Climate Action Network said today the reaffirmation by French President Francois Hollande that the country would stop funding coal plants overseas through export credits was to be welcomed as long as the ban starts now.
With President Hollande to host the major UN climate negotiations in December this year at which a new, global agreement will be signed, it is heartening to see the government hinting at climate leadership. However, France can really show it means business by encouraging other countries in the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) to commit to the same standard as soon as possible.
As part of the ongoing transition away from dirty fossil fuels, its imperative governments and institutions stop funding new coal projects and instead shift their investments to projects that speed up the path to 100% renewable energy. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said in a major report last year that to keep the temperature rise within limits agreed by governments, the world had to reach a complete phase out of fossil fuel emissions. That means most of the world's known fossil fuel reserves have to stay in the ground.
Climate negotiators will meet in Geneva on Sunday to continue negotiations on the global agreement.
Double Your Pleasure, Halve Your Pollution!
Fast Facts About Countries That Can Increase Their Ambition in Qatar!
Bonus Double Saturday Edition!
|National term of endearment/greeting:||Garçon! (only for use in oldstyle cafés, in Paris, by innocent foreigners)|
|Annual wine consumption:||54 litres/person/year (decreasing due to Frech winery climate change impacts)|
|Annual cheese consumption:||24 kgs/person/year (increasing to make up for decreased wine drinking)|
|Best things about France:||The wine and the cheese (see above). Beaches in Brittany up north now that one can enjoy warm and sunny summers there (see: global warming).|
|Worst things about France:||Dangerous addiction to nuclear energy. Unemployment due to lack of green jobs (see: dangerous addiction to nuclear energy).|
|Things you didn't know:||Frog legs taste just like chicken.|
|Existing unconditional pledge on the table:||The EU's 20% below 1990 levels by 2020.|
|Existing conditional pledge (upper end):||The EU's 30% below 1990 levels by 2020.|
|Next step to increase ambition by COP18:||This year: a KP QELRO consistent with cuts of at least 30% below 1990 levels by 2020. And a commitment to work in the ADP process to raise ambition to 40% below 1990 levels by 2020.|
|Rationale:||The EU, including France, is close to reaching its 2020 target, a mere 8 years, too early. Moving to an interim 30% target this year would be honest, boost our economy, provide jobs and reduce health budgets. What else can a new President want?|
ECO has been excited about the buzz that’s been created around closing the gigatonne gap over the last few days. Delegates are waking up to the need to raise ambition, close loopholes and seek new and innovative solutions to cutting emissions. But ECO would like to remind developed country delegates that it’s not just a mitigation gap – it’s a finance gap too. In line with the mandate to implement all elements of the Bali Action Plan, billions in new, additional, public finance are needed to support nationally appropriate mitigation actions in developing countries. Failure to do so would keep the gigatonne gap wide open.
As delegates return to the Maritim today for another round of climate talks, the Gulf Coast is busy coping with the biggest environmental catastrophe in the history of the United States. This catastrophe was caused by oil, which likewise is a leading cause of the climate catastrophe all at the Maritim are working so diligently to avoid. What started as an explosion in an offshore rig that killed 11 people, has now turned into over a month of oil gushing into a fragile yet highly productive marine environment housing important fisheries that employ and feed thousands of people, attract tourists to its beaches, serve as a spawning ground for the endangered Bluefin tuna, just to name one of hundreds of notable fish, birds and invertebrate species that have heretofore been mostly oil-free. Now, sadly, the spill is swirling around in one big oily mess. Only time, the Gulf currents and the unpredictable course of a very active tropical storm season will tell the final tale, but the financial impacts are already calculated in the billions, as well as uncountable losses to already overstressed ecosystems.
So ECO is left wondering at this point: will the US learn from this catastrophe and finally pass its climate bill to reduce emissions and provide finance for climate action? Will this be a wake up call for the US that helps realize the benefit of strengthening their 2020 target?
