Two weeks ago, an historic milestone in international climate policy was achieved when the Adaptation Fund Board made ‘direct access’ for developing countries a reality. With the accreditation of the first National Implementing Entity, the Centre de Suivi Ecologique from Senegal, for the first time in the history of international climate policy, a developing country receiving funds directly from a multi- lateral funding source without needing to go through Multilateral Implementing Entities like the World Bank or UNDP. While the latter option remains open, direct access increases the sense of owner- ship and responsibility of developing countries. And while, as yet this is a nearly unique arrangement in the international funding Landscape, it is all the more welcome a development for that reason. In designing its direct access approach, the Adaptation Fund Board built on lessons from the Global Fund to Fight HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the only other example of direct access. (Interestingly, the USA has been the largest contributor to the Global Fund even from the time of the Bush administration). The rules developed by the Adaptation Fund Board will ensure that key fiduciary management standards are being met. This shows that direct access can be combined with effective safeguards. Furthermore, this approach advances the principles agreed in the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness and the Accra Agenda, both of which are hailed by developed countries. Finally, the direct access approach of the Adaptation Fund now provides a concrete example for the overall debate on financial architecture for international climate response. Two other aspects highlight the work of the Adaptation Fund Board: the adoption of a strategic priority directing developing countries to give special attention to their most vulnerable communities when they submit project and programme proposals, and a very transparent working atmosphere, including live meeting webcasts and a facility to publicly comment on project proposals before their adoption. These elements also will reassure parties providing fast-start funding. Indeed, the Adaptation Fund can be a key channel for fast-start funding – remembering that the financing the Copenhagen Accord promised will be distributed in a balanced way between adaptation and mitigation. And the final argument, which should convince developed countries to contribute money into the Adaptation Fund: It has no mandate to support response measures, so that means the AF is a channel that all parties can trust.
As usual, ECO has a lot of questions about what Saudi Arabia is really after. Just yesterday, they gave a free lesson to the chair of the LCA. She is not supposed to prepare new text, so it was said, but only facilitate discussions, since this is a Party-driven process and only Parties can work out texts. Well, ECO would like to offer a friendly amendment. Preparing a new text based on Party submissions is still a Party-driven process, and the reorganization of the text is in the mode of facilitation. So, let the chair do her job. Then there is a puzzle. What is it about Saudi Arabia and the Copenhagen Accord? They helped draft it, they supported it in one session in Copenhagen but retracted their support in another. Later they did not associate with it, and finally now they say it is not important. The Accord falls well short of the mark, we agree, but why did they approve it in the first place and then retract their support? After all, they got response measures linked to adaptation in the Accord text, reversing the agreement to separate them in the Bali Action Plan. One theory is that ‘no deal’ is better than a ‘bad deal’ (even though a ‘bad deal’ is a good deal for the Saudis). Although they always have suggested that ‘response measures in adaptation’ is a placeholder, they have never indicated what they want in order to drop this issue. Naturally, the question arises whether the position on response measures is just a tactic to stall negotiations, more than achieving an agreed outcome. And all this seems to confirm that Saudi Arabia remains in the obstructionist camp. If Saudi Arabia is eager to prove other-wise , perhaps they should approach other Parties and indicate what they want in place of the response measures/adaptation ‘place- holder’. Maybe, for example, something under the technology track to help diversify the economy, such as renewable energy industrial development – that might get ‘response measures’ out of their system. But it doesn’t seem likely, since they also success-fully blocked the bunkers discussion (as we said at the time, ‘never underestimate the Saudis’). For the adaptation discussion to move forward, Saudi Arabia must drop their ‘response measures’ argument. It is not morally right to receive compensation if oil demand goes down, for two main reasons. First, they have already benefited by trillions from selling oil, which has significantly contributed to the climate change problem. Second, they provided no compensation to the affected poor when the demand on oil went up and so did price. Why then should Saudi Arabia be compensated when the demand goes down?
