NGOs say new IPCC report shows climate action delivers benefits, not burdens

Berlin, April 13, 2014: Members of Climate Action Network have welcomed the third installment of the IPCC's Fifth Assessment Report which lays out the solutions to the climate crisis, giving governments a clear case for urgent action.

Members of Climate Action Network provide the following comments on the launch of the report: 

"The IPCC's working group three report to be released here in Berlin tomorrow confirms it is not too late to act to prevent catastrophic climate change. We can keep average global temperature rise to the 2 degrees threshold agreed by the countries of the world. But effective action will only occur with strong international cooperation. Luckily, leaders like Angela Merkel have an opportunity to show they have received this message from the world’s peak body of climate scientists when they attend the United Nations Secretary General’s Climate Summit in New York in September. As a German, I expect Frau Merkel to lead the Heads of Governments to a breakthrough in international climate politics which delivers a robust climate action plan in Paris in 2015."
Sabine Minninger, Senior Adviser, Climate and Energy Policy, Bread for the World. 
 
"The IPCC is clear that acting on climate change is possible, beneficial and affordable. If we act now, costs will be only a very small fraction of global economies. Those who say it's too hard and too expensive are wrong. But it is very urgent – without immediate action, costs will rise and and impacts will too. The first, critical step is changing investment flows. Any investor who looks at this report will have to reach an obvious conclusion: It's time to pull your money out of dirty fossil fuels and put it into renewable energy and energy efficiency."
Samantha Smith, leader, Global Climate and Energy Initiative, WWF International.

"Science has spoken: climate action is no burden, it’s an opportunity. As renewable energies are growing bigger, better and cheaper every day, the age of dangerous and polluting coal, oil and gas is over. The only rational response to this report is to start the phase out of fossil fuels immediately. It's simple: the more we wait, the more climate change costs us. The sooner we act, the cheaper the transition to a renewables future for all will be. China, more than anyone, has the potential to become a game-changer in global climate action. China’s coal consumption limits and massive investments in renewable energy not only provide hope for Chinese citizens to breath clean air again but could also end the relentless growth of global climate pollution. China must now lead the world to new climate treaty by presenting an ambitious new target with binding emission cuts. If they act, the US and EU will also be embarrassed into the urgent action we need."
Li Shuo, Climate and Energy Policy Officer, Greenpeace China.

Notes:

1) Audio available here - speaking order: Sabine Minninger, Li Shuo, Samantha Smith. 
2) Full speaking notes available on request 
3) The audio, speaking notes and this press release are under embargo until 11am CEST (09.00GMT), Sunday April 13, 2014.
4) NGO experts are available for one-on-one interviews after the report release. 
 
Contact:
Please contact Climate Action Network International’s communications coordinator Ria Voorhaar on +49 (0) 157 317 35568 or rvoorhaar@climatenetwork.org

Climate Action Network (CAN) is the world’s largest network of civil society organizations working together to promote government action to address the climate crisis, with more than 900 members in over 100 countries. 
 

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Climate Action Saves Lives... Your Call

Yokohama, March 30 2014 - CAN members and allies including Friends of the Earth GCCA, Greenpeace, Oxfam and WWF, plus Japanese groups Kiko Network and CASA, call for world leaders to take action against climate change. The UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was meeting in Yokohama to finalise the second part of its Fifth Assessment Report, Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability.

Copyright ©Greenpeace/Jeremie Souteyrat

World leaders must respond to IPCC's harrowing portrait of a future under extreme climate change

Yokohama, March 30, 2014: Governments have been handed a warning by the world's leading climate scientists that society is vastly underprepared to deal with the increased risks posed by climate change impacts.

The second installment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's Fifth Assessment Report, released in Yokohama today, has warned that climate change is already negatively affecting every continent and the oceans. As climate change worsens, it will make people poorer, hungrier, and more ill as they contend with more extreme flooding, heat waves, and droughts. 

