Tag: Kyoto

What’s wrong with Poland?

The Polish government lives in the past. Because of that it believes Poland should be treated as a special case forever. It fails to acknowledge that a lot has changed in the country since the 1990s. Poland is a developed country now. But instead of strengthening Poland’s climate policies to further enhance competitiveness, its government blocks any action on climate change and threatens the country’s future.

So far, Poland has done everything it can to be the lone bad guy in the EU. Poland already stood alone thrice in opposing European efforts to take more ambitious climate action for  2020 and beyond. ECO understands that Poland wants to be seen as a strong EU country. But domestically, the Polish authorities have done everything but be an equal partner, such as failing to fully enforce important EU laws. And to top its opposition to stronger action by the EU, it plans to build new coal and nuclear power plants, open new lignite mines and extract shale gas. This when most European countries are transitioning to a low-carbon economy based on renewables and energy efficiency.
 
At the UNFCCC negotiations the Polish government has been blocking the EU from finding a constructive, unified position to address the 13 billion AAU surplus. It is unashamedly claiming a full carry-over of AAUs to CP2 as a price to agreeing to continue into it. The Polish government does not even seem to mind aligning itself with Russia on this issue. ECO would like to ask the Polish government why it insists on full carry over, since AAUs will have zero value in CP2 given there will be no demand because of the low level of ambition by developed countries. Is Poland really willing to derail the international negotiations over this?
 
Poland wants to host COP19. But is it responsible enough to do so? Hosting a COP comes with many political responsibilities, including being able to constructively engage in finding solutions. It is not just about calling on others to act, it is about showing leadership and committing oneself to more ambitious action. Poland has yet to show the world that it is able to do so. Instead of vetoing, the Polish government has to learn the art of compromise. Poland, are you ready?
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Keep up your end of the bargain, Parties.

In Durban, Parties agreed to a package – the adoption of a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, a successful conclusion of the LCA, urgent action to close the pre-2020 mitigation gap between the 2 degrees goal and the collective pledges now on the table, and collective movement toward a fair, ambitious and binding agreement in 2015. Parties must honour this political bargain.

Let's start with the KP. Those trying to get another bite of the negotiation cherry by dragging out submitting their carbon budgets (QELROs) have to understand that this will be perceived as acting in bad faith. Australia – ECO remembers the brinkmanship with your QELRO last time. So for you, as well as New Zealand, Ukraine and others on the fence on the Kyoto second commitment period, ECO demands to see your QELROs up front. And, of course, just any old KP second commitment period won’t suffice. We must have a robust, ratifiable agreement that respects the original intention of the KP to raise ambition and create real environmental integrity. The AOSIS and Africa Group proposals will facilitate this endeavour. Effectively eliminating surplus AAUs and ensuring the environmental integrity of the CDM is also essential – you can’t have your cake and eat it too.

On to the LCA. There are a number of elements that jump to the head of the queue in importance. We need a positive decision on finance – including ensuring that the discussion on scaling up Long Term Finance following the report of this year's work programme, among others, has a home in 2013 and beyond. And who needs an empty fund? We hear that the EU, Australia, Japan and Canada already have budgets they could allocate. Don’t be shy!

Enhanced post-2012 climate finance is essential to enable developing countries to implement low-carbon development strategies and facilitate desperately needed adaptation. Deciding to hold back on finance until the last moment – or not coming forward at all in Doha – will undermine confidence and faith in moving the climate negotiations forward.Japan, Canada, Russia and the United States, do not think that by jumping overboard from the Kyoto Protocol that you’re diving into balmy waters. You're still on the hook to do your share of closing the gigatonne gap, by putting forward quantified economy wide emissions reductions AT LEAST as stringent as the QELROs of Kyoto Protocol parties, and using common accounting to an equal standard as the Kyoto Protocol. We also expect to see your QEERTs well before Doha.

On these and the other LCA issues, it is essential that the LCA Chair, and the spin-off group facilitators, be supported to develop text proposals to put forward in Doha. Finally, on the ADP, you all need to do your homework between now and Doha on the ADP work programme. Doha must agree to a plan of work, including a clear timeline and milestones. So let’s take inspiration from our setting here in Bangkok – these milestones can incorporate a period of “contemplation” on some issues. How equity and CBDRRC will apply in the 2015 protocol will require a work stream that allows discussion and agreement on principles before being applied to all of the elements that will constitute the final deal. On other elements, including ways to urgently enhance short-term ambition, Parties must pick up and start negotiating immediately in Doha and beyond.