Spring is in the air here in Bonn, and ECO, recovering some optimism after a long and well deserved break, hopes this season will usher in a cooperative and productive initial session. And of course with Spring comes spring cleaning. It’s time to dust off those Convention booklets and drag back into our minds all those acronyms that rolled off the tongue over the past few years. And in line with spring as the time of planting and planning ahead, ECO presents a new acronym: AGF, or the Advisory Group on Climate Finance ... catchy, huh? The AGF, comprising a handful of political and financial heavyweights, first met last week in London to discuss how to raise substantial amounts of climate finance. From all reports it appears to have been a positive meeting. Importantly, the AGF (we’re still getting used to the acronym, bear with us) agreed to assess all options on the table and keep an open mind where there are potentially diverging views. Rumour has it we might get more than a long analytical shopping list in the final report – potentially, in fact, a hierarchy of feasible and equitable options – what a Christmas/Navidad present before Cancún! With the fresh feelings of Spring, we have high expectations of what this group can deliver. Whilst the Group has a wide mandate to look at public and private sources, ECO feels the strong expertise and political gravitas in the room should be laser-focused on unraveling the deadlock in the negotiations on innovative public finance sources. This is not to say that other sources won’t be a part of the picture, but these leaders are best placed to brainstorm. Other sources will also likely start flowing if some public finance is available for leverage, and if we see ambitious mitigation targets.At present the AGF is somewhat of a mystery. Though ECO has clocked who’s represented on the Group, we would dearly love to dispel some of the myths about it, but without a website or comprehensive information, transparency is still elusive. This would enable more effective participation by civil society and other stakeholders to strengthen this process.
Dear U.S. Delegation, We appreciate how much more approachable you have become since the Obama administration took office. So we hope you won’t mind responding to a couple questions that have gotten our attention lately. Over the years, ECO has had an interesting experience learning more about United States politics and your legislative process. We started our studies on Senate ratification from the early Kyoto days. And now, although sometimes it all seems a bit strange, we think we understand your two party system as well as the differences between the House of Representatives and the Senate. Most recently, we have been sorting out the mechanism of checks and balances between your President and the Congress. The highly visible health care debate provided a wonderful example of this in practice. First, the health care bill resulted in a clear victory for President Obama due to his diligence and political prowess in forging compromise on a very controversial topic. It is reasonable, therefore, to draw a parallel to the climate change debate and be encouraged by this outcome. But ECO, ever the logical onlooker, wants to ask, if President Obama and his administration made such remarkable progress in Copenhagen, why do they now remain on the sidelines while the Senate squabbles over climate proposals? After all, President Obama did win a Nobel Prize in part for his willingness to take leadership on climate change. Second, is it fully understood that the Senate bill expected later this month may fall miles behind the provisions required to help those most needing support in responding to climate change in our world -- the poor nations, the vulnerable, the forests, and their people? In fact, ECO hears that the already inadequate international climate finance provisions passed by the House of Representatives last year will be mostly eliminated in the forthcoming Senate bill. If the President and his administration are truly committed to fulfilling their pledges in Copenhagen, won’t they insist that the Senate bill include more substantial amounts of funding for adaptation, clean technology and REDD? Since this is an open letter, ECO has questions for others as well. To leaders and ministers who negotiated with President Obama and the US delegation in Copenhagen – will you make your concerns clear about the prospect of minimal international climate finance levels in the Senate? And to all other delegates reading this: we’d like to suggest you chat up the friendly U.S. delegates you encounter in the corridors or between meetings and ask them about this as well. We’re sure they will be happy to answer your questions. And since we’re all still in learning mode on the US political system, maybe they can shed some light on other mysteries, such as, what exactly does the Electoral College do anyway? Signed, your new Best Friend Forever (BFF) ECO
