Tag: LULUCF

CAN Intervention - Opening KP - 5 April 2011

Opening LWG-KP Plenary – Bangkok
CAN intervention, April 5, 2011

Thank you Mr. Chair,

My name is Sven Harmeling. I’m speak on behalf of the Climate Action Network.
 
The KP track’s work this year can play an important role in narrowing the gigatonne gap.        According to UNEP, this gap could be up to 9 Gigatonnes in 2020 globally, equivalent to the combined annual emissions of China and Russia. CAN urges higher ambition than that assumed by UNEP, so sees an even bigger chasm between the pledges and needed action.

To help close the gap, first, Parties need to address the loopholes we heard about in        Sunday’s workshop, used perversely by some to stall their own low-carbon transformation.

o LULUCF rules should increase accountability and such that these sectors deliver        emissions reductions.  This means:
•    Not using questionable projected reference levels but using historical reference levels.
•    Not hiding emissions but accounting for all emissions, including other land uses such as cropland and grazing land management, and rewetting and drainage.

o Rules for any new market and non market mechanisms shouldn’t diminish already low        levels of ambition and must not allow double counting, ensuring additional emissions reductions and funding flows.
o  Rules are needed to minimise environmental damage from hot air.
 
Once these loopholes are closed, Parties need to increase their aggregate pledges so that they add up to more than 40% - top end of the 25-40% range that you acknowledged in Cancun. This is needed to put us on a pathway with a reasonable probability of achieving the well-below 2C goal, and keep the 1.5C goal in reach.
 
Additionally, CAN would like to take this opportunity to remind Parties of some of the        quite-literally vitally important elements of the KP architecture that need to be conserved and developed post-2012,  namely its:
o    long-term viability as a framework that can be appropriately updated for each commitment period;
o    aggregate goal for developed countries, allowing appropriate consideration of the science;
o    legally-binding, economy-wide, absolute emissions reduction targets;
o    common accounting, MRV and compliance.

We urge Parties not to throw away the good work of the last 14 years, and to commit to a second          commitment period in Durban.
 

CAN Presentation - Observations on Current Developed Country Mitigation Pledges - 3 April 2011

Developed country pledges: Where are parties after
Cancun?
1. Adopted: 2oC goal
2. Agreed: consider moving to 1.5oC
3. Recognised: 25-40% range for developed countries
4. Agreed: scaled-up effort necessary to
• achieve the global goal
• move developed countries into 25-40% range
 

To view the full presentation, view pdf above.

View additional background information.

Lessons to be taken from the Workshop on developed country QELROs - May 2011

Developed country pledges: Where are Parties after Cancun?
In Cancun Parties agreed on keeping warming below 2°C and agreed to consider moving to
1.5°C. Parties also recognised the 25-40% range for developed countries. At the same time
developed countries recognised that current pledges are too low, that deep cuts are needed
and that mitigation efforts must be ‘scaled-up’ - with developed countries showing
leadership.
The workshop revealed that there is urgent clarity needed on the following points:
1. Developed countries must clarify what their true emissions will be, i.e. their
assumptions on forests and other land use accounting, the use of carbon offsets and
hot air carry-over, in order to close all loopholes.
2. Developed countries with current pledges below the 25-40% range must explain how
their low pledges
- should be compensated for by other developed countries making higher cuts
instead,
- are consistent with their fair share of the globally needed mitigation effort.
3. Developed countries whose pledges are
- below their current Kyoto targets, and/or
- below BAU under existing domestic legislation and targets (e.g. efficiency
targets),
must explain how those pledges constitute progress.
4. Developed countries must explain how their 2020 pledges will allow them to
achieve near-zero emissions by 2050.

... to read the full document, view the pdf above.

View the presentation.

Probably the last LULUCF Article Ever?

