Tag: UNFCCC

Next Steps for the LCA Text

Parties, observers and the media alike are avidly awaiting the unveiling of new LCA draft text this week.  ECO has hopes that the amendations really will be 'new and improved!' and, more saliently, to the text being adopted by Parties as the basis for negotiations.

In the spirit of starting negotiations with the best foot forward, we offer the following input:

Shared Vision

ECO recommends the inclusion of a temperature threshhold, a peak year within the next 5 year commitment period, as well as a long term global emission reduction target of 80% cuts on 1990 levels by 2050.  The text should include the earliest possible date for the review, to be completed by 2015 at the latest, taking into account the work of the IPCC and the most recent science.

The assessment of overall progress under paragraph 4 option 1 should stay in but should be supplemented with:

* A clause should be added to para 4 option 1 to trigger action based on the outcomes of the assessment of overall progress.

* A 5 year commitment period that is timed around IPCC reports.

Trust can be strengthened if a compliance clause is included with a process to deal with inadequate developed country mitigation and insufficient finance.

Mitigation

For developed country mitigation it is vital that science-based, top-down, economy-wide quantified emission reduction obligations are adopted rather the pledge-and-review approach proposed as an option. These targets should amount to at least 40% cuts on 1990 levels by 2020, primarily achieved through domestic efforts, and text to the contrary should be removed. The text on zero carbon emission plans must be maintained – these are a key way to demonstrate that developed countries have the policies in place to meet their emission obligations and a long-term vision to decarbonize their economies by 2050.

For developing countries, it is critical that substantial finance, technology and capacity building support is provided by developed countries to enable them to develop supported NAMAs and low carbon development plans.  Low carbon emissions plans (voluntary for the most vulnerable countries) should be retained as an opportunity to plan for sustainable low-carbon development and to help avoid double counting between supported NAMAs and offsets.

The text is missing a crucial overall element – a recognition of the gigatonne gap and new sources and sectors of emissions that can help bridge it.

Adaptation

There are a number of items in the adaptation text that are “no brainers” – and should be easily agreed:

* An adaptation framework that facilitates and ensures the provision of financial support.

* The establishment of an adaptation committee to assess the adequacy of financial support in relation to needs, and make recommendations to the COP for further action in the event of insufficient support.

* Needs and priorities for adaptation identified at the national level through in country plans; with planning, implementation and evaluation of adaptation to be transparent and participatory, involving stakeholders at all levels including vulnerable groups and communities.

An equally important piece, but one that ECO expects will remain bracketed, is recognition of the need for an international mechanism to address unavoidable loss and damage from climate change, through risk reduction and management, insurance and rehabilitation when adaptation is no longer possible due to the severity of impacts.

Finance

We look forward to greater clarity on the financial mechanism and its architecture in the text. The governance structure of the financial mechanism should allow for critical functions to be discharged, such as the establishment of a framework that will result in equitable distribution of resources between countries as well as a balance among financing of thematic issues.  In addition, we hope that the governance structure will result in the establishment of a registry that will map financial flows for climate in channels other than those under the authority of the COP, thereby enabling the financial mechanism to bring about a balance in the flow of funds through the multilateral COP controlled fund.

We also expect the new text to indicate a process for further discussion on new and innovative sources of climate funding including recommendations of the high level advisory group on climate finance. In addition, we would like to see greater clarity on the scale of public financing that will be made available to support developing country adaptation and mitigation activities.

Technology development and transfer

ECO applauds the scope of the technology chapter, which contains many essential elements for a deal in Cancun.  However, the brackets in paragraph 7(f) must be removed. The Technology Executive Committee must be empowered to address barriers to technology development and transfer.

The Climate Technology Centre and the Network are fundamental. Without these, any institutional structure set up by the UNFCCC will remain an empty shell, replicating the present failures of implementation of technology cooperation and sharing.

It is crucial that global research, development and demonstration be at least doubled. There has to be a global target around which national policy revolves and that gives a strong signal to the international market.

REDD

Thanks to the hard work of the Parties, the REDD text is already at a state ready for negotiations.

