Tag: UNFCCC

Fast trick financing?

Remember the G8 summit in L’Aquila this year? World leaders proudly offered US$20 billion to tackle the global food crisis. Subsequently it was reported that only US$3 billion was going to be ‘new’ money. The rest had already been committed or was to be handed out as loans.

This scenario makes ECO wonder: How much of the €2.4 billion a year that the EU has now put on the table for fast track financing, over 2010-2012, will be new and additional? ECO’s estimate is that it will be less than 5%. We fear that most of the remainder (EU, prove us wrong!) will come from re-packaging and double-counting previous pledges. ECO requests EU delegates to be transparent and accountable and explain to developing country delegates how much of the €2.4 billion has already been pledged elsewhere.

ECO points out that both fast track finance and long-term financial support in particular need to be committed, and provided in addition to developed countries existing ODA targets. This is because climate finance, which is meant to meet the additional cost of adapting to climate change, is not aid.

The means to overcome double counting is transparency. There has to be clear reporting on what is ODA, what is additional to ODA for climate finance and what has been pledged. Under the Copenhagen Agreement, Parties must agree that funding contributed once as climate finance will not be pledged elsewhere. There is ample opportunity over the next four days to ensure that the five months after the empty coffers of L’Aquila, world leaders will not be making the same mistake again.

Close the logging loophole now

Most developed countries came to Copenhagen asking the world to ignore planned increases in greenhouse gas emissions from logging and erase them from the books. It was a proposal that never deserved to see the light of day at a climate conference. Now it has to be put to rest.

The Climate Action Network has developed and proposed to negotiators a reasonable, technically sound and objective way to close the logging loophole: Account for all changes in forest management emissions compared to the average level of emissions between 1990-2007. It is so simple and so obvious that it’s boring.

It is imperative this loophole is closed if we are to have an agreement with environmental integrity. Closing this loophole will also strengthen overall targets by nearly 4%.

Will developed countries make this most basic commitment to environmental integrity or will they insist on keeping increased forestry emissions out of accounting even though they are in the atmosphere.

Austria, Australia, Canada, Finland, Japan, New Zealand and Sweden – ECO is looking right at you.

Africa stands tall

ECO did note one encouraging development at the start of the second week. The Africa Group dug in its heels in defence of the two-track approach, with most of the G77. Ministers considering the process proposal for the day perceived an agenda too close to the paper leaked early in the first week, which sought to terminate the Kyoto Protocol.

Four ministers broke off their own meeting and marched to the office of the COP President. Fortunately, the ensuing consultation resulted in a reworking of the order of business for the day and negotiations proceeded with restored respect for the two-track process.

The principled response to a threat to the Kyoto Protocol by the Africa Group is applauded.

CDM black market

“I give you CCS in CDM if you give me forests in exhaustion in CDM” is one of the popular negotiation techniques that ECO observed over the past few days. Is this really how the UNFCCC seals its deals? ECO is seriously concerned that the “negotiators” forget that they don’t barter apples for pears. Possibly they don’t even know which goods they are handling.

Currently, any plantation established on land that was forested after 1 January 1990 is excluded from the CDM. However, based on a request by CMP4, the CDM Executive Board adopted a definition for land with “forests in exhaustion” as CDM afforestation and reforestation project activities to be possibly approved by CMP5. According to this new definition, CDM could support industrial tree plantations in areas that were “forests” either as of 31 December 1989 and/or at the start of the CDM project activity, provided that they will be converted to non-forested land through final harvesting within five years.

When looking at the impact of this definition let’s clarify first things first: Forests in exhaustion are actually not forests. The forest definition under the UNFCCC includes existing monoculture tree plantations. In practice, this applies to the millions of hectares of peatlands that have been drained for oil palm and pulp wood. The loss of these carbon rich soils causes ongoing emissions of up to 90 tonnes CO2 per ha/yr, /200 million Mt CO2 per year. Support for these emissive plantations is support for deforestation. The new definition would just benefit large existing forest plantations in Indonesia, Malaysia and Brazil while LDCs would lose as they hardly have plantations. It would moreover open doors to forest management under the CDM which severely contradicts the agreement reached in Marrakech. Any amendment of the current definition of “forests” should rather exclude plantations and must under all conditions avoid extending it to the management of existing tree plantations.

