Tag: bonn

EU Fast Start Finance Update

At their side event yesterday, the EU presented a preliminary report on meeting its Copenhagen fast start finance pledge.  The European Commission and seven Member States announced, in response to a question, the following definitions of how their pledge is 'new and additional': * European Commission:  Money that was part of the EU budget margin, so not originally programmed 2010-2012. * Finland:  A net increase in funding for climate change projects, part of increasing ODA appropriations. * UK:  Part of a rising ODA budget. * Germany:  Money that comes from new and innovative sources (such as EU ETS auction revenues) and money that is additional to a 2009 baseline. * France:  Ongoing climate change activities are not counted as fast start, only new activities are counted. * Sweden:  From the budget over and above 0.7% GNI provided as ODA. * Netherlands:  0.1% above 0.7% GNI provided as ODA. * Spain:  'Fresh' money. ECO wasn't satisfied with the answers, since climate finance should be new and additional to the targets developed countries have set to increase ODA to at least 0.7% GNI, so that the development gains of recent years are not reversed.  Al the same, this is a welcome first step towards the transparency civil society and delegates need to hold them to account for their promises. ECO calls on the other 20 EU Member States as well as all other developed country Parties to come clean about the baselines for additionality that they are using. Only then can the debate about defining a fair common baseline for additionality really begin. Nobody would trust pledged cuts in emissions without a standard baseline. It's time for these Parties to recognise that the same is true of finance commitments.

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Advancing the New Delhi Work Programme

With all the talk of finance gaps and gigatonne gaps, there has been much more progress in closing the climate-education-and-awareness gap.  Now there is an opportunity to go even further in the SBI. The New Delhi Work Programme adopted at COP 8 under Article 6 of the Convention comprises a promising set of commitments. The pillars of education, public participation and awareness-raising help to combat an atmosphere of climate denial and skepticism. Without a critical mass of public understanding and support to address the threats of climate change and the opportunities of clean energy development, the gap between the negotiations today and a fair ambitious, and binding global deal could become a chasm. The upcoming mid-term review of the New Delhi programme is a unique chance to build bridges between governments and citizens. That will only happen if civil society has the opportunity to fully contribute to the review along with Parties. This can best be realized by amending the New Delhi Work Programme to extend beyond 2012 and strengthen it to provide more local and regional climate education. Elements required include creating financial mechanisms specifically to fund Article 6 activities, recognizing and supporting youth organizations as key providers of non-formal and peer education, and supporting the diversity of forms that public awareness building can take, including arts, entertainment and both 'online' and 'real-life' social networks. The SBI should call for civil society as well as Party submissions on the review of the New Delhi Work Programme. Similarly, the Secretariat should receive a broad mandate to conduct its review of the work programme with as much civil society participation as possible. Parties should also provide the financial means to enable the Secretariat to organize regional workshops on the implementation of Article 6 in the SIDS and Africa. Previous workshops have been invaluable in communicating the objectives of Article 6. These regions deserve that resource, too. Because it is less controversial of a gap to cross than finance or emissions commitments, it should be easy for Parties to agree on filling voids in climate awareness as a step toward bigger things.

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Fast Start Needed for 1,5 Review

Earlier this week during a SBSTA contact group, a group of countries particularly vulnerable to climate change requested a workshop and technical report by Cancun on the costs and opportunities of mitigation to limit global temperature rise to below 1.5 o C. The report could draw on recent scientific studies in advance of forthcoming IPCC scenarios, and equip Parties with an early look well ahead of 2015 at the options available when they deliberate the long-term temperature goal under the LCA. Since many governments with a view to adopting 1.5o C as the long-term goal agreed the Copenhagen Accord in part because of the promised review of 1.5 by 2015, there should be a lot of support for getting the ball rolling. Perhaps not to our surprise, however, there are quite few a developed countries coming up with all sorts of excuses why such a report can or should not be done by Cancun – we don’t have enough time, the UNFCCC can't do this, it is in the wrong agenda item, etc. But ECO has to ask this: Why would parties raise excuses against assessing the most recent scientific research? Could such a report present some inconvenient truths? The UNFCCC cannot be serious about a long-term goal unless it is informed about the underlying science and all the resulting options.  A study on actions associated with limiting temperature rise to 1.5 o C would be well in line with the precautionary principle under the Convention.  But therein lies the problem -- that would involve Parties agreeing to align ongoing deliberations more firmly with the principles of the Convention, which has been a bit of a challenge lately.  We eagerly await the draft conclusions from the SBSTA contact group on Agenda Item 9, and for evidence that vulnerable countries' pleas wont fall on deaf ears again.

