Tag: UNFCCC

Tom Wang, Greenpeace China in Tianjin

Tom Wang of Greenpeace China at the UNFCCC climate talks in Tianjin China

Tom Wang of Greenpeace China at the UNFCCC climate talks in Tianjin China
 

courtesy OneWorld TV

Assessing dangerous climate change through an update of the IPCC ‘‘reasons for concern"

 

Article 2 of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change [United Nations (1992) http://unfccc.int/resource/docs/convkp/conveng.pdf. Accessed February 9, 2009] commits signatory nations to stabilizing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that ‘‘would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference (DAI) with the climate system. ’’ In an effort to provide some insight into impacts of climate change that might be considered DAI, authors of the Third Assessment Report (TAR) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) identified 5 ‘‘reasons for concern’’ (RFCs). Relationships between various impacts reflected in each RFC and increases in global mean temperature (GMT) were portrayed in what has come to be called the ‘‘burning embers diagram.’’ In presenting the ‘‘embers’’ in the TAR, IPCC authors did not assess whether any single RFC was more important than any other; nor did they conclude what level of impacts or what atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases would constitute DAI, a value judgment that would be policy prescriptive. Here, we describe revisions of the sensitivities of the
RFCs to increases in GMT and a more thorough understanding of the concept of vulnerability that has evolved over the past 8 years. This is based on our expert judgment about new findings in the growing literature since the publication of the TAR in 2001, including literature that was assessed in the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report (AR4), as well as additional research published since AR4. Compared with results reported in the TAR, smaller increases in GMT are now estimated to lead to significant or substantial consequences in the framework of the 5 ‘‘reasons for concern.’’
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Estimating least-developed countries’ vulnerability to climate-related extreme events over the next 50 years - 2010

 

When will least developed countries be most vulnerable to climate change, given the influence of projected socio-economic development? The question is important, not least because current levels of international assistance to support adaptation lag more than an order of magnitude below what analysts estimate to be needed, and scaling up support could take many years. In this paper, we examine this question using an empirically derived model of human losses to climate-related extreme events, as an indicator of vulnerability and the need for adaptation assistance. We develop a set of 50-year scenarios for these losses in one country, Mozambique, using high-resolution climate projections, and then extend the results to a sample of 23 least-developed countries. Our approach takes into account both potential changes in countries’ exposure to
climatic extreme events, and socio-economic development trends that influence countries’ own adaptive capacities. Our results suggest that the effects of socio-economic development trends may begin to offset rising climate exposure in the second quarter of the century, and that it is in the period between now and then that vulnerability will rise most quickly. This implies an urgency to the need for international assistance to finance adaptation. 
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Global Climate Fund_Briefing Paper _Oxfam - Oct 2010

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.  

Starting with the formal establishment of a new Global Climate Fund, decisions on climate finance governance need to set a new direction for a post-2012 era.  This paper presents a vision for a new Fund and broader finance system that is effective in meeting the scale of developing country financing needs, and is widely considered – by governments and civil societies – to be legitimate in its decision-making.  
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No Time to Lose