In Cancun, Parties finally acknowledged that Annex I targets must not be set in isolation from a thorough analysis of the loopholes threatening to undermine them. ECO would applaud this accomplishment, were it not such an obvious step to take. The UNEP Emissions Gap report, the Climate Analytics/Ecofys analysis and consistent NGO campaigning all shone a bright spotlight on the damage that undercounting of emissions can do to achieving the ultimate objective of the Convention.
 Indeed, in the Cancun texts, Parties acknowledge there is a most urgent need not only to increase ambition, but to characterize and quantify the effect of key loopholes, especially land use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF) rules, the project-based mechanisms and a possible carry-over of assigned amount units.  Could that acknowledgement signal the beginning of the end of technical LULUCF ECO articles (and proper accounting of emissions)?
 Mind you, ECO feels your pain at the thought of yet another article on LULUCF, but alas, the need still remains. The proposed reference level approach simply does not reflect the ambition needed to address climate change, nor does it secure a positive contribution toward the emission cuts required. Forests and other land uses must be a major part of the solution, and yet the proposed rules move things in the opposite direction. ECO remains no less than astonished that while all other sectors are expected to reduce emissions, the forest sector gets a free pass, since Parties could set their reference levels allowing increased emissions with no effect on their overall targets.
Even worse is the fact that the bulk of emissions from bioenergy, a sector poised for exponential growth, will go completely unaccounted for. Moreover, while the favoured forest fiddle is relatively well defined, Parties have yet to fully elaborate the rules for other land uses such as cropland and grazing land management, as well as rewetting and drainage. Yet, in aggregate, these are nearly as significant as forest emissions. Finally, Parties have fallen short of moving towards full mandatory accounting whilst resolving any data issues that stand in the way.
The reference level approach to forest management may be appealing in a narrow political sense, but in fact it undermines ambition in the forest and land sectors and significantly weakens overall mitigation. It is not just the proposed forest management reference levels of Parties that need to be scrutinized, but the overall political direction of the LULUCF negotiations, which in turn are sapping the momentum of the overall Annex I "numbers" discussions.
It's time for delegation leaders here and now to focus attention, face up to the LULUCF loophole, turn around the momentum and starting closing the gigatonne gap. Durban is not far off at all, and to capture real ambition then means starting now in Bangkok. Could this be the year of our last LULUCF article? The ECO Ed Board (and perhaps you kind readers) can only hope. You can help us achieve that goal, esteemed delegation leaders.

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Guideposts for these Days of Decision

