Homework for Barcelona

Many countries came to Bangkok with their homework done. Witness star pupil, Indonesia, which brought in strong commitments to cut its emissions well below business as usual. Other countries turned in their homework here in Bangkok. Norway, for example, committed to cutting its emissions 40% below 1990 levels as part of a global deal.

However, many countries clearly did not do their homework. To help these countries focus, ECO offers the following assignments so that everyone is clear about what needs to be done.

Please take this note to your Prime Minister, asking him to give you the mandate to agree to sufficient new and additional public funding for international climate finance, through multiple mechanisms under the authority of the COP. Bring it back signed to Barcelona. Try to give yourself space to take mitigation action at home, and push yourself to take the harder challenges – like reducing emissions from energy – rather than cheating your way to meet targets through LULUCF offsets. Indeed you should make a stronger effort to reduce logging emissions in LULUCF and use them to take a higher overall target.

Two years ago you assumed a leadership role and put a conditional -30% target on the table. Since then it has become ever clearer that your target, although bold at the time, is no longer sufficient. You should follow Norway’s lead of 40% emissions reduction below 1990 levels by 2020. We have been waiting for some time for your finance package to be wrapped up into something you could bring to the UNFCCC. The Council meetings this month give you an opportunity to bring the EU’s fair share of the minimum US$160 billion of public finance needed per year to meet developing country needs for adaptation, clean technology and REDD.

United States
Tell your President that his next priority after health care has to be working with the leadership of the Senate to pass comprehensive climate and energy legislation including significant emissions cuts by 2020 and substantial dedicated funding for tropical forest protection, international adaptation and clean technology. Also, come to Barcelona with greater willingness to take on legally binding commitments both on emissions reduction and finance, and lose your irrational allergy to a meaningful compliance regime.

Develop HATOYAMA INITITATIVE. Include substantial, additional and predictable funding and its supporting financial mechanisms. Make clear that your 25% below 1990 levels reduction target for 2020 will be met primarily through domestic action, and will be linked only to other Parties moving ahead on the agreements made in the Bali Action Plan (BAP), and not conditioned on mandatory emissions reduction commitments by major developing countries. Come to Barcelona with detailed negotiating positions that enable you to fully engage in negotiations.

Get your act together. Strengthen your laughably weak target of 3% reductions by 2020 to something that actually reflects the science. Find out about this strange thing people keep calling “finance” to figure out how you can contribute your “fair share” (yes, the BAP has 4 pillars). In addition, stop digging Kyoto’s grave and listen to other countries that actually care about legally-binding instruments.

New Zealand
Increase your target to 40% below 1990 levels: a range of 0% to 20% is not enough and you know it. Stress domestic mitigation – without it your pleas for changes to the rules on LULUCF, target setting and markets just look like wriggling out of a responsibility. Make some decisions on financing and come to the table in Barcelona with significant new finance additional to overseas development assistance. Stop using agriculture as an excuse for inaction. Drop your efforts to weaken the emissions trading scheme by making it intensity-based with no absolute cap

G77 & China
You put forward constructive proposals on technology and finance last year. But it has been a while since we have seen your detailed, joint proposals. Your stance in Bangkok was more reactive than proactive. You are rightly demanding a lot from this process in terms of mitigation, technology, finance and adaptation. And the minimum threshold for real negotiations has yet to be met by Annex I as a whole. But in response to Annex 1 proposals on finance and mitigation, you resorted to (the laudable role of) defending past commitments. The question is: How can you turn your common and well developed positionson finance and mitigation action into a more proactive role in Barcelona? It is now high time for you to take the lead by spelling out your vision of how nationally appropriate mitigation actions (NAMAs) should work, and submit them as textual amendments.

South Africa has provided a useful example with its “Life-cycle of NAMAs and MRV process” proposal circulated last night in Non-paper No. 20. As a constructive response to the divisive proposal on mitigation from the US, this has opened negotiating space and helped turn the tables. By elaborating details of the “NAMA machinery” – (How will emissions cuts be expressed? How will proposed cuts be matched with funding? – that will be required for a fair and ambitious deal in Copenhagen, you will lose nothing and gain important leverage in these talks. The homework for you is to study South Africa’s submission, and develop a proposal on NAMAs consistent with the Bali Action Plan that can propel real negotiations in Barcelona.

Norway Adopts 40%

Finally, a country has stepped up to adopt a target approaching the scale needed to avoid dangerous climate change. Congratulations Norway; your coalition Government’s target to reduce emissions by 40% below 1990 levels makes you the leader amongst Annex I countries.

