EU leaders: The time is NOW!

ECO had expected more of the EU this week. Meeting in Brussels right in the middle of the two-week Copenhagen negotiations, leaders of the EU’s 27 member states had a golden opportunity to give a much-needed boost to the UN talks by upping their tabled 20% emission reduction targets for 2020 to 30%. This would have been an important step to move closer to the 40% emission cuts that developed countries need to make by 2020 to keep warming well below 2˚C. This is something the EU can readily achieve, bearing in mind that the original 20% target can already be met without any further domestic effort.

Sadly however, the EU chose to stick to its line that others must move before it raises its own target, once again undermining its self-proclaimed climate leadership. It also applied this defensive approach to the question of long term finance. It merely repeated the need for such money while remaining deafeningly silent on the question of how much the EU will actually contribute. Long term finance is what developing countries are eagerly waiting for in these talks and a serious EU offer could be a real game changer.

Of course, fast-start money is important too. So the EU’s announcement of €2.4 billion per year over the period of 2010-2012 would have been a positive first step, if it wasn’t for one fatal flaw. The fast-start pledge seems to consist mostly of a recycling of past commitments, including on ODA, that have been given a shiny new ‘climate’ branding. Very little new money has been put on the table. These negotiations must show that a clear shift has taken place. The usual recycling of past promises just won’t wash.

There was also a deafening silence by all the EU leaders on the burning issues of hot air and LULUCF. ECO has commented extensively on these loopholes in recent days. Are EU leaders really happy to live with the dishonesty and hypocrisy that these accounting tricks represent?

ECO did note with relief that the EU has officially called for a legally binding outcome by June 2010, which is already a big movement of the goalposts. However, its leaders must understand that for this to become a reality they need to exercise true leadership over the next week. This means making firm and bold moves on the EU’s reduction target and financial offers early – not just at the final hour.

UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown and President Nicolas Sarkozy of France are to be commended for their joint press statement yesterday that seemed to nudge the EU in this direction. Other states and Germany, in particular, need to understand that other countries will not be inspired by an EU that is holding out on moving forward. Only courageous action will draw out equally stringent responses from other Parties.

The formal conclusions of the EU leaders’ deliberations refer to the Copenhagen talks as “a historic opportunity for the international community to act together to respond to the challenge of climate.” ECO couldn’t agree more. This is why we urgently call on them to step up their offers on all fronts as soon as possible, and well before the end of next week.

Agree on finance from bunkers

ECO never tires of pointing out the obvious to delegates, but we promise we do it for your own benefit. So here we go again. What if you could find a way to control the fastest growing sources of emissions and generate billions of dollars of climate finance at the same time. You’d do it, wouldn’t you? ECO respectfully suggests you do just that for international aviation and shipping emissions, right here in Copenhagen.

Parties agree the emissions cannot be attributed to specific countries. The emissions are international, so the mitigation framework must be global. That’s okay, Article 4.1c of the Convention allows for this, but Article 4.3 lays down some conditions. To ensure the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities is respected, revenues created from bunker regulation — some estimates suggest US$25-37 billion per year — should be used to defray incremental costs and support climate action in developing countries.  Analysis shows that the impacts on trade would be minimal. Special exceptions can and should be made to exclude routes to and from the SIDS and LDCs, this is fully in the power of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and International Maritime Organization (IMO) to do.

A key priority in the next seven days is ensuring that developing countries receive new, additional and stable finance to support their efforts. As many delegates have put it, no money, no deal! Bunkers can help bridge that gap by creating complementary money in addition to assessed contributions by Annex I countries. What a great double dividend: we achieve climate benefits while generating new climate money (through a levy or the auctioning of emission permits).

Now, consider the alternative. You keep on arguing in circles. Nothing gets decided. And bunker emissions keep on rising, making 2˚C impossible, let alone 1.5˚C. A recent study estimates that they would take up 92% of global emissions in 2050 if the rest of the world reduces emissions by the 80% we need. Further, unilateral approaches are springing up. The EU has already moved to bring aviation into its emissions trading system, and is likely to do the same for shipping in the absence of global action. In the US, bunker fuels are covered in the draft Congressional Bill. Such regional measures still cover developing country operators when they visit these major trading blocs but the money generated will not flow to developing countries. It goes to Annex I governments!

