiating time should be concentrated on resolving the issues listed above.

In the LCA track, a balanced agreement is needed by Cancún, with each of the Bali Action Plan building blocks being addressed. In Copenhagen, the LCA negotiating texts on adaptation, technology and REDD+ were well advanced, and agreement should be possible on these issues this year. Additionally, finance, MRV and low carbon development plans should be among the agreements reached this year.

Adaptation

Most Parties seem to agree that progress can be made in Bonn on the design of an adaptation framework for implementation. However, developed countries should stop resisting a firm institutional link that ensures the provision of regular, reliable and truly additional grant-based finance needed to make this framework a real implementation action tool.

Bonn II could also achieve greater clarity on the enhancement, establishment, composition and role of regional centres and initiatives as well as the proposed establishment of an adaptation committee. Another issue that must advance is how to address unavoidable loss and damage from climate change impacts when adaptation is not longer a viable option, e.g., when water resources disappear due to shrinking glaciers and livelihoods become untenable. Progress in Bonn would be achieved if Parties clearly recognise the need for an international mechanism to address loss and damage, and identify key substantive issues to be addressed in subsequent sessions.

Technology

Technology negotiations have progressed enough that areas of clear convergence can be identified, especially regarding the establishment of a technology mechanism. More clarity is required to ensure that it operates within UNFCCC authority and principles. Other areas to be further clarified are the role of regional innovation centres, as well as criteria for MRV for technology support and actions that may take place outside the UNFCCC mechanism. Negotiators should be willing to show more flexibility regarding intellectual property issues, acknowledging the valid concerns of all parties, while focusing on a solution that will preserve incentives for innovation and ensure and expand production of, and access to, climate technologies for mitigation and adaptation.

REDD+

While ECO understands and agrees that reliable and adequate long-term funding is essential, goals for REDD and the conservation and enhancement of carbon stocks remain essential. There should also be a finance goal for support, either a specific range – a number of studies have indicated that halving emissions by 2020 would cost $15-35 billion in 2020 – or simply an agreement to finance achievement of the carbon-related goals. It is crucial to move on this now given the speed of REDD negotiations and the launch of the REDD+ partnership for fast-start financing last week.

Successful mitigation outcomes from REDD+ activities by developing countries,  supported by developed countries, depends on using improved methodological guidance for estimating emissions by sources and removals by sinks. SBSTA needs to progress this issue.

Climate integrity is not the only concern for REDD+ activities; safeguards not only need to be agreed, but the LCA text needs to operationalize them.

Finance

Climate finance can be a valuable opportunity to build some momentum in a process that needs a shot in the arm. Here in Bonn, parties should set ambitious goals for finance outcomes in Cancún, whether or not a comprehensive deal is agreed by then. To be more precise, by Cancún parties can finalize decisions covering finance MRV, governance and institution, and make substantial progress on operationalizing sources of finance to mobilize funding at the scale needed.

But it must be decided here in Bonn to achieve this by Cancún, and that means a negotiating text must be developed that will result in this outcome. ECO gives fair warning: for any parties thinking of blocking progress on finance because they didn’t get what they want in other areas, it's time to open eyes to the bright light of negotiating reality.

MRV

ECO recognizes the crucial role of gathering, in a consistent and comparable way, accurate information relating to emission reduction activities undertaken by Parties, as well as the support provided. Indeed, this is central to the integrity of the climate regime. Thus, it is vital to continue discussions on the nature of MRV, in particular its scope and architecture, that is tailored to Parties’ differentiated obligations.  In so doing, Parties should agree a process at this meeting to elaborate the main issues associated with MRV. Additionally, Parties should give the Chair a mandate to develop text on MRV for this and future negotiations. Parties should also consider how to provide capacity building and support to construct and maintain domestic reporting and verification systems in non-Annex I countries.

Zero- and Low-Carbon Action Plans

As part of the essential process to build trust among Parties through transparency of action, ECO would like to highlight the need to agree by Cancún that both developed and developing countries (with optional participation by LDCs and SIDS) will produce national plans showing how developed countries can get their emissions to near-zero by 2050, and how developing countries can reduce their emissions -- with support from developed countries as defined and agreed previously, including the Convention and the Bali Action Plan -- in line with the required overall global carbon budget.

