Eco Digital Blog

Submitted by ECO Editor on Tuesday, June 1, 2010 - 07:11

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Submitted by ECO Editor on Tuesday, June 1, 2010 - 07:05

ECO is deeply concerned that the planet is on a fast track to dangerous climate change. The lack of ambition and plain inaction by the world's richest countries has created a negative spiral that needs to be broken. So-called 'political realism' and current lifestyles will use up the global carbon budget by the early 2020s. Not unlike the financial crisis, an emergency bail-out package is needed to prevent a climate collapse.

There is a widely-acknowledged ‘gigatonne gap’ from the mitigation pledges made at Copenhagen to a global carbon budget and realistic pathway that will be consistent with avoiding dangerous warming of 2º C or more, not to mention 1.5º C, above pre-industrial levels.

On the current path, science tells us we are facing a world that is at least 3º to 4º C warmer. What does that mean?  The answers are shocking. This could spell the extinction of countries, ecosystems and species. People will perish. It is already starting to happen. Parties need to urgently take ownership of this gap and acknowledge the responsibility they share in closing it.

ECO has highlighted before that the complexity of the climate problem has instilled fear and mistrust – particularly between industrialized and developing countries. Without fairness and respect we will never have trust. The reality of historic responsibility, the difference in per capita emissions, the primary importance of development for countries whose populations struggle with the crisis of poverty – these are very real. The dynamic of fear and division is obscuring the urgency of the disaster we face.

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Submitted by ECO Editor on Tuesday, June 1, 2010 - 07:02

The Adaptation Fund (AF) is a self-standing fund established under the Kyoto Protocol in order to finance concrete adaptation projects in the most vulnerable countries. It has several unique and innovative features, including 'direct access', a new level of developing country participation, a new revenue source, and an equitable governance composition. These elements give the Fund the potential to contribute significantly to exploring new ways in international cooperation on adaptation.

The AF Board has also developed a transparent working mode and allows observers to publicly comment on project proposals before their adoption. Furthermore, the strategic priority that the particular needs of the most vulnerable communities and people should be given special attention is an important new step.

ECO has been closely following the development of the AF and recognises that establishing a proper framework for the AF Board has been quite an achievement. With the accreditation of the first National Implementing Entity, the Centre de Suivi Ecologique (CSE) from Senegal, the direct access modality became a reality. The recent call for project proposals by AF for funding through the AF marks the beginning of the long-awaited implementation phase.

It is remarkable that interventions in yesterday´s SBI plenary uniformly supported the Adaptation Fund, across both developing and developed countries. This is a clear sign of progress.  In addition, Spain’s contribution of 45 million and Germany´s pledge of 10 million euro to the AF will help set up the ground-breaking facility under the Kyoto Protocol.  Other developed countries ought to immediately follow this positive example of fast-start finance.

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Submitted by ECO Editor on Tuesday, June 1, 2010 - 06:59

In a number of countries around the world, there are "12 step" programmes to help people deal with addiction.  This started with Alcoholics Anonymous in the 1930s and spread to many other self-help organizations.

Today, 12 step programmes are mostly in English speaking countries, and it so happens that many of them like Canada, Australia, the US and New Zealand are particularly tied to their emissions and might appreciate some help. The basic concept of 12-step programs starts from the reality that simply renouncing addiction is not enough; admitting the problem and asking for help from others is needed to make positive steps in the right direction.

So if you're struggling with the carbon habit, ECO has drafted a programme of our own.  If you like, call it Carbon Anonymous.  In line with the traditional formula, it comes as 12 declarative statements:

“1. We admit that our economies are controlled by our carbon addiction and have become unmanageable.

“2. We have come to believe that clean development could restore us to sanity.

“3. We will make a decision to turn our will and our lives toward caring for the planet and humanity.

“4. We will make a searching and fearless inventory of our nation’s emissions and their impact on humanity and the planet’s ecosystems.

“5. We will admit to ourselves and to other nations the exact nature of our divergence.

“6. We will be entirely ready to ask for assistance to remove all these defects of policy.

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Submitted by ECO Editor on Monday, May 31, 2010 - 12:22

Submitted by ECO Editor on Monday, May 31, 2010 - 06:47

And now we’re all here again, what is it that needs to be accomplished?

Clearly, on the KP track lamentably little progress has bee made over the past four years. ECO suggests that the following issues must be agreed this year, as a priority:

  • LULUCF accounting rules – Annex I countries must stop trying to hide emissions from forest management and commit to reduce them instead.
  • CDM/JI/emissions trading modalities – These must be revamped to avoid double counting of mitigation and financial support obligations, and to keep inappropriate sectors, such as nuclear and CCS, out of the CDM.
  • New sources and sectors and other accounting rules around them (the “other issues”) should include new gases to the extent that is technically possible, and use the new IPCC AR4 global warming potential (GWP) measures over the 100 year timescale.
  • The commitment period length, base year and the other modalities that will define the calculation of the quantified emission reduction obligation (QERO) and assigned amount from country pledges (here's a free hint! correct answers for the first two are: 5 years, 1990).

When the KP was first negotiated, Parties agreed targets first, and the following years turned into excruciating negotiation exercises that ended up agreeing a series of loopholes. ECO has long maintained that the rules should be negotiated first, so that the science-indicated reduction target of at least 40% on 1990 levels by 2020 can be fairly shared between the Annex B Parties.