Leaving the workplan “loosey goosey” will result in a repeat of the Copenhagen tragedy. Rather, parties must agree on specific issues to manage each year while ensuring compilation text by COP19, complete negotiating text by COP20 and draft a fair, ambitious and legally binding protocol to be circulated by May 2015.This is indeed an ambitious agenda for Doha. But it is the least the peoples of the world demand, and expect their political leaders to deliver at a time when the impacts of climate change – and the costs in terms of both human suffering and economic development – are more evident than ever.

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The Ugly, the Not So Bad and the Good

ECO listened with great interest to Parties' expectations of COP18 in Qatar this year. The greatest surprise came from those bottom-up loving Brollies, who mentioned the need to have a significant amount of technical preparation to give Ministers “options” on the Kyoto Protocol. Yes, you heard it, optionSSSSSS. Why do we need plural options? Surely one will suffice? Provisional Application – period.

But it wasn’t all bad, we liked the EU’s call for more creative thinking that shouldn’t just be exclusive to parties. ECO was jumping for joy. We will definitely let our creative juices run wild and are always happy to share these with our European colleagues, as well as others.

But the real music to our ears came from the UAE, which characterized itself, like Qatar, as a small but ambitious country, claiming that many countries in the region have renewable energy initiatives and targets, and hope that Doha can be a chance for these initiatives to get the "international recognition" they deserve. ECO is often wishful, but could this be the onset of support for the Arab countries to submit NAMAs? We hope so.

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It's the Politics, Stupid!

The UNFCCC wouldn’t be the UNFCCC if the United States of America didn’t ruffle some feathers. So, right on cue, Friday’s intervention by US lead negotiator Jonathan Pershing in the ADP ambition roundtable certainly did the trick by labelling, yet again, the UNFCCC as a long and winding road to nowhere. This comes less than a month after Dr. Pershing's boss, Todd Stern, rocked his fellow negotiators with his assertion that negotiating "a treaty with binding emission targets stringent enough to...[hold] the increase in global average temperature to less than 2° centigrade above pre-industrial levels" is "entirely logical" but "ignores the classic lesson that politics – including international politics – is the art of the possible."

After a firestorm of reactions to his speech from both negotiators and NGOs, Stern issued a clarification that the US still supported the 2 degree goal agreed to by President Obama and other world leaders.  But the damage was done.

Don’t get us wrong – ECO, along with most others here in Bangkok, shares the frustration at the glacial (at least there are still glaciers somewhere) speed at which these negotiations proceed. But to paraphrase Bill Clinton: it’s the politics, stupid! The continual swipes and undermining of this process demonstrates the bad faith of the US.

ECO agrees with the US – and virtually everyone else – that other processes must help deliver the much greater ambition required to save civilisation as we know it.  We need all hands on deck. This battle can’t be won in the confines of the UNFCCC alone. But the UNFCCC is an essential element of an effective global response to climate change, and the US vision of a fragmented, bottom-up international process will never deliver enough ambition to keep us well below 2 degrees. Our experience with the agreements reached first in Rio, and more recently in Copenhagen, clearly proves this.

Higher degrees of trust and accountability are required to encourage greater ambition. Isn’t this why the US pushed so hard in Copenhagen and Cancun for more robust MRV from China et al? It claimed that reassurances of other countries' ability to meet their pledges is essential to persuade its Congress and public that the administration's pledge to reduce US emissions 17% below 2005 levels by 2020 (read: -4% based on 1990 levels) is reasonable. But now that the shoe is on the other foot, and it's constructive action that is demanded of the US to encourage others to act, all we get are claims of

“NO WE CAN'T”

The assertion that top-down agreements produce lower-ambition results is nonsensical. It goes without saying that complementary investments to support change in the real economy are critical to change a country’s perception of its national interest. But top-down agreements are essential to incentivise ambition, as only a serious multilateral regime can convince those whose capital allocation decisions shape the economy that a high-carbon business model will expose them to greater risk and hit their returns harder than betting now on a low-carbon future.

