Tag: Kyoto

New text is a green light for fossil fuels

So the Brazilians pulled together a draft and shared it with at least some of the world on Saturday night (some delegates had not even received it on the Sunday). Like everyone else, ECO was scrambling to see what was in it, specifically for energy and climate.

Oh the irony of climate and energy

As expected, there was good and bad, but unexpected was the irony: the new text was strong on climate, reaffirming the principles of equity and common but differentiated responsibility and respective capabilities. There was a temperature target (2 or 1.5), and a nod, i.e. ‘recognise the importance of’ mobilising funds and transferring technology, as well as urging parties to honour their Kyoto commitments (hint hint, Canada et al).

And yet what’s driving climate change, what’s responsible for two thirds of all emissions, what’s destroying local communities and their environments – we’re talking about our addiction to dirty fossil fuels for energy – has been completely watered down.  In fact, the energy paragraphs positively promote fossil fuels. It makes achieving the climate paragraph a near impossibility.

Actively endorsing fossil fuels

Thanks to Canada, Russia and others, where we talk of ‘an increased use of renewable energy sources’, the text also adds ‘and other low-emission technologies’, and even goes further, explicitly including ‘cleaner fossil fuel technologies’. There’s a recognition that renewable technology and energy efficiency are necessary for sustainable development, but there’s no means of achieving it: all mentions of technology transfer and finance have been removed, with finance only be mentioned for energy access. While this is of course incredibly important for sustainable development – and great that it gets its own paragraph in the text, if a little weak on access for who – but it’s not the whole picture. If we’re expecting countries to leap frog our own dirty development pathways, rich, industrialised countries need to provide the adequate and appropriate technology and finance in line with commitments that have been in place for the past 20 years.

Sustainable Energy for All

Ban Ki-moon’s ‘Sustainable Energy for All’ (SE4All) initiative, which isn’t part of the official process but was ‘welcomed’ in the zero draft, has now only been noted after a united position from G77+China. While it’s addressing the right challenges – climate change and poverty – a statement signed by over 100 civil society organisations from across the world shows how much work is needed. As it stands its unambitious targets are inadequate to meet the climate crisis, while civil society and the energy poor – those it should be helping – have been left outside a process dominated by corporate fossil fuel, finance and utility interests. Not being in the text will not mean the end of the initiative, as the Secretary General’s office have been predicting this for a while, so the challenge now is ensuring that after Rio, the initiative launches a people-driven process to see how we can genuinely deliver sustainable energy for all.

Fossil fuel subsidies

One way we can start is by ending government hand-outs to the fossil fuel industries, but they’ve been dealt a heavy blow in the latest text. Rather than honouring commitments made back in 2009, the text ‘recognises the need for further action’ – collective amnesia? Like all issues, there are nuances, so the first step is addressing subsidies given directly to dirty energy companies, but pushing them out of the text is another step backwards. Today over a million signatures are being handed to world leaders, all calling on governments to stop handing our money to dirty industry, because Rio is a real chance to make some progress. We need to make sure that happens.

The Future We Don’t Want

This text is not going to deliver a sustainable future, driven by clean, safe and affordable energy, but it reflects what’s round the table: no political commitment from those that can make it happen. We need to challenge fossil fuel interest

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Keep Ambition on the Agenda(s)!

ECO is gravely concerned that the Emissions Gap continues to grow, and that there is insufficient political will to close it as urgently as possible.

ECO insists that we must have greater action from developed countries under the Kyoto Protocol and LCA, and is concerned that some countries appear to be running away from these commitments.

ECO maintains that a work plan on pre-2020 ambition is also vital under the ADP, and a key element of the Durban package. This work plan should lead to urgent, specific, concrete decisions that work to close the Emissions Gap at COP18 and each subsequent COP.

ECO understands that this ADP work plan on scaling-up pre-2020 ambition will be implemented under the existing legal regime of the Framework Convention and its Kyoto Protocol, and other existing legal frameworks.

This ADP work plan should ensure enhanced mitigation commitments by developed countries and actions by developing countries, com-parability of effort among developed countries, and means of implementation for developing countries, as expressed in the Bali Action Plan.

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Closing the Giga-silence Gap

In the Kyoto plenary yesterday, we got a taste of how things sound when there is no more time to defer decisions for another year. After all the talk of gaps, urgency and the need to set rules before targets, there’s nowhere else to move for Australia and New Zealand.

Those two were left alone in Durban as the only countries still unable to make up their minds on a second commitment period. They remained unwilling, still, to move ahead with the Durban ambition coalition, and be part of an agreement that can give us hope that we’ll close the emissions gap.

