Dear Canada

Do you remember last year? We do. ECO desperately hoped the hallway rumours of a Kyoto withdrawal weren’t true, but the second your Minister left the fine city of Durban, he confirmed your reckless abandonment of the only legally binding climate treaty we have. Little birds from around the world are telling ECO that this promise-breaking probably has something to do with those vast pits of tar sands you are so hooked on, the same ones that are undermining all of your domestic climate goals.

ECO knows you are still technically allowed in the Kyoto room, but please don’t touch that microphone. When you jumped ship on the first KP term as it hit the home stretch, you drowned what little credibility you had left. As a matter of principle you should sit silently in the back like the bad kid in the class who has been told to be quiet until they learn how to behave. There are well-intentioned Parties in the room that are trying to move forward to solve the climate crisis, so please just back off.
 
You don’t want Kyoto and we suspect, as a result, it doesn’t want you. 
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Will Doha Burst the Hot Air bubble?

A staggering 13 billion emissions permits are left over from the first Kyoto commitment period. Hot air is looming large – and threatens the viability of CP2 and any future climate deal.

ECO would like to remind delegates that the problem is the result of extremely weak CP1 emissions targets well above what countries were projected to emit. Poland, for example committed to a 6% reduction from their 1988 emission levels, despite the fact that in 1997, when the Kyoto targets were set, Poland’s emissions were already about 20% below 1988 levels. ECO warns the distinguished delegates not to fall for the bogus claim that the existence of hot air is the result of dedicated action. It’s not – and the economic downfall of the nineties cannot lead to inherited rights in the climate change process.
 
But memories are short. ECO can’t help but notice that Parties are about to make the same mistake again: Low pledges for CP2 mean that another surplus of 3 to 10 billion tonnes will accumulate by 2020. Add to that the 13 Gt surplus from the first phase and you have rendered any Kyoto targets quite meaningless. Yet Russia, Ukraine and Poland, the largest surplus holders, insist on keeping the right to sell their hot air. ECO has looked into it and found this is a vain hope. Pledges for CP2 are so weak that no one will buy their surplus! Prices for AAUs have dropped from 13 EUR in 2008 to less than 0.5 EUR in 2012.
 
The problem is so big that even if developed countries were to increase their CP2 pledges, they could meet their more stringent targets by simply buying more surplus and without actually cutting their emissions.
 
For those delegates that are interested in returning a little bit of environmental integrity to the system, ECO would like to emphasise that they’ll need to burst the hot air bubble. Raising ambition and closing loopholes go hand in hand. ECO therefore suggests to start looking seriously at the proposal by the G77 and China. It effectively minimises the use of CP1 hot air in CP2, does not allow for trading, and, most importantly, cancels the surplus permanently by the end of the second commitment period.
 
Is it worth it? Look, we are now on a pollution path that could lead to warming of 4oC or more. In addition, impacts associated with even 2oC of warming have been revised upwards and are now considered “dangerous” and “extremely dangerous”. A world beyond 2oC will threaten the very existence of civilisation as we know it. Heard of it? Worried? Then go burst the hot air bubble.
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Bangkok Fossil of the Day

 

"Saturday's 1st Place and only Fossil was awarded to the European Commission for attempting to show leadership in the wrong direction, away from the Durban decision to increase ambition - a decision which the EU actually claims to be champions of.

Keeping in mind that EU, if they implement the plans they already have on the table, will end up reducing around 24% of their 1990 emissions by 2020, it seems absurd that the European Commission suddenly argues that even an EU target of 25% is 'wishful thinking' and 'not reality'. Dear EU, 25% IS reality. Our wishful thinking is that you would get yourself together and increase you target to 40%, of which 30% should be domestic reductions."

And ECO wonders if the mere rumour that the EC had been awarded a fossil was behind the EU showing slightly better behaviour in the developed countries workshop. So maybe the fossil itself will have an even bigger impact - or is that more wishful thinking?

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CAN Collectibles: New Zealand!

Read the Series Again to Spot the Secret Message!

Fast Facts About Countries That Can Increase Their Ambition in Qatar

Also Makes a Great Paper Hat!

 

National term of endearment/greeting:

Bro/Mate

Annual alcohol consumption:

9.6 litres per person per year

Annual cheese consumption:

5.7 kilograms per person per year

Best things about New Zealand:

Beautiful environment - some of it still unspoiled. Maori Culture. Wine

Worst things about New Zealand:

Wanting to be Australia. Addiction to cars. Pathological need to spoil the unspoiled bits

Things you didn't know:

New Zealand isn't all clean and green. New Zealand is the first country in the world to catalogue its entire known living and fossil history from 530 million years ago to today

Existing unconditional pledge on the table:

It's all conditional, which means the unconditional pledge is to do nothing

Existing conditional pledge (upper end):

10-20% reduction in net emissions below 1990 gross emissions levels by 2020

Next step to increase ambition by COP18:

This year: Submit a meaningful QELRO that would require a 40% reduction by 2020; produce a low carbon development plan; tell us when gross emissions will peak; listen to the voices of progressive business leaders and agricultural scientists who can help us get there, rather than the usual head-in-the-sand lobby groups; and get a new attitude.

 

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Basic Climate Equity

If Durban is to be at least somewhat successful then Saturday’s release of the BASIC Experts paper on fair-shares global effort sharing will be recognized as a key breakthrough. That can help decide a 2nd commitment period for the KP while putting on the agenda serious consideration of a next generation mandate that’s fair enough to support real ambition.

