Tag: Mitigation

Lessons from Year 1 of Fast Start Finance

It’s the end of the first year of the Fast Start Finance (FSF) learning period.  
Already it’s clear that vital lessons must be discerned and addressed in decisions here in Cancun on long-term finance. There are three key lessons, so please take note.  
First, the balance between adaptation and mitigation must be defined.  Despite the commitment in the Copenhagen Accord to ‘balanced allocation’ between 
adaptation and mitigation, more than 80% of FSF has been allocated to mitigation.  Worse still, it is estimated that less than 10% of major dedicated public climate funds to date (including FSF) have been allocated to adaptation (climatefundsupdate.org).
This is only the latest episode in the history of adaptation being the poor cousin of mitigation. We cannot afford to wait any longer to close the ‘adaptation gap’.  We need to establish a fair climate fund that guarantees at least 50% of resources are allocated to adaptation.
Second, the ‘new and additional’ problem isn’t going to go away.  There isn’t a shared definition of ‘new and additional’ and some seem to hope there never will be.  That’s not good enough.  The problem will come back to haunt us every year until a common definition is agreed.  As discussions over long-term scaled up finance intensify, so too will concerns about the amount of money being diverted from development aid to climate finance.
To address this, the mandate of the Standing Committee on Climate Finance (the body charged with oversight of financing flows) should be mandated to propose a common framework for the additionality of long-term finance to be adopted by the COP.
Third, the role of loans needs far greater clarity.  We know a large proportion of financing is being channelled as loans – 52% in the case of the EU, for example. That’s bad enough – countries should not have to get into debt to adapt to climate change that they didn’t cause.
But what’s worse is that Parties haven’t even agreed how to account for the loans provided. Germany, for example, initially counted only the grant equivalent of its loans, whilst France accounted for the full gross value. To be fair, Germany has now reversed their approach.  Clarity is needed to confront these diverging approaches.  To start with, the Standing Committee should have a mandate to propose a common framework for use of loans in long-term financing.
It is crucial to apply these lessons to the development and deployment of long-term climate financing.

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Looking Ahead: 
LCA Mitigation

As we eagerly anticipate the release of an actual LCA mitigation text, ECO is confident that it is realistic to expect substantial progress here in Cancun.
The new text will need to tackle some very controversial issues. One of the biggest debates currently underway is the inscription of emission pledges by parties. Not only does the magnitude of the pledges determine of the size of the Gigatonne Gap, the question of where they are placed reaches right into the heart of these negotiations. Should pledges be placed in the KP, the LCA or both, or should there be an independent decision on these pledges and how to go about monitoring them?
It is isn’t surprising that a lot of time is being spent on discussing this structural issue, but the concerns need to be guided by the willingness to move forward.
No balanced climate package can be achieved without resolution on ambitious mitigation targets by developed countries within the text. The bottom line is that developed countries still need to agree an aggregate reduction target of more than 40% below 1990 levels by 2020, with emissions peaking in 2015. The Gigatonne Gap should still be acknowledged and measures to bridge this gap addressed within the text.
Meanwhile, developing countries must define their nationally appropriate mitigation actions (NAMAs) that contribute to sustainable development, with technical support provided to help design and implement them.
Each country must agree to develop a low carbon climate-resilient development strategy – in the case of developed countries, a zero carbon approach, and in the case of developing countries, contingent on support with NAMAs providing the building blocks. These should be long term strategic plans to decarbonize a country’s economy by 2050.
Monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) and international consultation and Analysis (ICA) must be developed in a way that adheres to the principles of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities, whilst ensuring environmental integrity. Agreeing MRV rules for developed countries under the Convention that are comparable to the Kyoto Protocol must be as important as ICA for developing countries.
Meaningful progress on all of these issues is eminently within reach in Cancun. A strong mitigation text is necessary as a first step to ensure progress on all other fronts. Let’s ensure this balanced package leads to a fair, ambitious, and legally binding deal in Durban next year.

