Adaptation is the Soul of Agriculture

Global food production and food security are threatened by the greater variability of the climate and increasing occurrence of extreme weather events. Yet the agriculture negotiations are not moving with the urgency required to support the world's poor, especially those engaged in agriculture and related activities, in adapting to these adverse impacts. A vast majority of the world’s population is dependent on small-scale food producers -- climate change puts all of this at risk.

While underscoring the importance of mitigation in the agriculture sector, Parties should be working toward safeguards which protect biodiversity, provide equitable access to resources by rural peoples, ensure food security and the right to food, and build on indigenous and local knowledge.

Developed countries must recognise that for agriculture in developing countries, the priorities remain  food security, sustainability and climate resilience. Parties must provide financing for promoting biodiversity, ensuring resilient small-scale agriculture based on agro-ecological principles, and support for appropriate technology development and transfer that enhances the sustainability of food production systems.


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The HOW of Equity

At the ADP opening yesterday, ECO waited in vain for bold and innovative ideas to ensure each Party proposes its equitable share of the global effort.  We are all agreed that equity matters (the WHY) – so let's figure out the HOW.

The COP and ADP opened with clarion calls for ambition – and the key to ambition is equity. Your mission this week, dear Parties, is to move beyond vague statements about fairness and map the all-important Convention principles onto a common list of equity indicators.

We hope you’ve been busy since Bonn doing your homework on this, but just to help out, here is some know-HOW.

ECO believes there are five indicators that really matter: Adequacy, Responsibility, Capacity, Development Need, and Adaptation Need. These are the minimum indicators required to operationalize the core equity principles enshrined in the Convention.
For a fair 2015 outcome, Warsaw must deliver a consensus on the indicators that should guide Parties in formulating their pledges, and against which their pledges will be reviewed and strengthened as necessary. And there is no time to lose!


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Getting on the Right Track for Workstream 1

The Warsaw city bikes are a good choice to explore this place which we call home for the next two weeks.  The main task of ADP workstream 1 is to chart the course of work needed to deliver a fair, ambitious and legally binding agreement no later than COP 21 in Paris.  So we should not spin our wheels in the same old direction with the same old interventions.  

Here are some of the key points for the ADP WS1 outputs that will set the right course:

* The deadline for tabling commitments: 2014

The Paris Protocol must signal the beginning of the end of fossil fuel use, with commitments inscribed that put the world on an emissions reduction pathway consistent with 1.5/2°C.  To ensure this happens, Parties cannot wait until they show up in the City of Light to make their commitments but rather must table them much sooner so that a review for adequacy and equity can be done.  This means Parties must begin working on their proposed commitments right away so they can be tabled in 2014.  And the 2014 deadline applies equally to mitigation and financial commitments.  

These should not be viewed as ‘initial offers’ in some negotiating game, but real commitments that will add up to an ambitious deal from the beginning. The timeline for tabling in 2014, inscribing in 2015 and the adequacy/equity review are just the safety nets to ensure that goal is reached and there is enough time for ambition to be raised if need be.  

* A basket of indicators to guide commitments and the Equity Review

In Warsaw, Parties must agree common equity indicators to guide the development of their commitments, including: Adequacy, Responsibility, Capacity, Development Need and Adaptation Need.  Key milestones for the review also must be agreed and the review must be concluded early enough in 2015 that Parties have time to revise commitments.

* Information required for commitments

Sufficient information about the proposed commitments should be provided to enable the review ex ante for adequacy and equity.  Such information should include the gases and sectors covered and the GWPs used. Information is also necessary for the land-use sector and carbon markets, and work needs to begin next year on a common accounting framework for them.  

Further specific information may be required depending on commitment type.  For developed countries this should be straightforward as commitments must remain in the form of absolute, economy-wide, multi-year, emission reduction targets.  The 2015 agreement should retain the 5-year commitment period length in order to ensure responsiveness to the latest science.  

* The contours of the Paris Protocol

In order to be able to deliver a draft negotiating text by COP20, Parties will need to decide on key elements and the work plan here in Warsaw.

The AR5 WG 1 report makes clear that all countries need to take deep emission reductions if we are serious about not breaching the 1.5/2°C threshold. It is also clear that the efforts for emission reductions by all countries will be different in this regard for arriving at fair and equitable emission-reduction efforts.  Working backwards from December 2015, Parties need to agree here in Warsaw when to table, what to table, and how to review.


