Eco Digital Blog

Submitted by ECO Editor on Thursday, December 10, 2009 - 04:40

Those of us who don’t like playing Russian roulette with the planet are looking for aggregate developed country targets greater than -40% from 1990 levels by 2020. In that light, the nominal pledges from developed countries, adding up to a humble 13-19%, look quite bad. But if one includes loopholes that could still make their way into the final deal, they look still worse. You may think you can fool the public with creative accounting, but you definitely can’t fool the atmosphere.

Sadly, ECO concludes that when loopholes are used to the fullest extent, aggregate developed country pledges allow their emissions to increase from 1990 levels by 2020. Even partial use of these loopholes results in a terrible outcome for the planet.

  • Full banking and use of ‘hot air’ (surplus AAUs) from the first and second commitment periods may add up to an extra 6% of the Annex I aggregate emissions to the atmosphere, according to several studies.
  • Creative free-for-all LULUCF accounting may add another 5% to the atmosphere, in line with several studies.
  • Emissions from aviation and shipping are currently just a footnote to Annex I national totals, but they are certainly seen by the atmosphere. These emissions are best tackled through a global cap, but if this is not achieved they will continue to rise, requiring deeper cuts elsewhere to keep the climate safe. If we don’t get a global agreement, the expected overall increase in bunker emissions until 2020 would add a further 6% to developed country emissions in 2020.
Submitted by ECO Editor on Thursday, December 10, 2009 - 04:40" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true
Submitted by ECO Editor on Thursday, December 10, 2009 - 04:37

ECO had heard rumours about the possibility of a Mexican and Norwegian marriage on climate finance, but did not expect to see polygamy in the UN hallways. And it seems UK and Australia could not resist this love affair either.

ECO wants to congratulate these odd bedfellows coming together. Any clarity on what Parties actually mean is most welcome, in this opaque and mystifying atmosphere. ECO is feeling mildly optimistic about the explicit references to the Norwegian proposal and bunkers as finance sources from these countries. We have been tearing our ever-greying hairs out on the lack of progress around innovative mechanisms. However, ECO must remind the Parties involved that there may not be any offspring, even from a four-way union, unless this work is linked to an explicit reference to the scale of money needed. It is recognition of scale which will concentrate minds on the need for innovative sources, not vice versa.

ECO is also seriously concerned about the wishy-washy language on additionality. If there are new sources, shouldn’t the money they raise come on top of existing ODA targets? Otherwise this promise of funding is just an empty gesture and one which has devastating consequences for the poorest.

Submitted by ECO Editor on Thursday, December 10, 2009 - 04:36

Coming into Copenhagen, the REDD text included a global objective for halving gross deforestation by 2020 and halting forest loss by 2030. While ECO was coming prepared to push for greater ambition – we are now faced with the prospect of losing the global objective completely. In case Parties have lost their compass, ECO would like to remind them of the right direction. To stay below a 2˚C rise in temperature, a Copenhagen agreement must contain a strong global objective for REDD in addition to deep domestic emission reductions from developed countries.

Submitted by ECO Editor on Thursday, December 10, 2009 - 04:34

Sixty-one years ago today the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was born. As humanity’s best expression of the minimum conditions for dignified life, the link to a safe global climate is obvious.

Submitted by ECO Editor on Wednesday, December 9, 2009 - 03:27
Submitted by ECO Editor on Wednesday, December 9, 2009 - 03:09

In recent days, rumours have been flying and clouding the negotiations, but now it’s out in the open: the infamous “Danish text” has seen the light of day. For long we have been told that there is no such thing as a Danish text, but ECO now understands, as does the world, that there was indeed a text that was meant as a substitute for a real agreement. What’s also clear is that the process for developing it was fatally flawed, and as often happens with a flawed process, this one exploded in the hands of its maker.

Submitted by ECO Editor on Wednesday, December 9, 2009 - 03:08

Reform of the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) will focus on crucial amendments such as regional distribution, efficiency of the operation and inclusion of forests in exhaustion, and carbon, capture and storage (CCS) as CDM project activities. While every one of these topics deserves to be addressed here, ECO will only review the amendments related to governance.

Claiming to improve governance of the current CDM, the reform agenda includes the possibility of revising procedures for registration and issuance requests of CDM project activities as well as the initiation of an appeal procedure against Executive Board (EB) decisions. Nice, but is this really governance? The World Bank refers to governance as follows: “Good governance is epitomised by predictable, open and enlightened policy-making, a bureaucracy imbued with a professional ethos acting in furtherance of the public good, the rule of law, transparent processes, and a strong civil society participating in public affairs. Poor governance is characterised by arbitrary policy making, unaccountable bureaucracies, unenforced or unjust legal systems, the abuse of executive power, a civil society unengaged in public life, and widespread corruption.”

ECO is uncertain whether the EB has understood the concept of (good) governance. To make this clear, members of the EB often take on multiple roles at the same time. They include UNFCCC negotiators representing their countries’ designated national authority (DNA) or managers of large government CDM purchasing programmes. Although members should act in their personal capacity, there are severe concerns about their conflicts of interest. Recently, the New York Times (NYT, April 7, 2009) had reported that some Board members abused their role and aggressively promoted projects that benefitted their home countries. To address this critique, the Board has recently adopted a code of conduct that suggests each Board member will “exercise personal discretion in deciding whether s/he has a real or perceived conflict.” Wait, doesn’t this mean that everyone can make up their own definition of a conflict of interest?

Submitted by ECO Editor on Wednesday, December 9, 2009 - 03:07

The French Minister for Sustainable Development, Jean-Louis Borloo, made a strong statement last Monday on helping the most vulnerable countries adapt to the impacts of climate change. He proposed a Climate Justice Fund of US$600 billion to be spent at a rate of US$60 billion per year for ten years, or US$30 billion per year for 20 years. This would be in addition to the €100 billion per year by 2020 that European Union (EU)leaders recommended last October.

Submitted by ECO Editor on Wednesday, December 9, 2009 - 03:05

While there have been positive developments at the recent Adaptation Fund Board (AFB) meeting, funding needs to be allocated and delivered at this COP!

The Adaptation Fund is already special: Its innovative features include priorisation of most vulnerable people, increasing developing country ownership and a funding mechanism that creates money additional to Official Development Assistance (ODA) targets. These features cannot even begin to be compared with other climate funds.

ECO is pleased to report that at its eighth meeting the AFB continued its (unexpected) good pace towards full operationalisation. It issued an invitation to developing countries to nominate National Implementing Entities (NIEs). This will help implement another of its innovative features – direct (funding) access by developing countries.