Damage to ‘Mother Earth’ due to climate change is already happening. Loss and damage, such as severe flooding, sea level rise, glacial retreat, ocean acidification and loss of biodiversity – these are effects that would not be happening in a world without substantial climate change.
Eco Digital Blog
Over in snowy Brussels, the European Commission has set an agenda for 2011 in which the year 2050 looms large. During the course of next year the Commission plans to publish a Roadmap towards a low carbon economy for the EU by 2050, including milestones for the structural and technological changes needed by 2030. This feeds into a vision of an overall ‘resource-efficient’ economy, and will be followed by another Roadmap of possible development paths for the EU energy system to 2050.
Delegates, in case you haven’t noticed, there is an elephant roaming the halls of the Moon Palace, and it weighs something like 9 gigatonnes.
As reaffirmed by UNEP in its new Emissions Gap Report, the climate pledges made in Copenhagen fall far short of what is needed to limit global temperature rise to less than 2 oC, and even further below a 1.5 oC limit which is needed to minimize the inundation of low-lying nations and coastal areas, the loss of coral reefs and the permanent disappearance of summer Arctic sea ice. But instead of starting to bring the elephant down to size, Parties seem determined to fatten it up even further.
It’s the end of the first year of the Fast Start Finance (FSF) learning period.
Already it’s clear that vital lessons must be discerned and addressed in decisions here in Cancun on long-term finance. There are three key lessons, so please take note.
First, the balance between adaptation and mitigation must be defined. Despite the commitment in the Copenhagen Accord to ‘balanced allocation’ between adaptation and mitigation, more than 80% of FSF has been allocated to mitigation. Worse still, it is estimated that less than 10% of major dedicated public climate funds to date (including FSF) have been allocated to adaptation (climatefundsupdate.org).
There isn’t much reason to praise the United States these days, so ECO is pleased to report that the US got it right in yesterday’s SBI contact group. Echoed by supportive interventions from Mexico, the EU and Bangladesh, the United States highlighted that enhancing observer participation is not for the benefit of the observers, but rather is to benefit the Parties and the entire UNFCCC process.
Today, the SBI Chair is continuing contact group discussions on observer participation. We appreciate the emphasis he has placed on this matter as demonstrated by his willingness to chair the contact group himself.
ECO has noticed that there’s a lot of talk in the UNFCCC meetings about what countries will promise, pledge, commit to, and otherwise say that they’re really, really going to do.
Much less frequently do we hear that countries are actually achieving emissions reductions. That adds to the pleasure of seeing the announcement yesterday that Brazil’s deforestation rate has fallen to another record low level. The reduction in Amazon deforestation, from over 27,000 km2 in 2004 to below 6,500 km2 this year, is in fact the largest reduction in emissions made by any country anywhere on the planet. And so Brazil, a tropical developing country, has already done what the biggest industrial powers in the world have simply promised to as long as a decade from now.
Delegates arrive by plane and eat food that’s been shipped by boat – international transport has been part of the COP since the beginning. And while there are 100% biodiesel buses bringing delegates from the Messe to the Moon Palace, we are a long way (whether by plane or boat) from having international transport running on clean fuel.
Even if the weak voluntary measures proposed by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) are implemented, emissions from transport, if kept unregulated, would amount to 30% of the annual global emissions budget by 2050 to be compatible with a 2° C objective. In the 1.5° C scenario the figure is even worse, it’s above 60%!
Forest management is surely as important as everyone knows, but peatlands that have been drained for agriculture and other purposes are also important emissions hotspots globally.
Yet incentives for Annex I countries to reduce these emissions under the Kyoto Protocol were minimal in the first commitment period. In fact, accounting for land use activities associated with the drainage of peatlands (forest management, grazing land management and cropland management) is voluntary and therefore rarely selected.
The second commitment period of the KP offers a new opportunity to address this mega-gap. Parties will have higher reduction targets, and LULUCF can and should make a significant contribution to reducing emissions.
ECO did some maths and was astounded to find that surplus Assigned Amount Units (AAUs) under the Kyoto Protocol range between 7 to 11 GT CO2 for the first commitment period. That’s well more than one-third of all 2020 emissions reduction targets currently pledged by Annex I countries! ECO thinks that is the definition of a wake-up call.
If all of those surplus AAUs are carried over to the second commitment period, the carbon trading game will be fixed in favor of higher pollution levels. That kind of magical accounting will look great on the books, but the planet will still be boiling. This is why the overflow of surplus AAUs is called ‘hot air.’
Remember the Gigatonne Gap? It’s the gap of 9 gigatonnes of CO2-equivalent between country pledges in the Copenhagen Accord and the emission reductions needed to avoid a temperature increase above 2o C.