CAN News

Who Will Dance the 2018 INDC Tango?

With it rich history of dancing the tango, Argentina knows that, for a knockout show, leadership and collaboration are essential.

ECO is heartened by the Argentinean government’s decision to revise its INDC before 2018. They also appear to be betting on a clean energy future, as they just announced their first auction of 1GW of renewable energy capacity.

If we are to have any hope of  keeping warming below the 1.5°C upper limit, all Parties must scale up the ambition of their INDCs. Yet, countries are too reluctant to take the floor and signal their intention of increasing national ambition.

ECO appreciates the way in which Parties embraced the complex steps and turns for their debut INDC dance performance. Limited time and resources to pull them together—and in some cases insufficient buy-in from powerful finance and planning ministries—hampered the process.

Bearing in mind the global ambition gap, ECO demands that Parties don’t lapse into a melancholic slump to the sounds of a bandoneon, but rather stand up and implement the INDCs already on offer. The next two years are available to identify additional areas of mitigation and adaptation opportunities, and means of implementation support, through participatory and inclusive NDC processes.
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Making the Global Climate Action Agenda Shine

The prospects for COP22 in Marrakech could have been muted after the historic Paris COP. The news that the Moroccan presidency will make pre-2020 climate action the focus of COP22 made us giddy with delight!

With the Global Climate Action Agenda now formally recognised under the Paris Agreement, it can be strengthened based on the lessons learned in the first year. It was with joy that we learned that the champions for pre-2020 climate action-Laurence Tubiana and Hakima El Haité-plan to start consultations on the way forward next month.

Anxiety hit when we started getting mixed messages about the Action Agenda’s future. Is it to be a platform where any and all actions are shown? Or a platform where the most impressive initiatives are to be given due credit?

ECO has some ideas that could help as guiding principles to select/exclude initiatives for the Global Climate Action Agenda. We are certain that strong criteria, combined with a clear, efficient governance structure, should be applied to cooperative initiatives which include non-state and subnational actors. Guiding principles could be based on:

1. Significance: It is important that the initiatives have significant adaptation or mitigation benefits.

2. Transformational: The Action Agenda and TEP should represent the gold standard of initiatives that contribute to the system changes required for a low- to zero-carbon economy.
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ECO is thrilled that the first ever Technical Expert Meeting on Adaptation (TEM-A) is taking place today. The COP21 decision establishing the TEM-A not only helps to create some balance between mitigation and adaptation, but also puts greater emphasis on the gaps, needs, challenges, options and opportunities for adaptation implementation on the ground. This incorporates means of implementation, including for the improvement of climate information services, and understanding of scientific information at the national level and good practices for reducing vulnerability. This is an occasion to discover and exchange experiences from adaptation efforts in both developed and developing countries, by both Parties and non-state actors to build the adaptation pipeline for action.

The TEM-A should lead to real and concrete action on the ground. It should unlock adaptation finance, build capacity, transfer adaptation technology and build the pipeline for funded adaptation action. It is great that today’s TEM-A is kicking off the discussion, but ECO thought that it might be worth getting into the details and sharing ideas for the future.

Future adaptation TEMs could explore how to unlock support, community and ecosystem based approaches, synergies between mitigation and adaptation, adaptation in urban area, adaptation related to the built environment, adaptation based on learning from communities and indigenous peoples’ knowledge, all of which would help to inform and accelerate adaptation actions.
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Finally… Loss and Damage Discussions in Bonn

It’s great to see there is an official place to take up the issue of loss and damage at this Bonn session. Thanks to the Presidency for holding a special event on Tuesday afternoon! This is timely and urgent.

COP22 must deliver two outcomes related to the Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage (WIM) – its review and a new 5-year work plan. The review provides an opportunity to gather perspectives from governments and observers on whether the WIM lives up to the challenge and how it can be improved. ECO would like to remind negotiators that, in Paris, they agreed on the need to enhance action and support for addressing loss and damage. While there are discussions related to the timing of the review, we hope Parties will find a solution that allows for a substantive review including civil society input at a quick pace.

The 5-year work plan will shape the future trajectory of the WIM. Yet the implementation of the current work plan is not sufficiently advanced to draft well-founded recommendations. Should Parties agree on a skeleton of the 5-year work plan and provide further guidance next year? Or should they extend the current work plan and initiate substantive discussions on the way forward to be approved by COP23?
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Barro Blanco: Never Again

ECO is deeply concerned by the current developments in the Barro Blanco project in Panama, a hydroelectric dam registered under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) and financially backed by the German and Dutch development banks.

In 2015, Panama recognised that the Barro Blanco project had been approved in violation of the Ngäbe’s social and cultural rights. The government temporarily suspended the construction of the project. Later in the year, the government fined the project developer $775,000 for failing to negotiate with, relocate and compensate those affected by the dam.

How can it be that the dam is fully constructed, and still no agreement has been reached with the affected Ngäbe communities?

Just two days ago, Panama announced that it will “initiate the filling of the dam reservoir” today on May 24. While the government claims that the measure is “temporary and will allow for the necessary testing,” it will flood homes, schools, and religious sites and threaten the cultural heritage of the indigenous Ngäbe communities. The flooding will severely affect the Ngäbe’s territorial lands and means of subsistence, and will result in the forced relocation of several families.

