Category: Previous Issues Articles

The Show Must Go On: Expectations for Marrakech

Paris provided hope and momentum. It was a giant leap forward, providing the world with an international framework to address climate challenges. If COP22 can build on this momentum, and fully maximise the gains of COP21, we might indeed make real progress!

COP21 had shortcomings, though. It does not provide the necessary ambition required to fulfil the objectives of the Agreement itself. The ambition showcased by countries within their INDCs does not reflect the stated objectives of the Agreement: to hold warming to well below 2°C and pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5°C. ECO wonders if countries will now put their heads in the sand and point to the 5-year-cycles? Or recognise the inadequacy of their current INDCs and ramp up their ambition so as to ensure that the Paris Agreement’s objectives articulated in Article 2 are fulfilled?

Facilitating and enabling faster implementation. along with ensuring urgency for greater ambition, should be COP22’s cornerstone. Short-term ambition needs to be increased and acted on. COP22 has the potential to set a precedent for the 2018 facilitative dialogue and its successful outcomes. Rather than finger pointing, or just reiterating existing institutional inadequacies, the focus of discussions should be on capturing and incentivising over-achievement by countries in the pre-2020 period, ensuring that institutions within the UNFCCC account for the needs of countries, as suggested at various technical expert meetings (TEMs).
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G20 in China: Blue Skies, But No Leap Forward

ECO applauds China and the US formally joining the Paris Agreement as a prelude to the G20 summit in Hangzhou, China. This is a major step toward the entry into force of the Paris Agreement. It is a very timely signal to the world that global leaders are serious about what President Obama once called: “the best chance we have to save the one planet we have”. With the two largest polluters joining, the count of countries/emissions represented has risen from 24 and 1% to 26 and 39% respectively; closing the gap towards the 55/55% double-threshold.

Other than this, ECO found the rest of the G20 slightly anti-climatic. Despite a strong push from China and the US, no other nations announced ratification. Contrastingly, India came forward with being unable to ratify the Agreement by the end of 2016. Similarly, still no end date for “the world’s most destructive subsidies” exists. Progress on the fossil fuel subsidy phase-out was limited to countries being merely “encouraged” to participate in peer reviews.

The emphasis on natural gas as a low-carbon alternative, and the “diversification of energy sources” in the Communiqué has a distinctive fossil fuel odour to it. Plus, the G20 completely failed to address how—despite the Paris Agreement—the world is still headed for 3°C of warming due to the low ambition in countries’ NDCs.
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1.5°C: To Be Or Not To Be?

ECO congratulates the IPCC for its recent Scoping Meeting for the Special Report on 1.5°C. When finished, it will be a highly important and visible scientific report. Its repercussions will be felt for generations to come. Although CAN experts were not invited, ECO appreciates that the IPCC did invite experts from a cross-section of disciplines, including practitioners, social and political scientists and sub-national actors.

There is no doubt that we will need to undergo massive transformational changes to our economy and society if we are to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C. This Special Report must be the lightning rod that signals the opportunities and risks of a 1.5°C temperature limit, as well as a guiding star on the pathway towards 1.5°C. At present, we are off course. Scientists need to grab the bull by its horns and elaborate clearly on the plethora of benefits related to phasing out all human carbon pollution by 2050 at the latest, starting with transforming our global energy sector into a 100% renewables one. They need to explore all sustainable policies, such as maximising the recycling of obsolescent equipment or ending deforestation and chemical (and emission) intensive agriculture, in order to render the land use sector a global contributor to protecting the climate.
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Compliance in the APA

As the APA continues its work in preparation for the first meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement, the Compliance Mechanism and its modalities and procedures are beginning to get some well-deserved attention. This will facilitate implementation and promote compliance as established in Article 15, and should be open to inputs from the public.

While Parties are preparing submissions on modalities for the Transparency Framework and Global Stocktake, the APA Co-Chairs have articulated five “guiding questions” to facilitate deliberations in Marrakech on the Compliance Mechanism. These concern basic design issues: scope, operationalisation of differentiation, triggers, relationship with existing arrangements and the participation of the concerned Parties. Other design questions that will eventually need to be addressed by the APA include the relationship between the Compliance Mechanism and the Transparency Framework, as well as the role of the public.

As Parties prepare their responses, ECO recalls the heated debates in the ADP and COP21 regarding the legal form of NDCs. Ultimately, the view prevailed that a strong transparency and accountability system could secure greater effectiveness of the Agreement than a strict legal obligation to implement or achieve NDCs. A transparency and accountability system was thus established resting on three pillars: the Transparency Framework, the Global Stocktake and the Compliance Mechanism.
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Take Off Delayed? ICAO Must Act On Aviation Emissions

As the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) approaches its triennial assembly in Montreal this fall, ECO is anxious for real progress. On its current flight path, commercial aviation will consume 27% of the available carbon budget in a 1.5°C scenario. In 2013, ICAO committed to adopting a credible market-based mechanism (MBM) at its 2016 assembly to stabilise net emissions at 2020 levels.
But in negotiations leading up to this assembly, nations have done a U-turn on this pledge. They agreed that the forthcoming targets will be voluntary until 2027. After kicking their mandatory, universal commitments down the road for seven years, the same countries that have signed up to the Paris Agreement are about to finalise an ICAO plan that is neither mandatory nor universal.
The voluntary nature of the emerging ICAO deal may be less important than whether ICAO delegates interpret it as a ceiling or a floor. Paris, after all, started out as a voluntary responsibility, to which the vast majority of the world’s nations have voluntarily signed on to, but the caveat is that the Paris Agreement will only enter into force after reaching the 55/55% threshold that would turn it into a legal instrument. So far, the signs aren’t good—countries such as the US are trying to use the ICAO deal to block more ambitious measures at regional and national levels.
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No More Adaptation TEM Seminars

Technical Expert Meetings (TEMs) must be solutions oriented, identify ways to overcome barriers to implementation and seek to expedite implementation of actions on the ground. TEMs on mitigation have successfully brought discussions into the UNFCCC on how we can concretely go about reducing GHG emissions, beyond hypothetical percentages and carbon equivalents. It has brought about the launch of exciting initiatives, such as the Africa Renewable Energy Initiative, and will hopefully give legitimacy to other initiatives under the Global Climate Action Agenda (GCAA). ECO is hopeful that the technical examination of adaptation can deliver similar things, especially in terms of addressing the barriers to implementation and fostering concrete action on the ground, in the spirit of more, faster, now.

