Panama: Progress or Paralysis?

Durban is shaping up as a critical moment in the 20-year history of the climate regime.  The world can either build on what has been created in the Kyoto Protocol, raise the level of ambition as demanded by the science, and provide sufficient finance to meet developing countries’ needs for adaptation, mitigation, and REDD. Or it risks relegating the UNFCCC to a side show with little legitimacy to meaningfully address the climate crisis.

Let’s review what’s needed to avoid a train wreck in Durban:

Mitigation:In the Cancun Agreements, developed countries accepted that their aggregate level of ambition should be in the range of 25-40%.  Even while this range does not guarantee that global temperature rise will stay below 2 degrees Celsius, current developed country emission reduction pledges will result in reductions of only 12-18% going down to ~2% if currently existing and proposed loopholes are taken into account.  ECO suggests four critical elements in the Durban mitigation package for developed countries:: clarify what the net emissions would be based on current pledges and assumptions; close the loopholes;  move to the high end of current pledges; and agree on a process to increase ambition beyond 40%, for adoption at COP18/CMP8.

Panama can and must reach agreements on closing the loopholes.  The recent Review of proposals on forest management under LULUCF clarifies the size of the forestry loophole.  Now, Parties must adopt forest management reference levels that are comparable and that don’t significantly undermine Annex I Party targets. Overall, LULUCF rules should encourage Parties to achieve ambitious mitigation from land and forests.  On carry-forward of AAUs, Parties must eliminate the risk of “hot air” undermining the environmental integrity of future reduction commitments.

Kyoto Protocol: As acknowledged by both Executive Secretary Figueres and incoming COP President Nkoana-Mashabane, the future of the Kyoto Protocol will be decided at Durban.  While some developed country Parties would prefer to overlook the KP or at best, make a second commitment period conditional on what happens in the LCA over the next four years, it is  essential that in Durban, we cement a second commitment period of the KP.  The alternative – a pledge and review world – just won’t cut it.

Convention mandate: Given the urgency of the climate catastrophe unfolding daily before our eyes, nothing less than the greatest level of commitment is needed from all parties.  Therefore, in addition to preserving the Kyoto Protocol, Durban must agree that by 2015 at the latest, the commitments and actions of all Parties should be inscribed in legally binding instrument[s], whilst fully respecting the principles of the Convention.

Finance:The last session on finance in Bonn was dominated by discussions on the Standing Committee.  Negotiations need to also focus on the critical issue of where the money is going to come from.  Urgent attention on scaling up sources of climate finance from 2013 to 2020 is needed.  In addition to expanding direct finance from national treasuries, Parties should commit to raise significant revenue for the Green Climate Fund from innovative sources, implemented in a way that has no net incidence for poor countries.  Progress on a mechanism to levy bunker fuels would be an especially noteworthy achievement here in Panama, which licenses so much of the world’s shipping.

Technology: CAN urges Parties to decide here in Panama on the criteria for the Climate Technology Center host, so that the Center and Network can be operationalized in 2012 as envisioned in the Cancun Agreement.

Adaptation: Parties aren’t far away from a good decision text on the Adaptation Committee.  Here in Panama, they should agree on the composition of the Committee with equitable representation, direct reporting to the COP, and linkages to other institutions, particularly on finance and technology.

Capacity Building: Parties should work with the Facilitator's notes and his new and highly comprehensive background paper to begin drafting text for a Durban decision. This paper should focus on the vital question of how to design effective and comprehensive co-ordination of new, additional and scaled-up capacity-building within the emerging new architectures for finance, technology, adaptation, MRV and mechanisms.

MRV: Parties should build on the MRV architecture agreed in Cancun by moving forward on common accounting rules for emission reduction targets and an enhanced common reporting format on finance. Parties should also adopt guidelines on the content, timing and structure of biennial reports, and agree procedures for strong International Assessment and Review (IAR) for developed countries and International Consultation and Analysis (ICA) for developing countries.  

