CAN News

Cycles, cycles, cycles

While ECO daydreams about cycling along the Rhine into the sunset, the EU seems confused about how cycles move us forward. On one hand, the EU supports stock-takes of mitigation ambition in 5-year cycles. But on the other, it’s against synchronising commitment periods with these 5-year cycles, and has no 2025 target.

Now, a review cycle that is not linked to a decision-making moment lacks credibility and becomes a weak mechanism to increase ambition. All cyclists know that if you want to move up a gear, you need momentum and a mechanism that works.

Common and regular target end dates create political moments. To see that others are zooming forward can drive countries to go further on new updated targets. Without 2025 targets, the EU risks locking in low ambition. A deal in Paris won’t increase ambition over time if it’s based on cycles with missing parts. Just like a bicycle without pedals, a cycle without a mechanism that obliges countries to go faster won’t accelerate decarbonisation!

Some EU leaders supported a phase-out goal at the G7 and the Petersberg Dialogue. This goal has to go in tandem with meaningful short-term cycles – particularly because the goal they have set requires faster progress down the global path to becoming 100% fossil free and phasing-in 100% renewables. In that context, 5 year commitment periods make a 2050 goal mean something.

What is an encyclical?

“Laudato Si” or “Praised be You” is the title of the much anticipated encyclical from Pope Francis, which will be somewhat longer than ECO and just as devoted to the future of our planet and people.   It will talk not only about climate but broadly of the environment and human development. Anticipated for release on the 18th of June, it will explore the relationship between care for creation and concern for the poor. It will help Catholics and all people, Heads of States and governments to rediscover the spiritual roots of ecology, and it will remind us all of our common moral imperative to act and have an ambitious long-term goal to reducing emissions.

The encyclical is being released ahead of both of the key UN negotiations on sustainable development and climate. In his message to COP20 in Lima, Pope Francis noted the “clear, definitive and ineluctable ethical imperative to act.” In the event, the outcome of COP20 fell short of ECO’s expectations. Pope Francis too described the results as “nothing great” and showing a distinct lack of “political will”.

Integral ecology, as the basis for justice and development in the world, requires a new global solidarity, one in which everyone has a part to play and every action, no matter how small, can make a difference.
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Assurance about insurance

It’s a relief to see that G7 leaders didn’t entirely forget about climate impacts. They seem to remember the responsibility of industrialised countries to make amends for their large share of CO2 emissions. They announced an initiative to cover up to 400 million people in vulnerable countries with insurance instruments to help manage a portion of the climate risk that they face. There are many unanswered questions though.

First, how will the approaches really benefit poor and vulnerable people who cannot pay premiums? Focusing on risk platforms such as the African Risk Capacity (ARC) is a good start. Such platforms offer safety nets and assist vulnerable communities. However, more details are needed on how the implementation will directly benefit vulnerable people, especially considering if they may not be able to pay insurance premiums.

Second, the G7 statement doesn’t say much about the immediate way forward, or about how much money will be put into the initiative. It is important that implementation will be done in consultation with affected countries’ governments,  civil society and vulnerable groups. In addition, the initiative should properly follow through with an M&E system that looks at whether vulnerable people receive assistance and truly benefit.

Third, climate risk insurance has a contextual background in the UNFCCC.
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INDCs: it is not just the “WHAT” but also the “HOW”

Most analyses of the INDCs that have been submitted thus far have focused on what is included. Here’s a reminder: Annex 1 countries who still haven’t submitted should mention finance, technology and capacity building support in their upcoming INDCs.

But the INDC process isn’t just about pulling together the numbers; it is also about how the level of ambition and the proposed policies are selected, as well as how they will be implemented.

As countries put together their INDCs, they must ensure effective participation of civil society in the drafting the contribution, and consider which policy options are most beneficial for the largest segments of society, including vulnerable groups. Parties must also abide by the prescriptions of human rights and gender equality throughout the design and implementation of their INDCs.

The greatest contribution to human rights that countries can make in the lead up to COP21 is to accept their fair share of climate action, in line with the science and with equity. Ambition combined with just and participatory implementation is the only way to guarantee that the outcome of the Paris agreement will benefit both the planet and its people.

ECO welcomes the inclusion of references to these important issues in the INDCs submitted by Mexico and Morocco. All countries should use this opportunity to foster the engagement of civil society and commit to integrate human rights in their long-term climate policies.

Adapting the INDCs

When delegates return to their countries, some trade in their negotiator hat for that of a practitioner. Back home, they’ll have to advance domestic debates on mitigation and adaptation. For many, one of the most urgent objectives will be to submit their INDC in a few months. While the focus clearly and rightly lies with mitigation action, the INDC process also offers a chance to highlight relevant aspects for adaptation. This is a key moment for Parties to communicate key climate change vulnerabilities (hint – they are already in your National Communications), flagship national policies and goals, potential adaptation investment pipelines, and other adaptation policies relevant to share with the international community.

The first set of INDCs already show different ways to include a meaningful adaptation component. Mexico communicated its overarching adaptation policy priority and a goal to halve the number of vulnerable municipalities. Morocco gave concrete goals on adaptation-related policy outcomes, and Ethiopia communicated its mainstreaming approach. Gabon highlighted coastal adaptation priorities.

National Adaptation Plans (NAPs) which are underway in many LDCs and other countries should have a link to the INDCs. Synergies should be maximised and duplication of efforts minimised. Both INDCs and NAPs are likely to be most effective if they are based on a long-term vision for development as well as dealing with climate change impacts.
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Phase-out or get out!