Dear Delegates, It is April 2010 and we are back . . . with a whimper? The bottom line: Copenhagen wasn’t the stuff of dreams after all. It certainly didn’t deliver up our dream of a climate threshold well below 2 degree C (let alone 1.5 degree C) for the planet! Meanwhile, the science is ever more loudly telling us to kick-start a “race to the top” for more ambitious mitigation targets. Parties are busy finding distractions and reasons not to deliver the needed outcomes under the AWG-LCA and AWG-KP tracks. And none of this, sadly, is very different than what we observed in the long runup to Copenhagen. So here we are. All too many developed country parties continue playing to weaken the ability to deliver a fair, ambitious and binding outcome, based on narrow national interests. To take it beyond these generalities, ECO has a few suggestions where improvement is especially needed. First off, the existing LULUCF rules under the Kyoto Protocol, riddled with far too many loopholes, are leading to perverse outcomes as long predicted. And yet the revised rules drafted and partly negotiated at Copenhagen go even further in the wrong direction. Parties must abandon attempts to stretch the LULUCF rules even more, hiding future emission increases from the sector and undermining the integrity of a climate deal. A revised LULUCF framework must be free of loopholes, use historic baselines and not future projections, and set an explicit goal to actually reduce emissions and increase removals from forestry and land management. Surely this is not unreasonable for a climate deal ? Likewise, even after two full years of negotiations, the Shared Vision text coming out of Copenhagen is far from wholesome. One thing the text has is too many brackets. They surround a number of major elements including the long term global goal, developed country emissions, peak year, and review process. The current Shared Vision text also skips over the next commitment period, the legal nature of the outcome, and a compliance clause among other aspects. Instead, the Shared Vision needs to guide the negotiations toward the final outcome rather than be wrapped up at the end of the process. Next up, a focus of the negotiations that must not be lost. While all nations – especially top-emitting countries – should strive to put forward emissions reduction proposals that fully address the prospect of dangerous climate change, the pledges to date are far from what is needed. Instead of putting us on track to achieve the Copenhagen Accord commitment to keep increases below 2 Degree C, the pledges in hand instead lead toward nearly a 4 degree increase, according to a recent analysis by the Sustainability Institute. Not only that, merely pleading ‘political realities’ will not stem the rising Gigatonne Gap, as demonstrated by the current science. Catching up after 2020 really isn’t an option, is it, if we are serious about containing global warming. Now let’s turn to an issue that has been gaining prominence recently but needs more prioritisation. Everyone now agrees that adaptation is a major challenge . . . so let’s treat it that way. In the work plan for the rest of this year, Parties should focus on producing an adaptation text containing a concrete agreement on both fast-start and long-term finance, as well as a robust mechanism for delivery. The Adaptation Fund is proving to be an excellent mechanism with governance and outcomes founded on the principle of equity. Here is a working prototype for a well-managed, equitable and effective climate fund under the auspices of the UNFCCC. That brings up a broader point. There are troublesome winds blowing on the sources and scale of finance so that developed countries meet their obligations under the Convention. The Secretary-General has employed his good offices in convening the high-level Advisory Group on Climate Finance (AGF). But remember -- ultimately, Parties have the responsibility to produce a decision in Cancún. For fast track financing, developed countries should make good on longstanding commitments and provide expanded financial resources to the mechanisms that already exist under the authority of the COP – the Adaptation Fund, Least Developed Countries Fund and Special Climate Change Fund. Nearing the end of our highlights tour, let’s turn to REDD. Requests for further work on methodological issues in the draft LCA text should be agreed and forwarded to SBSTA at this meeting, so it can fully engage on this agenda in June. Meanwhile, the LCA REDD group should also continue its work at the June session full speed, focusing first on issues that can be resolved without reference to the broader process -- for example, the operationalization of safeguards, and an objective for REDD.Furthermore, time should be set aside in the LCA work plan to consider outstanding REDD issues that cut across to other aspects of mitigation such as MRV and NAMAs. Based on the submissions by parties post-Copenhagen, it is clear that developing country parties will not compromise on their core ask for a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol. The outcome of negotiations under the LCA track, regardless of form, must provide for and significantly advance the full implementation of financial obligations of developed countries under the Convention. And the legal form and nature of the LCA track outcome must be in full respect of equity principles, including “common but differentiated responsibilities”. We have reached the last innings on many fronts: inter-generational equity, intra-generational obligations, and the possibility of achieving the overarching goals of poverty alleviation and climate-neutral sustainable development. Yours sincerely, 6.8 billion people... and counting...on Planet Earth…
CAN-International recently sent the following letter to Ban Ki Moon, the Secretary General of the United Nations in order to inform his search for a replace to Yvo de Boer, who announced he will be stepping down later this year as Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
Dear Mr. Secretary-General:
As the world’s largest network of NGOs collaborating on global solutions to the climate crisis, with an active engagement with the UNFCCC process since its inception, we at the Climate Action Network – International wish to support your efforts to fill the vacancy left by Yvo de Boer’s impending departure.
