ECO 6, SB58: A UNFCCC Love Story

10 June 2023

A UNFCCC Love Story – Phase Out Fossil Fuels Are Looking For Love, And They Found It With Renewables

It’s springtime, and love is in the air. Things are getting hotter and hotter, and not just literally! We’re here to tell you about a spicy love story from the UNFCCC. Fossil Fuels Phase-Out (FFPO) wrote to ECO several weeks ago saying they were looking for love, asking to use its matchmaking services to help them get lucky in love.

They said their dating history had left them without hope, but don’t fret: this love story has a happy ending! They had gone on a few dates with Nuclear Energy, but they just didn’t want the same things in life. FFPO was after someone with similar values, someone who cares about the planet and doesn’t leave toxic waste in their wake. To make it even worse, Nuclear was already in a relationship with Pink Hydrogen: RED FLAG!

We suggested online dating, so they downloaded Tinder, and they matched with CCS. On paper they seemed a perfect match and they had high hopes. Sadly CCS turned out to be nothing like their profile, and they cancelled the date last minute three times! All CCS wanted to do was talk about themselves and were clearly full of false promises, they had all these big ideas but really didn’t seem like the type of trustworthy person you can build a long term relationship with.

Finally, ECO set up a blind date and that one evening in the Marriot Hotel Rooftop bar, FFPO locked eyes from across the room with Renewable Energy and it was love at first sight. The wind was blowing through Renewable’s hair as they walked across the room, They hit it off straight away, and FFPO was over the moon. Renewables were very solar and full of energy, always keen to help people and listen to them, they’re even part of their local union, fighting for a just transition –  exactly the kind of person you really want to be with for the rest of your life!

There was one caveat however, Renewables had their own dating history, and they were actually already in an open relationship with Energy Efficiency! But they are very open to having FFPO join their relationship. This was a new experience for FFPO, but it is 2023 after all!

We are pleased to tell you that they are now in a thrupple and love has truly blossomed. In fact, FFPO said it has more than tripled! They are about to get engaged and are already planning to have their honeymoon in Dubai!

Do you have any more love stories for your favourite agony aunt? Please write in!

What’s Wrong GST? You’ve Barely Touched Your Adaptation

Another opening plenary, yet another shock to our ECO system. The GST plenary witnessed criticisms of conflating Adaptation and Loss & Damage in the Technical Dialogues. The GST started way before the “big push” on Loss & Damage. ECO is surprised by this confusion: We thought it was clear to everyone that these issues are not two peas in the same “impacts” pod and thus needed to be addressed separately.

African countries were forced to repeat that many are struggling without adequate support for adaptation planning and implementation. It is clear that the GST must highlight the essential role of the NAP process and the importance of continued support in helping developing countries formulate and implement their adaptation actions.

ECO has repeatedly driven the point but once again for those in the back: What do we need? We need adequate financing, capacity building, participatory and inclusive approaches for the co-creation of adaptation actions, and proper integration, alignment and policy coherence across all levels of planning and implementation.

ECO urges Parties to include these points in the Factual Synthesis Report, and while we’re at it, let’s also include it in the summary of this week’s proceedings, so that nobody can say they weren’t there or didn’t hear it!

As the third technical dialogue comes to an end, ECO wants to remind all that adaptation will only ever be mainstreamed and prioritised if there is high-level political buy-in and support. Let ECO also reiterate that the GST needs to address the several pillars of the Paris Agreement in a balanced manner. If we are serious about reducing vulnerability and strengthening resilience for all communities and ecosystems around the world, we cannot progress without this recognition.

Mitigation Work Programme – Let’s Not Waste Week 2

ECO was pleased to see that on Thursday, after five days of the Bonn Sessions, we finally started discussing the Mitigation Work Programme (MWP) (thanks for the reminder, South Korea!). Despite MWP being one of the causes of the unapproved agenda, we were happy to note that the mood in the room was overall constructive. Many parties feel that the workshops have been a good first step, even though there is room for improvement. This could include sharing agendas at least a month before the event to ensure preparation and coordination among key people such as practitioners, investors and policy makers. In fact, one good outcome from SB58 could be guidance to the MWP chairs on improving the next workshops, since most parties agree that such improvements are needed. Many Parties also expressed the need for a strong decision on the MWP at COP28 – and ECO couldn’t agree more!

It’s a no-brainer for ECO that the outcome of the MWP to urgently scale up mitigation ambition and implementation should be to urgently scale up in line with limiting global temperature rise to 1.5°C. Discussing this does not represent a renegotiation or reopening, it represents making the best use of the limited time we have here together.

