CAN News

Ambition: Don’t Leave Paris Without It

As we move into the final hours of the climate negotiations here in Paris, the outcome could go one of two ways. We will either achieve a Paris agreement that accelerates the transition to a global economy based on 100% renewable energy, allows us to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, and helps vulnerable countries cope with the impacts they are already experiencing. Or we will leave Paris with a least common denominator agreement that sees important elements left on the cutting room floor. ECO insists that ministers overcome their differences and work together to craft the ambitious, effective, and balanced agreement that the world expects, needs and demands.

Such an agreement must include a reference to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees and a long-term goal that makes it clear to investors, businesses, and citizens that the fossil fuel age is over, and the transition to the age of renewables is unstoppable. It must include five-year cycles for review and revision of INDCS, with the first review by the end of this decade. With continued declines in the costs of renewable energy and efficiency technologies, all countries should be in position to increase the level of ambition of their initial INDCs before they are finalized in the new agreement.
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Cheat Sheet for Putting Us on the Path to a Safe, Just Climate Future Ambition Mechanism

Ambition Mechanism

To Keep!
Look at INDCs in 2019/20 (paras 20, 23, 24) with 5 yearly stocktaking of actions (Art. 10)
Submission of new NDC every five years on common timeframes from 2030 (Article 3.8 and 3.9) with no backsliding (Art. 3.3) and each new NDC “should” be a progression over the  previous one (Articles 3.6)

To Be Improved!
Delete “in the period after 2025 and 2030”; current INDCs need to be improved (para 17)
Facilitative dialogue (para 20) to happen in 2018 to give clear guidance on scaling up INDCs.
Parties to revisit and revise upwards their 2030 targets (para 23, 24)

Equity, Fairness and Differentiation

To Keep!
Differentiation reflected in Operative Articles, a good starting point
Article 2 in context of CBDR & RC
Global stocktake in context of equity and science
To Be Improved!
2bis must not be deleted
Progression text should mention both CBDR&RC and stages of development to achieve balance  Article 2: the Paris Agreement should be “implemented on the basis of” equity, CBDRB, and national circumstances
Article 3.1 also mention stages of development.

Human Rights and Environmental Integrity Principles

To Keep!
Environmental Integrity and avoidance of double-counting (Art. 3.12, 3.20); no double-counting in 3terr.
Technology Needs Assessment, including socially and environmentally sound”” criteria (D.77(d)
To Be Improved!
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‘Round Midnight

As ECO went to press, the Committée de Paris had just resumed its work again. The outcome of the final round of negotiations is still uncertain. That need not stand in the way of a hard-nosed analysis of the new text, though, with the really big issues still left to be decided. Overall, ambiguity is the mot de vogue with several decisions still bracketed yesterday now ‘simply’ postponed. ECO makes a final plea to ministers and their heads of state, who will be asked to weigh in at the last minute:

Parties chose to land in the ‘well below 2°C’ zone, while still pursuing a 1.5°C warming limit. This is, however, not compatible with GHG emission neutrality somewhere in the second half of this century. Full decarbonisation, with no tricks (like non-permanent offsetting and geoengineering), is needed and should be what those who claim to be ambitious fight for!

The endless variations in the new text trying to reframe the Convention’s preambular ‘common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities and their social and economic conditions,’ [ECO’s emphasis] are a reflection of a genuine global struggle to come to terms with new realities. ECO does not romanticise the past, nor ignore historical responsibilities.

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An Ounce of Prevention Is Worth a Pound of Cure

Some countries (including Saudi Arabia) have questioned the scientific basis for the need to limit temperature increases to 1.5°C. ECO would like to remind everyone, but especially these countries, that Article 3.3 of the Convention (remember it?) states that ‘Parties should take precautionary measures to anticipate, prevent or minimise the causes of climate change and mitigate its adverse effects. Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty should not be used as a reason for postponing such measures’. ECO calls upon Parties to enhance their implementation of the Convention to fulfil this agreed mandate.

Carbon Markets: All Cards on the Table

The new draft text still features brackets around the sustainable development mechanism provision. Decisions to be made in the next 24 hours include whether offsetting will be allowed (please, NO!), whether developed countries will be able to play the offset generation game, accounting rules, guiding principles and a share of proceeds for climate finance purposes.

ECO suggests:

  • Disallowing the use of offsetting. To achieve the 1.5C goal, we need to focus on emissions reductions
  • Enhancing inclusion of ’environmental integrity‘. by inclusion of the additional principles‚ real, permanent, verified and supplemental for any international exchange of mitigation outcomes under this mechanism
  • Elaborating how to avoid double counting. ensuring a corresponding adjustment by both Parties for an exchange of mitigation outcomes covered by their ###
  • Establishing eligibility rules to participate in carbon markets. If offsetting is to be allowed (against ECO’s stern advice) developed countries should definitely not compete with developing counties for project financing. It would be inequitable. Use of international credits should be supplemental to ambitious national action. Only countries with absolute, multi-year targets (budgets) should be allowed to engage in markets
  • Aachieving sustainable development.  Given the goal of the mechanism is to support sustainable development, there should be a work program agreed to develop modalities for sustainable development indicators and a ‘do no harm’ assessment.