As you continue your search for a new head of the UNFCCC, we urge you to keep the following principles in mind while assessing potential candidates:
1. Commitment to the science: The fundamental objective of the UNFCCC under Article 2 is to avoid dangerous climate change. This objective has guided and should always guide the work of its Secretariat. As such, any head of the UNFCCC must have a sound understanding and fundamental adherence to the scientific basis for combating climate change, applying the precautionary principle in order to ensure the Convention fulfills its objective.
2. Political savvy and leadership: The UNFCCC in conjunction with global civil society has been successful in raising the profile and urgency of climate change effectively at the highest levels. Over 100 Heads of State attended Copenhagen and their continued engagement is both expected and essential. In this context, the new head of the UNFCCC must be able to thoroughly engage leaders and governments at every political level. This skill set must also include the strategic use of media, public attention, and private discourse.
3. Understanding of and experience with the negotiations: As our collective understanding of the climate crisis deepens, the negotiations within the UNFCCC continue to become more complex. Add to that the many challenging procedural dynamics and negotiating tactics, and it becomes clear that any candidate must demonstrate a deep understanding of how negotiations are to be managed from both procedural and strategic perspectives. Better still would be direct experience in the negotiations, to enable a deeper understanding as well as garnering trust from parties.
4. Commitment to the valuable role of civil society and marginalized communities in particular: The global civil society community engaged on finding a solution to the climate crisis has become larger, more organized, more strategic and ever more effective in recent years. Further, the UN and its members have consistently affirmed and reaffirmed the importance of civil society participation in the negotiating process. Notably, indigenous peoples, women and youth are often or will be most affected by climate change but very often, unfortunately their voices struggle to be heard. Any new head of the UNFCCC must work closely with civil society, women, indigenous peoples and youth (in cooperation with the Parties) to ensure proper, complete and effective participation of these constituencies. A demonstrable track record to this effect would be an important qualification for any candidate.
5. Thorough understanding of the challenges of development in the Global South: Climate change poses an existential threat to many lives and livelihoods throughout the world, but most the threat is most acute in the poorest communities. The challenge of addressing climate change and promoting sustainable development must always be approached in the context of existing challenges of poverty eradication and parallel development challenges. In addition, participating in the international negotiations themselves can often present a challenge to the poorest and most vulnerable countries in particular. The most vulnerable countries must be supported by the Secretariat (in cooperation with the Parties) to ensure their proper representation and voice in the process. A candidate with a keen and thorough understanding of these challenges is needed in order to achieve the right solutions.
6. Willingness to be assertive: Climate change is here, now. An aggressive and rapid response is urgently required, and the UNFCCC needs a leader who is willing to be bold and guide Parties along the ambitious path that is so desperately required. At the same time, of course, the head of the UNFCCC needs to ensure Parties feel their voices are being heard and that their concerns are being addressed in this context. However, the successful candidate must not be timid nor unwilling to take risks where required.
7. Commitment to transparency, process, and cooperation: The political stakes at the international climate negotiations have never been higher than at present time. As a result the tensions surrounding the negotiations are heightened as well. In this super-heated atmosphere, principles of transparency, good process, and cooperation can help to avoid unnecessary controversies. An leader with a strong commitment to these principles can help keep the focus of negotiations on delivering a fair and ambitious outcome rather than on procedural issues.