Ministers, it’s ECO again. May we have a few moments with you? Yes, you guessed it – right here in your hands is our clean and manageable list of key decisions for the remainder of the week.
We’ve heard that you feel there are too many choices and papering over the differences in the negotiations might be the best achievable for the moment. But 
remember, that trick only works once.
A high level political statement by itself will not cut it. We need a real agreement in Cancun, not a repeat of Copenhagen’s climate shame. No magic moment is going to arrive when the hard choices become easy. But the path to achievement is just steps away.
ECO is wondering what is going on in the Shared Vision negotiations. We heard whispers of much needed improvements, such as the recognition of the need to reduce atmospheric concentrations of CO2 to no more than 350 ppm and limit global temperature rise to 1.5° C, as well as the acknowledgement of historical responsibility and the link between human rights and climate change related actions.
All these elements must be included for a clear and robust shared vision that reflects our collective intention to ensure a liveable planet for us and for future generations.
But Ministers, ECO is going blue in the face! How many more times do we have to say ‘Gigatonne Gap’ before it 
finally sinks in? As UNEP affirmed in its authoritative report, there is a significant gap between the emissions pledges set forth in Copenhagen and the reductions the planet actually needs by 2020 to limit warming to 2° C, much less the 1.5° needed to avoid severe and even catastrophic impacts.
Yet the latest version of the Mitigation text contains no acknowledgement of the Gigatonne Gap, nor does it set forth a timely process to close it. A legitimate outcome in Cancun must explicitly provide the pathway to increased ambition.
ECO also calls on parties to anchor the pledges currently on the table so that commitments and actions can be strengthened over the next year before inscribing them in legally binding form in South Africa.
ECO is pleased that the MRV text has evolved in the past week from an empty 36-word shell to a real basis for negotiation.  
But there’s a long way to go. The tables have turned here in Cancun and we’re finally hearing more about the need for enhanced MRV provisions for Annex I countries, including common accounting rules, as well as MRV of finance using a common reporting format.
This is only right – the United States and other developed countries have been calling for increased transparency for developing countries but have been shy about improving their own.
Establishing a Technology Mechanism and creating an operational Technology Executive Committee (TEC) is well within the remit here.
Unfortunately, the USA has been blocking progress on the TEC and CTCN discussions and negotiators are planning to kick many elements into the long grass, such as reporting lines and the link to the financial mechanism. This would be dangerous as it would leave too many issues to be dealt with during 2011.
The draft text is virtually content free when it comes to creating an operational framework for new, radically scaled-up, focused and integrated Capacity 
Building.
The stocktaking needs to clarify whether developed countries intend to take 
capacity building seriously (that is, on par with finance and technology), or whether they are happy enough just to leave it behind as crumbs in the corner.
On International Transport, the COP must guide ICAO and IMO in taking effective action to reduce emissions quickly, create a framework for these sectors to fairly contribute funds to mitigation and adaptation in developing countries, and ensure no net incidence of impacts on developing countries.
On Adaptation, a Cancun decision must launch the committee to oversee technical and coordinating provisions for adaptation under the Convention. Further, response measures does not have a place under the adaptation agenda. The resources available for adaptation should not be use as compensation for the loss on oil revenue as a result of mitigation action.
By the end the week decisions on 
Financing must be taken to establish a climate fund under the guidance and 
authority of the COP, along with a process to clarify the scale of this fund and guarantee sufficient resources for adaptation, along with the mechanisms and instruments to generate the required revenue flows.
We have heard that some developed countries are raising doubts about their ability to contribute to a fund under the UNFCCC due to constitutional or other legal impediments. These are simply tactical maneuvers to delay a decision, 
using the fund as a bargaining chip to get concessions from developing countries on other issues such as international consultations and analysis.
Negotiations on the Flexible Mechanisms are (unsurprisingly) facing difficulty, including even which text should be used.
However, at least two things should be done. First, the loopholes in existing mechanisms must be closed now. A primary example is surplus AAUs. Second, relevant principles should be set for further negotiations in LCA. If any new mechanisms are to be discussed going forward, they must go beyond offsetting. And they have to close the Gigaton gap, not widen it. Other important principles should also be set such as preventing double counting, supplementarity and contribution to sustainable development.
A very disturbing development is that the option for keeping CCS out of  the Clean Development Mechanism has vanished from the draft text being forwarded to the CMP. At the very least, SBSTA must address the creation of perverse incentives for increased  dependence on fossil fuels.
On land and forests, the message is simple but let’s say it again: Close the loopholes!
With respect to legal form, ECO calls on Parties to establish open and transparent processes to discuss their proposals, both now and after Cancun. Likewise, just as the Berlin Mandate provided clarity on legal form to the negotiating process that resulted in the Kyoto Protocol, Parties should agree mandates at Cancun to confirm the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol as well as a legally binding outcome in the LCA and set them up for adoption at COP 17 in South Africa. 

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Memo to Ministers: Close the LULUCF Loophole!