BUNKERS

So far we have only a placeholder on bunkers referring back to the last text that was used in Copenhagen. That text is in reasonable shape, is a balanced representation of Parties' views, and should come back in as the starting point for negotiations.

We hope that the formal and informal consultative processes initiated by the Chair have yielded the input required to make these constructive changes to the LCA text.

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Elements toward a High-Performance MRV Framework

Welcome to this special supplement to ECO.  After a lively debate the first week of this session, we would like to  present elements of a balanced and comprehensive overview of the issues regarding MRV (monitoring, reporting and verification). While some would like to use the debate around MRV as an  opportunity to obscure their lack of ambition in other areas, we consider MRV as an essential element of a fair, ambitious and binding agreement including a dual obligation for developed countries and significantly enhanced actions by all countries. We believe Parties should aim to conclude negotiations on all elements of MRV at Cancún such that the requirements first set out in the Bali Action Plan are fully met and reflect the spirit of this new, innovative and collaborative approach to address the climate crisis.

To track the overall progress of emission reduction efforts, it is vital that accurate information be gathered and shared. This process – known as measurement, reporting and verification (MRV) – is fundamental to building trust amongst parties and ensuring environmental integrity.

MRV has emerged as a threshold issue in the negotiations on the road to COP 16.   Parties must agree in Bonn on a process to ensure that all the relevant guidelines are finalized by Cancún. This should include a mandate for the Chair to propose text on this issue at the August session based on submissions from Parties, as the current text on MRV is not sufficiently advanced.

What exactly is MRV? Here is ECO’s view:

Measurement includes both the collection and quantification of data.

Reporting involves regular, timely reports by parties using an appropriate format.

Verification refers to the technical assessment of the accuracy and reliability of reported information.

First, an overall caution: don’t confuse MRV with compliance! For developed countries, MRV serves as a building block to compliance, like teammates on a relay team.  MRV produces the information needed to determine a Party’s performance but leaves it to another process to keep score.

Differentiation

Developed nations became rich burning coal and oil – and emitting enormous amounts of greenhouse gases. According to the UN Human Development Report, rich countries are responsible for ‘about 7 out of every 10 tonnes of CO2 that have been emitted since the start of the industrial era’.

The guiding principle of the Convention, ‘common but differentiated responsibilities’ (CBDR), recognizes the vast differences among Parties with respect to their historical contribution and responsibility, as well as their respective capability – in other words, in accordance with this principle it is the developed countries that must act first.

The Bali Action Plan calls on Parties to agree to MRV of enhanced national and international action on mitigation.

This is firmly rooted in the CBDR principle.  It includes ‘measurable, reportable and verifiable nationally appropriate mitigation commitments or actions ... by all developed country Parties’, and ‘nationally appropriate mitigation actions by developing country Parties ... supported and enabled by technology, financing and capacity-building, in a measurable, reportable and verifiable manner’. Parties – and the world – have a common interest in the environmental effectiveness of measures taken to mitigate climate change.  MRV fundamentally involves gathering and reporting consistent, comparable and accurate information on these measures and their environmental outcomes.

Credible MRV can strengthen trust amongst the parties and confidence in the overall regime for climate response and enable a stronger collective effort.  But at all times we need to keep our eye on the ball.

ECO notes that the Bali Action Plan is part of a road map that envisions a science-based aggregate emissions reduction target and ambitious developed country reduction targets.   MRV without ambitious targets won’t get the job done.  And while MRV is a fundamental building block of compliance for developed countries, MRV for developing countries is about different commitments for different parties with different capacities and different responsibilities.

See the difference?  ECO would also like to recall for a few well-known Parties that Annex 1 countries already have well developed MRV rules and institutions, otherwise known as the KP.