8. Commitment to smooth logistics: The Secretariat has an important role to play in ensuring the negotiations run smoothly from a logistical standpoint. Similar to the issues around transparency and process, ineffective or defective logistical arrangements can add distractions to the negotiations rather than contribute, while proper arrangements can obviously help provide an effective negotiating atmosphere. A head of the UNFCCC with a commitment to ensuring efficient negotiation arrangements will help to ensure the Parties and Observers can both focus on the incredibly important issues at hand.
In addition to the key qualities outlined above, we urge you to select someone who can inspire. Talks are currently at a tipping point. They need someone who can show that not only is a fully agreed international process for transitioning to a low carbon society urgently needed, but that it is achievable and indeed, the only way forward. We need someone who can challenge our leaders to do better, who can join the calls of millions of global citizens all around the world demanding that their governments do more on their behalf.
We in the Climate Action Network – International stand at the ready to assist you in any way as you complete your search for a successful candidate. Further, once a candidate is confirmed, we very much look forward to working closely with the successful candidate to ensure the Convention achieves its ultimate objectives.
Finally, as Mr. de Boer enters his final days as Executive Secretary, we would like to commend his work in furthering the negotiations, his sincere commitment to their success and his efforts to support civil society within the process. The next Executive Secretary will clearly have big shoes to fill.
Director, Climate Action Network - International
Cc: Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary, UNFCCC
Richard Kinley, Deputy Executive Secretary, UNFCCC
Janos Pasztor, Director, UN Secretary-General’s Climate Support Team
Members of the UNFCCC COP15 Bureau
CAN position paper : Emissions from international aviation and shipping. November 2009
The choices leaders make this week will determine whether the world achieves a tipping point. A tipping point into a new era of cooperation and solidarity, or a disastrous tipping point in the climate system leading to direct conflict about the remaining environmental space.
The world demands nothing less than a Fair, Ambitious and Binding (FAB) deal. Three major gaps can and must be bridged in the remaining time: the gap between current emission reduction pledges and the science; the gap between the finances on the table and the need in developing countries; and – perhaps most critically – the gap between nations where trust must be forged. We clearly need a radical transformation.
ECO has written before about the “gigatonnes gap.” Put simply, the emission reductions currently on the table, from developed and developing countries, will fail to meet the challenge posed by the science. Independent experts ranging from Lord Stern to McKinsey for Project Catalyst and Ecofys/PIK, show that we are way off track for staying well below 2°C, not to mention 1.5°C, which the latest science and most vulnerable countries demand.
At the heart of the problem lie the industrialised country targets (particularly the USA, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand). So far, the industrialised countries’ targets are proving much more effective at capping ambition and innovation than they are at capping emissions. The picture gets even bleaker when the huge loopholes – notably “hot air” allowances and bogus LULUCF accounting – are taken into account. Under the current approach these would lock economies and the planet into a costly high carbon future and undermine a green new deal that could pave the way out of economic recession. They render mute any shared vision referring to keeping warming below 2°C. Without urgent triage, there is no prospect of a peak in global emissions before 2020. Without a radical departure in Copenhagen, the world risks staying the course for warming of at least 3°C, very likely 4°C or more – even the prospect of “Venus” conditions on Earth.
The second huge gap is the finance gap. Again, there is a crisis in ambition. The EU has put forward figures for long-term finance, but these fall far short of the need. Norway and Mexico have proposed a new green fund. But, collectively, developed countries have failed to quantify the scale or to commit to a specific contribution.
Closing these two gaps will be even more difficult without clear action to close the trust gap. In these complex negotiations, fear, mistrust and suspicion have come to rule – particularly between industrialised and developing countries. The reality of historic responsibility, the vast disparity in per capita emissions, the legitimate development needs of countries whose populations struggle with the crisis of poverty and the existential threat posed by climate change must be faced.