On all these fronts, Parties need to agree here in Panama what text they will work from – and begin to constructively work on that text.  It’s time for all Parties to show they are serious about the UNFCCC, and serious about their commitment to prevent catastrophic climate change; small steps won’t cut it.

CAN Submission - Transitional Committee for the Green Climate Fund - Jul 2011

Climate Action Network-International
Submission to the Transitional Committee for the Green Climate Fund
29 July 2011


On behalf of the more than 600 member organizations in the Climate Action Network International, we appreciate the opportunity to provide the following submission to the Transitional Committee (TC) as it begins the preparation of options papers for consideration at its 3rd meeting. We would also like to thank the TC for its transparency in providing documents and meeting agendas on its website in a timely fashion.

Our overall interest is to ensure that the GCF plays a transformational role both in the way it is governed and operates and in terms of the adaptation and mitigation outcomes it achieves. It should accelerate the shift to low-carbon and climate resilient development pathways by scaling-up resource flows for ambitious and effective climate-related policies and actions in accordance with country-led strategies, and it should incentivise synergies between the GCF’s strategic objectives and the achievement of overall national development strategies and the production of development co-benefits. We believe it is vital that civil society and other stakeholders be full partners, both at the international and national level, in determining the way in which the GCF will finance climate action.

Country-led strategies and direct access as basis for funding

At the 2nd meeting of the TC, there appeared to be an emerging consensus that finance should be provided by the GCF in accordance with country-led strategies. Indeed, GCF support will not be effective or transformational unless it is based on principles and modalities of country ownership, with an articulated national strategy and planning and budgeting processes that mainstream climate change as the core framework through which finance will be delivered. Where necessary and requested by a country, the GCF should provide resources and capacity to help countries develop national strategies and enhance the mainstreaming of climate change in their planning and budgeting processes.

Finance can be provided as budget support or for specific programs, but in any case (including for private-sector finance) should clearly be provided according to a country-led strategy and plans, such as NAMAs, low-carbon development strategies, NAPAs, NAPs, etc. As further described below, a country-led strategy should be developed and overseen by a multi-stakeholder mechanism that includes government, civil society, affected communities and the private-sector. These processes will need to be designed by countries according to their particular circumstances.

In order to ensure country ownership for the management of climate finance, it is also vital that the TC fully implement the direct access modality as the preferred method by which developing countries will access finance. This should include providing financing through nationally-based implementing entities, perhaps including multiple entities in individual countries, to coordinate the implementation of country-led strategy and plans.

In addition, direct access should be considered for subnational entities, such as subnational governments and women’s and Indigenous Peoples’ organizations, to facilitate innovative, diverse and locally-appropriate initiatives. Such funding also should be pursuant to national strategies and plans, while allowing access for sectors of society that are under-represented.

Multi-stakeholder mechanism for development and oversight of country-led strategies

Ensuring real country ownership and the most effective development and implementation of country-led strategies will depend on meaningful stakeholder engagement at the country level. Past experience with finance models such as the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria and with country strategy processes such as the Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Program (CAADP) compacts can help to inform the development of such multi-stakeholder mechanisms and processes.

Multi-stakeholder mechanisms should aim to bring together government, civil society, affected communities (including women and Indigenous Peoples) and the private-sector to develop and oversee country-led strategies in order to ensure that those strategies and their implementation are as robust and inclusive as possible. It will not ultimately be possible to act in transformational ways to promote low-carbon and climate resilient development without an inclusive process that brings a range of country-level expertise and interests to the process. All of this also holds true for effective monitoring and evaluation of finance delivery and implementation.

In order to achieve these goals, we propose that the following language be included in options papers for the 3rd TC:

Funding shall be based on the development and implementation of country-led strategies developed and overseen by a multi-stakeholder mechanism/process that includes civil society, affected communities (including women and Indigenous Peoples), and the private sector. Such a mechanism/process should be designed by a country according to its particular circumstances.

