Switzerland (2nd Place)
Does anyone know why this is COP number 24? Yes, it’s the 24th Conference of the Parties, but parties of what? Right again! It’s the 24th conference of the parties to the Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
Just checking that you all know what you are actually attending.
We wanted to check because clearly some participants have forgotten both why they are here and have forgotten the content of the convention.
Short summary of the UNFCCC for everyone:
Objective: to save the world
Who should act: all parties
Unfortunately, when negotiations on climate finance accounting opened on Tuesday, Switzerland stated that according to their reading, the terms “New and Additional” (named so due to the new and additional changes climate change poses) did not make it into the Paris Agreement. Why is this important? Developed countries provide New and additional finance, which is required by developing countries to make action possible.
The basic challenge, and argument, is that if climate funds are not new and additional, developed countries can just relabel ordinary Official Development Assistance (i.e. ‘double’ or ‘triple’ dipping). That means that there is a risk that other development topics such as human rights, gender, education, health care, are getting less attention. AND, there should also be a concern for LDCs. There is a general trend where climate finance is focused on mitigation in emerging economies. That means that funds can be shifted from education in LDCs to mitigation in China, for example. But hey, you could argue it’s not only Switzerland!? Aren’t there other rich states who are in favor of re-shuffling and relabelling existing aid?
And indeed other developed countries (many from the EU) have also been blockers on this issue throughout the week, but Switzerland has been the most outspoken.
We should of course acknowledge that climate change is a cross cutting theme which can be combined with other development themes. However, the need for climate action calls for increased attention, and this additional need should be addressed with additional funds, to ensure that no money is lost!
But alas, there is also a moral aspect! Climate change is caused by countries with big emissions, and consequently these countries should also pay for the additional challenges countries with low emissions are facing. “The polluter pays principle” is still relevant and “new and additional” is a way to ensure that it is operationalized.
Switzerland (and other’s) attempt this week to annul the New and Additional requirement literally translates into: The richest country in the world leading on taking development assistance away from the poorest peoples - as to use it to comply with their obligation under the UNFCCC!
Germany (1st Place)
Let’s play a little game, shall we?
It does involve numbers so anyone not loving maths, probably not something for you. It also involves broken promises, so you really should only play if you are trustworthy. You also kind of have to be a leader, but not at the same time.
You know what? Let’s just give up. Not to fear, today’s Fossil winner has done the same.
Today Germany was questioned by parties at the Multilateral Assessment on its progress towards emission targets. In its written answers, as well as in announcements from the government, Germany admits that it will miss the 2020 target, by as much as 8%! Their plans for moving forward? Giving up. Not even the urgent warnings from the IPCC this year could make Germany change its mind and get moving on pre-2020 action at home!
The 40% target was committed TEN, count them, TEN. YEARS. AGO. Unfortunately, German governments since that time have not taken bold steps to reduce coal power plants and transport emissions. While Germany DID install a lot of wind turbines and solar panels, it DID NOT reduce its fleet of old and dirty coal power plants that are running day and night. This led not only to an ever growing surplus in electricity (10% of Germany’s electricity production is exported) but is also the reason why Germany’s greenhouse gas emissions haven’t decreased for nine years. During these many many years, coal companies in Germany have continued to burn coal, destroy villages by enlarging lignite pits and polluting the environment. The government is now facing legal cases for not reaching its 2020 target, which have been raised by affected people and supported by NGOs.
ONE year ago, at COP 23 in Bonn, chancellor Merkel announced that Germany would address a phase-out of coal, but here we are one year later, and not one single concrete measure has been taken! Wondering if that was all for show? Well, instead, in an amazing display of inaction, the government installed a Commission to make proposals for a coal phase-out and on how to deal with the 2020 target. Wow. So incredibly helpful!
The report on the 2020 target was due before COP 24, but conveniently, shortly before the COP it was delayed by the government to next year. Shocker. Germany is here with essentially nothing to offer emission reductions at home.
If Germany, as the biggest European economy does not act, the entirety of EU ambition is at stake. Given the failure in CO2 reduction, Germany is unwilling to accept a higher EU 2030 target. The same is true for the net zero target for 2050 for the EU that the EU Commission presented as its preferred option in a communication last week. While countries like France, Italy, Netherlands, Sweden and others are welcoming net zero in 2050, Germany remains silent and is also not opposing further subsidies for coal power plants in Europe in form of capacity payments. Get a move on Germany! Those targets will only get farther away – stop playing games and wasting the planet’s precious time!
About CAN: The Climate Action Network (CAN) is a worldwide network of over 1300 Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in more than 120 working to promote government and individual action to limit human induced climate change to ecologically sustainable levels. www.climatenetwork.org
About Fossil: The Fossil of the Day awards were first presented at the climate talks in 1999, in Bonn, initiated by the German NGO Forum. During United Nations climate change negotiations (www.unfccc.int), members of the Climate Action Network (CAN), vote for countries judged to have done their 'best' to block progress in the negotiations or in the implementation of the Paris Agreement.