ECO 2, SB58: Heads-up, the GST has a lot to achieve in 2 weeks!

6 June 2023

Heads-up, the GST has a lot to achieve in 2 weeks!

Yes, the time has come… 2023 is the year of the GST: it must deliver a strong decision at COP28 that will push Parties on track for the 1.5°C world that we all need and deserve. No more excuses or delay, its outcome has to be negotiated and well prepared!

COP28 seems quite far away, and we might think there is still time to develop the political phase, including through the dedicated workshop in October. ECO still has questions to raise: do you really think that we can save the Paris Agreement through only one more workshop from this SB session?

Surely not. If this was the case, we wouldn’t be here 8 years after the decision of COP21 belabouring the lack of ambition to fight against the climate and biodiversity crisis. The GST is a game-changing opportunity. It is the only cross-cutting accountability process we have in the Paris Agreement, and it can’t be concluded with a “GST light” outcome. The SB58 is the occasion to both finalise the technical phase of the GST, as well as to shift to the political phase. For this to happen we must urgently see signals from all Parties to show their willingness to do more, better, and faster.

What does that mean concretely?

We want an inclusive technical phase, with specific discussions during the technical dialogue and recommendations for the next NDCs. The GST should appropriately reflect the latest science and known solutions, and avoid promotion of dangerous and false solutions that threaten biodiversity and human rights.

We want a concrete roadmap from the Egyptian and Emirati Presidencies, detailing what meetings will happen during the next few months to raise political expectations, with assurances for meaningful participation of civil society.
We want Parties to agree on the format of the output of the GST: a simple declaration won’t cut it (no “GST light”). We want – no we need – a strong decision text with mandated obligations, not just declarations!

We want Parties to address key issues in the GST: TRUST and EQUITY. So how can all Parties come together to conclude an ambitious and credible GST? There are several magical ingredients for this, such as: equity; exemplary leadership from northern and high emitting parties; respect for the needs and rights of the most vulnerable and the least responsible… but such magic needs time and training to become a reality. One workshop won’t be enough…a Hogwarts degree takes at least 5 years!

Civil society is ready for the transformation needed to stay within the 1.5°C limit. We know the problems, we know the risks ahead, and we know the solutions; the IPCC has told us already. Shall we list some of these solutions? Full, Fast, Fair and Fully funded phase-out of fossil fuels, more and better-quality finance for Just Transition, adaptation, loss and damage, ecosystems and human rights protections. Having no concrete policies against conflict of interests and greenwashing of private sector actions/investments is not helpful, this needs to change.

In order for the GST to have substance, bring accountability and provide the correct signals and push needed, it must bring to the table concrete guidance on how to use the few years we still have to implement these several solutions. Only by achieving that we will be able to correct our course to a 1.5°C-pathway. This is not just a question of respect for an international agreement. This is a matter of life or death for people and communities, their cultures, and many species and ecosystems. We hope delegates will remember this during the negotiations in the coming two weeks!

Adaptation – getting it together?

ECO is really perplexed by what actual progress has been made on the Glasgow Sharm El-Sheikh (GlaSS) Work Program on the Global Goal on Adaptation (GGA).

The GGA, came into existence in 2015 as a key aspect of the Paris Agreement. But, until recently no one has actually asked the question, “who is the GGA for”? Even after those long discussions in dedicated workshops we still don’t have an answer  But don’t worry, ECO is here to offer several answers: the GGA is for the poorest, for the most marginalised people and those most in need of capacity and support to reduce their vulnerability, strengthen their resilience and enhance their adaptive capacity.

The GlaSS work programme concludes this year and ECO wants to remind you that we need to make progress on designing a framework that is inclusive, coherent and realistic to respond to the rapidly growing need for adaptation worldwide. When the GGA Framework is finalised at COP28, it needs to show us the path towards this type of implementation.

ECO is also well aware that the capacity of Parties to cover all the adaptation strands is diluted. The current discussions on so many parallel tracks: National Adaptation Plans, Adaptation Fund, Adaptation Committee, Nairobi Work Programme on climate impacts, and the new post-2025 climate finance goal (NCQG) remain in silos and need to be linked under the GGA. So, let’s be clear: when the GGA Framework is finalised at COP28, it should be greeted with a joint effort to combine the various adaptation mandates under the UNFCCC into one agenda item in order to have a comprehensive approach to the adaptation challenges we are facing. It will be night and day compared to the fragmented partial rhetoric we are currently experiencing.