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Deja vu? Or a renewed focus...

And now we’re all here again, what is it that needs to be accomplished?

Clearly, on the KP track lamentably little progress has bee made over the past four years. ECO suggests that the following issues must be agreed this year, as a priority:

  • LULUCF accounting rules – Annex I countries must stop trying to hide emissions from forest management and commit to reduce them instead.
  • CDM/JI/emissions trading modalities – These must be revamped to avoid double counting of mitigation and financial support obligations, and to keep inappropriate sectors, such as nuclear and CCS, out of the CDM.
  • New sources and sectors and other accounting rules around them (the “other issues”) should include new gases to the extent that is technically possible, and use the new IPCC AR4 global warming potential (GWP) measures over the 100 year timescale.
  • The commitment period length, base year and the other modalities that will define the calculation of the quantified emission reduction obligation (QERO) and assigned amount from country pledges (here's a free hint! correct answers for the first two are: 5 years, 1990).

When the KP was first negotiated, Parties agreed targets first, and the following years turned into excruciating negotiation exercises that ended up agreeing a series of loopholes. ECO has long maintained that the rules should be negotiated first, so that the science-indicated reduction target of at least 40% on 1990 levels by 2020 can be fairly shared between the Annex B Parties.

For this reason, negotiating time in Bonn and for the intersessionals should be concentrated on clearing these issues, so that the targets and then the discussion on QEROs can be resolved rationally and equitably, based on a clear and common understanding of the underlying scope and rules of accounting. In the short term, then, negotiating time should be concentrated on resolving the issues listed above.

In the LCA track, a balanced agreement is needed by Cancún, with each of the Bali Action Plan building blocks being addressed. In Copenhagen, the LCA negotiating texts on adaptation, technology and REDD+ were well advanced, and agreement should be possible on these issues this year. Additionally, finance, MRV and low carbon development plans should be among the agreements reached this year.

Adaptation

Most Parties seem to agree that progress can be made in Bonn on the design of an adaptation framework for implementation. However, developed countries should stop resisting a firm institutional link that ensures the provision of regular, reliable and truly additional grant-based finance needed to make this framework a real implementation action tool.

Bonn II could also achieve greater clarity on the enhancement, establishment, composition and role of regional centres and initiatives as well as the proposed establishment of an adaptation committee. Another issue that must advance is how to address unavoidable loss and damage from climate change impacts when adaptation is not longer a viable option, e.g., when water resources disappear due to shrinking glaciers and livelihoods become untenable. Progress in Bonn would be achieved if Parties clearly recognise the need for an international mechanism to address loss and damage, and identify key substantive issues to be addressed in subsequent sessions.

Technology

Technology negotiations have progressed enough that areas of clear convergence can be identified, especially regarding the establishment of a technology mechanism. More clarity is required to ensure that it operates within UNFCCC authority and principles. Other areas to be further clarified are the role of regional innovation centres, as well as criteria for MRV for technology support and actions that may take place outside the UNFCCC mechanism. Negotiators should be willing to show more flexibility regarding intellectual property issues, acknowledging the valid concerns of all parties, while focusing on a solution that will preserve incentives for innovation and ensure and expand production of, and access to, climate technologies for mitigation and adaptation.

REDD+

While ECO understands and agrees that reliable and adequate long-term funding is essential, goals for REDD and the conservation and enhancement of carbon stocks remain essential. There should also be a finance goal for support, either a specific range – a number of studies have indicated that halving emissions by 2020 would cost $15-35 billion in 2020 – or simply an agreement to finance achievement of the carbon-related goals. It is crucial to move on this now given the speed of REDD negotiations and the launch of the REDD+ partnership for fast-start financing last week.