Members of Climate Action Network provide the following comments on the launch of the report: 

“The report talks about the economic cost of climate change. But the true cost of climate change cannot be represented just in monetary terms. There can be no cost put to losing a husband, a mother, a son or a daughter; there can be no cost to losing the home where our ancestors settled hundreds of years ago; there can be no cost to losing an ecosystem that sustains our life and the life of the earth we call home. This is the true cost of inaction on climate change.”
Sandeep Chamling Rai, Senior Adaptation Policy Advisor from WWF International.

“This report is clear: the impact of climate change on food is worse than previously estimated. We have already seen significant declines in global yields for staple crops like wheat and maize and food price spikes linked to extreme weather, and the picture is set to get much worse. Without urgent action on both adaptation and emissions reduction, the goal of ensuring everyone has enough to eat may be lost forever. Political leaders should ask themselves whether this will be the generation to let that happen.”
Tim Gore, Head of Policy, Advocacy and Research for the GROW campaign, Oxfam International.

“Asia is the most vulnerable continent to climate change, but it is not just developing countries in the region which are affected. Japan is already experiencing climate change and faces severe risks if action is not taken.  Japan imports about 60% of its food from overseas, thus climate impacts, like poor crops yields in other countries, will boost the price of food here - with inevitable negative consequences on our economy. This is not an issue somewhere far away, but an issue for us here.”
Kimiko Hirata, International Director, Kiko Network. 

"Scientists are warning us, but they are not telling us to give up. The solutions are already here. A growing wave of people, communities, corporations and investors around the world are already making a difference by moving to clean and safe renewable energy and demanding governments to stand with them. There’s a better future than the one we are currently offered and it’s ours if we want to grasp it.”
Kaisa Kosonen, Senior Political Advisor, Greenpeace International.

Notes:

1) Audio of the press conference is available here:
http://climatenetwork.org/media/audio/can-comments-release-ipcc-climate-impacts-report

2) Pictures of the press conference and of CAN members in Yokohama holding a banner calling for world leaders to take action against climate change are available:

BANNER ACTION (pwd = IPCC)
http://archive.jeremie-souteyrat.com/gallery/Banner-Action-IPCC/G0000zTts_fF1maA/C0000x63SsHRpc98

PRESS CONFERENCE (pwd=IPCC)
Embargo until 00:01 GMT March 31st (tonight's midnight GMT)
http://archive.jeremie-souteyrat.com/gallery/Press-conference-IPCC/G0000Rh46RziSGoc/C0000x63SsHRpc98

All Pictures Copyright ©Greenpeace/Jeremie Souteyrat

Discussion on Questions related to the Third session of the Intergovernmental Committee of Experts on Sustainable Development Financing (ICESDF), 12 March 2014

This is not an official submission, but more of discussion paper based on the questions posed to stakeholders by the committee before its third sesssion and the multistakeholder dialogue.

1. Does the effectiveness and sustainability of a sustainable development financing strategy depend on systemic reforms of the international financial architecture? If so, which reforms are needed?

Sustainable development finance needs to address inequalities both between and inside countries. It must also secure global public goods, such as clean air and water, as well as climate change mitigation, adaption, and protecting biodiversity.

Currently, the financial sector's incentive structures favor short-termism, excessive and often societally harmful speculation, and a disregard for the long-term viability of the real economy and our natural surroundings. The underpricing of environmental assets, risks and externalities has enabled the GDP to grow, but it has also led to us as humanity using up the natural base of our wellbeing. The increasing financialisation of natural goods that has mobilised significant amounts of capital to commodities sectors has thus far only accelerated unsustainable practices.

Several things must change:

  • Negative externalities must be priced according to their real-life impacts and the most unsustainable practices must be outright banned. Positive externalities must be given more weight when valuing returns.
  • Incentive structures must consider the long-term impacts of investment decisions.
  • Rules must be changed so that alongside a narrow "fiduciary duty" towards shareholders, corporations' operations are assessed in light of their broader impacts.
  • Countries must be given the right to regulate capital flows when there is a clear social or environmental benefit to doing so, and to change unsustainable laws without fear of multi-billion dollar dispute settlements.
  • International financial institutions have in many places been the drivers of the present unsustainable financial practices and the ideology behind them: they must now be at the forefront of sustainable finance. The mandate of IFIs and national DFIs should be revised so as to put sustainability first - even if this means foregoing short-term financial returns. 