And if we achieve the above, that would be actual progress.

Double the adaptation finance, double the fun(ds)

As delegates head to discussions about upcoming financial flows from developed countries (under Article 9.5 of the Paris Agreement), let’s stop for a moment and think about what is missing there.

For ECO, the most obvious thing missing is a clear plan for meeting the goal set by COP26 to double adaptation finance. 2023 is the midpoint between when the goal was set and when it is to be reached – so it’s high time for clarity. For ECO, discussions during the SB58 would be a great opportunity to showcase how developed countries plan to get there by 2025, individually and collectively – and remember the aim in the Paris Agreement to achieve a balance in mitigation and adaptation finance.

ECO is optimistic that delegates can still have a meaningful discussion during the workshop — if developed countries aren’t shy. ECO is optimistic that all of them take the goal seriously and should now be proud of their plans to swiftly raise finance for adaptation.

Importantly, this is not only about increased predictability of adaptation finance. Such proud boasting of what developed countries have up their sleeves would also help the Standing Committee’s on Finance task to prepare a report on the doubling of adaptation finance as per the mandate from the CMA at COP27.
Secondly, developed countries have an opportunity to ratchet up their adaptation actions in the near future – by increasing spending in their budgets, and then showcasing them in new communications on Art. 9.5 that will be delivered next year. Please, don’t forget to submit them!

Thirdly, as the Green Climate Fund (GCF) is conducting its second replenishment, ECO would like to remind Parties of their promise from Cancun: Significant amounts of new multilateral adaptation finance should flow through the GCF. With the 50:50 split between adaptation and mitigation in the allocation of resources by the GCF. Doubling their GCF pledges for the new replenishment, would allow developed countries to advance considerably in showcasing their willingness to double adaptation finance!

To ECO it looks like the lowest-hanging fruit, it would be a shame not to pick it!

Time to shift billions out of fossil fuels in support of an accelerated, just and equitable energy transition

At yesterday’s Mitigation Work Programme investment-focused events a lot of emphasis was put on the need to significantly increase clean energy investments. The positive news? Clean energy investments are on the rise. The bad news? We are nowhere near the trillions of US dollars needed to get on track for 1.5°C. There is an overlooked opportunity here that is not receiving the attention it deserves.

At the same time that we are making some progress on increasing clean energy finance, governments worldwide continue to prop up fossil fuels with trillions of dollars of public money every year. If this money was shifted, it would free up significant funds not just for clean energy, which is essential to meeting mitigation targets, but also for climate, loss and damage, and just transition finance.

Parties agreed to do exactly this under Article 2.1(c) of the Paris Agreement. They committed to align financial flows, both public and private, with the low-carbon transition. Shifting public finance is of particular importance: not only do Parties have direct control over this money, but public finance can support projects that involve higher investment risks in countries that need it most, ultimately also helping leverage additional private finance.

Yet, between 2019 and 2021, the G20 countries and the Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs) provided $55 billion a year in international public finance to fossil fuel projects. This amounts to twice their support to clean energy over the same period ($29 billion). On top of that, the IEA estimates that domestic fossil fuels subsidies are likely to have exceeded $1 trillion for the first time in 2022. G20 State-Owned Enterprises also invested $257 billion in fossil fuel projects every year between 2017 and 2019.

ECO was in the Mitigation Work Programme workshop this weekend where we saw these barriers to a just energy transition highlighted loud and clear in the breakout groups. Many parties supported the point that redirecting government support away from fossil fuels is fundamental. One of the facilitators even mentioned that we have been talking about the same thing for years without advancing. Friends, this needs to change in 2023.

Government support for fossil fuels runs directly counter to the need to urgently reduce fossil fuel production and use in order to meet climate goals. According to the IEA’s Net Zero scenario which maintains a 50% chance to limit global warming to 1.5°C, there can be no further investments in new oil or gas production or Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) infrastructure without stranding assets.