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Response Measures: Lost in Transition

Developed countries in the Convention must ‘take into consideration’ the impacts of the ‘response measures’ [in 4-2-8(h) and 4-2-10]. An interpretation is that victims of mitigation measures such as energy efficiency or alternative energy policies in the North could be compensated for decreased sales. This idea, regularly put forward in the UNFCCC by the Saudi Arabia, is mostly seen as an insult to vulnerable countries such as SIDS, where impacts of climate change are of a much greater magnitude.

Now that a wave of energy transition is sweeping the world, with 100 big cities and 43 vulnerable countries committing to 100% renewable energy, and insistence that oil should stay in the ground, no Party can be seen as responsible for lost sales of oil products. Markets, recent technologies and individual actions by citizens or businesses are responsible for this development, not Parties.

This concept shouldn’t be a laughing matter anymore. Diversification by fossil fuel dependent industries or countries is not only necessary for the climate. It also makes business sense.  A new article in the draft (4-9-e former 4-9-f in L6), applicable to all Parties, insists on ‘resilience of socio-economic systems’ and on ‘economic diversification’.

Fortunately, some progress is being made on this unilaterally.
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Checklist for 1.5°C

ECO is happy to hear so many Parties supporting a 1.5°C temperature limit. To see if these Parties are serious about 1.5°C, ECO will be looking at the following points:

  • first round of review in 2018 to improve current INDCs of developed countries and enable implementation of conditional INDCs of developing countries
  • stronger action before 2020, including enhanced implementation of pre-2020 commitments
  • long-term global goal of phasing out all fossil fuel emissions by 2050 leading towards 100% renewable energy with access for all
  • review of INDCs and means of implementation every 5 years
  • provision of adequate and predictable finance

Let’s Agree We’re Lost and Damaged

The negotiations on the Paris Agreement have reached crunch time, and ECO is concerned that the crucial issue of loss and damage might be crunched at the last minute, as the Thursday text contains several options on loss and damage. ECO is hearing that there have been some constructive discussions in the last days. At the same time, some Parties are insisting on red lines on aspects that others have not even put to the forefront.

Just a reminder what we are talking about:  In broad terms, loss and damage is harm resulting from climate change that cannot be adapted to. That’s why we don’t think it makes much sense to deal with it as a subset of adaptation, although there are linkages. Extreme weather events like hurricanes and floods are what catch the greatest attention in the media, but it also includes ‘slow onset events’ like sea level rise, which are likely to make life worse for many more vulnerable people over the coming decades than extreme weather. It also covers permanent events like loss of land.

Loss and damage is of current and growing importance, which makes it a vital component of a climate agreement that sets the framework for the future.
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Midnight in Paris, and the Morning After

The appeal of Paris, the City of Light and Love, is enormous. Up to 40,000 people came here to claim their fair share of the Paris Agreement. But the story of Paris is not only a story of love and light. In recent weeks, Paris has also shown its resilience in the face of terror. ECO wishes to remember the lives lost in Paris, Beirut, and countless other tragedies.

We need to lift the veil of romantic mystery surrounding the draft Paris Agreement and the package of decisions. On this morning after, ministers have to look each other in the eye over breakfast, in the bright light of day, and remember they are now in this relationship for the long haul. The text presented on Wednesday afternoon by French Foreign Minister Fabius, based on the work of the ADP and after four days of consultations among governments at the total exclusion of civil society, resembles a weak pre-nuptial prepared by lawyers, not a strong declaration of love. It starkly lays out important choices that need to be made today!

We urge all to accept the science: staying below 1.5°C is critical to avoid the high risks for people and nature associated with any higher warming.

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Holiday Plans Until 2023/24?

ECO was excited to see emerging convergence among Parties on five-year cycles in the new text. But ECO has one simple, but very important, question: when does it start? We are not on track to stay below even 2°C. We also know that without increasing the ambition of INDCs before implementation in 2020, the 1.5°C door will rapidly close.

We need a review of INDCs in 2018 and a re-submission pre-2020. Yet paragraphs 24 and 25 set the date for submitting or updating INDCs at 2020 or 2021. These paragraphs only do half the job. Those with 2030 targets are invited to ‘confirm or update’ them, but those with 2025 targets seem to be off the hook. Their 2020-25 efforts get no mention and instead they are invited to put forward a new (2030) target.

The first round of review would have to happen before 2020, so we can update insufficient INDCs that currently lock us into a 3°C pathway. The current weak ‘facilitative dialogue’ in the decision text has to be strengthened. To allow for this first round in 2018, we should also look back and assess how well developed countries have implemented their pre-2020 commitments through a process of accelerated implementation.
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