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Post-2020 contributions -- information needed!

ECO appreciates the efforts made by several countries in their submissions this month to address the issue of the types of information Parties should submit with their initial post-2020 nationally determined mitigation contributions. A paper launched this week by the World Resources Institute outlines how this information could vary for countries whose contributions are in the form of economy-wide GHG mitigation goals, versus for those countries putting forward intensity-based or sectoral contributions, policy-based contributions, or contributions consisting of discrete projects or NAMAs.

Clarity and transparency of contributions is important to:

- Build confidence in the robustness of the economic, technological, and policy assumptions underlying the proposed national contributions;

- Enable comparison with other Parties;

- Improve the assessments of individual country and collective global emissions reductions resulting from the proposed contributions; and

- Foster a constructive dialogue amongst Parties on the principles of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, and how they translate into the level of ambition and effort undertaken by each Party.

ECO underlines the need for Parties to make substantial progress on this issue at the next Bonn session in June, as many countries are already starting to prepare their national contributions. The earlier that Parties have clarity on what information is going to be expected of them, the better.

ECO also notes that most of the discussion thus far has centred on information requirements for mitigation contributions. To have any chance of meeting the collective level of ambition needed on post-2020 emissions reductions, developing countries will need to take ambitious mitigation actions with enhanced international climate finance, technology transfer, and capacity building. Developed countries must also put forward their finance contributions to facilitate this ambitious action by developing countries.

If there is not greater clarity and confidence soon about the expected magnitude of such support in the post-2020 period, developing countries will understandably be reluctant to inscribe potential additional emissions reduction actions in the final agreement in Paris.

It’s essential that in June, Parties not only deepen the discussion started here this week but that they also start to intensively engage on the information that they (in particular, developed countries) will need to provide on the finance, technology transfer, and capacity-building elements of their intended national contributions. 

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Kicking coal – one court case at a time

So, an Italian judge, a Beijing provincial official, a London banker and an Australian firefighter walk into a bar… Sounds like the start of a bad joke doesn’t it? It is, and all of these people get that the continued use of coal would be the worst joke of all.

Earlier this week an Italian judge ordered two coal fired units of a power station to be shut down for allegedly exceeding emissions limits. The company is charged with environmental crimes and manslaughter for the premature deaths of over 400 people. Is this judgement a taste of things to come? Research findings have suggested European Union wide impacts of coal combustion amount to more than 18,200 premature deaths; about 8,500 new cases of chronic bronchitis; and over 4 million lost working days each year. The economic costs of the health impacts from coal combustion in Europe are estimated at up to €42.8 billion per year.

The “airpocalypse” gripping many Chinese cities and regions is further evidence of the direct health impacts of coal combustion. It has been estimated that the environmental and social costs of coal added up to more than 7% of China’s GDP in 2007. There can be no doubt that because of these health impacts, societal costs and contribution to the climate crisis, have seen Chinese province after Chinese province announce a cap on coal in recent months. 

Nor have these developments gone unnoticed in the financial sector. Bankers and rating agencies in the financial centres of London and Hong Kong are becoming increasingly aware of the “carbon bubble” and the likelihood of significant stranded assets. Their colleagues in New York, Frankfurt and other financial hubs are soon to follow, or so ECO logically assumes. It is estimated that between 60-80% of fossil fuel reserves of publicly listed companies will need to stay in the ground if the 2 degrees Celsius goal is to be met; with even higher figures for 1.5 degrees Celsius. Nowhere is this more true than for the Australian coal industry which is heavily dependent on exports to China. The same China that is capping coal. 

And what about the Australian firefighter? Well, it just so happens that the coal plant that’s been ordered to shut down in Italy is partially owned by the same company which owns the open-cut coal mine that’s been burning for weeks in Australia’s Latrobe Valley. The extreme heatwave the region was suffering made it far easier for a fire to take hold. Such dire heatwaves as well as droughts and fires are becoming all too common in Australia as the impacts of climate change intensify. Climate change caused in large part by – you guessed it, that bad joke of a power source, coal. 