We can’t afford to waste the time we have here together. If this process isn’t discussing mitigation action urgently needed to fight the climate crisis, what’s the point? The world is counting on us to address the climate emergency, but we’re bickering over procedural issues. We owe it to our children and future generations; to people in the Global South living through climate disasters; and to all IPCC scientists who worked tirelessly to provide us with the AR6. Dear negotiators, surely you get it by now.

In fact, we liked many things that Parties have said so far, during the two short hours on Thursday and Friday. In particular, ECO must <3 Colombia and AILAC who made it clear that decarbonization policies and fossil fuels should be themes in this conversation. We hope others got the message.

Also a big heart <3 to AOSIS for insisting that the investment-focused event must connect to the issues actually discussed at the global dialogue. For example, over the weekend the increasing need for power storage, and the capital cost barrier to get renewable power, came up strongly in most breakout rooms.

…Unfortunately in the subsequent investment session, funding for storage was ignored and there was a focus on more fossil gas, especially in Africa! ECO was flabbergasted at this – more fossil gas is definitely NOT what the MWP is about! We would much rather see Parties brainstorming on support for developing countries committing to phase out fossil fuels, and how renewable energy can replace these in a way that provides energy and creates jobs. How the international community can foster this shift and minimize the impact on their economies is also a good topic for investment-focused events (The BOGA Fund is an example which comes to mind but we need many, many more activities here).

Dear negotiators, ECO is counting on your commitment and creativity. We can’t afford to waste a week! We are already in Bonn and have invested precious time and money to be here. We want to see developments on the MWP over the next few days. This is fundamental to help us deal with two elephants in the MWP room: ambition and implementation. We need to see you stepping up.

Stock-Take? Or Stock-Give? What should the GST deliver for nature

Oh, hello there, climate negotiators! ECO has got some important news to share for all of you in the GST rooms. As you reflect on the past and think ahead remember without protecting nature, we can kiss the Paris Agreement goals goodbye. Yes, we’re talking about all those carbon and biodiversity hotspots like primary forests, wetlands, grasslands, oceans and all the other cool ecosystems out there. If we neglect them, we’ll be stumbling off the path that leads towards mitigation and adaptation success. Oh, and by the way, climate inaction is like a wrecking ball for ecosystems and food systems. Not a great combo, huh?

Now, when it comes to all things nature and climate, we’ve got some ground rules to follow. Rule number one: keep that carbon in the ground, we must bid farewell to our fossil fuel addiction. And this has to be done by protecting and securing Indigenous Peoples’ and local communities’ rights and land tenure. That’s the most important priority for the next decade.

Next: ecological restoration – we need to repair the damage done. We can consider improved management. But wait, there’s a catch! These strategies to suck up carbon can only do so much. Land availability? Limited. Peak warming? Only a marginal reduction. And don’t get us started on the risks to biodiversity, livelihoods, and human rights of over-relying on land to clean up your mess. We need the GST to make it crystal clear: nature can’t be a magical substitute for phasing out fossil fuels and slashing emissions across all sectors. Let’s keep it real, people.

Now, here’s the plot twist: protecting and restoring nature isn’t just about meeting that 1.5°C target. Ecosystems are like our trusty sidekicks, helping us to adapt, bounce back from climate disturbances and providing awesome synergies. But guess what? They’re at risk too. Some of them are pushing their limits and shouting, “Hey, we need a hand here!”

Without a GST that acknowledges the crucial role of protecting natural ecosystems, we’re in danger of losing the web of life that underpins our very existence. And let’s be honest,  we just can’t let that happen or there will be no more ECO – and who would want that?

To make all of this happen, the GST outcomes must provide Parties with a framework to ensure that all climate actions align with biodiversity goals, incorporate traditional knowledge, respect Indigenous Peoples’ rights and land tenure, and always guarantee free, prior, and informed consent. Similarly, the GST should ensure that NDCs have biodiversity protection at their heart and reflect the needs of local communities and other vulnerable groups. This all begins with inclusive decision-making from the start. Bonn is an important start as you, negotiators, will have to decide on the structure of this GST outcome. Keep some spaces for biodiversity and ecosystems’ protection, or you can forget the 1.5°C target!

