Tag: Kyoto Protocol

Missing Ministers in Stark Contrast to Signs of Hope Outside

Bonn, Germany - June 5, 2014Governments failed to seize the moment after only a handful of ministers arrived in Bonn for two days of high level meetings at the UN climate negotiations.

According to Climate Action Network – a network of 900 civil society organizations – many ministers from key countries were absent from the talks which started today, a sharp contrast from the political momentum of recent announcements by the US, Mexico, China and Finland.

Climate Action Network members made the following comments on the opening of the high level meeting today:

There are alarm bells going off all over the world and yet our leaders don't seem to notice and the collective response is totally inadequate. It is like a fire is raging outside our homes and instead of using fire hoses we're using squirt guns to put it out. Even worse, fossil fuel industry is trying to block fire fighters from coming to our rescue and put out the fire. And some people are even claiming there is no fire.
Alden Meyer, Union of Concerned Scientists.

Climate Action Network is now calling for governments to take action to phase in of 100% renewable energy and completely phase out fossil fuels by 2050. Transforming the energy systems which drive climate change is critical and urgent.
Tasneem Essop, WWF.


Please contact Climate Action Network International’s communications coordinator Ria Voorhaar on +49 (0) 157 317 35568 or rvoorhaar@climatenetwork.org
Climate Action Network (CAN) is the world’s largest network of civil society organizations working together to promote government action to address the climate crisis, with more than 900 members in over 100 countries. 

ADP Workstream 2 Roundtable – Talking, Yes, but Walking the Walk?


Listening to the ongoing discussions in the ADP Workstream 2 on short term mitigation ambition, ECO suspects that some might not have read—or have forgotten—the size of the pre-2020 mitigation ambition gap. For all the rhetoric in the room, one might be convinced that nations have forgotten that they have the power to decide whether the world will remain below the 2°C threshold  scientists maintain as critical. Technologically and economically feasible trajectories to remaining below the 2°C level have been outlined. Without acting now, they are wilfully choosing to neglect the known mitigation ambition gap science has shown, as well as the opportunities that exist to bridge it.

In this context, ECO would like to remind delegates of what India, China and others have helpfully underlined during Workstream 2 (WS2) discussions thus far: the time has come for developed countries to do their “fair share” in reducing emissions by at least 40% by 2020 (and reflecting on their consumption patterns).

The 2014 Kyoto Protocol ambition review is one opportunity for nations to reflect on the comparable upward revisiting of pledges; for instance, the EU has achieved its 20% target years ahead of schedule but with no expressed intention, yet, to step up its own ambition until 2020; or Australia, for whom, recent research shows, upping their pledge from 5% to 25% comes at essentially zero net costs.

A cornerstone in WS2, clearly, are those International Cooperative Initiatives, of which we need many, given the size of the gap - but (as suggested by a few Parties) those must lead to new ambition rather than window-dressing existing (low) ambition. Right-on! Addressing international bunkers emissions from marine and aviation transport would be two prime ICI candidates, if ECO was to suggest a few, alongside phasing-out HFCs under the Montreal Protocol, which would also allow for making use of its existing funding mechanism. Another additional initiative would be to start, in earnest, what South Africa has called for during the early days of this session: immediate phase-out of fossil fuel subsidies in developed countries. Doing so, notes ECO, would free up billions of Dollars, Euros, Pounds or Yen for climate finance, including support for developing countries to gradually shift their fossil fuel subsidies both to renewable energy and energy efficiency.

ECO continues to be pleased by the engagement of AOSIS and their pragmatic approach of a step-by-step technical process to identify best practices suitable for scaling-up, overcoming the barriers to, and creating incentives for, new action in the areas of renewable energy and energy efficiency. Moreover, ECO commends their calls to elevate the results of the technical analysis to the ministerial level for agreeing to concrete action in 2014.

Yes, surely there are other mitigation areas to cover, too. And ECO could not agree more with the Philippines (and others) that similar approaches are needed in order to enhance pre-2020 adaptation – but ECO suggests this happens in parallel and need not stop us in advancing on other joint action. What ECO likes about the AOSIS proposal is that it could develop concrete plans to mobilise the entire UNFCCC architecture (e.g. for an action programme on renewable energy) with no new burdens for countries, yet the opportunity to participate in initiatives to expand renewable energy use. In that vein, ECO was pleased with Switzerland’s affirmation (from earlier this session, supporting India’s) that WS2 is not about shifting burdens from developed to developing countries. After all, such joint action to identify barriers and possible incentives could also help to better understand the financial and technological needs of developing countries, creating another pull for developed countries to deliver on their 100 billion per year by 2020 financing promise from Copenhagen and Cancun.