Besides, this definition is highly problematic as it builds on a hypothetical assumption that plantations (alias forests) will be converted to non-forested land in five years. How do you prove that the land would have actually been finally harvested in five years if CDM supports the plantation to continue beyond that period? It rather seems like throwing money to a commercial activity that might continue anyway. This rings a bell. Eco reminds that the CDM is already suffering from one characteristic which is based on hypothetical assumption. The current project-by-project additionality testing is inherently subjective and impossible to do accurately and is leading to millions of non-additional CERs that are eagerly used by AI countries to offset their emission reduction obligations. Any countries out there that might think to seal a deal for CCS in CDM by accepting this misleading new project activity must think twice. ECO does not believe that CCS in CDM can pay for the huge negative impact that this new definition would bring along. Negotiators, please handle with care!

Jørgen

Jorgen, like many in the Bella Center, actually prefers it even cooler than +2°C. Yesterday he was just glad that temperatures had come down from +6°C. So imagine his delight when he drew the curtain this morning and his giant thermometer was registering +1°C! In solidarity with the most vulnerable countries on the planet, he hopes that temperatures hover around there to Friday and beyond, even if he himself will be sitting frozen out in the street, wondering what leaders are cooking up inside.

Crunch time in Copenhagen

As delegates return to the Bella Center today, they are joined by ministers and subsequently by heads of state/government. What issues should they focus on to achieve a fair, ambitious, binding and timely deal? ECO is glad you asked, because we have some very clear suggestions.

Mitigation: On Saturday AOSIS again drew attention to the threat to survival for many small island states and LDCs. They are not playing negotiating games.  When they push for 45% cuts by developed countries on 1990 levels by 2020 they are defining their right to survive above water.

And yet as we enter the second week of negotiations, developed country pledges for 2020 emission cuts in aggregate remain desperately low.  Ecofys and Climate Analytics put the total cuts at a dismal 8-12% on 1990 levels. Once loopholes such as dodgy LULUCF accounting and hot air are taken into account, this could end up as a 4% increase on 1990 emissions.

This low ambition has not been helped by the EU. It could have sent a positive signal to the talks by raising their target at their leaders summit, potentially starting a chain reaction of raised ambition among other developed countries. But no, the EU dodged its opportunity to lead at this key moment.

Not only are targets a problem. Countries continue to bicker over the widely accepted baseline of 1990, there is still no clarity on the straightforward issue of a five-year commitment period, nor on a scientific review clause by 2015 at the latest, to be informed by the IPCC’s fifth assessment report.

So ECO draws the attention of all developed country ministers and heads of state/government to the real challenge before them.  They must raise their targets, close the loopholes, agree on a 1990 base year and five-year commitment periods, and impose an early scientific review. For small island states and other poor and vulnerable countries this is non-negotiable as it is surely a matter of survival.

Adaptation: The unavoidable loss and damage from climate change must be adequately addressed, since it is a result of developed countries failure to mitigate in the past. Greenwashing must not sacrifice the most vulnerable.

Hence, adaptation is a crucial element of the Copenhagen agreement. Recalling in-depth studies by the World Bank, UNFCCC and others, ECO wants to see at least US$50 billion annually for adaptation in developing countries in the next commitment period, increasing to US$100 billion by 2020. The delivery of this finance must be measured, reported and verified. It must be additional to development aid commitments and not current commitments repledged over and over again. The existing Adaptation Fund should play an important role in the delivery of this finance and also as part of fast-track action.

As developing countries implement adaptation, ECO expects they will give priority to the people and communities most at risk from climate change.

Finance:  Last week saw the unveiling of a variety of proposals from both developed and developing countries. This is a welcome display of initiative at a time when that is sorely needed, but ECO would like to emphasise two important points.

First, kick-start finance must come as a part of a long term, legally binding agreement to reach the figure of US$195 billion per year by 2020. This amount must be additional to ODA commitments if it is to contribute effectively to sustainable development.

Second, this funding should flow through a consolidated fund under the authority of and fully accountable to the COP.  Direct access to funding and accountability to those most affected by climate change are also essential. Once again clarity is needed on accountability to the COP and the role that affected communities will play in the suggested proposals.

Last week also saw renewed enthusiasm for innovative sources of finance, with the spotlight focusing on fossil fuel subsidy shift, special drawing rights and financial transactions taxes. This shows a useful concentration of minds; but these ideas still need to be transformed from policy concepts into workable text.

And speaking of text, ECO reminds Parties that bunkers are already in the negotiating text with US$25-37 billion per year of reliable and sustainable financing waiting to be picked up by 2020. It’s a good moment for this to gain further momentum among the Parties. While we are at it, why not include some provisions for AAUs auctioning?