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LULUCF: Moment 
of Decision

The future of Annex I forests and their role in climate change mitigation is about to be decided here in Cancun.
ECO has long highlighted how inappropriate and possibly fraudulent LULUCF accounting rules could be used by Annex I Parties to avoid accounting for their forestry emissions. This week a group of NGOs assessed the scale of these impacts, in particular, the magnitude of proposed forest management baselines relative to the ambition of Parties’ pledges. Astonishingly, the emission reduction efforts of some Parties could be reduced by up to 66% as a consequence of unaccounted emissions from logging their forests.
There is still more than one proposal on the table, and it is clear that the impact of forest management accounting on countries’ pledges will differ depending on the approach agreed upon.
A review process was proposed by developing countries earlier this year to evaluate the robustness of favoured baseline proposals by Annex I countries. The new KP Chair’s text calls on Parties to provide the required information by February 2011 and for expert reviewers to conclude their review by May.
But let’s be clear.  The impact of the proposed reference levels is unacceptable and a review won’t fix that. However, broadening the review to include an objective analysis of all accounting options could help Parties make an informed decision about which approach should be used in the second commitment period. To do this, Parties would need to provide information about each of the potential options on the table and how it will impact their pledges.
This analysis is urgently required for a meaningful discussion on numbers. That will achieve two crucial things: the discussion of ‘numbers’ will go forward with consideration of all potential options, and decisions will be made based on the likely real impacts on the climate.


Party Emission Reduction Pledge % 2020 Unaccounted Logging Emissions %
Canada -17 +1.4
New Zealand -10 to -20 +66.0
Norway -30 to -40 +8.7
Russian Fed -15 to -25 +5.5
Australia -5 to -15 +4.0
Japan -25 +3.6
EU -20 to -30 +2.7
Switzerland -20 to -30 +2.4

Notes: Figures are percentages of country-specific base years.  Pledged emission reductions for 2020 (rel 1990) from FCCC/KP/AWG/2010/INF.2/Rev.1.  Unaccounted logging emissions equals the difference between Party’s proposed reference levels and average of historical net emissions.  The estimate of average historical net emissions from Annex I forest management calculated using data from 1990-2008 (forest land remaining forest land) from Parties’ 2010 
inventory submissions.  Any adjustments were made on consultation with Parties and technical experts.  Japan has not yet indicated whether its pledges include accounting for forest management.

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Oxfam: UN report shows climate funds can be raised without costing the taxpayer

A new report from the UN’s High-level Advisory Group on Climate Change Financing (AGF) shows that raising the public money to help poor countries protect themselves from climate change is possible without costing the taxpayer, Oxfam told the UK government today.

“This report clearly shows that money to tackle climate change and help poor communities adapt can be raised without dipping into taxpayers’ pockets. The next step is for political leaders to lay out a clear roadmap for making this funding a reality.” said Tracy Carty, Oxfam Climate Change Policy Advisor.

The AGF was established by the UN Secretary General in February 2010 to advise on how developed countries could deliver on their promise to raise $100bn per year to help poor countries adapt to a changing climate and reduce emissions.

The sources of money identified in the report must now be championed by Chris Huhne, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, and other members of the AGF group.

“Clear backing from the UK Government will be essential for fair levies on uncapped emissions in international shipping and aviation and a Robin Hood Tax on banks with money earmarked for climate change. But in order to do so the UK must urgently clarify its position on these crucial sources of public finance identified in the AGF report.” said Carty.

Countries meeting at the UN climate change talks in Cancun later this month must now establish a global climate fund to manage this money and agree a process for deciding how they will finance it by the next climate summit in South Africa in 2011. By using these innovative sources, governments can raise enough money from public sources without siphoning from existing development aid money. As some members of the UN panel recognized, private finance cannot meet the needs of developing countries for adaptation.

Carty said: “The $100bn committed to in the Copenhagen Accord must come from public sources of funding rather than private to ensure it reaches communities desperately in need of money to help them adapt to climate change and develop in a low carbon way.”