The final days of Bonn have seen hundreds of thousands of people issue a resounding call to Parties to protect climate policymaking from the undue influence of the globe’s biggest polluters. ECO, too, wants it heard loud and clear: kick big polluters out of climate policy.

A broad coalition of individuals and NGOs delivered a petition with approximately 250,000 signatures to Parties through the Secretariat yesterday. ECO hopes that this call will be heard, and it will run interference with the fossil fuel industry’s aggressive lobbying at the national level, and bankrolling international meetings, including the climate COPs. The very industry driving the problem cannot be trusted to help find the solution.

Parties also need to protect COP21 from dirty energy sponsorship. As you might remember, industry co-option of treaty meetings is a growing problem. We were all there in Warsaw for COP19, where corporations with a direct conflict of interest in the treaty’s success sponsored the talks. This cannot happen in Paris when so much is at stake. Corporations such as EDF and Engie, with ties to coal and fracking, are now listed as lead sponsors, despite contributing close to 50% of France’s emissions. If this process wants to be credible, it needs to reject dirty energy sponsorship.
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Urgent and immediate, but not worth funding?

It’s hard to believe but, yes, it’s been nearly 15 years since Parties set up the Least Developed Countries Fund (LDCF) to support LDCs in identifying “urgent and immediate” adaptation projects by preparing National Adaptation Programmes of Action (NAPAs). Yes, that’s the same fund that the Global Environment Facility (GEF) managed with voluntary contributions from developed countries.

Here’s the good part of this story: all 48 LDCs have completed their NAPAs and most have started implementing priority adaptation projects with LDCF funding. So far the LDCF has received nearly 900 million USD. However, during last week’s GEF Council session, it emerged that there are 29 “urgent and immediate” projects approved and ready to be implemented that require around 200 million USD in total — but there is no money left in the LDCF.

Even more concerning, there were no contributions offered for the LDCF during this session.  Maybe it was just an “oversight” by developed countries, so ECO trusts the money for these urgent and immediate adaptation projects will be forthcoming soon.

While the LDCF is busy fulfilling its mandate to fund urgent LDC adaptation actions, let’s not forget that there are various options to address further adaptation funding for LDCs in the future.
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Listen Closely EU – LAC Countries have a Message for You

It’s always good when two global leaders talk up a strong climate deal. This week, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and Ricardo Lagos, the former Presidents of Brazil and Chile respectively, urged the European Union and the Community of Latin American and the Caribbean States (CELAC) to form a high-ambition coalition on climate at their meeting in Brussels. But perhaps Europe is not paying enough attention to its compañeros across the Atlantic.

If the EU is in need of a hearing aid, here’s what’s on the table: CELAC wants a Paris agreement to treat adaptation and mitigation equally, and they want assurances on how $100 billion in climate finance per year will be mobilised by 2020. Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) countries are also keen for Europe to increase technology transfer and capacity-building efforts, as well as advancing progress on the Loss and Damage Mechanism before Paris.

Therefore, Europe should reaffirm that it will enhance its support of LAC countries’ climate actions. This support should extend beyond mitigation actions. Europe must prove that it takes climate risk and adaptation seriously, especially as LAC countries are very concerned about climate impacts.

If Europe listens well to LAC, it is sure to have friends when it arrives in Paris.
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Outside of the UNFCCC: HFC

The UNFCCC is not the only multilateral process considering climate protections this year. The Montreal Protocol (MOP) is negotiating over four separate proposals to phase down HFCs, which are powerful greenhouse gases. Phasing down HFC production and consumption under the Montreal Protocol now enjoys the support of the vast majority of countries, both developed and developing.

Support from nearly all countries makes an HFC agreement possible this November – something that seemed beyond reach only a year ago. The two treaty regimes can co-exist nicely.  Countries can curb HFC production and consumption under the MOP while continuing to account for their HFC emissions under the UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol.

However, seemingly out of nowhere, Saudi Arabia has emerged as a new blocker, taking the baton from those who previously held it.

It seems weird that Saudi Arabia is obstructing, knowing that from their perspective phasing down HFCs should help free up little more carbon space for their more valuable sources of GHGs (‘hint hint’). Why is Saudi Arabia working against its own national and global interest, and also harming its closest ally, the UAE, the host of the MOP this year in November?

Saudi Arabia says its concern is that alternative coolants may not be as viable in regions with high temperatures, such as the Middle East.
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Next Up: Finance in Addis Ababa 

After 11 days of negotiations here in Bonn, Parties are longing for a change of scenery, and we have just what you need: the third Financing for Development (FfD) Conference will take place in Addis Ababa from July 13 – 16.

So what the relevance is of the FfD to the work on the road to Paris? Here are some key points:

FfD will set the tone for international ambition on key issues around sustainable development, including climate action. In other words, a good outcome from FfD will help advance efforts in the UNFCCC.

The FfD is an opportunity to integrate climate change objectives into all flows of development finance, or as the buzz term of the season puts it, ‘climate proof’ this funding. ECO endorses this as long as specific climate finance continues to be delivered and scaled up on top of climate proofed development finance.

The Conference outcomes will play a supporting role in some of the key issues associated with climate action. For example, phasing out fossil fuel subsidies, increasing the profile of innovative sources of finance, exploring private sector accountability, designing measuring, reporting and verifying mechanisms for finance, and ‘shifting the trillions’.

The FfD Conference is a prime opportunity for both finance ministers and Heads of State to demonstrate strong global solidarity in the fight against poverty, inequality and climate change. So, log 13-16 July  in your diaries, it’s an event not be missed.