This is a huge missed opportunity. Don’t let it happen. Agree on something good: targets for  the sectors, timelines for ICAO and IMO to deliver at COP 16, and the principle of a co-operative approach that generates revenue for developing countries.

Focus on the most vulnerable

ECO wants an Adaptation action framework with scaled-up implementation, particularly through reliable developed countries support, coming out of Copenhagen. Priority must be given to the needs of communities in vulnerable developing countries. And the inclusion of their perspectives in the development and planning of adaptation policies. Agreeing on this focus here would send an important signal.

These thrusts will not contradict the principle of being country driven. For instance, the identification of vulnerable people would be made at the country-level. While adaptation finance is seen as a form of compensation for harm caused, its character is that of restitution finance. This means it is bound to a certain purpose, namely to fund adaptation. ECO is concerned that such language has disappeared in the most recent co-chairs’ adaptation paper.

Many have spoken out on this matter. African environment ministers in the “2009 Nairobi Declaration on the Africa Process for Combating Climate Change” stressed that “Africa’s priorities are to implement climate change programmes with a focus on adaptation […], with emphasis on the most vulnerable groups, especially women and children.”

Similarly, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Dominican Republic, Honduras and Panama demanded that the “poorest and most vulnerable populations such as women, children and indigenous peoples,” should be the first to benefit from adaptation funding.

Further, all Parties to the Kyoto Protocol in 2008 adopted as a strategic priority of the Adaptation Fund that “in developing projects and programmes developing countries shall give particular attention to the needs of the most vulnerable communities”.

ECO recommends that this language be brought back into the text to ensure that adaptation finance has a proper focus and is able to facilitate a larger flow of resources.

Adaptation Fund Board showcase

Today, the chair of the Adaptation Fund (AF) will explain the achievements of the Adaptation Fund Board this year in a side event. ECO urges all those who still perceive the AF as a politicised negotiating body and not as an existing institution caring for effective adaptation to attend the event and update your knowledge.

At Bali two years ago, three innovative characteristics were already agreed: automatic funding through a 2% levy on CDM projects, majority developing country representation on the Board, and the mandate to provide direct access to funds.

The Board has recently added two other innovative features: a strategic priority directing Parties to give special attention to the most vulnerable communities when submitting proposals, and transparency in decision making (including live webcast of all meetings and the future possibility for public comment on submitted proposals).

The Board will soon approve the first projects. But resource limitations at present continue to make it difficult to adequately respond to programme-based needs.

But given the Board’s important advances, ECO is concerned the AF is getting little notice in the post-2012 financial architecture negotiations. Yes, it is a Kyoto Protocol instrument, but the lessons learned for developing appropriate institutional architecture and delivering fast-track action can be applied everywhere.

What ECO finds particularly worthwhile is the convergence between features and functions of the AF and the various proposals put forward for a new financial mechanism. The joint proposal by the UK, Mexico, Norway and Australia calls for direct access where fiduciary standards allow it with certain safeguards. The US submission proposes to let projects and programmes be administered by domestic institutions, while also calling for strong fiduciary standards. This resembles the AF direct access approach, where National Implementing Entities can be accredited if they meet certain fiduciary standards and are the direct recipients of AF resources.

The proposals however vary on governance structure. But as the Board model shows, a slight majority does not permit developing countries to rule by fiat. In practice, the Board is achieving consensus based on in-depth discussions of complex matters.

Another key issue is the generation of resources. The AF can receive funds from multiple sources, whether from a Kyoto mechanism or not. For example, if Parties chose a levy (e.g., for aviation and maritime transport) or to provide mandatory contributions to address historical responsibility for climate change, the AF could receive the resources.

ECO suggests again that the AF be scaled up through substantial additional financial resources in conjunction with the second commitment period of Kyoto Protocol and a legally binding agreement under the Convention, possibly as an operating entity under a reformed financial mechanism. The AF can play a role in both, although this may require political decisions and legal adjustments. ECO strongly cautions against drying up the AF if the CDM generates too little resources or is phased out. There have already been too many casualties from climate change.