Oxfam warned that the report’s inclusion of the World Bank as a potential finance source should not be used to undermine international negotiations on the establishment of a new, independent global climate fund that is fair and accessible. For the fund to be effective poor countries must have a say in decisions on how the money is managed and at least half of the funding should address climate change impacts on the most vulnerable.

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Denmark Lays the ZCAP Groundwork

Copenhagen brings back many memories. Long, freezing queues outside the Bella Centre, a COP president oblivious to basic UN procedures, and most importantly, no FAB (fair, ambitious, binding) deal.

Who would think that Denmark, less than a year later, would be the place making
ambitious progress in the fight against climate change!

Only a fool would hesitate to invest today in a rapid and complete transition to a fossil fuel free economy. This was pretty much the message from the Danish Climate Commission to the government when asked about the possibilities of phasing out fossil fuels in Denmark by 2050.

The commission’s report concluded that the long term additional costs of becoming fossil fuel independent would be ‘in the order of 0.5% of Denmark’s GDP in 2050’.  However, they went on, the conversion must start now in order to ensure cost efficiency.

The commission adopted 40 concrete recommendations, including expansion of offshore wind capacity by 200 MW annually on average in 2015-2025.  Neither CCS nor nuclear power is included in the vision, primarily because both were deemed to be cost-prohibitive.

So far, the Prime Minister’s response is that Denmark should increase the use of wind power, biomass and electric vehicles, although a concrete follow-up plan -- a Zero Carbon Action Plan (ZCAP) -- has yet to be presented.  But further, the Prime Minister now also supports the demand to raise the level of ambition in the EU, moving from a 20% to a 30% reduction target on 1990 levels by 2020.

The Danish opposition and NGOs are now pushing for the government to produce an ambitious and concrete ZCAP as a response to the recommendations from the commission. Whether that will be delivered is yet to be seen, but chances are that the Danish government is waking up and discovering that the race to the green future has already begun.

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Dear Brollies...

While walking past the copy machine in the Maritim, ECO spotted a teacher's note intended for the 'Brollies' (Australian slang for the small tent-like device called an 'umbrella' designed to shield oneself from rain and other realities).  It read as follows: Dear Brollies . . . You're good at the 3 R's (reading, [w]riting and [a]rithmetic), although you could improve on your maths.  But your marks are not adequate at all on avoiding dangerous climate change.  So this term, it's time to focus on the 3 C's – a Common Position leading to Common Rules and Strong Compliance. You have often lamented in class that any consolidation of commitments cannot be based on a 1992 world.  Well, Brollies, it cuts both ways.  The regime cannot afford to be based on a pre-1997 version of industrialized country commitments, yet your Umbrella Group submission in the LCA contact group on the MRV of Non-Annex I mitigation actions seems to suggest just that. Developed countries undertake commitments and they must be complied with.  That is what leadership looks like.  Merely reviewing progress toward a target isn't sufficient.  Perhaps you should review the study plan for this term: Transparency in the developed country context isn't just about building trust amongst Parties, but also to detect when they aren't fulfilling their commitments.  It is clear that the current regime lacks a robust early warning system for non-compliance (Canada, please stop hiding behind the umbrella). A policy review process could assist in enhancing the regime, but it can't be the end of the story.  Strong compliance with legally binding commitments is crucial to building a regime for avoiding dangerous climate change. The question must be put: What happens if expert reviewers detect a problem?  (And the answer can't be 'nothing'!) To assess compliance, common accounting and reporting standards are needed.  This applies just as much to calculating emissions reductions as it does to the support provided by industrialized countries.  It's encouraging that you Brollies can come to a common position, so it shouldn't be a big step to agree common rules.  There is plenty of material to draw from and improve upon (for example, look in your Kyoto lesson plan)! If you are questioning the need for common accounting and reporting rules, please refer to the fast start financing reports published by the US (at the April MEF session) and the EU (both at and before this session).  While the depth and quality of reports are welcome, other Brollies must follow suit and report on the state of your fast-start financing.  This includes defining the terms and revising the relevant National Communication guidelines for reporting on financial, technological and capacity building support. Remember, progress on MRV rules will be key to ensuring a successful outcome in Cancun.  However, this means detailed progress on all fronts: Annex I emission reduction commitments, Non-Annex I nationally appropriate mitigation actions and support for them provided by you and the non-Brollie Annex I countries. You're making some progress, but to pass this term, remember that your grade depends on all 3 Cs:  a Common Position leading to Common Rules and Strong Compliance.  The final exam is in Cancun, so don't fall behind in your work going forward! /signed/ Professor M.R.V.