Time for action is so short, there is no time to lose, and actions are needed now in line with the scientific imperative. There is much that can progress at the multilateral level this year. In Bonn, Parties must build upon progress in the LCA and KP tracks to date and define the expectations for a balanced and ambitious outcome in Cancún.

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Developed countries should produce Zero Carbon Action Plans (ZCAPs) to map out the institutions and policies needed for them to achieve their targets under a five-year commitment period, with the longer-term aim of near-total decarbonization by 2050.  ZCAPs would also serve to document how each country proposes to achieve their support obligations to developing countries.  Both parts of the ZCAP would be subject to MRV procedures to help ensure the environmental integrity of the deal and also to give all countries increased confidence that others will not free-ride.  The long-term component allows countries to begin to develop a long-term vision for their economies and to plan for related socioeconomic transition. The reporting, review and compliance components of the ZCAP proposal are therefore essential to the integrity of the overall deal and giving confidence that targets will be met.

Developing countries, over the short to medium run and depending on capacity, will produce visionary low-carbon action plans (LCAPs) that provide a road map and outline a trajectory for their pathway to a low-carbon and climate-resilient economy, clearly linking development and climate goals to achieve sustainable development.  These plans should be developed through a bottom-up, country-driven process and should build upon national plans for adaptation and mitigation, recognizing the linkages already in place in many countries between these issues.  They should provide an integrated framework where a country's NAMAs can form a coherent package.  These NAMAs would then form essential building blocks of a LCAP, and together their cumulative impact should result in the long-term objective of a low-carbon economy as well as stay within atmospheric limitations.  Mitigation efforts together with adaptation all contribute towards the overall LCAP.

ZCAPs and LCAPs link to a number of existing agenda items.  They are in the LCA text and are also relevant in the MRV discussions (MRV mitigation on non-Annex I, Annex I, the “firewall” between them, and MRV finance).  Because ECO sees them as being related to national communications, but forward- rather than backward-looking, SBI agenda items 3 and 4 (national communications for developed and developing countries) are also relevant.

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Fast Start Finance

‘Fast-start finance’, ‘kick-start finance’, ‘short-term finance’ -- no matter the name, it must be a success if we are to rebuild trust on the broader climate agenda in the wake of Copenhagen, and lay the groundwork for the greatly expanded post-2012 climate finance regime.    ECO noticed fresh new faces in the plenary yesterday, so it would do no harm to reiterate some elements that are critical to ensure that this fast-arriving period of ‘fast-start finance’ is legitimate and effective. Transparency and coordination to report on funds provided is essential to ensuring countries meet their pledges and that these funds are indeed new and additional. Along these lines, ECO was pleased to hear the EU pledge yesterday to ‘submit coordinated reports on implementation [of its €2.4 billion per year fast-start pledge] in Cancún and thereafter on an annual basis.”  We call on other developed countries to make similar pledges, but we have some questions for the EU: will your fast start funding be additional to the 0.7% of GDP development assistance goal? And will it be new money?  Failing to meet the $30 billion committed in Copenhagen over the next three years would clearly destroy any chance of meaningful progress in Cancun.  But simply repackaging old aid money also wouldn’t send strong signals to the international community that developed countries are doing their part. Always wanting to be constructive, ECO draws attention to the fact that there are several funds with genuine ownership by developing countries that stand ready to put fast-start funds to immediate good use: the Convention’s Least Developed Countries Fund and Special Climate Change Fund, and the Kyoto Protocol’s Adaptation Fund. And now ECO hears at least one country – the US – has indicated that it will potentially cut off its fast-start flow to some developing countries that have not associated with the Copenhagen Accord.  Officials from other countries have also hinted in public about such a pressurizing strategy. Let us be clear: this strategy is absolutely unacceptable, and climate funding must be available to all developing countries that want to take serious action.  Some Parties have not associated with the Accord for the very reason that it falls well short of the emissions reduction – most of all in developed countries like the US – needed to reduce the existential risk to their lands from a marauding climate.  ECO strongly suggests the US to reconsider this ill-advised plan, and that no other developed country go down this road.