Successful mitigation outcomes from REDD+ activities by developing countries,  supported by developed countries, depends on using improved methodological guidance for estimating emissions by sources and removals by sinks. SBSTA needs to progress this issue.

Climate integrity is not the only concern for REDD+ activities; safeguards not only need to be agreed, but the LCA text needs to operationalize them.

Finance

Climate finance can be a valuable opportunity to build some momentum in a process that needs a shot in the arm. Here in Bonn, parties should set ambitious goals for finance outcomes in Cancún, whether or not a comprehensive deal is agreed by then. To be more precise, by Cancún parties can finalize decisions covering finance MRV, governance and institution, and make substantial progress on operationalizing sources of finance to mobilize funding at the scale needed.

But it must be decided here in Bonn to achieve this by Cancún, and that means a negotiating text must be developed that will result in this outcome. ECO gives fair warning: for any parties thinking of blocking progress on finance because they didn’t get what they want in other areas, it's time to open eyes to the bright light of negotiating reality.

MRV

ECO recognizes the crucial role of gathering, in a consistent and comparable way, accurate information relating to emission reduction activities undertaken by Parties, as well as the support provided. Indeed, this is central to the integrity of the climate regime. Thus, it is vital to continue discussions on the nature of MRV, in particular its scope and architecture, that is tailored to Parties’ differentiated obligations.  In so doing, Parties should agree a process at this meeting to elaborate the main issues associated with MRV. Additionally, Parties should give the Chair a mandate to develop text on MRV for this and future negotiations. Parties should also consider how to provide capacity building and support to construct and maintain domestic reporting and verification systems in non-Annex I countries.

Zero- and Low-Carbon Action Plans

As part of the essential process to build trust among Parties through transparency of action, ECO would like to highlight the need to agree by Cancún that both developed and developing countries (with optional participation by LDCs and SIDS) will produce national plans showing how developed countries can get their emissions to near-zero by 2050, and how developing countries can reduce their emissions -- with support from developed countries as defined and agreed previously, including the Convention and the Bali Action Plan -- in line with the required overall global carbon budget.

Time for action is so short, there is no time to lose, and actions are needed now in line with the scientific imperative. There is much that can progress at the multilateral level this year. In Bonn, Parties must build upon progress in the LCA and KP tracks to date and define the expectations for a balanced and ambitious outcome in Cancún.

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Developed countries should produce Zero Carbon Action Plans (ZCAPs) to map out the institutions and policies needed for them to achieve their targets under a five-year commitment period, with the longer-term aim of near-total decarbonization by 2050.  ZCAPs would also serve to document how each country proposes to achieve their support obligations to developing countries.  Both parts of the ZCAP would be subject to MRV procedures to help ensure the environmental integrity of the deal and also to give all countries increased confidence that others will not free-ride.  The long-term component allows countries to begin to develop a long-term vision for their economies and to plan for related socioeconomic transition. The reporting, review and compliance components of the ZCAP proposal are therefore essential to the integrity of the overall deal and giving confidence that targets will be met.

Developing countries, over the short to medium run and depending on capacity, will produce visionary low-carbon action plans (LCAPs) that provide a road map and outline a trajectory for their pathway to a low-carbon and climate-resilient economy, clearly linking development and climate goals to achieve sustainable development.  These plans should be developed through a bottom-up, country-driven process and should build upon national plans for adaptation and mitigation, recognizing the linkages already in place in many countries between these issues.  They should provide an integrated framework where a country's NAMAs can form a coherent package.  These NAMAs would then form essential building blocks of a LCAP, and together their cumulative impact should result in the long-term objective of a low-carbon economy as well as stay within atmospheric limitations.  Mitigation efforts together with adaptation all contribute towards the overall LCAP.

ZCAPs and LCAPs link to a number of existing agenda items.  They are in the LCA text and are also relevant in the MRV discussions (MRV mitigation on non-Annex I, Annex I, the “firewall” between them, and MRV finance).  Because ECO sees them as being related to national communications, but forward- rather than backward-looking, SBI agenda items 3 and 4 (national communications for developed and developing countries) are also relevant.

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LULUCF: good rules before targets?