For this reason, negotiating time in Bonn and for the intersessionals should be concentrated on clearing these issues, so that the targets and then the discussion on QEROs can be resolved rationally and equitably, based on a clear and common understanding of the underlying scope and rules of accounting. In the short term, then, negotiating time should be concentrated on resolving the issues listed above.

In the LCA track, a balanced agreement is needed by Cancún, with each of the Bali Action Plan building blocks being addressed. In Copenhagen, the LCA negotiating texts on adaptation, technology and REDD+ were well advanced, and agreement should be possible on these issues this year. Additionally, finance, MRV and low carbon development plans should be among the agreements reached this year.

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Submitted by ECO Editor on Monday, May 31, 2010 - 06:43

ECO has always called for “rules before targets” when it comes to land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF). We certainly don't want to repeat the mistakes of Kyoto, when LULUCF rules were negotiated specifically to allow countries to meet their emissions reduction targets, rather than to aid in climate change mitigation or adaptation.  In that light, it makes sense for the Chair of the AWG-KP to call for rules to be finalized.

While ECO applauds the push to finalize text here in Bonn, agreeing the current LULUCF proposal would be even worse than the status quo. The proposal currently tabled would frame rules that actually allow countries to increase emissions and not account for them. This will seriously undermine targets for Annex I countries before they are even finalised. We assume this isn’t what the Chair of the Kyoto Protocol really wants to see.  In fact, it contrasts rather dramatically with the approach being proposed for REDD, which starts from the assumption of emissions reductions from non-Annex I countries.

Forest management accounting rules on the table from Copenhagen allow countries to hide or ignore substantial increased emissions from forest management in their baselines. Around 400 MT annually could be released without being accounted for, equivalent to 5% of the total 1990 emissions of all Annex I parties, and a significant fraction of their proposed reductions post-2012.

Instead, what we need is a strong and unambiguous commitment to deliver emissions reductions and increases in removals in this sector, in the form of a goal in the LULUCF framework. We also need to see protection for existing forest carbon stocks. We urge all parties to consider the consequences of enshrining hidden emissions increases into a climate deal and to instead move rapidly to reduce emissions from land use, land use change and forestry.

ECO has always called for “rules before targets” when it comes to land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF). We certainly don't want to repeat the mistakes of Kyoto, when LULUCF rules were negotiated specifically to allow countries to meet their emissions reduction targets, rather than to aid in climate change mitigation or adaptation.  In that light, it makes sense for the Chair of the AWG-KP to call for rules to be finalized.

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Submitted by ECO Editor on Monday, May 31, 2010 - 06:11

While seriously short of the mark, some limited progress was made on climate finance in Copenhagen. Developed countries promised to mobilise $100 billion per year and resolved to establish a new fund to deliver it.  All that opens the door to to fast-forward, not slow-walk, this building block in 2010. Cancún must offer more than just a flashback, a rehash of weak pledges. To unlock wider progress in the negotiations, Cancún will need to deliver a robust agreement on:

* Financing institutions, including establishment of a new fund under the UNFCCC and provisions for its  governance.

* Scaling up new, additional and predictable climate finance through innovative sources, using the finance targets agreed in Copenhagen as a milestone for progress.

* Institutions, guidelines and procedures for measuring, reporting and verifying support for climate actions as well as the actions themselves, including a registry for both actions and support.

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Submitted by ECO Editor on Monday, May 31, 2010 - 06:07

As delegates return to the Maritim today for another round of climate talks, the Gulf Coast is busy coping with the biggest environmental catastrophe in the history of the United States. This catastrophe was caused by oil, which likewise is a leading cause of the climate catastrophe all at the Maritim are working so diligently to avoid. What started as an explosion in an offshore rig that killed 11 people, has now turned into over a month of oil gushing into a fragile yet highly productive marine environment housing important fisheries that employ and feed thousands of people, attract tourists to its beaches, serve as a spawning ground for the endangered Bluefin tuna, just to name one of hundreds of notable fish, birds and invertebrate species that have heretofore been mostly oil-free.  Now, sadly, the spill is swirling around in one big oily mess.  Only time, the Gulf currents and the unpredictable course of a very active tropical storm season will tell the final tale, but the financial impacts are already calculated in the billions, as well as uncountable losses to already overstressed ecosystems.

So ECO is left wondering at this point: will the US learn from this catastrophe and finally pass its climate bill to reduce emissions and provide finance for climate action? Will this be a wake up call for the US that helps realize the benefit of strengthening their 2020 target?

It has been nearly a year since the US House of Representatives passed its version of a climate-energy bill.  And since that time, ECO has eagerly searched for signs that the US administration is making progress in prioritizing climate change on the Senate's agenda. Some were even naive enough to believe that a bill would be done in time for Copenhagen last year.

But as we all know, it wasn't. The Senate had other fish to fry and could not be bothered with climate change legislation.  But now that seafood from the Gulf, which provides 30% of the national total, may be coming with more than enough oil to fry itself, will the picture change?

On one hand, the news is good: Americans are waking up to the costs of their dangerous addiction to dirty fuels and looking for a new way forward. The President is finally feeling the public pressure to pass a bill that will promote clean energy and reduce emissions.

But in other ways, the news does not look good.  Some is primarily domestic in scope.  The most recent version of the Senate bill allows revenue sharing of oil royalties with the states, which will increase pressure even more dangerous and expensive offshore drilling.  ECO guesses that potential compromise will be less popular now.

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