This announcement has made ECO very happy. To be honest, we have been getting glum lately. Endless meetings – driven to the verge of pointlessness by negotiators constrained by a lack of political will back home – were taking its toll. Now, we finally have an example of the political will needed to move these negotiations forward. The big step up in Japan’s target from 8% emissions reduction below 1990 levels to 25%, even if not quite enough, is also cause for hope.

Norway’s target is an example of real leadership and a breath of fresh air. Even so, ECO urges Norway to make a strong commitment to domestic reductions and not just continue offsetting. But today is not the day to quibble.

So to the rest of Annex I countries, the challenge to your leaders is this: Are you going to match Norway’s target? You have less than a month to prove your calibre and bring a new, much stronger national target to Barcelona.

Saudi Back-to-Office Report

After returning from these negotiations, every delegation will have to write a Back-to-Office (BTO) report for their superiors. As some may find this task time consuming, ECO has decided to fill in the BTO template for the Saudi Arabian delegation in particular. This we hope will give them more time to rethink their positions here and make them more constructive in Barcelona and Copenhagen.

Saudi Arabia BTO Report for UNFCCC Bangkok Session
Submitted to Ministry of Petroleum – October 2009

Objective (Obj.) 1: Hinder the adaptation discussion
Achievement: We continued to link response measures to adaptation and to then equate Saudi Arabia to Least Developed Countries. But somehow the GDP difference undermined our argument.

Obj. 2: Exaggerate Saudi’s vulnerability to response measures
Achievement: We were making good progress, but an unexpected release of an International Energy Agency report proved that OPEC would actually make four times more money by 2030 under a 450ppm scenario (see table below). We tried to refute this in an interview but the journalists just did not buy it.

Obj. 3: Stall the process on procedural issues
Achievement: We blocked an extra informal negotiation session between Barcelona and Copenhagen. It was tough, since we were the only country that objected.

Obj. 4: Make sure the level of ambition is low
Achievement: Under Shared Vision, we said there was no need for a figure for the global goal. Unfortunately, we were the only country to promote this and it did not get picked up.

Obj. 5: Undermine the climate change science
Achievement: We said in a media interview that “developed countries are only using the guise of protecting the planet as a way to get at oil producers and reduce their dependency on oil imports.” Nevertheless, we REALLY need to stop doubting climate science, since there is almost total consensus on it and we did actually sign the Convention.

Number of Fossils Earned: Only two (but both in first place)
Comment: On this issue, we have performed below average due to the low level of ambition of developed countries which created fierce competition for fossils.

Overall Evaluation: The chances to reach an agreement in Copenhagen have been reduced substantially but mainly due to the low ambition of developed countries. This had double benefits for us. It helped us achieve our objectives and removed the spotlight from us.

Suggestions for Future Steps: We received positive remarks from Climate Action Network (CAN) members when we opposed nuclear energy and it actually felt good (although this was not our intention). Maybe in Barcelona we can bring our positions closer to CAN’s.

EU Blocks Green Deal on Forests

On Thursday, a new text on REDD left out vital wording on protecting natural forests
in the section on principles – safeguards. A host of nations from Ecuador and Brazil to India and the Philippines asked for its reinstatement on the grounds that protecting natural forests is what REDD is meant to be all about.

As Brazil said, if there is a single environmental safeguard that is required for REDD, it is to prevent the conversion of natural forests to plantations or other land use in order to avoid huge emissions and biodiversity loss. The facilitator considered that the point was well made and asked for permission to reinsert the text on conserving natural forests. He was opposed by the EU with the fuzzy explanation that this would create great instability in the negotiations.

ECO does not understand this objection to changing text in response to statements made in plenary on the contents of text. In fact, ECO is in general deeply disturbed by the EU’s behaviour on forests over the past two weeks. As a result of their failing to reach internal agreement on forest management in LULUCF,
the EU has allowed the worst possible accountancy options for forest management to be on the table for consideration. On REDD, the EU has blocked the inclusion of the most basic principle required to make REDD environmentally effective. So much for environmental integrity!

ECO wonders if the EU plans to insert something into the response measures text as their concern seems to be that the timber and oil palm industries might be badly hit by a REDD regime that seeks to conserve forests instead of converting them to plantations.

Dating and the Kyoto Process

In her blog entry on Wednesday, young Negotiator Tracker from India, Leela Raina, specifies 10 reasons why dating a male from an Annex I country does not appeal to her. A closer read will find some uncanny resemblance between her decision and the ongoing climate negotiations.

1. He is not willing to commit
Translation into negotiation language: Wants to shift emissions baseline from the year 1990 to 2005.

