The Wrong Direction on Article 6

9 December 2019

After many hours of waiting on Saturday, ECO was dismayed when it searched the new texts for human rights, safeguards, and clarity on an ITMO definition and found that nothing was there. Sure, there are fewer brackets, but fewer brackets do not magically translate to successful rules that ensure carbon markets won’t lead to harming people and the planet, undermining the Paris Agreement entirely. 

ECO was pleased last week when it heard more countries speaking about the need to include human rights and the rights of indigenous peoples in the rules for Article 6. So, imagine ECO’s dismay when it searched through the text and couldn’t find mention of human rights or social and environmental safeguards. Instead it found only a placeholder for elements of the Paris Agreement preamble. But it’s not about having elements from the preamble, it’s about ensuring that the carbon markets under the Paris Agreement don’t become a tool that allows for the harming of people and the planet. Human rights are not negotiable!

ECO also searched desperately for some clarity on what an Internationally Transferred Mitigation Outcome (ITMO) is. Under article 6, countries will create ITMOs, buy ITMOs, use ITMOs€¦ But does anyone understand what an ITMO actually is? ECO understands that ITMOs can take different forms, but they must represent an emission reduction which truly happened, e.g. through a crediting approach with a real project or an ETS linkage. The mere “overachievement” of an NDC target is not enough to issue an ITMO, especially when current NDCs include over 20GtCO2e of hot air. Activities outside the scope of NDCs credited to a buyer country would repeat the same hot air mistakes of the CDM, unless there is corresponding adjustment for these activities.

ECO calls on Parties to rectify what surely must be an oversight. It can’t be that you want to see past mistakes repeated where people’s lives were lost and ecosystems destroyed, and all of that to issue ITMOs which don’t represent real reductions? You can fix this, and you must fix it now. You’ve done it before. The GCF has safeguards and grievance redresses because you said it had to. These elements are just as important in the context of article 6. Social and environmental safeguards, meaningful local stakeholder consultation, and an independent grievance mechanism can help prevent harm to communities, indigenous peoples, and ecosystems, and help address problems if and when they arise.

In addition, the final text should clearly specify that cooperative approaches under article 6.2 must be real crediting approaches, ideally a mitigation project to which a specific quantity of emission reductions can be directly attributed. At a minimum, Parties should at least report on what a cooperative approach entails, how it contributes to the Parties” NDCs implementation, which Parties are involved in it, how many tons of CO2e are transferred, and how long the cooperative approach will last.

The final text must include these elements. Anything less would fail the Paris Agreement, and in doing so, fail the world. 

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