Stakeholder participation and input must be meaningful, with full transparency regarding all aspects of finance and implementation and with adequate guidelines and capacity building to ensure full accessibility to the mechanism/process on an equitable basis, including for women, Indigenous Peoples, and other especially vulnerable populations and communities.

Monitoring and evaluation processes shall enable stakeholder participation and input, including from affected populations and communities, including women and Indigenous Peoples.

Stakeholder and civil society representation on GCF Board

Experience with multilateral funds over the past decade has shown that stakeholder representation and participation on the board of such funds can provide significant benefits in terms of contributing expertise and knowledge, strengthening public support, and facilitating effective governance and oversight. Examples, using varied models, include the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program, and the Climate Investment Funds. To achieve these benefits, and drawing on these past experiences, we propose the following stakeholder participation model for the GCF:

The GCF Board should include the following stakeholders as non-voting members:

  • Developing country CSO representative (1)
  • Affected communities representative (1)
  • Developed country CSO representative (1)
  • Private-sector representative (1)

Gender Sensitivity and Inclusiveness

At the 2nd meeting of the TC, there was substantial discussion of gender as a key issue for the TC to address. Women are disproportionately affected by climate change, and they are also key actors in building successful adaptation and mitigation responses at local, national and global levels. In order to fully address gender and women’s concerns, the GCF should ensure:

  • Balanced gender representation on the GCF Board and all Fund sub-boards, as well as in a future GCF Secretariat, advisory panels and other GCF bodies.
  • Full participation of women at country level in development and implementation of country-led strategies and plans (including balanced representation in country-level mechanisms and processes)
  • Full participation of women in affected and local communities in project planning, implementation and evaluation, together with safeguards and indicators to ensure gender equality
  • In following best practice at other global financial mechanisms (Global Fund and GAVI), the development of a GCF gender policy and a GCF gender implementation plan of action

Social and environmental safeguards

The TC should align the GCF’s social (including gender) and environmental policies with those internationally-agreed conventions, codes, action plans, soft law instruments, and sectoral best practice standards that give substantive content to the Parties’ commitments to promote sustainable development and environmental protection in their climate-related actions.

The GCF should build on the work of other international institutions that have already undertaken some standard setting in their areas of expertise, and create an institutional mechanism to ensure harmonization with other relevant UN treaties including, but not limited to, the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, and the Convention on Biological Diversity. The policies and procedures of multilateral development banks provide an additional resource for developing standards, to the extent that they may represent the highest standard, but they should not necessarily be the primary benchmark for harmonization.

The TC should ensure that the GCF’s social and environmental policies use at least the current highest standard of safeguards. Proliferation of standards overburdens develops countries and can lead to a least common denominator approach; conversely, common high standards will ensure both social and environmental integrity as well as increase effectiveness and efficiency.

Public access to critical project information is also essential, in particular for affected people to have a meaningful voice in how projects will be designed and implemented, how project costs and risks will be distributed among affected people, and how negative impacts will be mitigated and managed. As a practical matter, placing such information in the public domain in ways that are timely and easily accessible may substantially improve its quality and rigor. Allowing affected individuals and civil society organisations the opportunity to independently scrutinize the assumptions and methodologies of the project sponsor, and to test its conclusions against their own understanding of the local conditions, would help ensure that the GCF makes decisions based on the highest quality data available.

Transformational Action for Mitigation

At the second TC meeting, there was apparent consensus on the need to target Green Climate Fund mitigation funding towards those actions that are designed to have a “transformational” impact. Two categories of actions should meet this benchmark. First, it should include economy-wide or sector-wide actions, based on country-led strategies that would rapidly and significantly lower a country or region’s emissions trajectory. The GCF should assess programmatic interventions to determine those that can deliver the most tonnes of CO2 abated per dollar spent and per year, to ensure that its resources are devoted to securing the fastest, cheapest elimination of tonnes of CO2, also taking into account development objectives and safeguards. The focus here should be on supporting policies and programs to reduce financial and other barriers to the widespread deployment of proven technologies. The GCF should only support clean, safe, sustainable and efficient and non fossil fuel-based energy technologies. Second, “transformational action” should also include initiatives that may deliver smaller immediate reductions, but have the power to radically transform markets and patterns of private-sector investment over the medium to longer term.