Funding, alas, remains key, as South Africa stressed yesterday once more, calling for scaled-up financing trajectories by developed countries in time for the Warsaw finance ministerial roundtable, and early and regular replenishment of the empty Green Climate Fund (GCF). The GCF could become a central pillar in the upward spiral of increased climate finance helping to trigger increased ambition. Meanwhile, the lack of clarity on scaling up short and mid-term climate finance is likely hampering ambition. Perhaps another theme for the upcoming Warsaw climate finance ministerial roundtable?

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In Hot Pursuit of the SBI

FCCC/CP/1996/2...*sigh*...is a document close to ECO’s heart! While there is no denying that clear rules of procedure – finally formally adopted and adhered to – would be an important development, ECO should be forgiven for doubting the sincerity of the sudden, but independent, interest of Russia, Belarus and the Ukraine in the matter. 

ECO has been around since 1972 (if you forgot to send us a birthday present this year, see yesterday's issue for some suggestions). However, one’s institutional memory need not stretch that far back. In fact, one only needed to be in Doha, to understand where our scepticism comes from. 

Russia, Belarus and Ukraine opposed the overwhelming consensus on a COP decision in Doha. But their reasons were completely different from those of Bolivia's similar objections in Cancun. Bolivia objected a COP decision on the grounds that the deal on the table was not ambitious enough. ECO notes a clear difference here. In Doha, Parties made progress on improving the environmental integrity of the Kyoto Protocol by getting rid of some of the hot air in the system. ECO was delighted with this development as – after all – important things in this process (emissions, hot air, the gap in financing commitments) are supposed to go down and not up. But Russia, Belarus and Ukraine did not agree. In fact, a number of targets that were on the table in Doha from the economies in transition would have increased the total amount of hot air in the system.

There have been ample opportunities to discuss ways forward on the rules of procedure – the Mexico and PNG proposal being a prime example – and ECO does not remember strenuous and vocal support from the current proponents back then (in fact, Russia seemed more interested in its other proposal to amend Art. 4.2(f) of the Convention). So why raise concern now?    

Improving decision making procedures in the UNFCCC is appreciated. And if Russia, Belarus and Ukraine want to help, ECO encourages them to team up with Mexico, PNG and others to make real progress on this issue at COP19.  Even better, there is already a place holder on the provisional agenda for the COP to discuss it! A fast-start step towards improving procedures would be to get on with the SBI work now. Though the negotiations and their rules may seem surreal to some, climate change is very real to millions across the planet, and there is strong consensus that we need urgent action.


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Floating In Hot Air

While ECO has not yet given up on countries strengthening their national emission reduction targets, there is another simple step that will have a substantial impact. Up to 13 billion tonnes of impact in fact. And ECO knows that the negotiators are well aware of the fact that strong new rules to eliminate the gigantic surplus of emission permits from the Kyoto Protocol's first commitment period will make a real difference. As our dear readers may have noticed, it’s a subject very dear to ECO’s heart. We have been active in naming and shaming Poland, Ukraine and Russia for fighting for the rights to sell their hot air. We have called out the EU for losing its way on the road to progress and on leadership. 

Yet it is not just these countries that are standing in the way of bursting the hot air bubble.  
STOP THE PRESSES! It seems that the talks have birthed their latest (non)-negotiating group. Yes, ECO has been hearing rumours that there is a group of Kyoto members, including Australia, Norway and Iceland, forming around a non-position on the carry-over of surplus emissions. It seems they even got a name—if not a position—called the “Fence-Sitters Group.” Perhaps sitting on the fence is a comfortable place to be, when you are surrounded by other countries’ hot air?
ECO knows that any surplus AAUs from these countries are not the real reason for concern, yet the Fence-Sitters have the power to do something positive. Get down off that fence and take the lead. Fence-Sitters, you have a series of options that can make a difference – go with the G77 position or check out the Switzerland proposal and take your pick. The world needs to hear from you, and ECO is all ears!
Because what it comes down to is a choice between win-win, where these Parties can move the talks forward and get more emission reductions, or lose-lose by putting the talks at risk and missing out on the chance of strengthening the KPCP2.
Of course they should not forget that there is another way they can make the KPCP2 more effective - these Parties could always up the ambition of their QELROs...
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Stabilisation Fund Won’t Save the CDM