Barro Blanco is a clear example of why human rights protections must be included in the newly established Sustainable Development Mechanism.
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Say goodbye in style: A Grand Farewell for HFC’s

Speed is vital when it comes to climate protection. Immediate action to cut HFCs could contribute much to keep the global temperature rise to under 1.5°C. Enacting a global phase-down of HFCs could yield up to 100 billion tonnes of emissions reductions by mid-century, and up to 200 billion tonnes if we make a parallel effort to improve the efficiency of the appliances using HFCs as refrigerants. Around the world, the vision for a future without HFCs is becoming a reality as governments move ahead with plans to phase down production and consumption under the Montreal Protocol.

ECO has some recommendations to MOP negotiators to ensure a fabulous going away party for HFCs this year:

  • Fix a time and date: We need a swift global agreement to address the consumption and production of HFCs. An extraordinary MOP is scheduled in Vienna (22-23 July) to finalise the HFC agreement, where Parties should seal the deal.
  • Set a party theme or mood: ECO suggests the theme “high ambition” for this gathering. Each guest has to come with the highest ambition. The resumed 37th and 38th OEWG meetings in Vienna just before the extraordinary MOP is the perfect place to lay the groundwork and prepare for the party.

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Loss & Damage: When Insurance Isn’t Enough

The world’s poorest and most vulnerable nations–who have done the least to cause climate change–are already mobilising resources to cope with the brunt of climate-related harm. When these countries call for finance to address loss and damage, it’s just another reminder that the burden has to be shared much more fairly. It should be paid for by the historical and big polluters – both corporations and states. However, some seem to lack an understanding of what we need L&D finance for.

Climate risk insurance, which allows vulnerable nations and people to transfer risk to bodies with more stable financial bases, is only one aspect of the L&D response. Financial commitments to these risk insurance pools are certainly welcome, but one-time donations are not enough. Developed countries can and must do more to support insurance schemes. They can’t be used as a way of shifting the responsibility and cost from polluters to the vulnerable. Contributions must be sustained, predictable, support the premiums of those who cannot afford them, and increase steadily as climate damage intensifies.

Insurance is not the be-all and end-all of an effective L&D response. By definition, non-economic losses and damages, like loss of life, culture and livelihoods, not to mention land, cannot easily be compensated by payouts.
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Confused on Conflicts (Of Interest)

ECO is confused. In last Wednesday’s SBI contact group on Arrangement for Intergovernmental Meetings (AIM), a number of Parties and civil society representatives raised concerns. While they recognise the importance of enhancing participation by observer organisations, they are concerned about the potential conflicts of interest that may arise when the UNFCCC engages with observers with a commercial interest. Parties requested that rules on conflicts of interest be established to protect the integrity of the UNFCCC.

Attempting to meet Parties’ concerns on Thursday, the Secretariat set out the rules in place for both the observer admission process and the UNFCCC’s engagement with the private sector (respectively UNFCCC Rules of Procedure and the UN Guidelines on Cooperation between the United Nations and the Business Sector). But, here’s the tension: neither address conflicts of interest.

So, how is the UNFCCC identifying and addressing conflicts of interest of potential observers? Now you see why we’re confused.

But we’re also worried. The Paris Agreement swings the door wide open to non-state actors, including the private sector, to enhance climate action and engage in the policymaking process. While the objectives of the UNFCCC are to protect people and the planet from the effects of climate change, and therefore act for the common good, the private sector’s objectives are first and foremost to maximise profits.
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A Busy Agenda For the New “Climate Queen”

ECO wants to provide a hearty welcome to Ambassador Patricia Espinosa to replace everyone’s favourite Tica.

The incoming UNFCCC head as a highly respected diplomat, who thoroughly knows the climate issue and appreciates how fundamental trust and an inclusive approach are for progress. However, diplomacy is not enough. We need ambition, equity and means of implementation. And we need them fast!

The 2018 facilitative dialogue is the ideal moment for countries to bring their NDCs in line with the 1.5°C goal of the Paris Agreement. Espinosa can champion early ratification and early entry into force. But she will mindfully ensure that finance pledges made by wealthy nations must be adequate to fund mitigation and adaptation actions in developing countries. She’ll need to help build the critical review and reporting system on whether countries are meeting their commitments. And she’ll be dealing with some tough customers – national industries and private companies pushing back against the rapid low-carbon transition that we so urgently need.

The role of non-state actors in implementing the Agreement—especially indigenous peoples, NGOs, cities and the private sector—will be essential. Espinosa must commit to continue making the UNFCCC more inclusive and participatory.

The Mexican government and national NGOs alike are delighted with the news of Espinosa’s nomination.
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Are We Really Headed There?

ECO welcomes the G7 environment ministers’ commitment to develop and communicate their long-term low-GHG emission development strategies “as soon as possible” and before 2020. The G7 should also show leadership by using good long-term planning to bid our carbon-based economies a rapid retirement. Here are six key steps they should take:

1. Take action now

Financial planning 101 is easy: you can’t wait until you’re old to start preparing for retirement! The G7 needs to commit to developing their long-term low-GHG emissions strategies this year, and call for the other G20 members to do the same by 2018. By respecting this timeline, the collective impact of the decarbonisation strategies are an important step towards the 2018 facilitative dialogue. This provides the basis for assessing the revised NDCs being put forward no later than 2020, on the basis of equity and the latest science.

2. Plan consistently with your objectives

If Parties are truly committed to keeping temperature increases well below 1.5ºC, then immediate action in all sectors and long-term development trajectories need to be consistent with this goal.

3. Maximise co-benefits

Long-term decarbonisation strategies are key in achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement, and come with the added bonus of co-benefits.
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