While there was apparently broad agreement at the second TC meeting that the GCF should have the capacity to “leverage private-sector investment,” most of the discussion addressed the need for mechanisms to encourage private-sector co-financing of GCF supported actions. This kind of support is not necessarily transformational. Rather, the GCF should focus on supporting initiatives that reduce costs and eliminate barriers and perceived risks to the deployment of emerging low- and zero- carbon technologies and approaches, so that they can more quickly outcompete high-emitting technologies without ongoing public support. Feed in tariffs are an example of an approach that can catalyze the diffusion of near market technologies, and thus accelerate learning and the achievement of economies of scale. One-off projects that do not have broader market impacts should not be considered transformational.

Private-sector finance

Private-sector finance was discussed extensively at the 2nd meeting of the Transitional Committee. As various modes of undertaking private-sector finance are considered, it will be vital to ensure that private-sector investment (1) is undertaken through national institutions and in accordance with country-led strategies and plans, and (2) strengthens sustainability and resiliency of economies in countries receiving climate finance. If this is not done, the GCF will run a serious risk of undertaking private-sector finance as one-off projects that will not be connected to broader strategies aimed at achieving low-carbon and climate resilient development.

In addition, engaging the private-sector should not add to unsustainable debt or pass significant risk burden from the private to public sector in developing countries. Moreover, the GCF should engage private finance only when private financiers can guarantee transparency and accountability for complying with robust standards on environmental, social, and development effectiveness, as well as the implementation of robust due diligence processes designed to address financial, social, and environmental risks, and produce effective mitigation and adaptation outcomes. Further, the GCF should uphold best practice in financial oversight and governance practices.

The TC should also take into account that experience in development finance and carbon finance demonstrate the difficulty of matching the private-sector’s need for return on investment with the need for financing global public goods. Left on its own, international private finance often bypasses poorer countries, resulting in investments disproportionately going to larger middle-income countries and towards large-scale mitigation projects.
The TC should ensure that GCF resources directed toward the private-sector make substantial contributions to sustainable, vibrant local economies in developing countries, including in low-income countries. In order to support endogenous development that stimulates local entrepreneurship, the TC should assure access to financing for small, medium and microenterprises.

Finally, the GCF should not inappropriately provide finance for carbon offset projects and should ensure that its private-sector finance does not result in any double-counting of mitigation action by developed countries.

Balanced allocation for adaptation & mitigation

A key role of the GCF should be to address the current imbalanced funding for adaptation, and an initial share of 50 percent of the Fund’s resources should be allocated to adaptation. The appropriateness of these initial arrangements should be kept under regular review. The current system of climate financing is providing significantly greater resources to mitigation than to adaptation. It is estimated that less than 20% of major dedicated public climate funds to date have been disbursed to adaptation. In line with the “objective of achieving balanced allocation between adaptation and mitigation” set out in the TC’s Terms of Reference (Appendix III, 1c) it is vital that the GCF is designed to address this gap by guaranteeing a fair share of resources for adaptation. In addition, adaptation finance should be provided in the form of grants.

Restrictions on earmarking by donor governments

In order to ensure that a fully balanced allocation between adaptation and mitigation is achieved, and to avoid allocating funds not in keeping with the goals of the GCF Board, contributions to the Fund should be made without advance earmarking. Decisions on allocation between programmes, countries, or thematic windows should be made by the GCF board. Earmarking for specific windows should be allowable only if evidence of the need to do so is agreed by the GCF Board.

Ability to access wide range of financial sources

The GCF should be structured in such a way that it can receive funding from a wide range of financial sources, including national budgetary contributions and innovative public financing, such as from international transport mechanisms or financial transactions taxes. Both regular replenishments from national budgets and continual sourcing should be available to the Fund.