Legal Matters: In the first week, legal form issues have taken center stage with Tuvalu taking the lead, and new drafts provided by both Chairs. ECO welcomes the emerging consensus that both AWG tracks are moving towards legally binding text. Time is tight, so Parties must be willing to work seriously with the text that they have. Ministers and heads of state/government must then step in to resolve contentious issues. Early progress this week must occur to raise the prospects of reaching a full agreement on substance and legal form here in Copenhagen.

It is crunch time and these are the core issues that should occupy your minds this week. Success or failure on these questions will not only determine whether an agreement can be reached, it may determine your legacy.

Start funding the solution

ECO is pleased to report that after years of searching, long term funding for climate finance has been found! But first we must pry it out of the hands of big oil and coal companies. G20 nations in Pittsburgh, at the urging of the US, pledged to phase out fossil fuel subsidies. This could create a huge new source of funds that can and should be shifted to helping, rather than harming the climate.  Leaders have already agreed that we must phase these subsidies out. They simply need to commit to do this urgently and decide where the money goes.

How much money will be freed up by eliminating developed country fossil fuel subsidies?   While no definitive study exists, ECO notes that Jonathan Pershing, Head of the US delegation, authored a 2004 study that cited $57 billion annually in OECD subsidies.  The same paper notes that per-capita subsidies in the OECD are more than twice as high as those in the developing world.   Other studies put the figure as high as $150 billion in developed countries’ fossil fuel subsidies.  However you count it, it’s a huge dent in the need for long term climate finance.

G20 leaders agreed to phase out fossil fuel subsidies over the “medium term.” One way to advance both financing and emission reduction goals would be to set a firm date for Annex I subsidy phaseout.

Shifting fossil fuel subsidies to investments in a global clean energy economy is an elegant and urgently needed solution. It provides a simple and compelling argument for politicians to explain long term finance to its citizens:   Stop funding the problem, start funding the solution. Long term finance has to come from somewhere. Instead of giving US$3 billion to Exxon as the Obama Administration did just last week, shouldn’t part of the solution be to use the money for cleaner energy and adaptation?

If developed countries simply took advantage of the range of innovative finance sources out there, ECO’s math suggests that the 2020 finance gap would quickly disappear. Annex I leaders should be emboldened by the solutions at their fingertips and propose bold actions that could add up to meaningful long term finance.

Don’t bracket “Mother Earth”

As the hallways of the Bella Center emptied on Saturday night, Shared Vision draft text negotiators and the Chair worked through the late hours. After three days of closed meetings, they finally managed to get through their first reading of the 32-paragraph text. (A surprising amount of debate time was spent on a proposal to bracket a reference to protecting “Mother Earth,” which led a Brazilian negotiator to say: “You can’t bracket Mother Earth.” ECO could not agree more.)

It appears that the Shared Vision negotiators had been asked to incorporate four pre-ambular paragraphs and seven operational paragraphs from their draft text into the LCA Chair’s proposed draft text. Given that this process is not likely to result in a Shared Vision COP decision or Annex, it is important that the concept of a shared vision outcome is not lost.

To be sure, the critical elements of the shared vision such as the right to survival, early and urgent action, human rights, protection of biodiversity and ecosystems, gender responsibilities of developed and developing countries, just transition and public participation remain. The missing reference to the necessary emissions stabilisation level of 350 ppm carbon dioxide-equivalent in the draft LCA text sends an important signal to negotiators and civil society. It warns that important elements of the necessary requirements for a fair, ambitious and binding outcome are under threat.

The Shared Vision sets the frame and the direction for these globally critical negotiations that will set the path for our children and all future generations for whom we hold this planet as trustees. Parties must negotiate responsibly and with deep appreciation for what is at stake.

“Fossil of the day” award

First Place – Japan. On Saturday, Japan won the top fossil award for strongly opposing setting a second commitment period for the Kyoto Protocol, blocking progress by refusing the chair’s text as a basis for negotiation. Second Place – Papua New Guinea. It received the second-place fossil award for openly opposing the AOSIS proposal for two legally binding protocols.

A new development occurred on Thursday. France was awarded Ray of the Day—the second in history—for its leadership in fighting the EU’s shameful position on LULUCF

Jørgen

From his hostel window Jorgen can see a giant LED clock that also registers temperature. The first thing he does after groaning awake at 6am is to draw the curtain and check the temperature. It was +6˚C on Monday. Bad omen. For the rest of the week it was +5˚C. But Sunday morning, after Jorgen had stayed up late the previous night, first marching with NGOs from around the world and then brainstorming ideas to move these talks forward, the clock registered +2˚C! Good omen? Jorgen certainly hopes so.

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