Developed Country MRV

ECO shouldn’t have to remind anybody of the importance and history of  MRV of developed country action.  The system currently in use by most developed countries has some keystones that provide the foundation for the MRV system, and developed country MRV is a cornerstone of the international system – so don’t let that building fall apart!  Here are some key elements:

  • Annual emissions inventories which fully cover sources and sinks using consistent guidelines, rules and methodologies.
  • Frequent reporting -- developed countries should complete their 6th National Communication by 2012.
  • Accounting for progress of the country’s emissions against a common set of rules.
  • Transparent, independent and scientifically based assessments by expert review teams of whether or not emissions and accounting actually show what the developed country says.
  • Assessment of compliance against international commitments.

Let’s get one thing straight.  MRV does not equal compliance.  As we have pointed out time after time, reviewing progress towards a target is only the first step of ensuring compliance with legally binding commitments.  There has to be a process for dealing with problems detected by expert reviewers – and it can’t just be name and shame!

Compliance procedures for legally binding commitments, with a range of appropriate consequences, are vital to building an effective regime for addressing climate change.  This regime is not only important for assessing countries’ compliance with their commitments, but also for the consistency of carbon market rules to ensure environmental integrity.

Developed countries don’t have to start from scratch.  The world already knows how to MRV developed country commitments – they’re called Articles 5, 7 and 8.  Many years were spent negotiating the intricate details of the system, including the standardized methodologies and guidelines vital to effective MRV and the compliance procedures for developed country commitments.  After all that effort, it would be a waste to depart from these rules and procedures, instead of building on and improving them.

We have heard many times that the United States not only rejects the need for compliance procedures, it also does not wish to have common accounting methodologies.  Considering that the US was a leader in developing the KP rules on MRV and compliance in the first place, this is uncomfortable, ironic or both. Parties agreed in Bali on a dual obligation of developed countries MRV for both mitigation and support.  Within that framework, an MRV system for financial support must be able to answer key questions such as whether or not funds are:

(1) new and additional;

(2) allocated in a balanced manner between adaptation and mitigation;

(3) equitably distributed between countries and in particular, prioritized for the most vulnerable countries;

(4) respond to developing country needs for the required levels of financing;

(5) establish clear criteria and indicators (such as the work that the EGTT has done on performance indicators); and

(6) are reliable.

We aren’t there yet, but there are some building blocks which can be used.  The current system of MRVing climate finance from developed countries is decentralized and fragmented, and as a result does not completely meet the six criteria above. Parties must make significant improvements to the existing system by adopting common measurement, reporting and verification rules under the UNFCCC that create a comprehensive and comparable picture of finance from both developed countries and multilateral development banks.  Also needed are transparency and comparability on non-financial actions (which is important for technology and capacity building), as well as private financial flows to extend the current MRV system  implementation for public financial flows.

Developing countries have a critical need to adapt to and mitigate climate change – a need that cannot be met solely with their own resources. Support from developed countries is crucial and needs to be comparable, transparent, accurate, efficient and timely.  Implementing such a system will ensure that resources flow to essential needs and

build much-needed trust. While a reporting process is being finalized, all developed countries must be as transparent as possible in the delivery of fast track climate funds to developing countries, including through regular reporting.

Non-Annex I MRV

We need a strong compliance mechanism and strong MRV for developed countries for their dual obligations of reducing emissions and providing support.  But in addition, we also need to have progress on non-Annex I reporting and review, noting that review should respect national sovereignty and not be used as a back-door manoeuvre to force binding emissions reduction targets on them.

Let’s start with the reporting. Most developing countries should submit greenhouse gas (GHG) inventories every two years and a full national communication at least once in each 5-year commitment period. These reports should receive full financial and technical support by developed countries, including fast start funding. LDCs and SIDS should, as far as feasible, do this work voluntarily with appropriate developed country support. GHG inventories can be included in a biennial update on national communications that outlines new developments in the country.  The most updated guidelines of the IPCC should be used for  these inventories.

Now let’s move to the issue of verification. GHG inventories along with supported NAMAs should be verified internationally, while unsupported actions should be verified domestically according to international guidelines negotiated and developed by the COP.

International verification of inventories is fundamental for assessing whether the world is on track with overall emissions reduction and temperature targets.