It has been nearly a year since the US House of Representatives passed its version of a climate-energy bill. And since that time, ECO has eagerly searched for signs that the US administration is making progress in prioritizing climate change on the Senate's agenda. Some were even naive enough to believe that a bill would be done in time for Copenhagen last year.
But as we all know, it wasn't. The Senate had other fish to fry and could not be bothered with climate change legislation. But now that seafood from the Gulf, which provides 30% of the national total, may be coming with more than enough oil to fry itself, will the picture change?
On one hand, the news is good: Americans are waking up to the costs of their dangerous addiction to dirty fuels and looking for a new way forward. The President is finally feeling the public pressure to pass a bill that will promote clean energy and reduce emissions.
But in other ways, the news does not look good. Some is primarily domestic in scope. The most recent version of the Senate bill allows revenue sharing of oil royalties with the states, which will increase pressure even more dangerous and expensive offshore drilling. ECO guesses that potential compromise will be less popular now.
But also very disturbingly, as we warned in April during the previous UNFCCC session, this version of the bill also strips most of the provisions for developing country climate finance that were in last year's House bill. Let us say that again: the recent version of the Senate bill has much less funding for developing countries to cope with climate change than even the modest contributions of the bill passed last year by the US House of Representatives. Adaptation funding is now only provided from 2019 to 2034, and is only allotted about $1 to $6 billion a year in total to be split between domestic US adaptation and the entire rest of the world. And there is no funding at all for REDD and clean technologies for mitigation.
It seems to ECO that if the President and his administration are truly concerned about global climate change, they will insist that the Senate bill include more substantial amounts of funding for adaptation and reinstate the funding for clean technology and REDD. If the adminstration does not support more funding in the bill, ECO is wondering how on earth they will meet their commitments to long-term finance? One billion dollars is a more than an order of magnitude off what President Obama was talking about in Copenhagen.
So, a message to the delegation to be forwarded to the US administration: where's the bill? Have you learned anything at all from this oil spill? And where is your plan for securing that finance you've been talking about? Can you in fact show us the money?
First Place – Japan. On Saturday, Japan won the top fossil award for strongly opposing setting a second commitment period for the Kyoto Protocol, blocking progress by refusing the chair’s text as a basis for negotiation. Second Place – Papua New Guinea. It received the second-place fossil award for openly opposing the AOSIS proposal for two legally binding protocols.
A new development occurred on Thursday. France was awarded Ray of the Day—the second in history—for its leadership in fighting the EU’s shameful position on LULUCF
As Copenhagen prepares for December, a strange combination of Christmas lights, clean energy expos, evergreen wreaths, and security barriers have begun to crop up around the city. It's an exciting time to be in Copenhagen reflecting on a year of intense pressure, activity, and engagement around the world.
Over the past several months (and years), a growing movement has coalesced around the conference here next month and it's hard to believe it's finally almost here. In June, the sleepy German town of Bonn saw hundreds of activists descend in the rain upon the normally quiet Subsidiary Bodies negotiations at the UNFCCC's home. Thousands around the world participated in the September 21 Global Wakeup Call. Then in Bangkok in October thousands marched outside the UNESCAP building calling for climate action. October 24th saw the most widespread day of environmental action in the planet's history, spearheaded by 350.org, with over 5000 even in 181 countries around the world.
And now, rumors of tens of thousands are looming on Copenhagen, including, by my count so far, at least 15 Heads of State who have committed to attending the talks (although Yvo de Boer said in Barcelona that he expects at least 40).
The last time I wrote, it was a dark and gloomy day in Copenhagen. But today was beautiful - the sun was out, the weather warm, and the bustle on the street was electric.
The last time I wrote, I was convincing myself, and others, that all was not lost for December. Now, on this bright and sunny day, I'm as convinced as ever that world leaders can achieve an ambitious outcome in Copenhagen if they try.