How Biodiversity Supports Climate Resilience

This is the International Year of Biodiversity.  ‘So what’ ECO hears you say. ‘Nothing to do with us – we just deal with climate change.’ That would be wrong! Biological diversity supports ecosystems essential for human life, including climate regulation, water, food security and protection from natural disasters. Climate change is an increasing cause of biodiversity loss that in turn adds to the impacts of climate change.  Healthy ecosystems are particularly important for people living in poverty – they depend far more directly on natural resources for their livelihoods and survival.  Ah, now you’re seeing the connection to our agenda . . . The starting point is that mitigation and adaptation must be based on sound science. An important new report, ‘Global Biodiversity Outlook 3’ (Convention on Biological Diversity, May 2010) supports this. GEO3 is also a wake up call.  In many places across the world, natural systems supporting economies, lives and livelihoods are at risk of rapid degradation and collapse.  While the poorest people suffer disproportionately from deteriorating ecosystems, ultimately, everyone stands to lose.  Climate change and biodiversity are inextricably linked. Government policy and our personal choices determine how human drivers of both will shape our future. Time is short.  The challenge to stay below 2o C of warming looms ever larger. The current Copenhagen pledges add up to a 3o to 4o C world by 2100 at best. At the same time, we have massively failed to meet the CBD’s target to significantly reduce the rate of biodiversity loss globally by 2010 (agreed by world leaders at the Johannesburg World Summit in 2002 and integrated into the Millennium Development Goals, MDGs). Catastrophic changes to our planet could happen well within the lifetime of our children. One planet.  Unabated, these crises will change our planet’s unique human-life supporting conditions.  Above 2o C of warming, ecosystem capacity to meet the needs of present and future generations will be severely compromised.  In fact, even at a 1.5o C increase, lives in vulnerable places such as small island developing states and communities in the polar regions will be tremendously difficult, and for some, impossible. Costs increase the more we delay.  TEEB (The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity, 2009) is providing an economic evidence base for decision-makers, as Stern did for climate change. Addressing these challenges together will reduce costs and secure multiple benefits. But we must not steal from one pot to put money into another.  New, not recycled, public money is essential. Money promised in the CBD process in the past should not be counted towards satisfying fast-start finance promises. Adaptation can support or harm nature and people. Supporting natural and social resilience is cost effective, locally appropriate and our insurance mechanism for the future. Mitigation.  Nature can help. Ecosystems such as forests and peatlands absorb and store carbon, as do oceans and water bodies.  If our mitigation choices harm natural systems, such as biofuels replacing natural forest, we risk releasing stored carbon into the atmosphere. 190 Parties engaged in the UNFCCC are also signatories to the Convention on Biological Diversity. Meeting the MDGs by 2015 is the international commitment to tackle poverty. This year through to Rio+20 in 2012 provides an opportunity not to be missed. Governments will meet to discuss biodiversity in New York this September and Nagoya in October, international development at the MDG Summit in New York in September and climate change in Cancun at the end of 2010. Parties in the UNFCCC have a crucial role to play in encouraging cooperation and ensuring effective opportunities to make sure the links are made at national and international levels.  Addressing these interconnected crises in a mutually reinforcing way is the only realistic and cost effective way forward for our modern world.

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