For supported NAMAs, international verification must be linked to MRV of support to assure that adequate support for financial costs, technical needs and capacity building are provided. Developing countries will need time and support to develop robust inventories.  Don’t forget, it took time for the quality and timeliness of many developed country inventories to improve, and these improvements were facilitated in large part by the expert review process.

In-country reviews are likely to be the most helpful, and this option should be open to developing countries.  The output of expert review teams should feed into a facilitative process that ensures the provision of further technical, financial or other assistance as needed. In anticipating a paradigm shift towards a low carbon economy, developing country parties (except for LDCs and SIDS, who should be able to opt in) should elaborate indicative or aspirational low-carbon action plans (LCAPs). These plans, which will only be possible with developed country finance and support, should outline a low carbon strategy for mitigation and adaptation.

Fossil of the Day - 5 June 2010

FOSSIL OF THE DAY AWARDS
Bonn, Germany, June 5, 2010
The Climate Action Network (CAN), a coalition of over 500 NGOs worldwide, gives out  'Fossil of The Day' awards to the countries who perform the worst during the past day's negotiations at the UN climate change conference.
The awards given out on June 5, 2010 in Bonn, Germany were as follows:
The United States of America was awarded First Place. The U.S. earns the Fossil of the Day for blocking the common space discussion on mitigation in the Ad Hoc Working Group for Long-term Cooperative Action yesterday. Failing to pass a strong climate and energy bill is keeping them from participating in cross-cutting discussions, like the one AOSIS proposed, to build a post-2012 agreement to reduce global warming emissions.
About the fossils:
The Fossil-of-the-day awards were first presented at the climate talks in 1999, also in Bonn, initiated by the German NGO Forum.
During United Nations climate change negotiations (www.unfccc.int), members of the Climate Action Network (CAN), a worldwide network of over 500 non-governmental organisations, vote for  countries judged to have done their 'best' to block progress in the negotiations in the last days of talks.

FOSSIL OF THE DAY AWARDS

Bonn, Germany, June 5, 2010

The Climate Action Network (CAN), a coalition of over 500 NGOs worldwide, gives out  'Fossil of The Day' awards to the countries who perform the worst during the past day's negotiations at the UN climate change conference.

The awards given out on June 5, 2010 in Bonn, Germany were as follows:

The United States of America was awarded First Place. The U.S. earns the Fossil of the Day for blocking the common space discussion on mitigation in the Ad Hoc Working Group for Long-term Cooperative Action yesterday. Failing to pass a strong climate and energy bill is keeping them from participating in cross-cutting discussions, like the one AOSIS proposed, to build a post-2012 agreement to reduce global warming emissions.

Video:

Fossil of the Day - June 5, 2010 from Sébastien Duyck on Vimeo.

Advancing the New Delhi Work Programme

With all the talk of finance gaps and gigatonne gaps, there has been much more progress in closing the climate-education-and-awareness gap.  Now there is an opportunity to go even further in the SBI. The New Delhi Work Programme adopted at COP 8 under Article 6 of the Convention comprises a promising set of commitments. The pillars of education, public participation and awareness-raising help to combat an atmosphere of climate denial and skepticism. Without a critical mass of public understanding and support to address the threats of climate change and the opportunities of clean energy development, the gap between the negotiations today and a fair ambitious, and binding global deal could become a chasm. The upcoming mid-term review of the New Delhi programme is a unique chance to build bridges between governments and citizens. That will only happen if civil society has the opportunity to fully contribute to the review along with Parties. This can best be realized by amending the New Delhi Work Programme to extend beyond 2012 and strengthen it to provide more local and regional climate education. Elements required include creating financial mechanisms specifically to fund Article 6 activities, recognizing and supporting youth organizations as key providers of non-formal and peer education, and supporting the diversity of forms that public awareness building can take, including arts, entertainment and both 'online' and 'real-life' social networks. The SBI should call for civil society as well as Party submissions on the review of the New Delhi Work Programme. Similarly, the Secretariat should receive a broad mandate to conduct its review of the work programme with as much civil society participation as possible. Parties should also provide the financial means to enable the Secretariat to organize regional workshops on the implementation of Article 6 in the SIDS and Africa. Previous workshops have been invaluable in communicating the objectives of Article 6. These regions deserve that resource, too. Because it is less controversial of a gap to cross than finance or emissions commitments, it should be easy for Parties to agree on filling voids in climate awareness as a step toward bigger things.

