Adaptation Fund: Progress and Peril

Will the Adaptation Fund (AF) come to a standstill next year?

Only three years after the first call for proposals, the AF has approved 29 concrete adaptation projects and allocated US $200 million. It has entered new ground with its direct access modality.
Just a week ago, the Board of the AF approved a comprehensive environmental and social policy, including capacity building support for developing country institutions to meet the substantive requirements.

Delegates should really have a look at the annual report of the Adaptation Fund Board. The AF has made remarkable strides in very tough circumstances, and yet things are actually getting worse.  

The main funding source of the AF, the “share of proceeds” of CERs from the Clean Development Mechanism, has now almost totally dried up. Early in 2012 the AFB estimated it would have another $200 million from that source during the year. Instead, CER prices collapsed and only $17 million was delivered.
The AFB also set a fundraising goal of an additional $100 million by the end of 2013, to be met mostly from direct contributions by Parties. But only 4 pledges were made since then (brave Sweden weighed in twice), amounting to only roughly $40 million.

And yet some good has come out of it. The new funds were immediately turned into action, since a number of projects have already been approved by the AF but were just waiting for money to come in. But the targeted $100 million will be used up fast and there is an urgent need to replenish the Adaptation Fund.

Could it be that other developed countries were just holding their pledges so they could make them at this COP? ECO, of course, is ever-optimistic. Developed countries that constantly confirm they stand by their goal to mobilise $100 billion a year by 2020 will surely not argue they can’t find $100 million to support urgently needed adaptation actions.

So who's next? ECO will carefully record every single million pledged at this COP to save the Adaptation Fund. We might even suggest that participants at the world coal summit might want to chip in, but suspect they will be distracted by other matters than helping those who need help the most.

But let’s not forget how far the Adaptation Fund has come and where it is going. This is the starting point of a longer journey to 2020 (remember that $100 billion?) and beyond. Making good on climate finance promises requires this COP to deliver much more – making finance available immediately for 2013-2015, a global finance roadmap to 2020 including scaling up plans from each country, and much more.

We all must learn to walk before we can run.  Meeting the $100 million goal of the Adaptation Fund should be a scene-setter for the early days of week 1 in Warsaw – giving ministers a jump start on the bolder stuff that gets us on a path to $100 billion.

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Climate action takes on split personality ahead of first UN talks of 2013

With this year’s first session of the UN climate negotiations to open on Monday, international politics surrounding the planetary climate crisis were taking on a split personality, according to NGO experts speaking at a press briefing today by Climate Action Network-International and the Global Call for Climate Action. 

According to Alden Meyer, Union of Concerned Scientists' director of strategy and policy, on the one hand, there are some signs of progress on climate action.
More developing countries appear keen to adopt low carbon development plans, renewable energy costs continue to decline, and the US and China just launched a process to develop a set of joint actions that “set the kind of powerful example that can inspire the world."
In addition, several key high-profile political actors, such as IMF chief Christine Lagarde and World Bank president Jim Yong Kim, are calling for increased action on climate change.
But on the other hand, there are several signs that the world is not coming to grips with the severity of the situation, Meyer said, such as continuation of some US$1 trillion a year in fossil fuel subsidies, increasing efforts to develop unconventional oil reserves and expand coal exports, and the growing gap documented by UNEP between the reductions in emissions required by 2020 in order to keep global temperature increases below 2 degrees Centigrade, and the much higher level expected as a result of current national pledges of action. 
"To top it off, we aren’t seeing the bold leadership needed by our political leaders to deal with the climate crisis, particularly those from developed countries,” Meyer said.  “This must change – and soon – if we are to get the much more ambitious set of international and national actions that are required to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.” 
Hope in the face of the climate threat was coming increasingly from developing countries. 
Lina Li, climate policy researcher from the Greenovation Hub in Beijing, said after some positive domestic developments on the climate front, there was potential for China to do more on the international stage. 
"The North-South paradigm that underpinned the international development and environment agenda is posing more questions than answers. Conventional wisdoms are being challenged while new imaginations are yet to be articulated. China’s new role, with the ongoing geographic power shift, will be identified within this context. This is one of the key questions that need to be addressed if we are going to achieve a fair deal in 2015," Lina said. 
Meanwhile, this year's major climate negotiations will be held in Poland in November, a country renowned for blocking further climate action in the EU, according to Julia Michalak, climate policy officer for Climate Action Network, Europe. 
"It’s difficult for the country that keeps looking back-ward to move the international process forward. Poland keeps mentioning its past achievement and has no vision on how to design its own climate policy, so it’s difficult to imagine it can offer a lot to international process."