2. He takes more space in the relationship
Translation: Has a massively higher proportion of pollution.

3. He refuses to finance dinners
Translation: Can fund local solar projects but needs my help to scale up activities.

4. He hates my mother
Translation: Does not like principles and conditions imposed, and will not ratify them at any cost.

5. He does not let me use the TV remote or the computer
Translation: Makes it difficult to transfer technology

6. He would not save me if earthquakes or flash floods take place
Translation: Not reaching out with support for adaptation.

7. He does not follow through and is indecisive
Translation: Has different views all the time?

8. He is possessive and wants daily reports
Translation: Wants MRV on NAMA.

9. He has such a consumption-oriented lifestyle
Translation: Has an unsustainable lifestyle.

10. He would not make a good father
Translation: Does not care about protecting the environment for future generations.

For Leela to gain interest in Annex I men, their countries first need to play a more positive role in the negotiations. She asks: “So what do you say, dear Annex I negotiators? Are you willing to change, or not?”

Source: Adapted from adoptanegotiator.org

Scared of Commitment?

ECO is sure many delegates here have worked long into the night preparing an important paper for their political bosses. And we are sure many have also seen that same paper sit in in-trays for months without anyone doing anything about it.

Well, imagine how you would feel if you are the IPCC facing a six-year wait after all that hard work to finish the crucial Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) in 2013/14, and the beginning of a third commitment period in which countries will actually be able to respond. It is like asking a doctor for a full check up even if you have no intention to take the medicine or change your diet, no matter what they say.

None of us has a monopoly on knowledge and we all need to seek the best advice available. ECO reminds delegates of the core message of the IPCC in its last report – developed countries need to cut emissions by 25-40% by 2020 from 1990 levels for a chance to keep warming to 2.0 to 2.4oC.

In this regard, ECO hopes AR5 will create pathways for the world to keep global warming under 1.5oC and greenhouse gases under 350ppm. The world must be ready to respond quickly.

Surely a six-year gap between the IPCC report and response is unacceptable. ECO hopes those Parties pushing for an eight-year commitment period – including Switzerland, Canada, Iceland and Saudi Arabia – will go home and rethink their position before Barcelona.

Celebrate Public Participation

The Conference of Parties (COP) 15 in Copenhagen will be like no other COP we have seen. The stakes are higher than ever before and public attention to the conference will be unprecedented. As observers we have seen, historically, that as the stakes are raised the doors are more often closed than opened to our input and participation.

ECO believes that observers play a critical role in these negotiations. We represent millions of citizens in countries around the world. Our goals are simple: to listen to the people we represent and advocate for what they see as important. In this case, it is the urgent need for a fair and ambitious agreement that avoids catastrophic impacts of warming approaching 2oC, and puts us on a path towards a sustainable future.

Principle 10 of the Rio Declaration and Chapter 27 of Agenda 21 state that the best environmental decisions are made when the public is included and civil society participates. Accordingly, NGO participation is fundamental to the spirit of Rio and the success of the Convention.

ECO demands that Parties recognise transparency and public participation as key prerequisites to achieving a successful outcome in Copenhagen. We specifically note the need for NGO access to be ensured in upcoming sessions as the stakes get higher in the lead up to Copenhagen. This should include preserving and enhancing opportunities for civil society input through official interventions, submissions and consultations.

We observers in return will take on the difficult task of trying to tie the intense, focused and often surreal world of the negotiations to the hard facts of science and the reality of the outside world where the impacts of climate change are forcing their way into the lives of ordinary people. The seriousness of the issue, the urgency of the situation and the importance of the upcoming COP is a reason to increase, not decrease, the level of NGO participation in the climate change negotiations.

Fossil of the Day

8 October 2009

The European Union
The EU is awarded the first place and only Fossil for blocking text that would safeguard against the conversion of natural forests to plantations in REDD. This occurred at the Contact Group on 1b3 Thursday morning. This demonstrates a lack of concern about forest protection by the EU and further threatens the integrity of a REDD mechanism. Natural forests are far more valuable than plantations. The EU failed to recognise this.


Major industralised country, feeling isolated, seeks new friends. No commitments. Box US.

Beautiful tropical island, all amenities incl. abundant running water. For rent, short-term only. Box AOSIS.

Location sought for very large quantity bunker fuels. Current position untenable. Box ICAO/IMO.

Grand bracket sale, thousands of matching pairs, everything must go! Sale extended to 18th Dec. Box LCA/KP.

Will do anything for money. Shame not an issue. Box OPEC.

Lost – shared vision. Disappeared under large pile of national interests. Do not know what to do without it. Please help. Box UNFCCC.

Download file: http://ECO11.pdf

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