Even in the past week, we've seen movement around the world. The Alliance of Small Island states continue to raise its collective voice of conscience against a weak outcome in Copenhagen. We've heard that the Chinese would be willing to bring a number to the table in Copenhagen. We've seen South Korea confirm a voluntary emissions reduction target of 30 percent below business as usual by 2020. The European Union has said that it would like a binding agreement in Copenhagen. France and Brazil came out with a "climate bible" - an agreement between two nations to work together on climate change. This follows Brazil's previous announcement of voluntary emissions cuts of 36-39% by 2020 below business as usual in a "political gesture" some weeks ago.
Even the Danish government, which had caused so many hearts to sink with its proposal of a "politically binding" outcome in Copenhagen, seemed to change its tune...if only just a bit. The Danish Minister for Climate and Energy, Connie Hedegaard (who will chair the negotiations in December), spoke in a press briefing at the close of the preparatory meeting last week, assuring the world that her aim is a legally binding outcome from the negotiations.
Finally, eyes continue to focus on the US. In the joint announcement between the US and China, President Obama indicated his team could bring further commitments to the table in Copenhagen. As Copenhagen creeps towards December, the question remains, will Obama come to Copenhagen?...and if so, will he come bearing gifts or a lump of coal?
Rewind 10 months to December 2008: in Poznan, negotiators prepare for another day of working group discussions. Meanwhile the rest of the continent is intently watching Brussels, where European leaders make the big political decisions on the EU’s 2020 climate package.
Now fast-forward one year to December 2009: it’s mid-session in the climate talks in Copenhagen and European leaders are again meeting in Brussels. What sort of leadership can we expect?
Europe still talks a good game on climate change and headlines their place at the head of the Annex I pack. But the cracks in confidence in the EU’s leadership have turned into chasms of concern as ambition has weakened.
At a moment when the vast majority of countries want a strong agreement but the negotiations remain mired in distrust and distraction, ECO suggests that European delegates consider these steps toward restoring EU climate leadership.
Step one is to communicate a compelling vision of what success looks like at Copenhagen: a vision based on staying as far as possible below 2oC through a global transition to low carbon economies and sustainable development for all.
Step two is to demonstrate that actions lead to success. That means moving onto new ground with mitigation and finance proposals that reflect scientific necessity rather than political expediency, and not simply waiting to see what the others will do first.
Step three is to shift the dynamic of the negotiations from ‘after you’ to ‘follow me’ – to build an “ambition coalition” of countries willing to take round after round of stronger action as others take steps for action and support. Together, ambition and action will lead to success.
The EU showed real leadership when it first tabled its 20%-30% target for emissions reductions below 1990 levels by 2020 - the first major emitter to make a unilateral agreement of this kind. It is ahead of most Annex I parties in its willingness to negotiate seriously on climate finance. But there are some problems.
• Rather than preparing for success by setting out a plan to move to 30%, many European countries seem to be quietly hoping that they can stick to 20% and avoid another battle with carbon polluting industries.
• Rather than sending a strong signal that Europe is serious about building a low carbon economy at home, it has proposed achieving much of its target through land use loopholes and cheap international offsets.
• Rather than recognising the need for additional, innovative and sustained public financing flows to help ambitious developing countries transform their economies and adapt to climate change in the coming decades, it is busy lowering expectations of Europe’s “fair share” of the bill.
It’s still not too late to turn this around. The economic crisis has created an opportunity.
Europe’s emissions have fallen to a point where achieving a 30% reduction is no more difficult or costly than 20% was expected to be when leaders signed on the dotted line. In fact, by adopting more ambitious targets, Europe can ensure that the economic recovery is built on low carbon investment rather than a return to business as usual.
Furthermore, if the EU really wants to reaffirm its role as a climate change leader, it will move toward a 40% reduction target. Not only is it the right economic pathway for Europe, it is also the most credible political strategy for success at Copenhagen.