NGO Experts to Brief Media on Major Climate Change Milestones of 2013 ahead of Next Round of Climate Negotiations

April 22, 2013 – NGO experts from the two largest climate change networks will brief media on April 25 at 13.30GMT on the current state of play in the international climate negotiations ahead of the year's first round of UN talks.  They will also preview major milestones in 2013 related to climate change, and their potential impact on the negotiations.   

Experts will address the recently announced bilateral cooperation planned between the U.S. and China, as well as the U.S. and Japan.  They will also address the role of the Major Economies Forum and the potential impact of the first release of an IPCC assessment report in more than five years.  Lastly, experts will also address recent climate change related developments in Europe and the role of Poland within the EU, given the government will host the climate talks in December of this year.  
What: NGO experts survey the political landscape ahead of the 2013 climate negotiations.   
When:  13.30GMT, Thursday, April 25, 2013
  • 9.30 in New York, Washington DC 
  • 14.30 in London
  • 15.30 in Amsterdam, Brussels, Paris, Berlin
  • Alden Meyer, Union of Concerned Scientists, United States,  
  • Lina Li, Greenovation Hub, China  
  • Julia Michalak, Climate Action Network Europe. 
To join the teleconference, please dial the relevant toll-free telephone number for your country listed below and enter the Conference Room Number: 1231732 when requested.
Belgium: +32 (0) 80081379
Brazil: +55 (0) 8000474900
Canada: +1 (888) 299-3346
China: +86 4008811076
Germany: +49 08007235118
Japan: +81 (0) 120216700
U.A.E: +971 80004449671
United Kingdom: +44 (0) 8000284051
United States: +1 (866) 951-1151
If your country is not listed, please email rvoorhaar@climatenetwork.org to you will receive a local toll free number. 
About CAN and GCCA
Climate Action Network (CAN) is a global network of over 800 NGOs working to promote government and individual action to limit human-induced climate change to ecologically sustainable levels.
The Global Call for Climate Action is an international network of diverse non-profit organizations working to mobilize civil society and galvanize public opinion in support of climate action. Our partners, 400 and growing, come from a broad spectrum of civil society, including national and international NGO's working to protect the environment and to fight poverty.

Civil Society's Voice Being Marginalized


ECO has been pondering the evident marginalization of the ‘civil society voice’ lately and started scribbling a few preambular thoughts on a serviette…

  • Reaffirming that 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”1;
  • Acknowledging the respectful, positive and constructive dialogue at the December 1 ADP Special Event;
  • Encouraging Parties and the Secretariat to provide roundtables and other opportunities to enhance the full inclusion of civil society as a relevant and meaningful voice in these negotiations; . . .

    #Operative text... 

 1Guidelines for participation of representative of NGOs at meetings of the bodies of the UNFCCC.

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My Little COP PocketBook

This is a youth-led volunteer project aimed at making the UNFCCC COP process make sense to people having difficulties understanding it. This is through the production of a fun and easy-to-read PocketBook titled 'Peeling Back the COP'.

The main objective of this project is to lower the barrier for youth engagement in climate policy.

We would like to get as many translations as possible, so that many young people - and anyone in general - can get to read and understand the contents of the book.