And not willing, either, to attract the ire of the world by formally withdrawing, like Canada, or refusing to participate, like Japan and Russia. It’s decision time for everyone, and the sooner Australia stops dithering about Kyoto, the sooner everyone can get on and talk about the dozens of other matters jostling for attention at the UNFCCC.

We know that Australia has a price on carbon legislated and will adhere to the Kyoto rules. We know they have a 2050 target in place to reduce their emissions by 80%. We know they want to participate in carbon markets, and for a new legal agreement to be forged that can keep greenhouse gas concentrations to 450ppm. There's really no reason for them to delay any more.

As for all the other Kyoto countries, the challenge was unequivocally put at yesterday’s plenary: the only circumstances where an eight year commitment period is acceptable is if ambition is sufficient to meet two degrees.

The only way to participate in carbon markets is to have a binding target to reduce emissions. And the only way to keep the talks for a new and comprehensive legally binding agreement on track and on schedule is to put your name down on the Kyoto willing list.

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Getting the Durban Deal Done

ECO has been clear in its call for a three-part outcome in Durban: adoption of a strong second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol; a mandate for negotiation of a more comprehensive and ambitious longer-term climate regime based on both scientific adequacy and the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capacities; and a package of decisions facilitating near-term action on all four building blocks of the Bali Action Plan and implementation of the Cancun Agreements.

Let’s make something else clear: building a long-term structure for fair and effective international action on climate change is important, but what really matters is meaningful action supporting peoples and communities already suffering the negative effects of climate change, and collective emission reductions at the scale and pace needed to avert even more catastrophic impacts in the future. The best legally binding treaty instruments in the world don’t amount to much without emission reduction ambition in line with the science and financial resources commensurate with the need.

 Coming out of Panama, there has been some progress in developing draft text on many of the elements of the Bali Action Plan and the Cancun Agreements.  But the prospects for linked agreements on extension of the Kyoto Protocol and the negotiations on a longer-term legally-binding instrument are not bright, absent significant changes in the negotiating positions of a number of key countries.  Let’s look at them in turn.

 EU.  Fair or not, the EU holds the key to the Durban outcome.  If the EU does not come to Durban with the clear goal of adopting a second commitment period (not some fuzzy political commitment) the Kyoto Protocol will wither and die.  On Thursday, the EU laid out a clear set of elements for negotiations over the longer-term treaty that would assure that a KP second commitment period is a bridge to a more comprehensive and ambitious legal framework. EU environment ministers need to be careful not to set overly stringent conditions for such negotiations when they meet next Monday in Luxembourg.  

 Australia and New Zealand. While the view from atop the fence is nice, these countries need to get off of it and make clear they are ready to join with the EU, Norway, and others in embracing a second KP commitment period.

 Japan, Russia, Canada.  These countries claim they are bailing out of Kyoto because it doesn’t cover a large enough portion of global emissions.  They need to come to Durban prepared to reconsider their position if agreement can be reached on launching negotiations on a longer-term treaty regime, or risk being perceived as multilateral treaty-killers, not treaty-builders.

 US. The one developed country that stayed out of Kyoto, in part because the Protocol didn’t include major developing countries, claims it is willing to enter into negotiations on a new legally-binding instrument.  But it has set very stringent conditions for the launch of such negotiations, while acknowledging that these conditions almost guarantee no agreement on a negotiating mandate in Durban.  Meanwhile, the US is struggling to meet its already inadequate emissions reduction commitment, and has been reluctant to discuss ways of meeting the $100 billion by 2020 annual climate finance goal its president committed to in Copenhagen.  At the very least, the US must contribute to such discussions in Durban, not attempt to block them.     

The LDCs and AOSIS. The moral power of the most vulnerable countries needs to be heard, highlighting both the existential crisis they face and the reprehensible failure of those responsible for the problem to face up to it.  These groups support both the extension of the KP and a mandate for negotiation of a new legally-binding instrument; they must continue to work together in Durban to achieve both of these goals.

The BASIC countries.All four of these countries are leaders in taking domestic actions to limit their emissions growth as their economies continue to rapidly develop.  Their leadership is also needed on the current fight to preserve a rules-based multilateral climate treaty regime.  They should certainly continue to demand a second Kyoto commitment period.  But they should also call the US’s bluff, by indicating their willingness to negotiate a more comprehensive long-term treaty regime including binding commitments for all but the Least Developed Countries, as long as it’s truly based on principles of equity and common but differentiated responsibility.              

