The Matrix continued – entering virtual reality, exiting, re-entering and getting shut out
5 June 2021
What a virtual Party this is – seeing friends via video screen in their homes in their countries of origin at odd hours – and time flies as we have already reached the end of the first week.
As ECO noted at the beginning of this virtual session: amazing news that this virtual session would be particularly “open, transparent, inclusive and facilitate the effective participation and engagement of observers”. ECO was getting high hopes for a truly transparent, engaging session that values the voice of civil society and other observers. But alas – similar to the movie the Matrix – ECO is now not quite sure, which reality to settle into, are we in or out?
ECO is amused by the irony that the negotiations on transparency have now become — intransparent to observers. ECO is looking for Parties willing to provide a solid invite for observers to cross back into the virtual reality of the SB consultations – AILAC, AOSIS, Australia (whoop you got that one right, now please change the rest of your insufficient climate policies) Canada, EU, LDCs, US time to step up for transparency. Cities, Business, Science & Research, Women, Indigenous Peoples, Farmers, Youth and Environmental NGOs all contribute crucially to climate policy implementation. All observer groups need to be part of the negotiations!
In other realities ECO’s attention has been drawn to yet another global meeting – the Finance Ministers of the G7 countries are meeting up to provide strong leadership by radically boosting their climate finance contributions! ECO notes Patricia Espinosa’s remarks that G7 countries are not doing this because they are good hearted – but because they made a commitment! It is the responsibility and the obligation of rich nations to support developing countries in tackling the climate crisis. That is their climate debt to developing countries. ECO thinks that makes it quite a lot easier – after all like in a real action hero movie – the hero would rather die than run from commitments.
The standard wardrobe in the Matrix is a long dark cloak, meant to evoke mystery. There’s certainly a mystery on the ‘visibility’ of discussions on finance during the SBs. There are apparently 17 items to discuss on finance at COP26, yet only 4 relevant sessions during the SBs. Two of which are mandated events. The once open and ‘transparent’ sessions on transparency of climate finance are now closed to all observers. ECO thought that the purpose of the SB sessions was to aim for the highest common denominator? How can that be done if impacted stakeholders aren’t in the room? Looking forward to week 2, ECO hopes that further sessions on transparency are open, and that the two mandated workshops on climate finance are truly inclusive spaces.
Common Time Frames
During the first informal consultation, there was emerging consensus on finally concluding these negotiations this year. ECO is glad to see Parties are no longer procrastinating! The co-facilitators have given Brazil homework–to pull together informal informal discussions and work to further consolidating and streamlining the options from Parties. With two weeks left, will Parties be able to complete the homework?
Today’s Article 6 session focuses on how to deliver overall mitigation in global emissions (OMGE), and ECO wants Parties to do the magic. Make those credits disappear! If markets are going to be used, then Parties must fix the glitches: A net benefit for the climate, for the atmosphere. Parties, please, drop the ridiculous idea that markets deliver extra reductions just by existing. ECO had a good laugh the first time you said this, but is now getting concerned that you were actually serious. And yes, baselines, baselines, baselines, they’re crucial. But ambitious, objective baselines are a prerequisite to a functioning system; they don’t deliver OMGE because the emissions don’t simply “disappear” from the host country’s inventory. In this magic trick of zero-sum offsetting they’re claimed in the Party’s NDC. So what will make ambition re-appear?. ECO repeats it once more: OMGE requires a net reduction which is not claimed by anyone. Only an automatic partial cancelation rate can achieve this.
ECO is glad to hear Parties express urgency in their work on the enhanced transparency framework and the methodological issues under the Paris Agreement. ECO welcomes the number of Parties who spoke about the importance of leaving this SB with an informal note capturing example tables, formats, and outlines. The SBSTA Chair and the Secretariat are certainly well placed to capture Party views and to present materials for Parties to discuss further in the next session.
But since these discussions have been closed to observers, ECO has no idea if you are taking the task seriously?! Are you discussing concrete examples? Are you testing the various ways flexibility can be operationalized? Are you examining how different tabular formats work for different types of NDCs? ECO thanks those Parties that have stood up for allowing observers in the virtual room. We salute you AILAC, AGN, and others!
Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture (KJWA)
ECO is working hard on the Koronivia farm, side-by-side with Parties, experts and other observers. During the KJWA workshops we have dug into the issues on adaptation, soils, livestock, nutrient management and food security, planted ideas and nurtured concepts.
ECO has been particularly inspired by how the same key messages have been echoed by authors of the IPCC Special Report on Land, women smallholder farmers, and many others: That we must shift from industrial agriculture to agroecology; produce and consume less and better meat; that agriculture must be gender-responsive; and that climate finance must be scaled up.
It’s now time to harvest these recommendations and turn key lessons into guidance on making agriculture fit for purpose in an era of climate change. After all the work ECO and her friends have put in, she really hopes that the Koroniva harvest is worth the effort.
Loss and Damage
Developed countries have been trying hard to bend spoons using the power of their mind — to obfuscate the need to prioritize Loss and Damage in the negotiations. But they should listen to the wise boy (developing countries, who have made a very clear case):
Spoon boy: Do not try and bend the spoon. That’s impossible. Instead…only try to realize the truth.
Neo (the Matrix hero): What truth?
Spoon boy: Loss and Damage is happening now, we urgently need finance to address it.
Neo: We urgently need finance to address Loss and Damage?
Spoon boy: Yes, then you’ll see, it is not the spoon that bends, it is only yourself.
Developed countries need to stop trying to bend the spoon away from talking about Loss and Damage. As the wise boy says, the reality of Loss and Damage is happening today, and we have the power to address it — ECO is quite certain that developed countries can change their minds and make Loss and Damage a political priority.