ECO has always called for “rules before targets” when it comes to land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF). We certainly don't want to repeat the mistakes of Kyoto, when LULUCF rules were negotiated specifically to allow countries to meet their emissions reduction targets, rather than to aid in climate change mitigation or adaptation.  In that light, it makes sense for the Chair of the AWG-KP to call for rules to be finalized.

While ECO applauds the push to finalize text here in Bonn, agreeing the current LULUCF proposal would be even worse than the status quo. The proposal currently tabled would frame rules that actually allow countries to increase emissions and not account for them. This will seriously undermine targets for Annex I countries before they are even finalised. We assume this isn’t what the Chair of the Kyoto Protocol really wants to see.  In fact, it contrasts rather dramatically with the approach being proposed for REDD, which starts from the assumption of emissions reductions from non-Annex I countries.

Forest management accounting rules on the table from Copenhagen allow countries to hide or ignore substantial increased emissions from forest management in their baselines. Around 400 MT annually could be released without being accounted for, equivalent to 5% of the total 1990 emissions of all Annex I parties, and a significant fraction of their proposed reductions post-2012.

Instead, what we need is a strong and unambiguous commitment to deliver emissions reductions and increases in removals in this sector, in the form of a goal in the LULUCF framework. We also need to see protection for existing forest carbon stocks. We urge all parties to consider the consequences of enshrining hidden emissions increases into a climate deal and to instead move rapidly to reduce emissions from land use, land use change and forestry.

ECO has always called for “rules before targets” when it comes to land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF). We certainly don't want to repeat the mistakes of Kyoto, when LULUCF rules were negotiated specifically to allow countries to meet their emissions reduction targets, rather than to aid in climate change mitigation or adaptation.  In that light, it makes sense for the Chair of the AWG-KP to call for rules to be finalized.

While ECO applauds the push to finalize text here in Bonn, agreeing the current LULUCF proposal would be even worse than the status quo. The proposal currently tabled would frame rules that actually allow countries to increase emissions and not account for them. This will seriously undermine targets for Annex I countries before they are even finalised. We assume this isn’t what the Chair of the Kyoto Protocol really wants to see.  In fact, it contrasts rather dramatically with the approach being proposed for REDD, which starts from the assumption of emissions reductions from non-Annex I countries.

Forest management accounting rules on the table from Copenhagen allow countries to hide or ignore substantial increased emissions from forest management in their baselines. Around 400 MT annually could be released without being accounted for, equivalent to 5% of the total 1990 emissions of all Annex I parties, and a significant fraction of their proposed reductions post-2012.

Instead, what we need is a strong and unambiguous commitment to deliver emissions reductions and increases in removals in this sector, in the form of a goal in the LULUCF framework. We also need to see protection for existing forest carbon stocks. We urge all parties to consider the consequences of enshrining hidden emissions increases into a climate deal and to instead move rapidly to reduce emissions from land use, land use change and forestry.

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City preps and countries posture ahead of Copenhagen talks

As Copenhagen prepares for December, a strange combination of Christmas lights, clean energy expos, evergreen wreaths, and security barriers have begun to crop up around the city.  It's an exciting time to be in Copenhagen reflecting on a year of intense pressure, activity, and engagement around the world.

Over the past several months (and years), a growing movement has coalesced around the conference here next month and it's hard to believe it's finally almost here.  In June, the sleepy German town of Bonn saw hundreds of activists descend in the rain upon the normally quiet Subsidiary Bodies negotiations at the UNFCCC's home.  Thousands around the world participated in the September 21 Global Wakeup Call.  Then in Bangkok in October thousands marched outside the UNESCAP building calling for climate action.  October 24th saw the most widespread day of environmental action in the planet's history, spearheaded by 350.org, with over 5000 even in 181 countries around the world.

And now, rumors of tens of thousands are looming on Copenhagen, including, by my count so far, at least 15 Heads of State who have committed to attending the talks (although Yvo de Boer said in Barcelona that he expects at least 40).

The last time I wrote, it was a dark and gloomy day in Copenhagen.  But today was beautiful - the sun was out, the weather warm, and the bustle on the street was electric.

The last time I wrote, I was convincing myself, and others, that all was not lost for December.  Now, on this bright and sunny day, I'm as convinced as ever that world leaders can achieve an ambitious outcome in Copenhagen if they try.