Dearest delegates, we gather you’ve been working hard behind those mostly closed doors. But let’s face it, following the failure of Copenhagen to deliver a fair, ambitious and binding agreement, the refusal all this year to set aside differences and focus on areas of convergence may yet scupper the UNFCCC talks. At Cancun, you will bear a heavy responsibility.
If one were to believe the international media, the story of Tianjin has been a high stakes standoff between the US and China, ‘I won’t do till you do’ stalling, and negotiating paralysis. So let’s unpack that a bit.
On the one side there is the United States, the emissions superpower that so far has not submitted itself to internationally binding carbon reduction commitments, and really has to do far more than a measly 4% reduction target on 1990 levels. A commitment on long-term finance would suit the Americans much better than a tone of righteous indignation. And though it pains us to say it, as in Bali, the US should step aside if it is not able to make real commitments, and let the world conclude an ambitious deal.
On the other side, China has been working hard at home to implement a commendable low carbon vision. China could propel the negotiations forward by agreeing to international consultation and analysis of its low carbon actions.
There are, however, more than two countries in the world and every country has something to offer in the negotiations. Whilst things have not gone smoothly this week, we gather that Parties made some incremental progress. However, incremental progress does not cut it with the planet, nor will it be sufficient at Cancun.
Creating momentum requires commitment. At Cancun we need to refuel and take aim at the most ambitious level of agreement possible across all elements. Crucially, we need to map out the next important step of our journey to a fair, ambitious and binding deal in South Africa. A failure to plan our route – with a timeline, workplans and format for negotiations – will have us meandering along the dirt tracks as if we had all the time in the world, whilst climate destruction takes the fast road.
A positive development at this meeting is that negotiators have begun to grapple with the package for Cancun. The fact that a vast majority of Parties are seeking a legally binding outcome in the LCA track is self-evident.
But we are also pleased that so many Parties have expressed willingness to recommit to the Kyoto Protocol with a second commitment period. That must be crystal clear in the Cancun package.
It is essential that the stand-off in the legal matters group ends, otherwise there may be unintended consequences to the future of the Kyoto Protocol.
Parties gave assurance in Bali that there would be no gap between commitment periods. But that’s not what is happening, and carbon markets, already soft since Copenhagen, will likely weaken further.
Here are essential elements of the package to contemplate between Tianjin and Cancun:
FINANCE
Discussions on finance have focused on the establishment of a new fund under the Convention. The COP should also establish an oversight body to perform crucial functions such as ensuring coherence of the financial mechanism, coordination, and assuring a balance of funding.
We know that some countries have been working hard to bridge the divisions on these issues. At Cancun we expect that Parties will establish a Fund with democratic governance, providing direct access for developing countries, and functioning under the guidance and authority of the COP.
TECHNOLOGY
Technology often tops the lists of potential outcomes in Cancun, yet the details have remained elusive in Tianjin. The key question is the institutional arrangements of a multilateral mechanism, with the aim to scale up and speed up the use of climate friendly technologies. Here again, governance should be placed under the authority of an entity whose mission is focused on limiting warming to 1.5o C.
MITIGATION
Mitigation clearly is a most essential element of the package. Despite this, negotiators chose to dive into contention rather than seeking convergence. A focus on developed country pledges, the NAMA mechanism, as well as NAMA design, preparation and implementation took form only on Thursday.
In preparation for Cancun, Parties should replace their ‘dog ate my homework’ excuse with a willingness to agree rules that will ensure the environmental integrity of their emissions reductions.
Before Cancun, we recommend catching up on the science. Preventing dangerous climate change clearly requires more substantial emissions reductions. A balanced Cancun package will require Annex I parties to show how they are going to meet their moral obligations and to act in line with the science. We recommend acknowledging the gigatonne gap between current pledges and science based targets, and agreeing a route to South Africa that addresses ways to close the gap.
CAPACITY BUILDING
Everybody appears to agree that capacity building is both vital to success and key to movement in Cancun. The principles were well-established as early as COP 7, and developing countries (particularly LDCs, SIDs and Africa) have been clamouring for years for a dedicated capacity building framework with real resources and a genuine desire to succeed. And yet still nothing happens. How long will it take at this rate?
LULUCF
The logging industry must be thrilled at how forest negotiators mangled the
LULUCF accounting rules this week. The proposal forwarded to Cancun undermines the environmental integrity of Kyoto by hiding increases in emissions and awarding false credits to loggers.
Because so much time was spent on devising these accounting tricks, minimal
attention got paid to emissions from land-use change beyond forests – another potential loophole. The only proposal for managing forests that has any environmental integrity was given short shrift.
Furthermore, the damage this proposed decision can do to REDD accounting is not to be underestimated. To prevent another Marrakesh, the damaging impact of forest accounting on the targets will have to be addressed in the broader KP numbers discussion.
REDD
From time to time this week, the curtain has lifted on the Dante-esque world of the REDD+ Partnership. We have been mesmerised by the heroic, if misguided, struggle between the co-chairs and the rest of the world. However, we are also saddened that what could be a valuable institution has become a farce. We can only hope that things will get better.
ADAPTATION
A focused atmosphere prevailed in the adaptation talks, which are progressing on content and may eventually deliver a compromise agreement. ECO reminds parties that the adaptation framework must include operational elements and result in action on the ground.
To move forward, Cancun must clarify the functions of the adaptation committee, enable a tangible solution on loss and damage, finally put response measures back in its box, and search for balance between adaptation and mitigation funding, including a pre-allocation scheme.
 

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The EU Chooses

Next Thursday, European environment ministers will discuss whether the EU should upgrade its 2020 target to 30% unilaterally. ECO says yes! And while you are at it, make sure to meet it domestically, so that any offsetting comes on top of 30%.
While several environment ministers have already indicated their support, others are holding back. But let’s face it, almost everybody expects the EU is going to move to 30% anyway. The more time they waste discussing the matter, the more time they lose reaping the economic advantages.
For two years now, the EU has not budged from its conditional pledge to increase to 30% if comparable efforts are made by other major economies. But this position has diminishing relevance.
Several studies, including from the European Commission, clearly show that EU has good reason to increase ambition right now. The most obvious is that they have
already nearly reached the 20% target, a full 10 years before 2020!
According to the European Environment Agency, the EU’s 2009 emissions stood at approximately 17.3% below 1990 levels. Although the economic crisis is part of the reason, there is no doubt that most of the effort has already happened.
Second, consider the low-carbon race. China became the biggest wind market in the world last year. If EU leaders want their green industry to remain at the forefront, they need to give their economies clear direction.
Third, a more ambitious emissions target would generate billions of euros of additional income for governments, as the majority of industries will have to buy emissions permits under the emissions trading scheme. Funneling this money to climate measures will accelerate EU’s low-carbon development and trigger much needed long-term financing for developing countries. And independent research shows that more ambitious climate policies won’t result in mass relocation of industries outside of the EU.
With smart policies, increasing the EU’s target will be cost neutral and reduce its foreign fuel dependence, cut energy bills in the longer run and reduce public health costs. So, all in all, the perfect moment for going to 30% is now!
 

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New Zealand

 

A fossil is awarded to New Zealand, as an ambassador for all Annex I Parties, for bluntly declaring that if they don’t get the rules they want on forest management, they’ll have to change their overall emission reduction target. Does this mean that the LULUCF sector is just a slush fund and Copenhagen pledges are open for renegotiation if the slush fund disappears?

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