Without trust the discussion has persistently returned to legal architecture – drowning out discussion of substance. Each side is afraid to be taken advantage of by the other, prefering to debate who will be bound to what, instead of what they will do. Challenging times require creative solutions, demonstrating real action and sowing seeds for a new spirit of international cooperation.
The most obvious step that would change this dynamic is for the US to offer a more ambitious target and deliver on climate finance. Everybody in Copenhagen recognizes this as “the elephant in the room”, while understanding the challenging political situation the US administration finds itself in. The good news is: studies show the US can reduce its emissions by 18% below 1990 levels by 2020 – it’s probably easier than to go back to the moon.
Parties could embrace a large number of hard-edged practical measures that can wipe out gigatonnes to make a FAB deal. Here are some creative ideas to spur the transformation. Why not take: Action on a global feed-in tariff for renewable energy? Ambitious global standards to improve energy efficiency and drive forward clean technology? An accelerated phase-out of HFCs and other potent greenhouse gases in consumer products? A targeted fund to address non-CO2 industrial greenhouse gas emissions in developing countries instead of relying on an expensive offset mechanism? Clear measures to strip out the hot air and LULUCF loopholes? New and concrete agreements on key technology IPRs, now?
There are similarly innovative ideas to plug the public finance gap and mobilise complementary private money to fuel the transformation. Decisions could be taken in Copenhagen to reduce emissions and raise money from international aviation and shipping or the auctioning of allowances. The USA recently proposed to the G20 to agree to redirect fossil fuel subsidies by 2020. George Soros last week here in Copenhagen suggested better utilising Special Drawing Rights. Some of these ideas may need more work, but without vision they will remain orphans.
As Lord Stern said: “If we assume people and politicians will be irretrievably short-sighted, quarrelsome and narrow in their judgment of their interests and act accordingly, then our pessimism will be self-fulfilling.” Now is the time for politicians to show that such an assumption is unfounded. Fight for the FAB deal!
Will the doors slam shut at this highest-profile climate negotiations in Copenhagen this week? Will civil society, which has played such a constructive and vital role in the Conference so far, be left out in the cold by unjustifiable restrictions on access – well beyond the legitimate security needs of the Conference?
Accountability and transparency at these negotiations are a must, and cannot be secured without direct public participation. Civil society brings insight, oversight and connection to people around the world who depend on the work of NGOs to pursue the credibility of the process and integrity of the outcome.
The Rio Summit-derived Agenda 21 aptly observes: “One of the major challenges facing the world community as it seeks to replace unsustainable development patterns with environmentally sound and sustainable development is the need to activate a sense of common purpose on behalf of all sectors of society.” How can civil society get onto the same page if we’re not in the building when the real work is being done?
This meeting can go down as a milestone in human history, a watershed moment in the annals of participatory democracy. The Bella Center today is truly the world, earnestly at work on solutions to its most pressing problems. Implementing those solutions will require the active and direct mobilisation of government, business and civil society on an unprecedented scale. Any perception that the process is closed or rigged would severely undermine the prospects for success in Copenhagen and beyond.
The Rio Declaration on Environment and Development affirms that “non-governmental organisations play a vital role in the shaping and implementation of participatory democracy.”
Excluding civil society would not only be inconsistent with UN Principles. It would be profoundly counterproductive to the spirit of the conference and the practical value of its outcome. To launch the world toward a sustainable future, the process over the critical next four days must be accountable and transparent so that the result will have the power of broad ownership by all sectors. Nothing less than the full and active participation of civil society can produce such an outcome.
Finally, this move goes against the aspirations of the UN Secretary-General himself who called upon civil society to create a movement and support the world’s governments to deliver the strongest outcome possible in Copenhagen.
Closing the door will give the perception that what governments are saying is a greenwash. It was the public pressure generated by civil society which will soon result in more than 100 heads of state descending upon Copenhagen. Don’t let the reward for this outstanding achievement be a shut out from the Bella Center. Keep the doors open. Don’t COP out!