The BASIC Experts paper does not pretend that the global carbon budget hasn’t already been essentially exhausted. Nor does it say that development-as-usual is still a viable option and we can muddle along with bottom-up accounting and a bit of technological optimism. These are things that just can’t happen if we actually intend to stabilize the climate system. But in addition,
developmental justice is a precondition of high ambition, and this report does foresee that soon we’ll be ready to face this bottom-line reality.

The BASIC authors can be commended for illuminating the salient core of the climate-equity debate. That outcome has clearly involved compromise, and it has clearly had a cost. For example, the paper focuses on a 2000-2050 global emissions budget of 1440 Gt CO2, one that many among us view as dangerously high.

All the same, the benefits of compromise are also visible. The authors were able to mark out a first-order consensus that, while vague, indicates a way forward. If ‘equity’ is defined as the human right to sustainable development, then only two approaches to a global fair-shares reference framework – cumulative per-capita budget sharing and “responsibility and capacity index” based effort sharing – are at all promising, and the BASIC paper clearly moves these two approaches forward.

There certainly are problems as well. The report, for example, gives almost no attention to economic stratification within countries. Even South Africa, while speaking for an approach that includes economic capacity as well as historic responsibility, passes too lightly over that subject. But all told it’s the accomplishment here that are highly notable. The BASIC Experts report is a signpost to the debate that’s actually needed.

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28 Mouths – 1 Voice

ECO truly appreciates that the European Union still supports the Kyoto Protocol (KP), and is heartened by the commitment of the EU to continue (what some might call) ranting about the importance of a legally binding regime. This week, ECO has been particularly pleased to see that the EU started to show some more readiness to accept a second commitment period of the KP. And ECO understands, from the EU’s stated preference for a comprehensive legally binding outcome of the future framework, that the commitments under the Protocol are going to be kept legally binding.

Of particular concern to ECO is that some representatives from particular European countries favor other positions. Understandably it can be hard to make 28 mouths express the same, clear and coherent position but this is, indeed, urgently needed.

ECO believes that the EU should fight harder to ensure that, in Durban, the KP will move into a legally binding second commitment period with broad participation and binding rules. How would anyone understand that the EU believes it would be easier to build a legally binding regime after abandoning the only legal building block we have?

It is in the EU’s, and the planet’s, own interest to ensure that its commitment to the Kyoto Protocol goes beyond a political declaration. Moreover, if the EU is really keen to get all countries to negotiate a legally binding outcome in the LCA, promoting a political commitment to the KP does not seem the best strategy. Increasing ambition means going up, not down.  

Next Monday, when the EU member states' environment ministers meet in Luxembourg, the EU has the chance to unambiguously put its position on paper and ECO believes the time has come to do so and take on a clear leading role. To accept and adopt a second commitment period of the KP does not require anything more than what the EU is already doing, so ECO would find it difficult to understand that the EU denied this breath of fresh air to the current climate talks.

ECO believes the EU could gain a lot if it could leave Durban as the Party that (once again) shaped the outcome of the COP and helped to save the only existing pathway to a global legally binding agreement.

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Balboa

Balboa is disappointed -- but not surprised -- with the news coming out of Washington these days.  It seems that the State Department has been receiving some ‘significant counsel’ from well-connected corporate lobbyists while conducting a review for the Keystone XL pipeline. Keystone XL is a 1,700-mile fuse to the largest Carbon bomb on the planet, the Alberta tar sands. Exploiting the tar sands is a dangerous step in the wrong direction. Saying NO to Keystone XL would be a positive step for the US to demonstrate seriousness in face of the climate crisis.  Balboa looks forward to seeing President Obama pumping his fists at the top of the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s steps later this year after he denies the Keystone permit.  (If readers are lost on the reference, be sure to watch any Rocky Balboa -- no relation -- movie on the flight home :)

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CAN Talking Points - Mitigation - June 2011

Overview

A.  Clarify assumptions behind pledges:Developed countries must clarify their assumptions on domestic efforts and the use of carbon offsets, LULUCF accounting and AAU carry-over. Developing countries should provide information on key factors underlying BAU projections, e.g. energy use or economic development. They should also clarify what emissions savings they plan to achieve independently and what additional savings could be achieved with support.

B.   Close loopholes and agree common rules:Parties should seek to minimise or close off loopholes, such as bogus LULUCF accounting rules, AAU carry-over or new hot air from weak 2020 pledges in certain developed countries. This must lead to agreement on improved common accountingand reporting rules showing the true emissions of each country.

C.  Clarify conditions and move to the high end of pledges:By Durban at the latest, developed countries must move to the high end of their pledged ranges. Developed countries with conditional (upper end of) pledges must clarify these conditions, identify which conditions been met and indicate what is needed to meet the remaining conditions.

  1. Increase overall effort to get the world on a 1.5°C/2°C pathway:By Durban at the latest, Parties must begin negotiations to increase overall ambition, beyond the high end of current pledges[1]. This must lead to developed countries moving towards more than 40% reductions by 2020, but also developing countries increasing their overall effort, supported through international climate finance.
  2. Make progress on Low Emission Development Strategies:Between now and Durban, Parties should, through additional workshops, develop common templates and guidelines and review procedures for the Low Emission Development Strategies.


[1]Even in the best of all cases (countries implementing the high end of their pledges using strict accounting rules) global emissions are likely to be between 5 (UNEP) and 10 (Climate Action Tracker) GtCO2eq above what they should be for a 1.5°C/2°C emissions pathway.

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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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