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LCA Finance Comes Alive

After a unexciting first couple of days, today out of the blue in the LCA contact group on finance, delegates picked up the pace. It was a pleasure to see negotiators giving thoughtful and creative responses to the Chair's questions and to each other's proposals. The Chair chose wisely in selecting finance, which underpins progress on many other areas, for the first deep engagement with the new negotiating text. Parties responded by presenting new ideas and arguments on the complex linkages between institutions as well as the need for effectiveness and accountability to the UNFCCC and its governing bodies. There is a clear consensus about the establishment of a new fund, and some new and creative thinking about how an overarching Finance Board could provide an oversight or coordinating function. But no institutional framework for financing can be effective without sufficient funding. To ensure rapid progress on scaling up finance, the LCA must also continue its discussion of sources, in parallel with the discussions under the Advisory Group on Climate Finance (AGF), which is holding a workshop on Saturday to report on progress and receive input. The AGF has an opportunity to make rapid progress on identifying sources of funding for climate actions in developing countries. However, the LCA cannot just wait until the AGF presents its final report in November to take up the issue of sources, if it hopes to move from analysis to action this year. Parties should start actively discussing sources of public funds in the LCA now, and incorporate and build on the analyses and recommendations of the AGF, starting with the interim report expected in July. Avenues to explore include new and innovative sources of public finance, including bunkers mechanisms, financial transaction taxes (FTTs), Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) and international auctioning of AAUs. Then in Cancun, the LCA can be in a position to adopt substantial decisions and provide clear guidance for the work of the UNFCCC and other bodies in the coming year. This can lead to adoption of a comprehensive set of decisions on financing sources and institutions as part of an ambitious comprehensive agreement in Cancun.  All this is possible if leaders have the political will; but short of that, Parties can agree a more modest but still ambitious package of decisions to demonstrate the viability of the UNFCCC process and support the scaling up of mitigation and adaptation actions on the ground.

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Shared Vision Must Be Clear Vision

As parties walk into the LCA contact group on Shared Vision this morning, ECO will be thinking ahead to a final destination does not yet look clear. Nearly all Parties agree to a global goal of staying below 2o C, and even so, more than 100 parties call for stabilizing temperature rise at well below 1.5o C compared to pre-industrial levels.   But the current path Parties are taking us towards is a close to a 4o path. So we hope the contact group proceeds with the right motivation and a visionary mindset. The Shared Vision discussions can help avoid the 4o path only if parties engage in a constructive and trust-building dialogue today that will advance the text in substance, move towards convergence of views and provide clarity to both.

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EU starts fast, but...

ECO is eagerly awaiting today’s side event at which the EU will present its preliminary report on its fast start finance pledge. Not because the report itself will bring any new information to light -- it was leaked to the press weeks ago -- but to see EU negotiators try to answer the question on the lips of NGOs and developing country negotiators everywhere . . . how exactly is EU fast start finance 'new and additional'? Other developed countries might like to attend and pick up some tips. The EU had the right idea in suggesting a report on whether they were keeping their promises. This might help make up for the fact that most EU Member States have done a pretty good job over the years at breaking long-standing promises to provide finance to poor countries, whether as aid or climate finance under the UNFCCC. The Spanish Presidency started well, collecting information on Member State pledges, but then a problem arose. The EU's commitment first made in Brussels at the December leaders’ summit did not address whether the promises they were making were “new and additional” as required by the Copenhagen Accord.  It is clear that this means over and above the target to provide at least 0.7% gross national income (GNI) in official development assistance (ODA). Climate change imposes new costs on developing countries, so new money is needed to tackle it. Instead of owning up to relabeling old some ODA pledges and then adding them to the new fast-start climate finance total, EU governments thought it best to keep quiet and hope no one noticed . . . but some did.  Failing to ensure that climate finance is new and additional to existing ODA targets takes money that would otherwise have been available for spending on schools and hospitals in developing countries, to name one example. And that at a time when budgets for essential services are already being cut in the face of economic downturn.  And we won't mention more than just this once that most countries aren't even achieving their longstanding ODA pledges. All that said, ECO welcomes the EU’s readiness to face the music in today’s side event. We hope they come clean about recycling past promises and are ready to answer questions on the scale of money going to different countries, and will detail how it will flow through bilateral and multilateral channels, as grants and loans, and for adaptation and mitigation. This is just a preliminary report, and the EU will have another chance to get it right in the annual report due at COP 16. But to provide genuine transparency, and to ensure that the US and other rich countries are held accountable too, they should seek a common reporting framework. The Secretariat could be asked to take that on and add meat to the EU’s bare bones.