In May, ECO noted that negotiators at the first adaptation TEMs were surprised they were “just seminars”. To go beyond this, it is time to identify which crucial issues adaptation TEMs should address to achieve outcomes not already covered by other existing processes. No one is interested in duplication. To gain support from Parties and buy-in, a common understanding of what the added value is must be established.

For example, the adaptation TEMs could be tasked with answering questions about overcoming barriers to implementation, and then leveraging the considerable capacity of the Champions for pre-2020 climate action.
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The Next Big Thing: Loss and Damage Finance

The 2016 UNEP Adaptation Finance Gap Report predicts that, by 2030, adaptation costs will be 3 times greater than current predictions, reaching US$140-300 billion annually, with the potential to be 5 times greater by 2050. Yet, adaptation finance delivered to developing countries in 2014 was a mere $22.5 billion, including the full face value of loans made at market rates. Even with a very generous calculation, current adaptation finance provides only 10% of the amount needed. The specifics of a finance roadmap must be agreed in Marrakech.

This is only one part of the picture. Numbers from the UNEP report are only for adaptation finance—not loss and damage. As specified in the Paris Agreement, loss and damage is a separate matter. Financing must go above and beyond that provided for adaptation. Loss and damage would cost twice as much as adaptation. Costs for all developing countries in a 2ºC warmer world cost an estimated $400 billion per year by 2030, reaching over a trillion dollars per year by 2050.

The most vulnerable countries need at least $50 billion each year now to deal with loss and damage. This amount climbs every year. This month’s Forum of the Standing Committee on Finance, focusing on loss and damage finance, must acknowledge the scale of the problem and put in place plans—call them financial instruments if you will—to generate the scale of finance needed and to identify its sources.
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Celebrating September 16

Did you know the world spends September 16 celebrating Burger Day? Whatever you think of this, worry not because it is also this year’s Preservation of the Ozone Layer Day! And it serves as a very welcome reminder for governments to devote the day to promoting activities that support the Protocol, its amendments, and amendments shortly to come.

With the countdown to adopt a new amendment in Kigali next month to phase-out HFCs, ECO would love to see officials coming together to discuss barriers to an ambitious amendment. Even on a limited budget, here are some cheap and cheery ways to celebrate, and help the climate:
● Reach out to other countries on the importance of early freeze dates for Article 5 and non-Article 5 countries
● Skype on the issue of reduction schedules for HFCs
● Have a virtual exchange with your pen pals on the baselines for HFC phase-down
● Get your head around the exemption mechanism
● Call your friends so that this can be discussed at the upcoming UN General Assembly
● Start discussing the money issue!

With high stakes and limited time, Kigali can’t become a missed opportunity to reduce HFC emissions, bringing down warming by 0.5°C.
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Forget Forecasting and Back Backcasting

We’re all familiar with forecasts. There’s not much to be done if you’ve planned your Sunday picnic when it’s set to rain. All that’s left is hoping, often in vain, that rain will turn into shine. Let’s flip this idea of looking into the future on its head. Instead of forecasting what is likely to happen, how about backcasting? If we know where we want to be, we can work backwards and plan how to get there!

Tackling climate change and enabling sustainable development dominated global negotiations last year. Successfully addressing these interconnected, mutually dependent challenges is essential, via the development of national long-term strategies for sustainable development and decarbonisation.

So let’s put backcasting into practice: we first need to know where we want to be. In Paris, countries agreed to pursue efforts to limiting global warming to 1.5ºC. To achieve this, a global phasing out of fossil fuels and phasing in of 100% renewable energy will be required by 2050, if not well before. By working back from 2050 to now, we can plan our path to get there individually and collectively, ensuring that we have time to change tracks if needed. The development of national long-term strategies for sustainable development and decarbonisation will provide us essential guidance on the impact of our current policy-making decisions., It is likely to show that achieving our long-term goals will require taking urgent action now.
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Show Us the Money


As nations consider whether to introduce a new, improved technology framework in advance of COP22, ECO has a plaintive question for delegates: Is this the year when you plan to show us the money?

COP veterans can trace debate over the technology framework back to COP7 in Marrakesh. ECO has heard about the fundamental dissatisfaction with the current tech framework and its limited utility in meeting the Paris goals. ECO has also seen developing countries driven into successive rounds of technology needs assessments (TNAs), project registries and bilateral/multilateral funding mechanisms. At every turn, precious time has been spent developing funding methodologies and accountability tools, so that projects could roll out.

It’s been a long and tortuous enough process to leave ECO counting the grey hairs on its head.

They’re much more plentiful than they were the last time we were in Marrakesh!

With the momentum and ambition that nations worked so hard to build into the Paris Agreement, COP22 must set the stage to turn TNAs into fundable projects. We need institutions that can move with lightning speed to mobilise funds, build capacity and introduce structures that make it easier for countries to adapt and adopt the technologies that pretty much every nation wants.
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