1.5 TW for 1.5ºC: The Presidency’s Treasure Hunt for Renewable Energy has yet to get the coordinates right

Limiting global warming to 1.5ºC is not simply about addressing the source of greenhouse gas emissions – including a phasing out of fossil fuels – it is also about where this ultimately leads. It is clear that this must be towards renewables.ECO is happy to see that several countries, along with the COP28 Presidency, have embarked on a treasure hunt for a 2030 Renewable Energy target. However, someone has given the COP President a map with the X marked in the wrong spot. ECO heard the UAE wants a goal to triple yearly renewable energy deployment by 2030. And while the choice of the baseline year for tripling renewable energy deployment has a big impact where tripling lands, ECO can already foresee that this not enough. This treasure hunt is a race against time to keep global heating to below 1.5ºC degrees. We fear that contestants have come ill-equipped and are attempting to participate with shoes several sizes too small.No worries, ECO has got you covered. We will give you the right coordinates and equipment. Globally, we need to install on average at least 1.5 Terawatt (TW) of clean and safe renewable electricity annually, starting as soon as possible and before 2030,  to keep global temperature rise below 1.5 °C. This should be primarily wind and solar; clean electricity in transport, buildings, and industry, replacing fossil fuels; all while reducing energy consumption through efficiency and sufficiency measure.How did ECO come to put these coordinates on the map?The IEA Net Zero 1.5ºC scenario peaks at 1.2 TW of yearly “clean energy” instalments in the 2030s. However, ECO has done some number crunching and notes that this relies on a growing amount of Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS), nuclear, large-scale hydropower and biomass. This is problematic for a number of reasons. For example, the IPCC report showed that CCS is currently far too expensive to be a sensible solution for the energy sector. Elsewhere, biomass growth at large scale is neither sustainable nor will bring down emissions in time. There is no point in wearing the right shoes if the shoelaces are broken.If we remove bioenergy, nuclear and CCS from the broader energy mix, the IEA clean energy scenario would actually need to land at around 1.5 TW yearly in the 2030s. According to the latest IEA estimates the World will add a record 440 Gigawatts (GW) of new renewable capacity this year. This is a jump in instalment of about 33% compared to last year. Taking 440 GW as the 2023 base, a yearly growth rate of even less than 25% would therefore be enough to exceed the 1.5 TW target (by about 100 GW).ECO counts on the renewable champion countries in AOSIS, EU, Kenya, Colombia, Chile, Morocco and elsewhere to ensure that the Presidency gets the coordinates right. Together we can do this: Go 1.5 for 1.5ºC!

Are We Delivering on a Just Transition?

In a world where unemployment, precarious work and inequalities are growing, it is comforting that Just Transition (JT) policies are becoming central to the discussions in Bonn. Today, ECO asks how close to delivering justice are they actually?

At COP27, Parties established the Work Programme on Just Transition for discussion of pathways to achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement (for intimate friends this is known as the “JTWP”). This could help us shed light on how we can implement strong, rights-based just transitions, and ECO was happy about this.

I mean, how could we not be? Just transition is about genuinely engaging with workers and communities in shaping a future free from polluters. This work could open the door to define what international cooperation on Just Transition could look like and then deliver on it.

However, ECO has been carefully listening to Parties for the past week and sadly does not think we are there yet… For a just transition that puts people, their rights and needs at the centre, the JTWP needs to:

  • Bring coherence and convergence among many JT discussions inside and outside of the UNFCCC, and guide action ensuring the ‘just” element of the transition does not get lost.
  • We know that Parties loooove workshops and sharing of best practices, but to make progress the JTWP needs to analyse and synthesise work, make recommendations and take action.
  • The JTWP must facilitate a new wave of multilateral cooperation (including finance, technology, capacity building…) so that JT is just and equitable.
  • Finally, workers, whether formal or informal, unions, and those in impacted communities (including Indigenous Peoples, women, youths and disabled persons), must be given the right to meaningfully engage in the JTWP. Specific modalities must be agreed as part of the COP decision.

ECO thinks that, if done correctly, Just Transition can send a powerful message by COP28 of a commitment to social justice so that every person can enjoy the benefits of a climate safe world.

Lastly, ECO expresses solidarity with our union allies at the Annual ILO Conference in Geneva, where a discussion on Just Transition is also taking place, and where it seems the climate ambition might have not travelled with delegates (ECO is watching this space…)


Piece of the action?

While we are discussing the scale and numbers for the New Collective Quantified Goal, ECO would like to remind everyone about the principles on which this goal should be set. Does “common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities” ring a bell? We propose an easy way to ensure that developed countries deliver according to their respective capabilities:

They can base their grant-based public finance contributions on a percentage of their Gross National Income (GNI) as part of an overall investment goal. This feeds into the bottom-up spirit of the Paris Agreement, and at the same time provides a clear effort sharing methodology that helps avoid responsibility dodging, as we are experiencing now.

This of course should be reconciled with the needs of developing countries. ECO reminds you of the enormous collective needs going into the trillions by 2030, as evidenced by the Needs Determination Report prepared by the Standing Committee on Finance.

The suggested bottom up approach should match the top-down numbers identified by the research. Only by matching the two numbers will we be able to deliver an equitable and just New Goal.