Some progress is being made on shifting finance flows out of not only coal, but also oil and, importantly, gas (now the single biggest recipient of international public support for energy) – but this progress needs to be accelerated and fast. At COP26 in Glasgow, 34 countries and 5 public finance institutions launched a joint commitment (the ‘Clean Energy Transition Partnership’) to end international public finance for fossil fuels by the end of 2022 and instead prioritize this finance for clean energy. Signatories included some of the biggest historic providers of public finance for energy, including Canada, the United States, Germany and Italy as well as 15 low and middle-income countries, such as the Marshall Islands and Ethiopia.

If signatories fully implement their commitment, they can shift $19.4 billion a year out of fossil fuels, allowing them to increase their clean energy finance to $37 billion a year. A sum large enough to close the clean energy access finance gap.

In Bonn, ECO hopes that Parties will share and reflect on progress made on this agenda and will commit to do more and faster. Those that have not yet joined commitments to stop funding fossil fuels should do so ASAP. Even more importantly they should show how they are delivering on this agenda in support of real climate solutions and a just and equitable transition to renewable energy.

Energy rising for a world beyond fossil fuels

ECO wants to take a moment today to celebrate the positive steps forward that we have seen from people, communities and countries around the world since COP27. There’s a new energy rising, showing the way forward to a world beyond fossil fuels, powered by clean, renewable energy.

In March, Pacific ministers issued a powerful call for a ‘Just Transition to a Fossil Free Pacific’. Ministers from the Kingdom of Tonga, the Republic of Fiji, Niue, the Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, and the Republic of Vanuatu gathered in Port Vila in the wake of two devastating cyclones:

“The science is clear that fossil fuels are to blame for the climate emergency. This is a crisis driven by the greed of an exploitative industry and its enablers. It is not acceptable that countries and companies are still planning on producing more than double the amount of fossil fuels by 2030 than the world can burn to limit warming to 1.5ºC. As the UN Secretary General has said, fossil fuels are a moral and economic madness.

The Pacific will no longer accept the fossil fuel lie. We have the power and responsibility to lead, and we will. Pacific leaders called for the Paris Agreement to limit warming to 1.5ºC, and have demanded an end to the development and expansion of fossil fuel extracting industries, starting with new coal mines. Pacific civil society has challenged the world to step up the fight for urgent fossil fuel phase out and effective climate action.”

Then, just last month, the Government of Kiribati joined the six Pacific Island countries to formally endorse the Port Vila Call for a Just Transition to a Fossil Fuel Free Pacific. The Pacific Energy and Transport Ministers also met and adopted this call. ECO remembers the crucial role that Pacific leadership played in placing 1.5ºC at the heart of the Paris Agreement, and is excited to see Pacific states stepping up to take on a leading role in ending fossil fuels too.

Elsewhere, in Colombia, plans and actions to phase out fossil fuels are developing, despite fierce opposition from the oil and gas sectors. This just energy transition plan involves not only changes in the domestic energy matrix, but also provides the opportunity to promote diversification and economic decentralization in Colombia. Developing other sources of income based on the country’s rich biodiversity would facilitate decent living conditions for many people, and would place the country at the forefront of the effective fight against climate change.

At the same time, more and more voices have joined the call for a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty, including:

  • 6 Major faith organizations with over 600 million members in 190 countries who wrote an open letter to the G7 leaders, urging them to end approvals for new coal, oil, and gas projects and fossil fuel subsidies, and pave the way for a global just transition and Fossil Fuel Treaty;
  • Several Mayors from the Board of the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy, the world’s largest alliance of local climate leadership representing 12,500 cities and local governments called for a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty;
  • The California Senate, which endorsed the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty proposal as it also passed a resolution calling upon State legislators and President Biden to end the era of coal, oil, and gas;
  • The Kingdom of Tonga, which joined Vanuatu and Tuvalu in an emerging alliance of nation states who would seek a negotiating mandate for an international agreement for the managed phase out of coal, oil, and gas.

We can expect more public calls for a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty from nations here in Bonn.

Alongside this, ECO has also been excitedly watching the growth of the Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance since its launch at COP26, especially since COP27. In Sharm El-Sheikh, the Alliance grew to ten full members – and now it has 12 (since Vanuatu and Tuvalu joined). This is particularly important because full membership of the Alliance strictly consists of states and sub-national jurisdictions that have ended new oil and gas production and exploration and set a Paris-aligned end date for oil and gas production and exploration in their jurisdictions.

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