Increasing Ambition & Common Accounting – What are you Waiting for?

4 October 2011

As negotiations have now gone into a somewhat un-transparent mode, ECO had little choice but to catch delegates on their way out of the developed country mitigation informal yesterday – and was pleasantly surprised that indeed Parties used the session to address two of the elephants in the room – the lack of ambition of developed countries’ pledges, and the need for common accounting rules. It came as no surprise that while almost everyone recognized the latter, a few considered that such accounting would pose inconvenient hurdles they weren’t ready to take. This “unhelpfully resisting the numbers,” as one delegate put it after the session, doesn’t strike ECO as particularly plausible for a country that in other circumstances insists on level playing fields (when it suits them).

 ECO was pleased to hear the EU referring to its submission on options for increasing ambition. Their proposal indeed contains a useful list to start with. However, the most obvious “option” for the EU does not require a submission but bold action – upping its own target to 30% reductions by 2020. One (large) developed country has been reported to have suggested that the meeting was not the place to discuss increasing ambition by developed countries. If not here, then where, wonders ECO. Yet, there has been no lack of ideas to increase ambition. ECO cannot resist to line them up into four broad steps, as a service to the hurried negotiator and to help the upcoming next informal meeting today:

Step 1would seek full clarity on developed countries’ net domestic emissions in 2020 resulting from current pledges, based on assumptions on LULUCF accounting, AAU carry-over, or the use of carbon offsets.

Step 2would close the damn loopholes. For instance, LULUCF rules would use historic reference levels rather than some bogus projections into the future; AAU carry-over would be limited and no new hot air allowed to enter the system – you get the picture.

Step 3would move developed countries to the high end of their pledges as a first step. Where needed, countries would clarify (a) what part of the conditions have been met so far and (b) what would fulfill the remaining conditions.

And finally, Step 4, developed countries would go beyond the high end of their current pledges to get them into the 25-40% IPCC range, and then (double-check with them if they are still up for 2°C) to at least 40% cuts by 2020. Difficult? Ask Denmark.

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