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High Level Finance

Spring is in the air here in Bonn, and ECO, recovering some optimism after a long and well deserved break, hopes this season will usher in a cooperative and productive initial session. And of course with Spring comes spring cleaning. It’s time to dust off those Convention booklets and drag back into our minds all those acronyms that rolled off the tongue over the past few years. And in line with spring as the time of planting and planning ahead, ECO presents a new acronym: AGF, or the Advisory Group on Climate Finance ... catchy, huh? The AGF, comprising a handful of political and financial heavyweights, first met last week in London to discuss how to raise substantial amounts of climate finance. From all reports it appears to have been a positive meeting. Importantly, the AGF (we’re still getting used to the acronym, bear with us) agreed to assess all options on the table and keep an open mind where there are potentially diverging views. Rumour has it we might get more than a long analytical shopping list in the final report – potentially, in fact, a hierarchy of feasible and equitable options – what a Christmas/Navidad present before Cancún! With the fresh feelings of Spring, we have high expectations of what this group can deliver. Whilst the Group has a wide mandate to look at public and private sources, ECO feels the strong expertise and political gravitas in the room should be laser-focused on unraveling the deadlock in the negotiations on innovative public finance sources. This is not to say that other sources won’t be a part of the picture, but these leaders are best placed to brainstorm. Other sources will also likely start flowing if some public finance is available for leverage, and if we see ambitious mitigation targets.At present the AGF is somewhat of a mystery. Though ECO has clocked who’s represented on the Group, we would dearly love to dispel some of the myths about it, but without a website or comprehensive information, transparency is still elusive. This would enable more effective participation by civil society and other stakeholders to strengthen this process.

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A Little Clarity, Please

Now that the dust has mostly settled and Parties are back at the negotiating table in the KP track, it is a good moment to take stock and reflect on the African Group gambit earlier in the week.

An important result from Wednesday's plenary is that industrialized countries will put their emission reduction targets on the table with no further delays, including the portions that will be met through international offsets and from land use change and forestry.  It is truly amazing that after four years of negotiating the post-2012 regime this information isn't readily available.

Some Annex I countries haven't even tabled their overall targets yet.  (And ECO won't comment here on the non-Kyoto major developed country and whether they have numbers on the table.)

It is no wonder that many developing countries are feeling more than a little frustrated by the lack of progress on emission reductions commitments from rich countries.  If all developed countries actually delivered the requested information on their targets it would, at long last, provide the needed clarity on their opening bids, including how much of their effort will be domestic actions to reduce emissions, as well as how much will simply be bought from abroad.  And countries planning on achieving a large portion of their target from LULUCF credits could be queried for clarification on how they expect to do so without resorting to weak accounting rules that allow phantom credits.

The agreement to put these details on the table is an important moment in the negotiations. But mind you, what this development does not do is deliver actual decisions, like an aggregate target for developed countries. If that kind of progress isn't seen soon, no one should be surprised if frustrations rise further and tactics become bolder. Of course, further breakdowns, here and going forward in Copenhagen, can be avoided if developing countries see political leadership from their rich counterparts on the critical issues such as Annex I emission targets.

IEA World Outlook: Our Planet is Worth Saving

The benefits of taking serious steps to solve global warming far outweigh the costs, says the International Energy Agency (IEA) in its World Energy Outlook 2009 Climate Change excerpt report released yesterday.

A tool for the IEA’s regular projection of global energy use and global warming pollution, its report this time is particularly significant as the IEA has often been criticised for inflating costs and underestimating benefits. In this instance, the IEA used a measure of 450 ppm when the latest science shows the world needs to find a way to stay below 350 ppm to avoid even costlier effects of climate change. Hence, the IEA’s findings are actually quite “conservative” which make them even more compelling.

The IEA report provides the first analysis to account for the global impact of the financial crisis on energy emissions and the first time that they broke down their 450 ppm scenario on a country-by-country basis. Looking at 2010 to 2030, the report found:

•  A total additional investment of $10,500 billion will be needed to bring global emissions slightly below current levels

•  Savings in energy costs will be $8,600 billion

• Reduced costs of local air pollution will be  $40 billion in 2020 and $100 billion in 2030

• Every year of delay will increase the energy sector’s mitigation costs by $500  billion.