Check out the guidebook here


Bridging The Gulf


From one aggressively air-conditioned conference centre to another... Only three months ago, ECO was sitting in tropical Bangkok pondering the outcome of COP18, and now here we are on the edge of the desert. But what a change three months can make. A new Chinese leadership, a new mandate for US President Obama, elections in Ukraine, Georgia, Lithuania and Venezuela, as well as many, many more extreme weather events, resulting in severe loss and extensive damage. But will such monumental shifts in global politics affect the outcome in Doha?
Despite high hopes, Doha was never going to be a cup final. Durban, marked out for the grand ‘huddle’, gave the negotiators new political instructions. Doha must prepare the roadmap  for 2015. ECO would like to remind delegates this doesn’t mean you can kick back and snooze till then. Remember – if you snooze, you lose! Too much is at stake. The final saga of the Kyoto Protocol rolls on, the LCA requires successful closure and a work plan for the new Durban platform for both a 2015 deal and near term ambition must be established, along with progress under the subsidiary bodies.  Doha must not renegotiate Durban. We must only move forward.
Bismarck once said, “Politics is the art of the possible”, and ECO firmly believes a deal is possible in Doha.  But deft diplomacy will need to be at the heart of that deal. ECO waits with bated breath to discover how the COP Presidency will lead Parties to deliver a Doha package.
ECO is delighted that Australia has set a constructive tone going into Doha, with their intention to sign up to the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol (albeit with low ambition and those pesky conditions attached). If only other brollies would follow suit. New Zealand’s intention not to sign up to the second commitment period is a scandal. How can countries like New Zealand call for a legally binding agreement in 2015, when they’re not even prepared to put their own skin in the game?
ECO still believes that  the EU will put a target on the table that results in real mitigation, since it already achieved 20% reduction in 2011. Perhaps the Polish delegation would like to consider this, given they’re prepping to host the next COP…. But ECO is prepared. We even packed our souvenir “I ♥ KP” t-shirts from Durban, no doubt much to the delight of many developed country delegates…  An amendment in Doha to the KP that secures environmental integrity by closing down the loopholes will be critical to opening up a productive outcome on the LCA. But ECO cannot ignore the early escape from the Kyoto framework by Canada, Japan and (will they? won’t they?) Russia – these countries are neglecting their obligations and their own national interest.
For many, the successful closure of the LCA track will be the political hot potato.  In addition to adopting the Kyoto amendments, there remains much work to be done, in particular on finance and MRV of developed country actions. Reassuring developing countries that progress is being made on long-term finance and that there will be a ramping up of finance flowing post 2012 will be crucial to addressing their concerns about closing the LCA. This is also indispensable to help them with ambitious climate action.   
ECO thinks the G77 proposal on MRV under 1(b)(i) hits the spot. Ensuring greater transparency and accountability of developed country mitigation actions will help to restore confidence amongst G77 and those signing up to Kyoto (i.e. the majority of the world’s people!) that the Annex I countries not subject to the KP rules will make comparable efforts.
And finally to the ADP.  ECO would like to remind Parties that for 2015, equity and ambition are two sides of the same coin, and securing a negotiation on this will be vital in addressing the concerns from developing countries and concluding the LCA. Likewise on short-term ambition, ECO looks forward to hearing from Parties which action they will take to ramp up efforts in the immediate future. One such concrete measure is that more countries put forward pledges, particularly the COP host and its neighbours. We need to build bridges from the era of burning coal, oil and gas to the cleaner and brighter future of renewable energy access for all, and a safe climate.
The global shifts in politics and economics we are witnessing are having profound implications on both the need for and dynamics within the UNFCCC negotiations.  The gulf to bridge between lofty intentions and credible action is wide. Whilst the political will is still lagging amongst many critical emitters, the weather is turning (metaphorically and meteorologically). Success in 2015 will require fundamental shifts in the real and political economies of many countries. Doha must build on and move forward from Durban to ensure we still have a cup final worth fighting for.
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In late November 2012, world governments will meet in Doha, Qatar, for the UN Climate Change Conference, to firm up the outcomes of the Durban conference held in 2011. 

