ECO is pleased that parties finally managed to agree on agendas last week. (Imagine how much quicker it could have been if agenda discussions were held transparently in plenary, as opposed to shenanigans occurring behind closed doors). This week Parties must make up for lost time – and convince everyone that another intersessional would be productive. After all, there is much work to be done between now and December so that Durban can successfully lay the basis for a fair, ambitious, and binding global climate change regime.
Essential to Durban’s success is securing a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol. Intrinsically linked is the binding outcome under the LCA, where Parties now need to discuss the substantive issues. Our ultimate objective must be a legally binding architecture, which is fair and ambitious.
Last week, the list of issues under shared vision began to resemble a bag of assorted cookies. ECO suggests focusing on the agreed global goal with peak year, and only including issues essential for these discussions – such as effort sharing. Agreement of a mid-term goal of -80% by 2050 and a 2015 peak year for emissions must be the aim.
On mitigation, some issues may look technical but are in reality political. This week ECO suggests focusing on the following three areas required to address the gigatonne gap: (i) clarifying assumptions; (ii) closing loopholes; and (iii) preparing to move beyond the high end of the current pledges by Durban. ECO assumes parties remain serious in their commitment to 1.5/2°C – you are aren’t you?
This week also offers opportunities for LULUCF. The re-analysis of this issue as a significant loophole in the mitigation workshops could allow Annex I land and forests to contribute to genuine emissions reductions. And technical discussions on force majeure provisions for forests could genuinely reflect extraordinary circumstances. Or, if Annex I parties are up to their usual tricks, could this be yet another way to avoid accounting for emissions?
Parties should also take the opportunity to draft a CDM appeals procedure to grant affected communities and peoples access to justice. And this week parties should move closer to a decision
to address climate forcing HFC in cooperation with the Montreal Protocol and exclude all new HCHC-22 facilities from the CDM.
The two groups on REDD+ (in the LCA and in SBSTA) got off to a good start last week. In this second week, ECO anticipates significant progress on both reference levels and information on safeguards, hopefully followed by expert meetings prior to Durban.
Adaptation negotiators should press ahead on substance to make the Cancún Adaptation Framework operational in Durban. Parties should strengthen the role of the Adaptation Committee to promote coherence in adaptation, and to ensure meaningful stakeholder participation in its operations. Furthermore, this week must see parties launch the activities of the work programme on loss and damage.
With the end of the fast start finance period only one year after Durban and no indication of how rapidly public finance will be scaled up from the $10 billion per year currently committed, parties need to start discussions here in Bonn on effort sharing, scaling up finance, and on new innovative public sources such as raising finance from international transport. For this to happen, the US and its Umbrella Group allies need to stop blocking the discussion of sources and scale of long-term finance.
ECO has two requests for technology negotiators over the next week. First, fill up the nominations of the Technology Executive Committee. Secondly, decide on the terms of reference and likely locations of the Climate Technology Centre and Networks to maintain balance of adaptation and mitigation technology.
Among other issues that should be addressed, Parties need to deal with technical issues. ECO is waiting eagerly for some technical workshops and expert meetings. In the coming months, technical experts should make progress on technical issues such as biennial reports, reporting on support, IAR/ICA, REDD safeguards, etc. These discussions must feed into the negotiating process.
Given the uncertainty over whether another intersessional will take place, the next five days will determine whether Parties will be able to secure an effective and balanced outcome of COP 17 in Durban. Parties should make the best use of this time and ensure both political and technical issues get addressed.
In his most recent State of the Union address, President Obama introduced the idea of “winning the future” to the American public. ECO welcomes this race, and humbly suggests a focus on climate policies could help him achieve this seemingly paradoxical goal. To win the race, the U.S. will need to actually join it. A recent Pew and Bloomberg New Energy Finance report shows that the U.S. has slipped down to number three in private investment in clean energy development, such as small-scale solar installations, launching Germany into the number two spot. Until 2008, the U.S. had held the top spot, a spot now firmly held by China. Globally, 2010 clean energy finance and investments grew by 30 percent to a record $243 billion.
Why is the U.S. competitive position ‘deteriorating’, ECO wonders?
The report concludes that climate policies matter to investors. Pew’s Clean Energy Program Director attributed the decline in investments in the U.S. to a ‘weak and uncertain’ policy framework. China, Germany and India are rising in investment rankings because they have adopted policies such as renewable energy standards, carbon reduction targets and/or incentives for investment and production.
In the race to win the future, the US seems to be running with its shoes untied.
The report – Who’s Winning the Clean Energy Race? 2010 edition – is the second annual compilation of clean energy investments (which includes renewables and energy efficiency). Last year’s reportmade big waves in the U.S. when it announced that China had taken over the lead.Now the gap has widened and the US is falling even lower down the rankings.
ECO has to wonder when U.S. elected officials will wake up to that fact that the real ‘job killer’ is not carbon regulation. It is the failure to join the rest of the world in the race to the new energy future
While waiting (and waiting) for the AWG-LCA to begin, ECO thought it prudent to educate itself on the topic that seemed to be keeping everyone up late into the evening. Turns out that one word was holding everyone up: “Agenda”.
What does it really mean? Why does such a seemingly simple word cause such consternation and hungry dinner-less evenings?
Merriam-Webster defines “agenda” in two ways. First, it says an agenda is “a list or outline of things to be considered or done”. Seems pretty straightforward to us. ECO outlined this list of needed things to be considered in yesterday’s edition. Dear delegates, it was so easy – We even devoted a whole page so it could be easily presented!
However, the second definition from Merriam and Webster began to shed a light on what may have been delaying the evening’s events. The second definition interprets “agenda” as: “an underlying often ideological plan or program.”
In the AWG-KP, earlier in the day, the agenda in both senses of the word was clear. Agree to a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol and fix its loopholes. As was said, time and again, the politics must be dealt with so the details can be agreed.
But, what ideological plan should the AWG-LCA use to underpin its work? This too, is actually simple, despite the long discussions. Take the steps necessary to implement what’s been agreed, and move forward towards increasing ambition and achieving a comprehensive fair, ambitious, and legally binding agreement as soon as possible.
With this in mind, ECO welcomes the proposals made to include the critical elements missing from the Cancun Agreements, such as increasing the level of ambition in order to close the gigatonne gap, identifying sources of finance to fill the fund. ECO further agrees with many parties that items on elaborating further measuring, reporting, verification guidelines, and agreeing on the legal options for an agreed outcome should be included as well.
It was a long night of lists and ideology. ECO hopes today will be a day of agreement and action.