Measures that provide economic benefits in the medium term will already yield positive results for the climate. Yet, it has to be noted that for staying below 2oC with good certainty, actions greater that those estimated by the IEA are required. Even so, based on its analysis it is fair to say that costs will remain reasonable compared to the massive benefits of taking action.

Other findings of note state:

If we do not take action we are headed for a 6°C world (a 1,000 parts per million one)

We can get onto a path to solving global warming with the right investments. Clearly it requires a large investment and political focus to drive these results but it pays off. Energy efficiency is the dominant source of reduction (65% of the reduction in 2020), followed by renewables (17% of the reduction).

Oil imports are reduced. In the industrialised countries imports are reduced by 7 million barrels per day in 2030 below what they were in 2008; in China and India oil imports are lowered by 10%. These kinds of energy security benefits and consumer savings drive tremendous public support for climate action in many nations.

Big reductions in local air pollution as a result of taking action on global warming pollution. In 2030, sulphur dioxide emissions are 29% lower, nitrous oxide emissions are 19% lower and particulate matter is 9% lower. This saves $200 billion in 2030 for the cost of pollution control and lessens the impact of smog and other air pollutants that contribute to asthma, death and lost work days (just to name a few).

Hence, it is loud and clear that taking action on global warming at Copenhagen is a good investment for the world – the balance sheet is positive. The IEA’s new analysis adds to previous assessments which stated that addressing global warming saves countries money compared to continuing with the current business-as-usual pathway. And this does not include the costs of global warming impacts which will tip the balance sheet even further in favour of taking action.

The IEA’s report shows that addressing the climate challenge can reap financial benefits. As a clear and strong outcome in Copenhagen will unlock this potential, ECO calls on world leaders to focus on driving these solutions.

Some Progress: More Action Needed

ECO was excited to see streamlined adaptation text emerging over the weekend, with content on almost all fundamental points. In addition, the Co-Chairs expect to have a shorter text by the end of the week.

Based on the contact group discussions, there is convergence between Parties on “practical delivery” but divergence on some vital areas. These include scale of finance for adaptation, additionality of finance to existing overseas development assistance (ODA) targets, a rights-based approach, and vulnerability and prioritisation for support.


ECO however is troubled by response measures.

These cannot be part of the adaptation component as response measures are not about adapting to climate change but about the spillover effects of measures to mitigate climate change.

It is also worrying that the focus of Annex I countries is on planning and delivery for adaptation. Non-Annex I countries have clearly articulated in session after session that the greater focus should be on action on adaptation.

The text on adaptation for Copenhagen must incorporate six key points.

Firstly, the fundamental principles: prioritise support to the most vulnerable people and countries; promote a rights and community based approach to adaptation; and incorporate transparent, participatory and inclusive decision making at all levels. Crucially, adaptation must also recognise the value and importance of healthy ecosystems.


Secondly, financial support must be both predictable and reliable, and result in regular and adequate flows. ECO believes reference to finance delivery must remain in the adaptation section, and supports strong references to adaptation in the main finance section.

Thirdly, the subsidiarity principle should apply. Countries and communities should decide what is needed to enable them to adapt, not developed countries or multilateral agencies.

Fourthly, the agreement must include a comprehensive approach to building resilience. There should be a stronger focus on addressing underlying risk factors for vulnerability, such as poverty and marginalisation.

Fifthly, a climate risk insurance mechanism should be initiated with two components. A fund for high-level, climate-related shocks financed by developed countries (to cope with disasters as just seen unfold in the Philippines and India), and technical and financial support for setting up and operating pro-poor micro insurance schemes.

Finally, there must be provisions to address loss and damage from irreversible large-scale impacts of climate change. To address this issue, Parties need first to recognise that such impacts are likely, especially if strong, science-based emission reductions targets are not achieved.

ECO is pleased to see reference to action on adaptation starting “now, up to and beyond 2012.” Parties must actively negotiate on these areas over the coming week. But the right words alone are not enough; brackets in the text highlight differences of attitude. Annex I Parties must recognise that financing for adaptation is not ODA. It is reparation for damage done - the adaptation deficit caused by their combined lack of mitigation action so far.

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