Legal personality

At the 2nd meeting of the Transitional Committee, the issue of the legal personality of the GCF was raised by a number of parties. In our view, the GCF should be granted or acquire explicit legal personality in order to ensure that the Fund has the requisite legal capacity to undertake its functions effectively. This is particularly necessary so that the Fund can enter into contracts in order to implement direct access to the Fund.

Redress mechanism

Another important element for effective stakeholder inclusion early-on is to ensure that there are easily accessible ‘redress mechanisms’ at every level of decision-making, including national and international levels, to which stakeholders can take their grievances. Such a mechanism has also been referred to in the WS IV scoping paper (TC-2/WSIV/1, page 7).
Three minimum criteria are necessary for these redress mechanisms to be credible: independence, public accountability and effectiveness. To ensure the independence of the mechanism, members should be chosen from outside the institution, and their budget should be independent and adequate. For public accountability, the public and affected people should have access to every stage of the redress process, and the mechanism must be transparent so that it is credible and understandable for affected people. To be effective, the mechanism must have the authority to ensure that their recommendations are acted upon

Shared Vision Needed Before Durban

ECO loves workshops, and luckily, there more are to come! For instance, the facilitators of the shared vision informal have keenly noticed an interest by Parties to hold one more workshop on what a long-term global goal for emission reductions might mean for developing countries – and ECO would add  – global peaking year.

Here ECO offers two smart observations: (i) if the workshop is held only in Durban (rather than, as ECO would suggest, at the tentative Fall/Spring session) Parties will not be able to adopt a COP decision on the much-needed long-term goal just a few days later (as if at these talks anything was ever dealt with at the urgency and speed it deserved); and (ii) the experience of Copenhagen shows that it doesn’t take a workshop to know that negotiating a long-term goal without understanding who contributes what and what’s the fair share of their responsibility, will be very difficult. ECO believes that this understanding, at least in some principled form, needs to be in the Shared Vision outcome of Durban.

The long-term goal itself, as well as the peaking year, requires a look in the science books rather than negotiations or workshops.  The potential to act on the outcome of the review, which could recommend a strengthening of the temperature target to 1.5°C (for the sake of millions, future generations, and many islands and their inhabitants) must be kept in sight.  This calls for an emissions pathway that keeps 1.5°C within reach while allowing a high probability for keeping warming well below 2°C.

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CAN Talking Points - Mitigation - June 2011

Overview

A.  Clarify assumptions behind pledges:Developed countries must clarify their assumptions on domestic efforts and the use of carbon offsets, LULUCF accounting and AAU carry-over. Developing countries should provide information on key factors underlying BAU projections, e.g. energy use or economic development. They should also clarify what emissions savings they plan to achieve independently and what additional savings could be achieved with support.

B.   Close loopholes and agree common rules:Parties should seek to minimise or close off loopholes, such as bogus LULUCF accounting rules, AAU carry-over or new hot air from weak 2020 pledges in certain developed countries. This must lead to agreement on improved common accountingand reporting rules showing the true emissions of each country.

C.  Clarify conditions and move to the high end of pledges:By Durban at the latest, developed countries must move to the high end of their pledged ranges. Developed countries with conditional (upper end of) pledges must clarify these conditions, identify which conditions been met and indicate what is needed to meet the remaining conditions.

  1. Increase overall effort to get the world on a 1.5°C/2°C pathway:By Durban at the latest, Parties must begin negotiations to increase overall ambition, beyond the high end of current pledges[1]. This must lead to developed countries moving towards more than 40% reductions by 2020, but also developing countries increasing their overall effort, supported through international climate finance.
  2. Make progress on Low Emission Development Strategies:Between now and Durban, Parties should, through additional workshops, develop common templates and guidelines and review procedures for the Low Emission Development Strategies.


[1]Even in the best of all cases (countries implementing the high end of their pledges using strict accounting rules) global emissions are likely to be between 5 (UNEP) and 10 (Climate Action Tracker) GtCO2eq above what they should be for a 1.5°C/2°C emissions pathway.

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