Significantly Enhanced Global Effort by all Parties
Environmental Integrity and Equity
Common But Differentiated Responsibilities and Respective Capabilities
Developed countries should take the lead on emission reductions and support
Developing country actions taken in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication
To view the full presentation, view pdf above.
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.
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 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.
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.
Climate change is already negatively affecting the lives and livelihoods of poor men and women. Yet it is estimated that less than a tenth of climate funds to date have been spent on helping people in vulnerable countries adapt to the impacts of climate change. The poor are losing out twice: they are hardest hit by climate change they didn’t cause, and they are being neglected by funds that should be helping them. Climate finance can and must be made to work from the bottom up, particularly for women smallholder farmers.
You’ve heard about all the trouble with the logging loophole in LULUCF. But there’s another important agenda on emissions from non-forest lands under the Kyoto Protocol.
Several ideas such as mandatory accounting for cropland management and grazing land management, and the introduction of a new activity category of wetland management, have languished with very little discussion. Yet Parties seem to think they are on the downhill run wrapping up LULUCF.
Emission from biofuels (processing crops and burning them as transport fuels) also risks being mostly ignored at a time when they are expected to grow rapidly as an alternative to fossil fuels.
There are issues with data availability and accuracy in accounting for these activities. But that is no excuse for deferring action in the second commitment period. One thing that can be done is to use a hotspots approach, concentrate MRV efforts on identifying the lands with the most significant sources of emissions, and estimate these activities in the most accurate and practicable way whilst commencing on a SBSTA program to introduce more comprehensive accounting.
The new rules could well make a huge amount of forest management emissions vanish through a loophole, but even worse, also fail to capture significant emissions arising from the other land use activities.
There is still time to construct a complete agenda for LULUCF rules with integrity for the next commitment period, but there is not a moment more to lose.
ECO is in shock! Are we really witnessing a race to the top for the transparency of fast start finance?
After months of pestering developed countries about fast-start disclosure, the United States – a country not known for its climate leadership – says it will disclose so much information that the Dutch fast start finance website will put up ‘under construction’ signs.
Todd Stern stated at the finance meeting in Geneva that the US would undertake a ‘very detailed document’, much to the shock (and possibly horror) of its Umbrella Group colleagues.
ECO understands the US will proudly announce that much of its fast-start finance is ‘new and additional’. That’s easy to do when your previous climate finance contributions are close to zero. On the other hand, this doesn’t help the comparison of additionality of different rich country contributions. Only a fair common baseline across all contributing countries will allow that. What’s actually additional gets even more complicated because the US seems ready to double-count funds for its G8 Food Security commitment towards its fast start package.
If the EU wants to call itself a climate finance leader, a common baseline to measure ‘new and additional’ is a real test of its conviction, and would pressure other rich countries to follow suit. That’s the race to the top these talks actually need. ECO would like to remind parties that disclosure and transparency is the first step towards creating accountability and confidence.
Whilst the EU worries about being put in the shade by the US report, they have an opportunity to reclaim their leadership on climate finance by agreeing internally a fair and common baseline for additionality and proposing it for adoption by all parties in Cancun. ECO understands the EU has considered a common baseline proposal to be included in the EU Fast Start Finance report which could nudge the US to the same starting position. We’ll know when that report is finalised by mid-November.
Finally, developed countries have no leg to stand on regarding MRV of actions if they cannot be transparent in their support. We will know more in Cancun about US and EU commitment to transparency of both sources and uses of their fast start
finance, and that will be the time to check in on whether the Brollies have taken heed as well. So stay tuned to your fast start finance channel right here in ECO!