The Kyoto Protocol, though far from perfect, gave us a legal framework that culminated in European taxpayers and companies investing at least €40 billion to purchase international carbon credits. The Kyoto Protocol spurred on Europe’s renewable energy investments, which have helped create a global revolution in renewable energy investment now outstripping annual new fossil fuel-powered investments. Thanks to Kyoto, it is Europe’s energy regulations and standards which emerging economies are emulating, and which underpin a global market worth US$3 trillion. Without Kyoto, China would not have decided to implement a Five-Year Economic Plan based on the core assumption of rapidly expanding global markets in clean energy. It's clear that Kyoto, a top-down multi-lateral agreement, has shaped global economic reality. 

The sluggish progress we witness at these negotiations is not due to the intrinsic nature of the UN system, but is truly a reflection of the woeful political leadership of countries like the United States. It's ironic that a decade after the world was compelled to defend the Kyoto Protocol against the vicious and unfounded attacks of the Bush administration, the US is yet again proving a grave threat to the progress needed in these talks.

ECO would suggest the next time Dr. Pershing feels the urge to make yet another comment about the rapidity and effectiveness of agreements here in the UNFCCC, that he stop and take a long, hard look at what the US is doing, compared to its fair share of the much greater global effort needed to address the urgent threat of climate change.

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Is It the Grave For “Noting With Grave Concern”?

“We believe that the world has had a lot of time to think. What we need is not more thinking. What we need is more action”. Inspiring words indeed in Durban from the EU, LDCs and AOSIS (the artists formerly known as the Durban Alliance). In the whirlwind after COP17, Europe was at pains to stress the importance of its victory on the inclusion of language in the Durban Platform “noting with grave concern” the significant (understatement of the year) gap between aggregate mitigation pledges and pathways consistent with below 2 degrees C. This was the foundation of the alliance with the LDCs and AOSIS. Further, in Bonn, ECO witnessed an epic battle by these groups and others to include pre-2020 ambition on the agenda.

But what have we here in Bangkok? Has Europe’s jet lag gone to its head? It appears as though the EU has abandoned its most vulnerable country allies, and is instead cosying up with the notorious ship jumpers – the US, Japan, Russia and Canada – on the critical issue of raising developed country targets pre-2020. Indeed, in the KP discussion on numbers, one EU Commission official went as far as to say that raising the EU’s 2020 level of ambition to 25% “is not reality, it is wishful thinking”. Given its urgent call for much greater ambition, ECO calls on the EU to commit to at least 30% domestic emissions reductions, and 40% overall, below 1990 levels by 2020. In addition to where it comes down on its 2020 target, the EU’s decision on how to handle AAUs will very much affect the overall level of ambition, as will its provision, along with other Annex II countries', of finance in a post-FSF world.

But let’s be fair, the EU is by no means the worst culprit here in Bangkok. That dubious distinction goes to the United States, which, despite agreeing to the Durban Platform  language on the urgent need to increase pre-2020 ambition, is now asserting that there should be no expectation of it or the other KP ship-jumpers increasing their pledges. Or – heaven forbid – turning them into QELROs. (Read on – ECO has more to say about the US later in this issue.) Instead, it’s all about everyone else. ECO would like to remind the US that all Parties “noted grave concerns” about the gigatonne gap, and notes the US would be first to say the ADP is “applicable to all Parties”. So yes, USA – this means you! And as for Japan, Canada and Russia, just because you’re cowering behind the US, doesn’t mean ECO will not name and shame you (and you too Australia and New Zealand, if you fail to sign up and ratify a second Kyoto commitment period).

Just last week the planet suffered another severe blow from lack of mitigation ambition. The Arctic – our planet’s canary in the coal mine on climate change – suffered record ice loss, according to scientific reports. Last week’s figure not only smashed all other records, but also came three weeks premature! The canary’s not dead yet, but it is gasping for breath.

