Tag: Mitigation

The Truth About Mitigation – It’s Still Inconvenient!

The bright and shiny moments in yesterday’s workshop on mitigation targets of developed countries were noticeable, albeit sparse, and mostly rhetorical. It seems to ECO, the truth is still inconvenient!

We learned that reducing emissions is good for the economy. Many countries re- affirmed the need to increase the ambition level and were very aware of the gap between current pledges and the cuts needed to stay below 2 degrees of warming, let alone the needed 1.5°C limit. And nearly everyone – except the U.S. – acknowledged the need for common accounting standards to ensure the environmental integrity of this global climate cooperation.

But, to put it simply, knowing a thing and doing a thing isn’t the same thing...

On the difficult questions CAN posed; negotiators did not have such positive answers. For example, what will their true emissions be? Assumptions on forests and other land use accounting, the use of carbon offsets and hot air carry-over are all huge potential loopholes. While there was some conversation on this subject – with the U.S. promising to count both sources and sinks in its land-based accounting approach and challenging other countries’ approaches – there was no definitive account of those true emissions. Russia, Iceland and others didn’t take up the challenge, but you know, there’s those inconvenient ‘national circumstances’ to consider. The offsets question was kicked to the MRV discussion...so stay tuned.

CAN expected that developed countries with current pledges below the 25-40% range would explain how their low pledges are consistent with their fair share of the needed global mitigation efforts. We did not get answers. We just heard a lot about ‘conditions’ that must be met before they will tell us their real target.

CAN expected developed countries whose pledges are below their current Kyoto targets, and/or below business as usual under existing domestic legislation and targets, to explain how those pledges constitute progress. To ECO’s dismay, one candidate for this question, Canada, didn’t even sit for the exam. Another, the EU, wiggled free of the challenge by explaining that member states really want to achieve their long-agreed voluntary energy efficiency targets which is needed to cut their domestic emissions overall by 25%. ECO, along with the Philippines, would like to ask how that makes the EU a climate leader.

ECO also wanted to know how their 2020 pledges will allow them to achieve near-zero emissions by 2050.        Only Norway seemed to come even close to answering, but Germany did present indicative decadal targets for -80% by 2050, while the UK’s trajectory to -80% is enshrined in national law. The UK’s model is overall not a bad model for a low-emission development strategy. There was a potentially encouraging admission by Poland that it was too addicted to coal and was embracing energy efficiency. Now, if only Poland took that realisation to Brussels.

While additional details remain to be tabled, equally important work must begin to enable the leading industrialized countries of the world to ensure the environmental integrity of their emissions targets.


The Emperor’s Clothes

ECO keenly looks forward to today’s presentations on developing country action as we expect they will demonstrate more ambition and readiness for action than what was presented yesterday.

Many developing countries have recognized that their pledges and NAMAs can reduce emissions while growing their economies sustainably and creating a climate safe future. A future where people are lifted out of poverty, have access to clean safe energy, and the unavoidable impacts of climate change managed.

NAMAs should be developed within the context of Low Emission Development Strategies or Plans (LEDS/P) both to reduce emissions below business as usual in the short term and to fulfill their sustainable development objectives while also achieving a low carbon economy.

Specific steps which can be taken internationally this year include:

  • Making operational a robust MRV system and Registry – enabling recognition of early action and matching enhanced action with support;
  • Agreeing a concrete plan and timetable by Durban to clarify the assumptions, metrics and scope of actions, and related support required;
  • Establishing an ongoing iterative process that involves hearing from every single country on their strategies and plans.

Early action is needed and the capability to act is there. However, technological and financial support as well as capacity building is crucial to realize the full potential of mitigation actions in developing countries.

There is thus a dual obligation on developed countries to both act and support. Fulfilling that obligation will give practical meaning to the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities. This support is essential for both preparation and implementation of Low Emission Development Strategies or Plans and NAMAs.

The ongoing lack of ambition by developed countries is a serious breach of trust in terms their existing obligations under both the Convention and the Protocol. To ensure environmental integrity in an equitable manner developed countries must reduce their emissions by more than 40% and leave sustainable development space for developing countries. But it is clear that all countries need to do far more, as ECO has said many times over. Those with more capabilities should act sooner and faster.


CAN Submission: Measurement, Reporting and Verification (MRV) and ICA, March 2011

CAN views on the work program on developing modalities and guidelines  for measurement, reporting and verification (MRV) and International Assessment and Review (IAR) for developed country commitments and actions and on the development of modalities and guidelines for MRV and International Consultation and Analysis (ICA) of developing country actions, as well as on the initial scheduling of work for both developed and developing countries.

CAN Submission: Views on enhancing the cost-effectiveness of, and promoting, mitigation actions, February 2011

In this submission the Climate Action Network International looks at a non-exhaustive list of policies and measures which are aimed at directly or indirectly reducing or mitigating greenhouse gas emissions. For each of  the measures a short analysis will be provided together with an assessment of their cost-effectiveness. The types of measures discussed are placed under the categories financial instruments or regulatory approaches, both in a broad sense.

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 
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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