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The Open Road for Workstream 2 Ambition

As Parties pave the road towards the 2015 agreement under ADP Workstream 1, a crucial brick seems to have gone missing. According to the UNEP Emission Gap report, pre-2020 mitigation efforts currently fall 8-12 GtCO2e short of what is needed to keep global temperature increases below 1.5/2°C.

ECO would love to hear how Parties intend to reach a global deal in Paris if they don’t increase their pre-2020 ambition significantly. If global emissions do not peak by 2015, the entire basis for Paris negotiation will have to be revised to address increased adaptation and finance needs and more loss and damage.
How many more lives will be put at threat because of inaction? How many more climate activists will have to risk their lives to show the lack of political will and the world’s unrelenting dependency on fossil fuels?

ECO is tired of repeating that 2020 is too late to start acting. Without stronger mitigation action by 2020, typhoons like Haiyan will become ordinary climate events. Experts tell us that a 2°C pathway implies an immediate peaking of global emissions and a much faster rate of fossil CO2 decline – at least 3% by 2019 and 4% by 2036 (Stockholm Environment Institute, 2013). Should there be a political decision to choose a less ambitious pathway, who will bear the responsibility of a significant increase in climate risk?

COP 19 is nearly the last opportunity to increase pre-2020 mitigation efforts. It must be decided in Warsaw that all developed countries – including those not participating in the Kyoto Protocol – will take the lead and put forward increased mitigation commitments by the Bonn Ministerial next spring. ECO is deeply concerned by current rumours coming from some Annex I countries that they may fall backwards and actually decrease their already far below the mark pre-2020 ambition. At the Bonn ministerial, developing countries should also announce new NAMAs while clarifying their finance needs.

There is also strong momentum to make progress on complementary  initiatives. We must hope that Warsaw sends a signal to the Montreal Protocol process for the rapid phase-out of HFCs. Positive signals are coming from many Parties, so now is the time to seal a decision.

Parties should also engage on concrete proposals for scaling up renewable energy and energy efficiency globally. By COP 20, Parties should adopt a global aspirational target of 25% renewable energy by 2020, and increasing energy efficiency by at least an additional 2.4% above the current penetration rate per year from 2014 until 2020. This alone will help us save 7.5 to 8.5 GtCO2e by 2020, a major contribution to closing the gigatonne gap. And developed countries should take the lead and submit renewable energy and energy efficiency targets in addition to any existing domestic GHG targets.

Finally, how many billions of taxpayers’ money will developed countries continue to put in the pockets of the big oil, gas and coal industries? Elimination of fossil fuel subsidies primarily in Annex 1 countries is a crucial step in increasing mitigation ambition in the short term.

Bob Dylan asked: “How many roads must a man walk down before you can call him a man?” ECO takes the view that the open road for increasing pre-2020 ambition is right ahead of us.


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ECO Stands in Solidarity with the Philippines and All Vulnerable Countries

Yesterday, we heard from the Philippines lead negotiator, Yeb Sano, who addressed the opening session of the UN climate negotiations, calling for an end to the madness and taking urgent action to prevent a repeat of the devastating storm that hit much of his country this past weekend. Super Typhoon Haiyan was nothing the world has ever experienced, taking thousands of lives in just two days. Yeb Sano even declared that he will voluntarily refrain from eating food during this COP until a meaningful outcome is in sight.

Very importantly, he put a lot of faith in civil society. The message is unmistakable: “These last two days, there are moments when I feel that I should rally behind the climate advocates who peacefully confront those historically responsible for the current state of our climate. These selfless people who fight coal, expose themselves to freezing temperatures, or block oil pipelines. In fact, we are seeing increasing frustration and, thus, more increased civil disobedience. The next two weeks, these people, and many around the world who serve as our conscience will again remind us of our enormous responsibility. To the youth here who will constantly remind us that their future is in peril, to the climate heroes who risk their lives, reputation, and personal liberties to stop drilling in the polar regions and to those communities standing up to unsustainable and climate-disrupting conventional sources of energy, we stand with them.“

We respond, your faith in us will not be misplaced. The many voices contributing to ECO will never lose their passion, motivation, and determination to achieve a change in light of these and many other events. They firmly stand in solidarity with the Philippines and all other nations vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.  They urge the international community to act more strongly than ever before to reduce their emissions, and push towards a new, globally-binding agreement at COP19 and beyond.

As Yeb Sano stood with climate activists, we will stand with him. And in keeping with that pledge, a number of CAN members, youth and other civil society are also undertaking a solidarity fast alongside him.


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Words into Action: The Gender Workshop

Twelve years ago the deficit of women’s participation at the UNFCCC was raised as a matter urgently needing attention, and Parties decided to improve the participation of women in UNFCCC bodies in decision 36/CP.7.