It is no secret that the future of the CDM looks grim. According to the High Level Panel on the CDM Policy Dialogue, the CDM will produce an excess of roughly 1.25 billion offset credits because of low ambition by developed countries. This has driven the prices in the cellar and stirred creativity on how to keep the market flourishing. In the CMP opening plenary, India suggested setting up a stabilisation fund to buy up excess offset credits – something that has also been recommended by the High Level Panel on the CDM. A large chunk of the excess offset credits will come from HFC-23 destruction facilities in India and China. Credits form such HFC-23 projects have been banned by major buyers (EU, Australia and New Zealand) for their lack of environmental integrity and sustainable development benefits. With a lack of buyers, such a fund would provide a convenient new source of money!

Even if HFC-23 credits were not allowed in such a fund, there is more to worry about. New findings from the CDM Policy research team show that large-scale power supply CDM projects, which are expected to generate the majority of CDM credits until 2020, are rarely additional and therefore increase global emissions. This means that such a stabilization fund would largely buy up excess credits from industrial gas projects and from projects that are unlikely to be additional. This seems like a terribly bad use of scarce climate finance. Certainly there are much more effective ways to spend mitigation money, such as directly supporting the implementation of renewable feed-in-tariffs and other proven policy measures.
Furthermore, if the CDM wants to be fit for the future it needs to get rid of its excess baggage of business-as-usual projects that inflate its supply. Banning credits from project types that are highly unlikely to be additional after 2012 would get rid of 1.6 billion offset credits between now and 2020. Stopping such projects from renewing their crediting period and not allowing the registration of new projects would also go a long way. 
Instead of putting money into the CDM stabilization fund, developed countries should raise ambition and put money on the table to help developing countries take actions that transform their economies to low-carbon development path. It’s as easy as that.
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Little Brother’s Lessons For the Future

Joint Implementation (JI) is the much neglected little brother of the CDM. Yet JI needs careful watching, not just because hundreds of millions of credits have been issued under JI that basically launder hot air and have zero environmental integrity. But also, because JI shows us what we could face with new market mechanisms, if we do not insist on stringent international rules and oversight.

Here in Doha, Parties are discussing how to reform the JI to make it fit for post 2012. ECO welcomes the suggestion of eliminating Track 1, under which host countries can unilaterally approve projects and issue credits without any international oversight. 95% of all JI credits have been issued under track 1, many of them with blatantly no environmental integrity. 
Let’s look at Ukraine, the biggest supplier of JI credits with 69 projects registered under track 1. Sixty of these projects were audited by one single auditing company, paid for by the project developer. Normally such an audit takes many months, but some of the projects were miraculously audited in as little as 7 days. That hardly inspires confidence… Many of these projects requested registration only in the last couple of years but receive so called “early credits,” for emission reductions achieved before the Kyoto Protocol started, some receiving credits going as far back as 2002. These projects hardly needed application to JI rules, since they were implemented long before the mechanism started functioning.
This is not to single out Ukraine. It is just to point out what happens when countries can unilaterally issue credits which can then be used for compliance under a global regime. Short-term self-interest trumps long- term climate security. Dear Delegates, please remember this before you enthusiastically endorse an anarchy of approaches and standards under the LCA’s Framework for Various Approaches. The UNFCCC needs to lay out common rules for mechanisms to ensure integrity. We now know from the JI that approval at national level without UNFCCC oversight simply doesn’t deliver.
Unfortunately, the suggested new rules for one unified JI track are insufficient to ensure JI’s climate integrity. Environmental integrity criteria have to be strengthened (i.e. additionality and baseline rules). Non-additional JI projects undermine mitigation goals, especially when they are implemented in countries with a large AAU surplus. Therefore it is vital that only countries that have an ambitious reduction commitment should be able to host JI projects. 
The window of opportunity to prevent catastrophic climate change is rapidly closing. We cannot afford any distracting market mechanisms that do not deliver new and additional emission reductions.
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CAN Intervention in the COP18 KP Opening Plenary, 27 November, 2012


CAN KP Opening Plenary Intervention 

Delivered by, Anna Malos of CAN Australia on 27 November, 2012

Distinguished delegates,

My name is Anna Malos, speaking on behalf of CAN.

It has been a long winding road but a new phase of the Kyoto Protocol is in sight.

Kyoto 2 needs to be strengthened and to enter into effect from January 1. You all know why we cannot delay action.

CAN strongly commends countries who will commit to the KP, but not their level of ambition which is dangerously inadequate.  QELROs must reflect the top end of the 25-40% range.