So whether they get together in a bar, a court, the stock market, a coal mine fire, or in a parliament – the judge, government official, banker and firefighter would all agree that coal must be on its way out. Now we just need 

UNFCCC negotiators to get the joke as well – they can help to achieve a just transition to a better future through raising ambition in the near-term and as part of their post-2020 commitment preparations, including support for those countries that would need it. Because clearly what a South African judge, French urbanite, Indian banker and Peruvian firefighter must have in common is a renewable energy future. 

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2015 Agreement lost and damaged without adaptation?

ECO has noted with pleasure that this week many Parties provided their initial views on the role of adaptation and loss and damage in the 2015 agreement. There’s no doubt whatsoever that these two elements are integral to the 2015 agreement. The agreement simply cannot ignore the growing evidence of how increasingly severe climate change impacts are eroding hard-won development gains due to the massive mitigation and adaptation gaps.

However, ECO is concerned about some Parties’ views that characterise adaptation as a national responsibility. How can it be acceptable to shift the burden of dealing with the impacts of irresponsible consumption and production in some countries to the most vulnerable without offering any support?

For ECO, climate change 101 is pretty simple:

  • 1 x lack of mitigation = required support for adaptation.
  • 2 x lack of mitigation = 2 x required support for adaptation +  loss and damage.

The links between mitigation, adaptation and loss and damage are as obvious as basic math. And here is another more frightening equation:

∑ All current mitigation efforts = >4℃ warming.

Or for those not mathematically inclined, the total sum of all current mitigation efforts will still lead to more than 4℃ of warming.

These equations, like mathematical proofs, are universally applicable. Vulnerable developing countries are not the only ones who will need to adapt, and that will suffer loss and damage. That’s why ECO believes that we need a Global Adaptation Goal which could help the Convention recognise the connection between mitigation and adaptation. Additionally, many countries are understandably calling for an important space for loss and damage in the 2015 agreement.

It’s clear for us here at ECO that the months ahead require fleshing out how the 2015 agreement can ensure that adaptation action is scaled-up massively, including through adequate finance and technology transfer to developing countries to reduce loss and damage. The Adaptation Committee, the Adaptation Fund, the Warsaw Mechanism and the Nairobi Work Programme have all laid a good foundation for further work and Parties should ask these bodies to  provide guidance on how to scale up adaptation in the near- and long-term.

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ECO: An open letter from ECO

 

Dear developed countries, and other Parties,

With all this talk of reviews and ratcheting during Bonn, ECO would like to strongly remind developed country Parties that the first opportunity to in fact test these mechanisms would be during the forthcoming session in June. With the KP and ADP Ministerial’s looming large, ECO wants to send a take-home message to all developed countries: now is your moment to demonstrate that developed countries are going to show leadership through presenting more ambitious pledges, both emission reductions and finance. This does not only apply to KP parties; ECO strongly urges the US, New Zealand, Japan, Russia and Canada to step up to the plate and start walking the talk by presenting comparable ambitious commitments as well.

If developed countries fail to capture this important political moment, there could be serious implications for a new agreement in 2015. There is no logic to developed countries demanding more from developing countries when they have thus far been unwilling to fulfil their own responsibilities. The ambition gap is large. It needs to be filled. The best way for this to happen is through the ratcheting up of existing emission reduction and financial commitments from developed countries.

ECO supports the efforts to look at other concrete actions, such as scaled up renewable energy and energy efficiency actions, that can help close the gigatonne gap. That said, we are also weary of these being used as a means to circumvent the basic responsibility for developed countries to lead. Coming back to Bonn in June with revised pledges will send the signal that this process so sorely needs - that developed country governments are serious about climate change and that they are willing to take their fair share of effort in dealing with the crisis. It will also send an important signal to developing countries that so desperately want to see concrete signs of good faith in these negotiations.

To the US, EU, Canada, Russia, Australia, New Zealand and Japan - come to June with Ambition or take the responsibility for placing at risk a future global agreement.

Yours truly,

ECO

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