Eco Digital Blog
The choices leaders make this week will determine whether the world achieves a tipping point. A tipping point into a new era of cooperation and solidarity, or a disastrous tipping point in the climate system leading to direct conflict about the remaining environmental space.
The world demands nothing less than a Fair, Ambitious and Binding (FAB) deal. Three major gaps can and must be bridged in the remaining time: the gap between current emission reduction pledges and the science; the gap between the finances on the table and the need in developing countries; and – perhaps most critically – the gap between nations where trust must be forged. We clearly need a radical transformation.
ECO has written before about the “gigatonnes gap.” Put simply, the emission reductions currently on the table, from developed and developing countries, will fail to meet the challenge posed by the science. Independent experts ranging from Lord Stern to McKinsey for Project Catalyst and Ecofys/PIK, show that we are way off track for staying well below 2°C, not to mention 1.5°C, which the latest science and most vulnerable countries demand.
Will the doors slam shut at this highest-profile climate negotiations in Copenhagen this week? Will civil society, which has played such a constructive and vital role in the Conference so far, be left out in the cold by unjustifiable restrictions on access – well beyond the legitimate security needs of the Conference?
Accountability and transparency at these negotiations are a must, and cannot be secured without direct public participation. Civil society brings insight, oversight and connection to people around the world who depend on the work of NGOs to pursue the credibility of the process and integrity of the outcome.
The Rio Summit-derived Agenda 21 aptly observes: “One of the major challenges facing the world community as it seeks to replace unsustainable development patterns with environmentally sound and sustainable development is the need to activate a sense of common purpose on behalf of all sectors of society.” How can civil society get onto the same page if we’re not in the building when the real work is being done?
Simple arithmetic: Low mitigation ambition plus inadequate adaptation support for developing countries results in unavoidable loss, damage and suffering for the most vulnerable!
Any emission reduction and finance targets as well as legal format in the Copenhagen agreement must be open to periodic review (no later than 2014/2015).
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.
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.
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.
“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.
In the fifth edition of the Germanwatch-CAN Europe Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI), Brazil climbed to fourth place, as Sweden slid down its LULUCF projected baseline and landed in fifth. As the top three places were left vacant, Brazil earned the top rank among 57 countries surveyed for the CCPI.
At the other end of the scale, Saudi Arabia and Canada finished last and second last respectively at 58 and 59. Saudi Arabia’s negative rating was for blocking a fair, ambitious and binding treaty to protect the most vulnerable developing countries. Canada earned second last place for its weak domestic climate policy, huge per capita emissions and lack of any kind of constructive engagement in the UN climate talks.
What a rough ride it was for Canada yesterday. At about noon, a press release supposedly by Environment Canada emerged. It claimed that Canada was changing its stand and going for 40% emission reductions below 1990 levels by 2020, and was committing 1% of its GDP for mitigation and adaption in developing countries.
As it sounded too good to be true, it turned out to be what it only could be – a hoax.