Christian Aid believes Doha gives governments a vital opportunity to advance global cooperation in confronting the challenge of climate change. It believes it is possible to achieve an ambitious outcome from the conference that will deliver on all the elements of the package agreed in Durban. 

<Read More> 


Clarifying Clarifications

The two panels on quantified economy-wide emission reduction targets by developed country Parties left ECO feeling that there was something missing since Bali - like four years perhaps? - or a bit of ambition?

Surely Parties can cite 1(b)(i) from the Bali Action Plan in their sleep (“comparable” – remember)? Yet, as St Lucia pointed out, we still have different base years and metrics. That’s not going to help spotting the loopholes and freeloaders - oh sorry...everyone’s acting in good faith so no need to worry about transparency.

All in all, there are some surprisingly unsophisticated approaches on the table from some rather sophisticated economies – putting forward point targets rather than carbon budgets. And yes, ECO’s talking about those north of Latin America. This includes no clear idea how international credits used by states and provinces are going to affect the national level.  ECO was intrigued at issues for California being considered “within the noise” of measurement. Yes, who could possibly be concerned about accounting problems within an economy the size of Australia?

 And talking of the latter – ECO believes the EU’s urgings were heard loud and clear.  Australia and New Zealand, you’re wanted in the KP.  As they say in those parts, “Come on Australia.” 

All in all, some in the Umbrella group must have been wishing they had their brollies to hide behind. Can’t imagine how “banking and borrowing” can be used with inventories and point targets? Well no problem in adding a ban to the UNFCCC rule book then... And funny how those with issues with their emissions trajectories seem to be the keenest for flexibility and most concerned that harmonisation might prevent full participation. A tip to New Zealand – choirs and rugby sides seem to manage it. 

So to clarify all that clarity, ECO supports South Africa's proposal for a common accounting workshop before Doha to assist the successful conclusion of 1(b)(i).  

ECO was rather more encouraged to see some of the good progress on NAMAs presented by developing country panellists. And just a reminder to those who seem to have forgotten exactly what NAMA stands for – it’s Nationally Appropriate Mitigation ACTIONS. It’s apparent that here, too, provision of detailed information is important because it gives more clarity on what measures countries are undertaking. And this clarity will provide confidence and facilitate access to further support. On this note, ECO is having a bit of difficulty seeing the support – more of this in a minute.

Now, even with the focus on actions rather than outcomes, it is still vital that we are able to understand what emission reductions have been achieved below BAU. Not to hold developing countries to a particular goal, but to track emission reductions on a country level in the context of collective efforts.

Panel 2 on means of support seemed to have a great deal of agreement.  Capacity building and, again, this cleverly invisible means of support for developing countries to be able to develop and design effective long-term NAMAs (aligned with low carbon development pathways) was emphasised time and time again.

 Particularly notable was how this was coming almost equally from both sides of the 1(b)(ii) equation – from developing countries in order to be able to act, and from developed countries in order to ensure value for their hard-to-find money. Given this last factor, ECO is left absolutely baffled as to why many developed countries seem to believe they have a logical basis for their determination to block the capacity building negotiation in the LCA. (But hey, ECO has gotten used to being baffled by flights of logic from developed countries many times before.) And let’s face it – some of those non-KP developed countries seem to need a bit of capacity building to help them produce their QELROs.


Banking on Bunkers

Today, Parties will meet under the LCA Sectoral Approaches spin-off group for the last time before Doha to discuss how to address the fast-growing emissions from international transport. Parties must make sure Doha provides a signal to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the International Maritime Organization (IMO) on how to reconcile the UNFCCC principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities (CBDRRC) of Parties, with the practices and principles of these sectoral bodies, which have a long history of regulating ships and aircraft on the basis of equal treatment of all.