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The Vital Rol of Full Public Participation

The irony is rich: interventions by two nongovernmental were mysteriously overlooked in the SBI yesterday.  The topic?  Public participation in the climate negotiations. Civil society participation plays a critical role in this process.  We can't say it better than the Secretariat itself in its guidelines.  Vibrant public participation "allows vital experience, expertise, information and perspectives from civil society to be brought into the process to generate new insights and approaches [and] promotes transparency."  Importantly, effective public participation also helps ensure the legitimacy and public acceptance of negotiation outcomes. To be sure, the experience in Copenhagen – where the public was more engaged than ever before – has caused some Parties to forget that they agreed in the Convention to "encourage the widest participation in this process, including that of non-governmental organizations." Instead, civil society is being pushed to the margins, with opportunities to contribute increasingly limited to chance hallway encounters and loading up the tables near side events with food and drinks to entice elusive negotiators. Civil society is happy to promote conviviality and informal contact, but the negotiations require substantive and formal involvement as well. ECO suggests the UNFCCC and its parties embrace the growing popularity of the process and seek to use that as an opportunity to improve performance rather than shy away.  And now is the time to start.  A contact group is meeting today to discuss process issues related to intergovernmental meetings. This group must take up the question of public participation ensure meaningful participation throughout these processes.  It should start by permitting designated NGO representatives to actively engage on the issue of participation in today's contact group, as well as in future formal and informal sessions on this issue. As the SBI and the Secretariat consider these issues, ECO urges them to ensure a few basic principles.  Measures should always be aimed at ensuring the broadest participation possible in the given circumstance. At a minimum, this means preserving and enhancing opportunities for routine civil society input through official interventions, submissions and consultations.  Relevant rules must be transparent and provide for independent review of particular decisions limiting participation. Access to information is the lifeblood of meaningful participation; all key documents should be posted on the Secretariat's website as soon as they are finalized. Indeed, the Secretariat should take the lead in ensuring meaningful public participation and so must have sufficient and increased resources to be able to do so effectively.  Additionally, each host country government bears great responsibility as well.  Host country agreements should be made public and incorporate an obligation to facilitate participation. As host of COP-16, Mexico must take proactive steps to guarantee effective civil society participation in Cancún.  Ambassador de Alba's proven record as a strong defender of human rights gives ECO hope in this regard.  Unfortunately, Cancún's geography creates a cause for concern. Direct access to negotiators is essential.  Civil society should have broad access to the venues where formal negotiations are taking place except in extreme conditions.  In addition, Mexico must guarantee that space for side events and other civil society activities is easily and quickly accessible to all participants. Civil society also serves as an extremely valuable technical and political resource for Parties, especially in developing countries. Parties should always be enabled and encouraged to take advantage of these resources however they choose, including by inviting them onto their delegations where appropriate. Finally, the SBI and the Secretariat should take advantage of an expert resource: the Secretariat of the Aarhus Convention has offered its assistance in resolving UNFCCC public participation concerns.  Aarhus input would be valuable. Civil society is not here just to vent our frustration or make the negotiations more difficult.  We have a right to participate and much to contribute.  It is time for the Parties and the Secretariat to take heed, and then take action.

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