And that means that the hundreds of millions of people here in Thailand and South East Asia, as well as around the globe, who are already suffering the impacts of the climate crisis, will suffer far more unless urgent action is taken. The earth is in grave danger. Developed countries must act now by committing to reduce their collective emissions by at least 40% below 1990 levels by 2020. ECO notes (wait for it...with grave concern) that their current pledges are woefully inadequate.

ECO agrees with Colombia, which in the ADP roundtable on ambition yesterday, noted that dealing with climate change is an urgent matter of global security. As Brazil further noted (so much noting!), many analysts think climate change is on par with global thermonuclear war as a threat that we have to do our utmost to avoid.

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Angels and Demons?

ANGELS and DEMONS?

Welcome again to the Krung Thep, the city of angels. ECO hopes that this location will inspire delegates to put aside their devilish disagreements and instead move forward in a spirit of angelic cooperation in the fight against climate change and its deadly impacts. The recent flooding in Manila, the typhoon coming ashore near Shanghai and widespread drought and crop failures in the U.S.A. are stark reminders that the impacts of climate change are real, global and growing.

The large majority of countries, especially the poorest and most vulnerable, are demanding a global response that has a very high probability of limiting global warming to levels that do not threaten their livelihoods and their very existence. The best available science indicates that this will require global emissions to remain within a strict carbon budget – and a collective and rapid transition to a low carbon global economy.  It requires both an ambitious post-2020 treaty regime and much greater ambition between now and 2020 – the two-track approach agreed in Durban.

Success in the negotiations towards a fair, ambitious and legally binding deal by 2015 depends on bridging one of the fundamental divides in these talks. On the one side, we have those countries that want a scientifically responsive and responsible, rules-based system. On the other side, there are those that don’t want too many questions asked about their failure to act. (Of course, at least one of these countries doesn’t put it exactly this way, and calls for a more “flexible” approach.)

To meet the global climate challenge, the new ADP architecture for the post 2020 period must be viable for the long term, with a negotiated renewal of targets and actions every five years. It must also be dynamic, with respective changes in responsibility and capability fairly reflected in each renewal of the framework. It must further ensure that countries are accountable for doing what they agreed to do in both mitigation and in providing and effectively utilising support, with common accounting rules and a common, but differentiated, MRV system to allow transparent reporting of progress and to spotlight freeloaders. ECO notes that these are exactly the design elements that so many have fought hard to uphold in the Kyoto Protocol.

Against this fair, ambitious and legally binding deal are just a few countries. For these countries, fairness is finger pointing, ambition is for others and legally binding is too much of a bind.  If their lack of political will causes the world to blow past the 2 degrees Celsius target that their leaders have endorsed, well, that’s just too bad.

So what do negotiators at Bangkok need to work towards to receive their halos?  At COP18 in Doha, the world needs to see:

·       A Doha amendment for a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol applying immediately to a range of developed countries, including Australia and New Zealand; this should include targets within the range of 25-40% below 1990 levels, with an adjustment procedure to increase ambition, and should enhance environmental integrity by minimizing carried over AAUs and improving CDM and JI rules to lead to real emission reductions.

·       Non-Kyoto developed countries adopting stringent QEROs, comparable in effort and transparency with Kyoto Parties. ‘Comparability’ requires common accounting!

·       Developing countries registering their mitigation actions and required support, and all developing countries to make pledges – including Qatar.

·       Agreement that global emissions will peak in 2015, which means that developed countries need  to reduce their emissions much more quickly, and provide support for developing countries to take more mitigation action.

·       Agreement on a detailed work plan for the ADP, both on the 2015 legally binding agreement and on ways to substantially raise pre-2020 ambition.

·       Commitment to at least $10-15 billion in new public finance for the Green Climate Fund over 2013-2015, together with meaningful steps to develop innovative sources of public financing and agree on a process to reassess the adequacy of financial pledges with the first reassessment in 2013.

·       Funding modalities for National Adaptation Plans in order to scale-up work immediately, and establishment of a second phase of the work program for loss & damage.

·       The rapid operationalisation of the GCF, the Standing Committee, the NAMA registry, the Adaptation Committee, the Technology Executive Committee and the Climate Technology Centre and Network

Laying the foundations for these successes in Doha means that this will be a busy week in Bangkok! As we all know, the devil is in the details. So, where better to get started than in the city of angels?

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