Ministers, would you like a glowing ECO article with your name on it?  
As you delve into the unresolved issues with the KP, the first thing you need to know is that the main proposal for LULUCF doesn’t ensure a robust, environmentally sound approach to forest management accounting.  While sorting this out may seem daunting when you are presented with the complex draft text, we can help make your mission very clear: close the Logging Loopholes!  And if you do, ECO will put your decision in lights and say your country did something really great to truly reduce emissions.
To get a sense of the problem, consider that the proposed reference levels for forest management, tucked away in an innocuous looking annex, would allow an increase in annual emissions of 451 Mt relative to the historical average (1990-2008). That’s a lot of tonnes!  
Surely a half-gigatonne divergence from recent trends is a red flag. The Copenhagen pledges are for emissions decreases, and yet the LULUCF reference levels go up. Up versus down, hmmm.  That means Annex I Parties now assume their own logging increases while asking other countries to reduce their emissions from deforestation. The forest sector should not be excluded, so how about actually building ambition right into the 
LULUCF rules.
So one huge step is to close the loophole of the projected reference level approach, which will only make climate change worse.  
And there are lots of ideas floating around the Moon Palace on how to do this.  Some of them already appear as options in the draft text: use a historical baseline (Tuvalu); combine historical and projected baselines (Africa Group); fix the rules and policy cut-off dates for reference level setting; revert to the current rules for the first commitment period.  Most of these options can be judged against their ability to shrink the loophole.
ECO stresses that LULUCF accounting must be mandatory, and not only for forest management, but for all sectors (to the extent it’s technically feasible).  For example, emissions from draining and rewetting wetlands are considerable, and they should be counted.
But it’s also important that mandatory accounting not come at the price of deeply flawed rules. The objective of this process wasn’t just to produce new LULUCF rules, but rather to produce better ones.
Another large loophole in the draft LULUCF text is the provision to allow Annex I Parties to exclude from the accounting books emissions from wildfires, infestations, extreme weather events, and the like.  This is known as force majeure, a legal term that means these emissions ‘could not have reasonably been foreseen by the Party’. Some Parties are trying to exploit this provision to exclude all emissions from natural disturbances, a recipe for diminished accountability and lost mitigation potential.  
Normal variations in natural disturbances and even increasing trends as a result of climate change can both be reasonably foreseen.  This means the force majeure text must involve a threshold below which emissions are not excluded.
Ministers, we’re facing a daunting gap between emissions reductions on the table and what science says is needed to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. It’s time to get serious and tackle emission reductions wherever we can. Start by closing the logging loopholes, and headlines galore will follow.

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Taking Bold Steps 
on Mitigation

The phrases ‘legal form’ and ‘anchoring of pledges’ are on everyone’s lips in the corridors and sidewalks of the Moon Palace. While these are indeed crucial issues, like many of the Parties who spoke at Saturday’s stocktaking plenaries, ECO wants to see serious work this week on mitigation content for both the KP and LCA.
Looking first at the KP, if Parties are not able to fully agree a second commitment period here in Cancun, there must be at least a clear deadline and process to ensure that this will happen in Durban. Further agreement on some of the thorny details of the KP like the rules on LULUCF and surplus AAUs are also keenly awaited.  
As regards the individual and aggregate Annex I targets for the second commitment period, there has been a lot of talk about how and where they will be recorded. But what about the minor matter of what the numbers actually are, and whether they bear any relation to science?
The new text has put the need for developed country targets to add up to at least 25-40% below 1990 levels by 2020 in brackets.  The KP negotiating mandate towards Durban must include an explicit requirement that both aggregate and individual country pledges be clarified and assessed against this 25-40% figure, and their level of ambition increased accordingly in the final KP second commitment period agreement.  
And don’t forget, there are two tracks in these negotiations.  For the sake of balance the non-KP Annex 1 Parties (primarily, of course, the US) must take on comparable commitments to the KP Annex I Parties.  
The Chair’s text provides some workable openings for this, though it needs significant enhancement. Several options are given for the listing of pledges, but ECO’s most serious concern is that wherever they end up, there must be a clear acknowledgement in the relevant COP decision that they fall far short of what science requires – creating the Gigatonne Gap that was highlighted in the UNEP Emissions Gap Report.  
Unlike the KP, the LCA text does not so far include an explicit reference to the quantity of emissions reductions entailed by the goal of keeping global temperature increase well below 2o C, let alone 1.5o. That should be an immediate priority.
Acknowledgment of the inadequacy of the current pledges should be accompanied by a clear process to elaborate and facilitate the measures that will help to close the gap. The Chair’s text neatly includes a cross-reference to the KP, and if the KP Parties’ pledges are strengthened as set out above, they will contribute appropriately to the overall goal.
This leaves the pledges of developing countries and of the US. There should be agreement in Cancun on a mandate for next year’s negotiations under which the US will take on its fair and comparable share, and developing country pledges for nationally appropriate mitigation actions will be clarified and adequately supported.  
ECO was very pleased to see that low emission development strategies are mentioned in the Chair’s text. Such long-term strategic plans are needed to ensure the global goal is actually met, although there is room for elaborating the scope and nature of the strategies for developed countries. Agreement to all this would be a very positive signal of the seriousness of intent by developed countries.
Climate change demands that we keep a constant eye on what science is telling us and on the adequacy of our agreed actions. The review set out in in Chapter V of the Chair’s text provides a channel for this.  The re-inclusion of the 1.5o C global goal in welcome, although the proposed completion of this work only in 2015 is alarming.  We know that emissions must already peak by then.  In addition, it is not clear is how the results of the review would be operationalised into the updating of both the aggregate and individual country targets, another point to be addressed before we leave Mexico.
There is a lot of work to do this week, but Parties noted on Saturday their desire to see this centrepiece of the negotiations addressed.   Now is the time to stand and deliver.

