Eco Digital Blog

Submitted by ECO Editor on Tuesday, December 15, 2009 - 10:58

First Place – United States

The US won its first fossil of the COP yesterday for two reasons: first, for making absolutely no commitment on long-term financing for developing countries to cope with the impacts of climate change and toreduce their own emissions even further. Second, because the US – far and away the biggest cumulative emitter of global warming pollution in world history – has among the weakest mid-term emission targets of any major developed country, a laughable 4% below 1990 levels by 2020. Will US negotiators ignore the interests of their own children and the poorest nations on the planet? Or will they bring the US into the community of nations, rich and poor alike, rising to the biggest challenge humanity has ever faced? US, all eyes on you: is it Hopenhagen or Brokenhagen?

Second Place – The EU

The EU won second-place fossil dishonours for failing to address a gaping loophole that undermines its targets: hot air and forest management. Allowing full carry-over past 2012 of Europe’s hot air, that is, targets based on 1990 levels that in fact allow huge increases in emissions could allow 11 gigatonnes of carbon emissions. Europe’s flagging credibility as a climate leader could crumble completely if this hot air loophole is not closed — and all of the EU member states are responsible.

Submitted by ECO Editor on Tuesday, December 15, 2009 - 10:57

Jorgen, like many in the Bella Center, actually prefers it even cooler than +2°C. Yesterday he was just glad that temperatures had come down from +6°C. So imagine his delight when he drew the curtain this morning and his giant thermometer was registering +1°C! In solidarity with the most vulnerable countries on the planet, he hopes that temperatures hover around there to Friday and beyond, even if he himself will be sitting frozen out in the street, wondering what leaders are cooking up inside.

Submitted by ECO Editor on Monday, December 14, 2009 - 20:16
Submitted by ECO Editor on Monday, December 14, 2009 - 04:17

As delegates return to the Bella Center today, they are joined by ministers and subsequently by heads of state/government. What issues should they focus on to achieve a fair, ambitious, binding and timely deal? ECO is glad you asked, because we have some very clear suggestions.

Mitigation: On Saturday AOSIS again drew attention to the threat to survival for many small island states and LDCs. They are not playing negotiating games.  When they push for 45% cuts by developed countries on 1990 levels by 2020 they are defining their right to survive above water.

And yet as we enter the second week of negotiations, developed country pledges for 2020 emission cuts in aggregate remain desperately low.  Ecofys and Climate Analytics put the total cuts at a dismal 8-12% on 1990 levels. Once loopholes such as dodgy LULUCF accounting and hot air are taken into account, this could end up as a 4% increase on 1990 emissions.

This low ambition has not been helped by the EU. It could have sent a positive signal to the talks by raising their target at their leaders summit, potentially starting a chain reaction of raised ambition among other developed countries. But no, the EU dodged its opportunity to lead at this key moment.

Not only are targets a problem. Countries continue to bicker over the widely accepted baseline of 1990, there is still no clarity on the straightforward issue of a five-year commitment period, nor on a scientific review clause by 2015 at the latest, to be informed by the IPCC’s fifth assessment report.

So ECO draws the attention of all developed country ministers and heads of state/government to the real challenge before them.  They must raise their targets, close the loopholes, agree on a 1990 base year and five-year commitment periods, and impose an early scientific review. For small island states and other poor and vulnerable countries this is non-negotiable as it is surely a matter of survival.

Submitted by ECO Editor on Monday, December 14, 2009 - 04:16

ECO is pleased to report that after years of searching, long term funding for climate finance has been found! But first we must pry it out of the hands of big oil and coal companies. G20 nations in Pittsburgh, at the urging of the US, pledged to phase out fossil fuel subsidies. This could create a huge new source of funds that can and should be shifted to helping, rather than harming the climate.  Leaders have already agreed that we must phase these subsidies out. They simply need to commit to do this urgently and decide where the money goes.

How much money will be freed up by eliminating developed country fossil fuel subsidies?   While no definitive study exists, ECO notes that Jonathan Pershing, Head of the US delegation, authored a 2004 study that cited $57 billion annually in OECD subsidies.  The same paper notes that per-capita subsidies in the OECD are more than twice as high as those in the developing world.   Other studies put the figure as high as $150 billion in developed countries’ fossil fuel subsidies.  However you count it, it’s a huge dent in the need for long term climate finance.

G20 leaders agreed to phase out fossil fuel subsidies over the “medium term.” One way to advance both financing and emission reduction goals would be to set a firm date for Annex I subsidy phaseout.

Submitted by ECO Editor on Monday, December 14, 2009 - 04:14

As the hallways of the Bella Center emptied on Saturday night, Shared Vision draft text negotiators and the Chair worked through the late hours. After three days of closed meetings, they finally managed to get through their first reading of the 32-paragraph text. (A surprising amount of debate time was spent on a proposal to bracket a reference to protecting “Mother Earth,” which led a Brazilian negotiator to say: “You can’t bracket Mother Earth.” ECO could not agree more.)

It appears that the Shared Vision negotiators had been asked to incorporate four pre-ambular paragraphs and seven operational paragraphs from their draft text into the LCA Chair’s proposed draft text. Given that this process is not likely to result in a Shared Vision COP decision or Annex, it is important that the concept of a shared vision outcome is not lost.

To be sure, the critical elements of the shared vision such as the right to survival, early and urgent action, human rights, protection of biodiversity and ecosystems, gender responsibilities of developed and developing countries, just transition and public participation remain. The missing reference to the necessary emissions stabilisation level of 350 ppm carbon dioxide-equivalent in the draft LCA text sends an important signal to negotiators and civil society. It warns that important elements of the necessary requirements for a fair, ambitious and binding outcome are under threat.

Submitted by ECO Editor on Monday, December 14, 2009 - 04:12

First Place – Japan. On Saturday, Japan won the top fossil award for strongly opposing setting a second commitment period for the Kyoto Protocol, blocking progress by refusing the chair’s text as a basis for negotiation. Second Place – Papua New Guinea. It received the second-place fossil award for openly opposing the AOSIS proposal for two legally binding protocols.

A new development occurred on Thursday. France was awarded Ray of the Day—the second in history—for its leadership in fighting the EU’s shameful position on LULUCF

Submitted by ECO Editor on Monday, December 14, 2009 - 04:10

From his hostel window Jorgen can see a giant LED clock that also registers temperature. The first thing he does after groaning awake at 6am is to draw the curtain and check the temperature. It was +6˚C on Monday. Bad omen. For the rest of the week it was +5˚C. But Sunday morning, after Jorgen had stayed up late the previous night, first marching with NGOs from around the world and then brainstorming ideas to move these talks forward, the clock registered +2˚C! Good omen? Jorgen certainly hopes so.

Submitted by ECO Editor on Sunday, December 13, 2009 - 16:25
Submitted by ECO Editor on Sunday, December 13, 2009 - 16:23