A year ago, with a view to the continuing and significant deficit of women’s participation, and with increased recognition of the importance of women’s effective participation and gender equality to all aspects of climate change, a new and more powerful decision was adopted requesting Parties to work toward a goal of gender balance, gender-sensitive climate policy and capacity building on the issue.

This decision also established gender and climate change as a standing agenda item of the COP, and Parties and Observers were requested to submit their views. Today from 15:00 to 18:00 in meeting room 1, the UNFCCC will convene the first in-session gender and climate change workshop to discuss Party submissions as well as the major themes of the gender decision. This is an opportune time to engage on this critical issue and map out concrete next steps on gender in the climate change debate.


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Fossil of the Day Award

The First Place Fossil goes to Australia. Many would have thought that Australia’s position at COP19 couldn’t have got much worse after the dismantling of its climate change department, ridding itself of the burden of a climate change minister and intending to remove its carbon price during COP. But we thought wrong.

Yesterday, the Australian media revealed that Australia will not be putting forward any new finance commitments in Warsaw.

This is despite the crushing losses suffered by the Philippines this week, illustrating Australia’s lack of understanding as to the purpose of climate finance.

To top it off, Australian cabinet ministers characterize climate finance as ‘socialism masquerading as environmentalism’ – we have news for you, it’s not socialism, its equity and it's your responsibility.


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Ray of Solidarity

Special recognition, the Ray of the Solidarity, goes to the Philippines. The lead negotiator called for urgent action to prevent a repeat of the devastating storm that hit parts of his country this past weekend. Super Typhoon Haiyan was nothing the world has ever experienced.  

His speech thanked civil society, especially those who are risking their lives climbing oil rigs in the arctic, trying to stop the building of new oil pipelines, or any direct action against the dirty fossil fuel industry.

To this we say, civil society has never felt the urgency of action as much as now. We stand in solidarity with the Philippines and all other nations that were hit by this devastation, and urge the international community to act more strongly than ever before to reduce the threat of climate change and push towards a new, globally-binding agreement at COP19.


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The Topsy-Turvy Land Downunder

You may have heard that things have gone a little awry in the climate downunder.

Not only has Sydney just had the worst bushfires ever in October (mid-spring!), this year saw national temperature records broken month after month after month. After the hottest day ever across Australia in January, the Bureau of Metereology had to include a new colour for much hotter levels of hot. And perhaps this is no surprise -- now the heat seems to have gone into the heads of the politicians.

Despite the fact that the majority of Australians want action on climate change (as made clear by extensive exit polling at the recent election), the new government sacked the independent Climate Change Authority (which provided independent scientific advice on climate policy), and is in the process of repealing Australia's carbon price and limit on pollution as well as its legislated commitment to 80% reductions by 2050.
Say again? With more than 40 countries, states and provinces around the globe implementing a carbon price, the new government is falling backwards, scrapping Australia’s pricing scheme and moving to an inefficient government funded scheme that – wait for this! -- pays polluters to pollute.

But unfortunately, there’s even more. What about Australia’s ability to meet the middle or upper end of their 5% to 25% 2020 target range? Seems to be gone in a flash. Other countries should sound alarm bells and question Australia’s intentions to contribute its fair share to cut global pollution and limit warming.

The new Australian government is hardly inclined to take climate change seriously -- but they must.


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Perplexing Poland

Has the Polish Government been taken over by the Yes Men? (That would be the somewhat erratic outfit with a penchant for highlighting the superficial and often self-serving follies of leading institutions and firms).  ECO asks this only rhetorically, of course -- at times the back and forth made our eyes cross.  But let us explain.

There was that somewhat mad posting a few weeks ago on the official COP19 website about the economic opportunities that the Arctic ice melt would bring while chasing pirates, ecologists and terrorists off the seas.  
The Yes Men stepped up to claim credit, sort of.  The whole thing left everyone quite perplexes, including the Polish government.

But then the story got better (or really, worse). Check out the official COP iPhone application. It actually greets you with this opening message: ‘Climate changes are natural phenomena, which occurred already many times on earth’. So why worry, huh?! ECO has been wondering whether an accompanying ringtone is coming, maybe “Que sera, sera”…

Inviting 12 fossil industry firms to sponsor the COP, including only the anti-climate lobby Business Europe in the pre-COP and – to top the madness, actually organizing a global coal summit in Warsaw alongside the COP, complete with a “Warsaw Communiqué ”?
All this would push the envelope even for the Yes Men.

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