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The Elephant Gap

Delegates, in case you haven’t noticed, there is an elephant roaming the halls of the Moon Palace, and it weighs something like 9 gigatonnes.  
As reaffirmed by UNEP in its new Emissions Gap Report, the climate pledges made in Copenhagen fall far short of what is needed to limit global temperature rise to less than 2 oC, and even further below a 1.5 oC limit which is needed to minimize the inundation of low-lying nations and coastal areas, the loss of coral reefs and the permanent disappearance of summer Arctic sea ice.  But instead of starting to bring the elephant down to size, Parties seem determined to fatten it up even further.
According to the UNEP, the gap between where the Copenhagen Accord pledges are now and where they should be in 2020 could be bigger than the combined emissions of China and Russia. At best, the gap ‘only’ equals all cars, trucks and buses in the world, or the combined emissions of the 27 EU member states.
The UNEP report identifies specific actions Parties can take here in Cancun to help close the Gigatonne Gap.  But their actions so far suggest they won’t admit to seeing the elephant and that the future of the planet is at stake.  For example, while strict LULUCF accounting rules would close the gap considerably, Parties are on the verge of cementing rules that will make the problem much worse.
The list goes on. The EU is promoting an 8-year commitment period, freezing the current low level of ambition in place for the remainder of this decade.  Russia and Ukraine insist on flooding the next commitment period with hot air from the first. The Umbrella countries have trouble acknowledging that there is any gap at all.  It should be obvious that just implementing their Copenhagen pledges won’t do the trick.
In the coming days ECO expects countries to act on the UNEP report. First, they need to drop the proposed accounting rules and loopholes that will 
expand rather than close the Gigatonne Gap.  
In addition, while grappling with proposals to anchor the Copenhagen pledges in the UNFCCC, they should also fully acknowledge the existence of the gap and commit to a timely process to close it as rapidly as possible – before the elephant stampedes across the planet.

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Protection for Peatlands

Forest management is surely as important as everyone knows, but peatlands that have been drained for agriculture and other purposes are also important emissions hotspots globally.
Yet incentives for Annex I countries to reduce these emissions under the Kyoto Protocol were minimal in the first commitment period. In fact, accounting for land use activities associated with the drainage of peatlands (forest management, grazing land management and cropland management) is voluntary and therefore rarely selected.
The second commitment period of the KP offers a new opportunity to address this mega-gap. Parties will have higher reduction targets, and LULUCF can and should make a significant contribution to reducing emissions.
Further peatland drainage can be discouraged by making accounting for Article 3.4 activities mandatory, provided sufficient data quality is ensured.
In particular, further drainage for biofuel production should be decreased to prevent the development of a giant new emissions accounting loophole in the energy sector combined with unaccounted increased emissions in the land use sector.
In addition, rewetting of drained wetlands as an effective measure to decrease emissions should be encouraged by adopting the new activity ‘wetland management’.  If countries fail to agree mandatory accounting of existing Article 3.4 activities, mandatory wetland management is the only way to close the emerging accounting loophole for peatlands under LULUCF.
Reporting and accounting for peatland drainage is already facilitated with IPCC 2006 guidance, but a number of gaps still remain. An IPCC expert meeting in October concluded that science has developed recently to such an extent that most gaps (e.g. rewetting of drained peatlands, wetland restoration) can now be filled. As well, the emissions associated with land use on peat (cropland, grassland, forestry, peat extraction) should be reassessed.
Here in Cancun, the SBSTA can request the IPCC to undertake this work and define a way forward to finalize improved guidance in time for the second commitment period.  It’s all to protect one of our most important land sequestration resources . . . for peat’s sake!

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