Smoke stacks and SOS signals: Why fossil fuels are tobacco 2.0

The history of medicine and progress in human health is, among other things, the study of origins and outcomes—how things came to be, disappear, change for the better, or perhaps not change at all.Suppose you were to open an issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association in 1940. You may come across a laughable trope showing how naive we were, how industry manipulated public health, and how far we have evolved. 80 years ago, it was not uncommon to see ads showing an idealized physician – wise, noble, and caring – who enthusiastically partook of the smoking habit.  There may even be a tagline, ironically uninformed and antithetical to the health mission, “More Doctors smoke Camels. . .Experience is the Best Teacher”.

We’d like to think of ourselves as wiser and more informed by the modern era of evidence-based practice. There is no possible way another industry could conceal internal industry documents for that long. Nor could they cast doubt upon the evidence of harm of their product, delaying substantive change at the cost of millions of lives that could be saved.But what will our future generations say, in a world of submerged cities and soot-filled skies, when they dig into the archives and peruse the cover decisions drafted by the very entity that was charged to protect them from the harms of climate change? They will read preambles acknowledging a commitment to “the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment”. How will they reconcile the current evidence attesting to the millions of excess deaths due to air pollution with the glaring absence of language on phasing out fossil fuels? What will they think? So many missed opportunities?

The COP28 Presidency’s decision to elevate health at COP28 provides a fresh opportunity for healthy dialogue – beginning with a consultation hosted by the Presidency this afternoon in Bonn. ECO hopes that this healthy dialogue will be accompanied by healthy climate action that protects the right to health and a clean, healthy and sustainable environment.Burning fossil fuels emits the ultimate second hand smoke. Just as those that light tobacco steal the health of those around them, those that burn fossil fuels not only engulf their own communities in suffocating smog, but inflict health losses and damages of fossil fuelled climate change on people around the world: Heatwaves, vector-borne disease, wildfires, food insecurity, unsafe water, adverse birth outcomes, mental health impacts, and more.Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) is a false climate solution that simply doesn’t work. It will only make harmful emissions worse, straining the health of overburdened communities and delaying our progress toward meaningful climate progress. But even if CCS worked at the scale needed to slow climate change and its health impacts, it would do nothing to prevent the immediate health impacts of air pollution from fossil fuel combustion which causes up to 8.7 million deaths annually – nor the health impacts endured by fossil fuel workers, nor the impacts on local communities of air water and soil pollution by toxics from fossil fuel extraction and processing.

The parallels between tobacco and fossil fuels – unhealthy commodities from which companies profit while people pay the price – run deep. Their industries use the same playbook – sowing doubt, spreading misinformation, and obstructing regulations. By casting doubt on scientific consensus and funding biased research, these industries have attempted to create controversy and delay necessary actions to protect public health.But ECO notes the shared strategies to mount in response. While the fossil fuel industry sends delegations that dwarf those of individual Parties to COP, the tobacco industry is banned from tobacco control policymaking processes in which their vested interests are clear. Tobacco marketing and sponsorship has long been regulated for tobacco, but we continue to extend the social license of fossil fuels, including sponsorships inside the COPs. And while fiscal policies for tobacco are to some extent commensurate with the health and social burden they create, the fossil fuel subsidies invested by G20 countries in 2014 alone drove a health burden 6 times greater.

The fires which rage this week in Canada and sent choking smoke across a continent, are just the latest amongst countless SOS signals to act on climate change at its source. To protect the health of people and the planet, the SBs and COP28 must deliver a clear commitment for the phase-out of all fossil fuels.

Meaningful Consultation is Not a Two Week Affair!

As the Article 6.4 Supervisory Body continues to develop its rules for activity design, it must remember that consultation is not a checkbox exercise. Real people and their environment will be impacted by these activities, and they cannot be overlooked.

Last year, ECO was pleased to see the CMA mandate a “structured public consultation process” to get broader inputs from stakeholders in developing their recommendations on removals and methodologies. Stakeholders (and more importantly rights-holders) have considerable expertise and, after-all, public participation is a right. We saw what happened when recommendations on removals were sent to COP27 with no real consultation.

So colour us surprised when we got to Bonn on Monday and saw an email with a questionnaire on removals with a submission deadline of June 19. For those keeping track, this “structured public consultation” is open for only two weeks and the SAME two weeks as SB58. Surely this can’t be what the CMA considers a legitimate public consultation process. Two weeks is never enough time for a proper consultation process and even less so when the two weeks almost entirely overlap with a meeting where many of the people who want to participate and prepare responses are participating.

What’s even more concerning than this ridiculous timeframe, is the picture this paints of what the Supervisory Body considers stakeholder consultation and participation.

Article 6.4 activities will impact real people on the ground and these people must be involved at all stages: from design through to implementation and monitoring. This is something the Supervisory Body will have to ensure occurs. It is critical that all Article 6.4 activities have meaningful consultation with rights-holders and that rights are upheld, including Indigenous Peoples’ right to free, prior and informed consent (FPIC). Meaningful consultations and FPIC processes are simply not a two week affair.

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