 All countries must come to Durban prepared to negotiate in a spirit of compromise if we are to achieve the ambitious package of decisions needed to address the mounting climate crisis.  Ministers must take full advantage of their time together before Durban, at both the pre-COP ministerial consultations and the likely pre-Durban meeting of the Major Economies Forum, to explore constructive solutions to the current roadblocks to such a package of decisions.  Then in Durban, they must work actively under the guidance of the South African presidency to bring the deal home.  Their citizens need – and expect – nothing less.

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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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What’s expected from the US

Earlier this week, ECO started exploring ideas for what two of the three main groups of countries – Kyoto Annex 1 countries and developing countries - need to decide to bring to the table to enable a successful Durban climate summit. These articles have of course been far from comprehensive, as there are other important issues where movement is also required from these Parties.

As ECO has repeatedly stated (is it sinking in yet?): all developed countries currently with QELROs under the KP should continue to have (more ambitious!!) QERCs under the KP for the post 2012 period, with accounting rules that close the loopholes and increase environmental integrity of the Protocol.

Developing countries need to show their commitment to adequate action by agreeing a mandate for a future legally binding agreement to help ensure the “full, effective and sustained implementation” of the Convention. This should come, in the form of a Protocol or other legal instrument, respecting the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities.

Now let’s talk about the third “group” -- the United States, for whom the mandate is no real concession.  It is essential that architecture is built under the Convention track that allows comparability of efforts of the US and other developed countries, so that there can be clarity on the overall (in)adequacy of these efforts through time.  To mitigate against the chaos of a pledge and review (4C+) world, there also needs to be clear expectations for a more ambitious level of US effort on both mitigation and finance.

All countries agreed in Bali that the efforts of all developed countries should be comparable. To avoid comparing apples and oranges, tons and tonnes, or emission reductions and loopholes, this means that common accounting standards will be an essential part of the mix that these countries will need to agree to in Durban. Since the negotiations under the Kyoto Protocol have already laid the groundwork, there is no earthly reason why they should not be the basis for the common accounting regime for developed countries under the Convention track (for all that the US is kicking and screaming like a spoiled toddler at the very thought of it)..

There are other key MRV elements that are also needed to ensure the agreed-to comparability. The main guidelines for the rest of the International Assessment & Review system need to be agreed, as well as the guidelines, assumptions and metrics for the biennial reports, including for finance. In addition, all developed countries should put forward Low Carbon Development Strategies, as agreed in Cancun, and these should be integrated into the MRV framework.

For Durban to be a success, all Parties must come to the table prepared to build upon the existing architecture of the Convention and Protocol, by ensuring the continued viability of the Kyoto Protocol, agreeing that the Convention track will result in a comprehensive and ambitious legally-binding instrument, and not allowing the regime to fall into the carboniferous pit of every country doing only what it can be bothered to do, and reporting on it, if at all, as it sees fit.

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Don’t Lose Sight of the Laggards

ECO has consistently called for a second commitment period to the Kyoto Protocol and has long decried the decision of George Bush not to ratify the KP.  Furthermore, ECO is dismayed that the countries that respectively put the Kyoto in the KP, brought it into force and started negotiations for its second commitment period – Japan, Russia and Canada – are behaving like petulant toddlers, hiding in the corner rather than joining the Kyoto party. Meanwhile, other countries - the EU, Australia, New Zealand, Norway and others -  are expressing various degrees of lukewarmness about the KP second commitment period.

However, this analysis misses what is needed from two other groups of countries in order to have a balanced package in Durban, both in terms of the form and substance of the outcome. The KP second commitment period is absolutely essential. But the global climate crisis requires global action.

Thus support from developing countries for a mandate for a legally binding agreement under the LCA, which ECO thinks needs to be in the form of a protocol or other appropriate legal instrument is fundamental to the solution.  

However, there is another group of countries that seem to be trying to escape responsibility.  The non-KP developed country[s], from which and about there has been the greatest silence of expectations, need to be called out. It seems clear that whatever is agreed under paragraph 1.b.i of the Bali Acton Plan (developed country mitigation) in Durban, it will be in the form of a COP decision, but it is also clear that ALL developed countries need to offer more than inadequate pledges as their contribution to the global effort to avoid a 4  ̊C world. Those that remain in the KP will at least maintain a solid legal framework with economy-wide targets and a strong common MRV and compliance system, even if their current targets are at woefully low levels. ECO would love to explore with Parties ideas to strengthen 1.b.i so that it does not become the grotesque poster child of a pledge and review 4  ̊C world.