CAN Daily Press Conference Webcast--Dec. 10

Webcast Notice

View Briefing: http://tiny.cc/CANBriefingDec10
Thursday, December 10, 2009

Webcast Available on Copenhagen Climate Talks Briefing
Assessing Negotiations, Tuvalu Actions, LULUCF Logging Loopholes and
EU Heads of State Visit

CAN Press Conference--Dec. 12 [Copenhagen, Denmark] An on-demand webcast is available streaming this morning’s press briefing in Copenhagen. Experts focused on Tuvalu’s actions yesterday and potential LULCF loopholes to pay attention. The briefing will be webcast live for those unable to attend. There was also a preview of the upcoming EU Heads of State visit.

Saleemul Huq, IIED
“I think that Obama does have an opportunity next week to earn the Nobel Prize he was awarded this week by showing as not just the president of the United States, but as a leader of the world.”

David Ngatae, Cook Islands Climate Action Network
"The main concern for the Tuvalu intervention is the we need to come up with a legally binding agreement, which we've been working on for two years."

"In Tuvalu we have salt water coming up through the ground. We are right on the frontlines of climate change and are feeling the impacts now."

Chris Henschel, Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society
Regarding proposed changed to LULUCF (logging) policies: "The problem with the logging loophole that the developed countries are proposing is that it allows them to increase their emissions from logging and not account for it"

Matthias Duwe, CAN Europe
On the EU “There needs to be a proposal on finance. They’re saying they still don’t have numbers and key features on either short term fast start and long term financing. We need to see those and gain clarity.”

What: Briefing assessing the kick-off of the Copenhagen climate negotiations

Where: http://tiny.cc/CANBriefingDec10

[Originally broadcast on Thursday, 12:00, CET December 10, 2009]

Who: Experts on UNFCCC negotiations and issues

For more information contact:
Hunter Cutting: +1 415-420-7498


Beyond Borders: Progress on a Global Level

Two experienced UNFCCC activists explain how to become “climate smarties” and create a fair, effective and ambitious global climate deal.

Generally, when we discuss the effects that greenhouse gases have on the world’s atmosphere, we prefer the term climate change. Global warming simply isn’t an accurate description. But we do like one thing about this description: it reminds us that the problem we face isn’t just local or national, it’s global. Humanity is experiencing a global problem -- and that problem requires a global solution.

The United Nations has a very important part to play in fighting climate change. It provides a forum for governments to work together, and hammer out solutions to international problems. Global problem- solving is a long, slow process -- and a thankless one a lot of the time. You may have read news articles about the countless international conferences on global warming and wondered what goes on at those meetings. Different nations bring competing agendas to the table; representatives from all nations must overcome language and cultural barriers; and national governments face pressures at home from business, organized labor, and opposition parties. The world’s glaciers may be receding faster than international agreements can move forward.

And yet, despite all the impediments, the world’s nations make progress. Even better, sometimes they enjoy huge successes, such as the international agreement to stop the destruction of the ozone layer. Our world today is a safer place because of global agreements.

Global agreements hold countries accountable for certain actions and give nations a set of rules enforced through United Nations international law.

The world’s governments have been struggling with climate change for more than 20 years. The process has been painfully slow, and those governments still have a lot to do. But, right from the start, every country (well, almost every country) agreed that no one nation can solve the problem of climate change alone.

Why Global Agreements Are Important

Countries can do a lot to tackle global warming individually, as we discuss in Chapter 10. But the problem is far too great, and the solutions are far too complex, for countries to attempt to address climate change on their own. Each country is responsible for a portion of greenhouse gas emissions and has the ability to reduce global emissions anywhere from a fraction of a percentage up to 25 percent. But it is only with a collective effort that global emission can be reduced 50 to 80 percent. The world needs a global agreement to reduce greenhouse emissions and fight climate change.

Excerpted from Global Warming for Dummies, Elizabeth May and Zoe Caron (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).


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