Angels and Demons?

30 August 2012


Welcome again to the Krung Thep, the city of angels. ECO hopes that this location will inspire delegates to put aside their devilish disagreements and instead move forward in a spirit of angelic cooperation in the fight against climate change and its deadly impacts. The recent flooding in Manila, the typhoon coming ashore near Shanghai and widespread drought and crop failures in the U.S.A. are stark reminders that the impacts of climate change are real, global and growing.

The large majority of countries, especially the poorest and most vulnerable, are demanding a global response that has a very high probability of limiting global warming to levels that do not threaten their livelihoods and their very existence. The best available science indicates that this will require global emissions to remain within a strict carbon budget – and a collective and rapid transition to a low carbon global economy.  It requires both an ambitious post-2020 treaty regime and much greater ambition between now and 2020 – the two-track approach agreed in Durban.

Success in the negotiations towards a fair, ambitious and legally binding deal by 2015 depends on bridging one of the fundamental divides in these talks. On the one side, we have those countries that want a scientifically responsive and responsible, rules-based system. On the other side, there are those that don’t want too many questions asked about their failure to act. (Of course, at least one of these countries doesn’t put it exactly this way, and calls for a more “flexible” approach.)

To meet the global climate challenge, the new ADP architecture for the post 2020 period must be viable for the long term, with a negotiated renewal of targets and actions every five years. It must also be dynamic, with respective changes in responsibility and capability fairly reflected in each renewal of the framework. It must further ensure that countries are accountable for doing what they agreed to do in both mitigation and in providing and effectively utilising support, with common accounting rules and a common, but differentiated, MRV system to allow transparent reporting of progress and to spotlight freeloaders. ECO notes that these are exactly the design elements that so many have fought hard to uphold in the Kyoto Protocol.

Against this fair, ambitious and legally binding deal are just a few countries. For these countries, fairness is finger pointing, ambition is for others and legally binding is too much of a bind.  If their lack of political will causes the world to blow past the 2 degrees Celsius target that their leaders have endorsed, well, that’s just too bad.

So what do negotiators at Bangkok need to work towards to receive their halos?  At COP18 in Doha, the world needs to see:

·       A Doha amendment for a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol applying immediately to a range of developed countries, including Australia and New Zealand; this should include targets within the range of 25-40% below 1990 levels, with an adjustment procedure to increase ambition, and should enhance environmental integrity by minimizing carried over AAUs and improving CDM and JI rules to lead to real emission reductions.

·       Non-Kyoto developed countries adopting stringent QEROs, comparable in effort and transparency with Kyoto Parties. ‘Comparability’ requires common accounting!

·       Developing countries registering their mitigation actions and required support, and all developing countries to make pledges – including Qatar.

·       Agreement that global emissions will peak in 2015, which means that developed countries need  to reduce their emissions much more quickly, and provide support for developing countries to take more mitigation action.

·       Agreement on a detailed work plan for the ADP, both on the 2015 legally binding agreement and on ways to substantially raise pre-2020 ambition.

·       Commitment to at least $10-15 billion in new public finance for the Green Climate Fund over 2013-2015, together with meaningful steps to develop innovative sources of public financing and agree on a process to reassess the adequacy of financial pledges with the first reassessment in 2013.

·       Funding modalities for National Adaptation Plans in order to scale-up work immediately, and establishment of a second phase of the work program for loss & damage.

·       The rapid operationalisation of the GCF, the Standing Committee, the NAMA registry, the Adaptation Committee, the Technology Executive Committee and the Climate Technology Centre and Network

Laying the foundations for these successes in Doha means that this will be a busy week in Bangkok! As we all know, the devil is in the details. So, where better to get started than in the city of angels?

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