Even in the past week, we've seen movement around the world.  The Alliance of Small Island states continue to raise its collective voice of conscience against a weak outcome in Copenhagen.  We've heard that the Chinese would be willing to bring a number to the table in Copenhagen.  We've seen South Korea confirm a voluntary emissions reduction target of 30 percent below business as usual by 2020.  The European Union has said that it would like a binding agreement in Copenhagen.  France and Brazil came out with a "climate bible" - an agreement between two nations to work together on climate change.  This follows Brazil's previous announcement of voluntary emissions cuts of 36-39% by 2020 below business as usual in a "political gesture" some weeks ago.

Even the Danish government, which had caused so many hearts to sink with its proposal of a "politically binding" outcome in Copenhagen, seemed to change its tune...if only just a bit.  The Danish Minister for Climate and Energy, Connie Hedegaard (who will chair the negotiations in December), spoke in a press briefing at the close of the preparatory meeting last week, assuring the world that her aim is a legally binding outcome from the negotiations.

Finally, eyes continue to focus on the US.  In the joint announcement between the US and China, President Obama indicated his team could bring further commitments to the table in Copenhagen.  As Copenhagen creeps towards December, the question remains, will Obama come to Copenhagen?...and if so, will he come bearing gifts or a lump of coal?

Bonn III: Anyone Remember Environmental Integrity?

From where ECO sits, Annex I nations seem increasingly committed to wiping countries off the face of the map. Their obstinate refusal to reduce emissions in line with a finite global emissions budget threatens the very survival of a number of countries, through sea level rise, or through impacts that will make them uninhabitable.
The compilation of pledged reductions for Annex I countries, presented by Micronesia on Wednesday's KP numbers session, so far adds up to an aggregate reduction by 2020 of -16% at best, and possibly as low as -10%, on 1990 levels. This is only a third to a quarter of what is needed for a number of nations to have a chance of simply surviving the fossil age.Even based on estimates prepared by the Secretariat, pledges only add up to 13-21% cuts on 1990 levels by 2020 - and these don't include the weak proposed US targets, which would further drag down the total. What's more, these figures are actually worse than the dismal estimates provided by the Secretariat in June. It seems some countries aren't worried at all - Japan for example told negotiators that they shouldn't think failing to reach the 25-40% range is wrong.
India has told Canada to do some soul-searching: ECO thinks all developed countries should do a great deal of soul-searching. Have they thought about the temperature rises their targets imply? Do they delude themselves that they will be immune from the consequences? Do they want to see global warming spiral out of control as the Amazon dies back and the Siberian permafrost thaws? Are they happy with the idea of a 4 or 5 degree warmer world - one perhaps unable to support a mere 1 billion people? Russia is clearly untroubled: when asked for its peak emissions date, Russia replied "that's a very good question." ECO wouldn't mind an answer.
Current aggregate pledges don't even scrape the bottom end of the IPCC's 25-40% range on 1990 levels by 2020 for developed countries, let alone the more than 40% cuts on 1990 by 2020, which, along with the small matter of $100bn per year of public mitigation finance for developing countries, is needed to be reasonably confident of keeping global warming well below 2 degrees.
And Annex I countries don't actually intend to reduce their domestic emissions even on the scale they have so far proposed, but rather to offset much of this effort through CDM and novel mechanisms, and to hide emissions through dodgy LULUCF rules. New Zealand told the KP that they wanted access to every kind of offset. This sends a message to developing countries that low carbon development is a contradiction in terms, too costly even for rich countries. Is that really the message they want to send?
Of course rich countries will cry poor and say that deeper cuts just aren't economically feasible. But we all know this is nonsense. For Australia - one of the most carbon intensive economies in the world - the government's own modelling showed that their top 2020 target of 24% below 1990 levels would only shave about 0.1 percentage points off their real per capita growth. So Australians would have to wait until about 2054 to be as rich as they would have been in 2050. But bear in mind that in this scenario the average Australian would still be more than one and a half times richer than they are today. Other less carbon-intensive economies would find it even easier to make changes. Developing countries are entitled to ask why the rich countries won't take the need for deep cuts seriously. Rich countries get richer while poor countries drown.

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