AAUs should not be carried forward. This surplus undermines the effectiveness of action in the post-2012 period and beyond.

The flexible mechanisms need to be more environmentally robust. Countries allowed to benefit must have a QELRO in Kyoto 2 that creates reductions from 2012 emissions.  Additionality and baseline rules for the CDM and JI should be stronger, with sustainable development monitoring for the CDM.

And with such low levels of ambition, the KP must have an adjustment procedure for unilateral increases, and if for longer than five years, an obligatory ambition review.

The Kyoto Protocol defines essential elements: carbon budgets, legally-binding economy-wide targets, common rules-based accounting and monitoring systems and five year commitment periods.  Improve these architectural elements and the agreement in 2015 will benefit.

Thank you. 


Australia and the KP: True Love or a One Night Stand?


Australia and the KP: True Love or a One Night Stand?

Dear Australia,

I‘ve been waiting for your call for months now. When we first met you gave me flowers and whispered sweet promises and commitments in my ear. Though you’ve taken years to take our friendship further, we have now been seeing each other for a while. I’ve grown to like your company and it hurts that you’ve stopped returning my calls.

I know over the last few years you have had trouble at home – especially with  your ex, Mr. Abbott, complaining that you should not be seeing me any more. But you still haven’t called, even though he sent me a little note recently saying that he’s happy for us to get together.

My good friend the EU has also been talking to you about linking up for dinner (and maybe sharing an Emissions Trading System?). This would certainly be easier if we all went to the same restaurant. Just imagine how awkward it would be if we all accidentally ended up in the same space, sharing the same air, but sitting at different tables. I don’t think the EU will want to have too much to do with you unless you and I are getting on.

Please Australia, it's time you called.

Yours faithfully,


The Kyoto Protocol


Australia and the KP: Time to Come Clean

Many ECO readers will recall the standing ovation Australia received in Bali in 2007 when the newly elected Labor government formally handed over the instrument of ratification of the Kyoto Protocol. The mood in the room was one of excitement and anticipation.

Fast forward almost five years and the spotlight is again on Australia as we wait with bated breath to see if they will join the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol.

Since 2009, Australia has been calling for a “Kyoto-plus” outcome from the current round of negotiations. Yet throughout this year, their negotiators have walked a diplomatic tightrope, refusing to rule Australia in or out of the second commitment period of the Protocol. The official line has been that they need to see all final amendments before they can make up their mind. In ECO’s humble opinion, this is little more than a delaying tactic. Clearly no country should be expected to sign up to an international treaty until they have seen the final wording, but this should not stop them from signalling support in principle.  

If truth be told, the major barrier to the Australian government declaring its support for Kyoto CP2 has been political. As anyone from Australia will tell you, implementing effective climate change policies in the land down under is no easy task, with the two major political parties deeply divided on the best way forward. The Government, therefore, deserves our admiration for persevering with the introduction of a national carbon price in the face of a highly effective scare campaign against such measures.

Yet it appears that the fate of Australia’s involvement in the second commitment period may be separated from the political fight over a carbon price. Earlier this month, the leader of the main opposition party, Tony Abbott, declared support, in principle, for joining the second commitment period. There also seem to be good levels of public support, with a recent poll indicating that close to 60 percent of voters would support Australia joining Kyoto CP2.

The benefits for Australia are obvious. Signing on to Kyoto CP2 would strengthen Australia’s reputation within the negotiations, aligning it with other countries that support a top down, rules-based approach to a global climate deal. It would also remove the risk of being shut out of the Kyoto Protocol’s carbon markets.

Why wouldn’t Australia publicly announce in-principle support? With no obvious political barriers in place, the longer Australia delays, the more it looks like they are using the KP CP2 as a bargaining chip, presumably to extract something in other areas of the negotiations. If indeed this is Australia’s strategy, it is a high risk gamble. As we saw in Bonn in May, the political deal struck in Durban last year remains fragile and the last thing we need is Australia playing hardball with a key pillar of the Durban deal.

The Bangkok talks present a perfect opportunity for Australia to end the speculation and declare its intention to join the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol. This will provide much needed momentum in the lead up to Doha and equally ensure that the spotlight is put back on those countries who are truly opposed to a fair, ambitious and binding global deal.       

Come on Australia, you raised our expectations back in 2007, and just like a new partner, we had high hopes for something more. Will you meet the promise we imagined with starry eyes back then? We’re waiting by the phone to hear your response. Waiting for those two little words: I do.



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