Negotiating positions of many parties have remained frozen in time for the past decade or so – sadly unlike the Arctic. For those who haven’t been hunkered down in bunkers, ECO will explain. At one end of the range there’s the US and Japan, who want the IMO and ICAO to proceed with no input from the UNFCCC. At the other end, a group of developing countries who want the UNFCCC principles to override those of the sectoral bodies, which are independent and autonomous bodies under the UNFCCC, thereby treating these inherently global sectors in the same way as nationally based emission sources. This could mean for example that ships owned or operated by companies based anywhere in the world could easily escape regulation simply by reflagging to another country to avoid compliance.

Singapore has presented a helpful compromise, saying that emissions from international aviation and shipping should be addressed through global measures under ICAO and IMO, while taking into account the principles and provisions of the UNFCCC. This is sensible and appropriate as far as it goes, but even more helpful would be to give an indication of how CBDRRC might be taken into account. It seems risky to leave the interpretation of UNFCCC principles entirely up to other bodies – after all, even seasoned climate negotiators find it tricky! The most promising way to address CBDRRC could be through provisions involving revenues and/or handling of allowances from a global multilateral approach. Differentiation in terms of revenues could allow, for example, support to improve energy efficiency and technology transfer and cooperation within the shipping sector. This can ensure any burden on developing countries is addressed appropriately,  with the use of remaining revenues from developed countries for climate finance through the Green Climate Fund.

So there you have it, Parties. This would give you something to think about. But don’t take too long; remember this is your last day before COP18 and the ice is melting…


Where There's a Gap, There's a Way

ECO was pleasantly surprised by the tenor of interventions at the ADP roundtable on ambition Saturday. There was widespread acknowledgement that, as things currently stand, we are not on track for limiting global temperature rise to 2 degrees centigrade above pre-industrial levels. Many Parties lamented the lack of pre-2020 ambition, with one bright spark noting that failure to take decisive action in the short term has ominous implications for the post-2020 process.

In the words of one delegation “there is a serious gap”. This echoes what scientists have been telling us for some time now. In its “Bridging the Emissions Gap” report published at the end of 2011, UNEP undertook a systematic assessment of the size of what we should by rights be calling the Multi-Gigatonne Gap, concluding that it is in the range of 6-11 Gt.

So even under the most conservative assessment, which assumes perfect implementation of countries’ current pledges, the world is on a pathway to emit 50 gigatonnes of CO2-equivalent per year by 2020, instead of the needed 44 gigatonnes or less. This analysis is backed up by a whole host of studies, so it seems the science is pretty solid. We think the sheer scale of the gap should have countries setting up Emergency Emissions Reductions Crisis Centres (ECO would abbreviate them EEKKs! if it were in charge).

One reason for optimism is that as huge as the Multi-Gigatonne Gap is, UNEP estimates that emission reductions of between 14 to 20 Gt of CO2-equivalent are possible by 2020 and without any significant technical or financial breakthroughs needed. What is more, the costs incurred by these reductions would not be prohibitive. That sounds like a win-win situation to us.

So what exactly can countries do to stave off impending global meltdown (unfortunately, we are not talking figuratively here)? As it turns out, there’s rather a large menu of options to choose from. Many actions could be implemented with immediate effect, using existing frameworks outside the UNFCCC. The phase out of HFCs is an excellent case in point. Agreeing to a consumption and production phase-out of these super greenhouse gases under the Montreal Protocol, with cost-effective alternatives made available to developing countries, would avoid a whopping 88-140 gigatonnes/CO2e emissions by 2050 at a very reasonable price – the near-term emissions savings would also be sizeable. This approach was recently endorsed by the nations of the world at the Rio+20 Conference – all it would take now is for Parties to the UNFCCC to do the same, thereby freeing themselves up to tackle other challenges.

Other, equally crucial initiatives countries should undertake include addressing international emissions from aviation and shipping, which together account for a massive 5% of global CO2 emissions, abolishing fossil fuel subsidies and closing the huge loopholes in the current commitments (did you know that up to 13 billion surplus AAUs could make their way into the Kyoto Protocol’s next commitment period?) to name but a non-exhaustive few.

With such a long shopping list of potential measures to chose from, there really is no excuse for inaction.



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