A fossil hat trick for Canada at the UN climate talks: if only the 'other' Canucks had such luck

Fossil of the Day - Bonn - June 9, 2011 - Canada

First Place Fossil is awarded to Canada. Guess what sector is Canada’s fastest-growing source of greenhouse gas emissions? That would be the tar sands, where emissions from digging up dirty oil have close to tripled since 1990.

Now guess which sector Canada decided not to report on in its most recent National Inventory Report? Yes, that would be the tar sands again...How could Canada’s government leave out such a crucial sector, you may ask? Well, when Canadian journalists did some digging, they found that tar sands emissions were higher than ever last year. We can’t let Canada’s oil-loving government slide off the hook for that little slip-up. For their tarry approach to transparency, we award Canada today’s first place fossil.

Canada also takes the Second Place Fossil. We’ve all seen it coming, but now Canada has made it official: they’re not willing to take a legally binding target under a second phase of Kyoto. Of course, it’s not like Canada contributed much to the first phase of Kyoto — their decision to walk away without even trying to hit their target puts them at the bottom of the Kyoto class.

The harsh truth? Canada’s track record of climate inaction shows that they need a binding target more than anyone. For failing to recognize that, and undermining this process in the process, we award Canada a second place fossil.

Third Place Fossil Goes to…Canada. While appreciating Canada's cajones (that is "courage" in Spanish) to make a presentation at today's mitigation workshop, the refusal to acknowledge what everyone else in Bonn knows has earned Canada today's
3rd place fossil.  For a long time it has been clear that Canada will not meet it's Kyoto target, yet in response to repeated questions this morning the best Canada could offer was that they could not possibly know until the end of the true up period in 2014. Canada must have its head stuck in the tar sands of Alberta.

About CAN: The Climate Action Network (CAN) is a worldwide network of roughly 700 Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) working to promote government and individual action to limit human0induced climate change to ecologically sustainable levels. www.climatenetwork.org  

About the fossils: The Fossil of the Day awards were first presented at the climate talks in 1999, in Bonn, initiated by the German NGO Forum. During United Nations climate change negotiations (www.unfccc.int), members of the Climate Action Network (CAN), vote for countries judged to have done their 'best' to block progress in the negotiations in the last days of talks.

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A fossil hat trick for Canada at the UN climate talks: if only the 'other' Canucks had such luck

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                       9 June 2011
Bonn, Germany

Contact:
Hannah McKinnon
hmckinnon@climateactionnetwork.ca
Mobile: +1 613 276 7791
T: +1 613 241 4413

A fossil hat trick for Canada at the UN climate talks: if only the 'other' Canucks had such luck.

First Place Fossil is awarded to Canada. Guess what sector is Canada’s fastest-growing source of greenhouse gas emissions? That would be the tar sands, where emissions from digging up dirty oil have close to tripled since 1990.

Now guess which sector Canada decided not to report on in its most recent National Inventory Report? Yes, that would be the tar sands again...How could Canada’s government leave out such a crucial sector, you may ask? Well, when Canadian journalists did some digging, they found that tar sands emissions were higher than ever last year. We can’t let Canada’s oil-loving government slide off the hook for that little slip-up. For their tarry approach to transparency, we award Canada today’s first place fossil.

Canada also takes the Second Place Fossil. We’ve all seen it coming, but now Canada has made it official: they’re not willing to take a legally binding target under a second phase of Kyoto. Of course, it’s not like Canada contributed much to the first phase of Kyoto — their decision to walk away without even trying to hit their target puts them at the bottom of the Kyoto class.

The harsh truth? Canada’s track record of climate inaction shows that they need a binding target more than anyone. For failing to recognize that, and undermining this process in the process, we award Canada a second place fossil.

Third Place Fossil Goes to…Canada. While appreciating Canada's cajones (that is "courage" in Spanish) to make a presentation at today's mitigation workshop, the refusal to acknowledge what everyone else in Bonn knows has earned Canada today's
3rd place fossil.  For a long time it has been clear that Canada will not meet it's Kyoto target, yet in response to repeated questions this morning the best Canada could offer was that they could not possibly know until the end of the true up period in 2014. Canada must have its head stuck in the tar sands of Alberta.

About CAN: The Climate Action Network (CAN) is a worldwide network of roughly 700 Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) working to promote government and individual action to limit human0induced climate change to ecologically sustainable levels. www.climatenetwork.org  

About the fossils: The Fossil of the Day awards were first presented at the climate talks in 1999, in Bonn, initiated by the German NGO Forum. During United Nations climate change negotiations (www.unfccc.int), members of the Climate Action Network (CAN), vote for countries judged to have done their 'best' to block progress in the negotiations in the last days of talks.

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