Category: Previous Issues Articles

Patricia Espinosa, Welcome!

Ms. Espinosa—a hearty welcome back to the climate scene in your new role as UNFCCC Executive Secretary. Now is a crucial time for action, and we don’t want to waste it with formalities, so let’s just say—bienvenida y muchas felicidades.

We know that you have already rolled up your sleeves for the big tasks ahead. ECO will be a true companion in your new adventure—providing useful insights on the UNFCCC negotiations throughout your journey. We hope that you will be an advocate for climate issues on all fronts, to ensure the importance of the climate change is elevated to the level required for enabling true global action. Here are some pointers for the way ahead:

With the diplomatic success of the Paris Agreement behind us, we are now moving from ratification to implementation. ECO counts on you to play a central role in ensuring early entry into force and fostering increased ambition from countries to close the emission gap and get on track for 1.5ºC.

In the appointed high-level champions on the Global Climate Action Agenda (GCAA), you have 2 powerful advocates to help strengthen the pre-2020 process and early action. The Technical Examination Processes for mitigation and adaptation need to be results-focused and identify concrete next steps to overcome barriers to scaling-up specific, credible and impactful initiatives.
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Breakfast of Champions: A Guide

Pre-2020 climate action is a prerequisite for delivering on the 1.5°C goal. At current emissions levels, the carbon budget for a strong likelihood (66%) of keeping warming below 1.5°C could be exhausted in as little as 6 years. If more is not done now, the Paris Agreement will be too little, too late.

ECO has long supported the notion of high-level champions as a way to foster concrete near-term climate action by unlocking the necessary attention and support for this issue to deliver more, faster and now. ECO is delighted by the active engagement of the first two champions, France’s Laurence Tubiana and Morocco’s Hakima El Haité; as well as by Morocco’s vision of COP22 as an “action and implementation COP”.

A strong and ambitious roadmap for the champions’ work, with the Global Climate Action Agenda (GCAA) and enhanced pre-2020 action under the UNFCCC at its heart, will reduce emissions, increase resilience and help mobilise support for further action.

1) ECO fully supports the situation analysis and appreciates the recognition of the need to prioritise pre-2020 action. We want to highlight the need for more means of implementation for pledged action to further increase ambition.

2) Given the mandate of the champions stems from the need to close the pre-2020 ambition gap, champions should tailor their engagement as much as possible to facilitating the implementation and scale-up efforts in this period.
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A Roadmap in the Making

 

August may be a month of vacation of many, but ECO is thrilled that developed countries are spending these months working on their roadmap, instead of their tans. It’s great that Parties want to show how they will fulfil their $100-billion-a-year-from-2020 promise.

An obvious starting point is to provide projections as to how levels of public and private finance will increase. Given that there will be a temptation to just extrapolate some shiny figures derived through questionable accounting methods, ECO suggests that, in both cases, public finance and mobilised private finance, should be accounted for through robust annual plans on how these levels will be reached. Don’t even think of simply applying some random leverage factors or anything of that sort from old trick tool box.

The roadmap should spell out scenarios for different sources, instruments and channels to back up the projections. It could also be an opportunity to show how it is possible to overcome existing barriers to achieve such scenarios, for example through massive support for capacity building and readiness measures, and accelerating implementation of direct access models for accessing finance.

For ECO, and more importantly all those severely affected countries in urgent need of adaptation, it would be a real downer if the roadmap were not to include a projection on how adaptation finance will increase significantly over the next couple of years, following the call from Paris.
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Viennese Treats: Mozartkugeln and HFCs

 

Mozart-a-what, you ask? Why, the small, round sugar treats made of pistachio marzipan and nougat, covered with dark chocolate. The Mozartkugeln! Delicious, endorsed by ECO, and a perfect accompaniment to good climate news. Parties to the Montreal Protocol recently made progress, in Vienna, towards adopting an amendment to phase-down HFCs this year, with huge benefits for the climate.

Parties finalised text on the financial mechanism for the HFC phase-down, as well as on the finance, intellectual property and linkages with the HCFC phase-out. Progress was also achieved on key elements, when Parties put forward options for baseline ranges and consumption freeze dates. Before you help yourself to a second Mozartkugeln, ECO would like to remind you that important work still remains to be done so that the HFC phase-down agreement will achieve a generous amount of emission reductions.

In light of Paris, it is imperative to aim for the most ambitious phase-down schedule possible with an agreement this year in Kigali. If Parties are wondering what can be done to make Kigali a feast; how about a reminder to MOP negotiators that they should honour the Paris Agreement when trying to come to a deal in October?

Aviation Climate Deal: Global Must Mean GLOBAL

2013 saw governments, industry and NGOs come together in an attempt to do something about ever increasing aviation emissions. Part of the plan is a global, market-based measure to stabilise net emissions at 2020 levels, primarily via offsetting. This was set to be agreed by Parties to ICAO at its next assembly in late September this year. Success is essential–after all, international aviation alone has a climate impact equal to the 129 lowest emitting countries combined.

With the deadline approaching, ECO is dismayed to see silos emerging. Just because international bunkers are not part of the Paris Agreement, Parties can’t try to shift responsibility to others. It’s time to work out a deal that’s fair to all. All countries must act so that aviation emissions, everywhere, can fall to reach 1.5°C. Historically, developed countries have produced the majority of aviation emissions—the EU and US combined account for 40%, for example. However, developing countries are fast catching up, with some large developing countries growing at 2 or 3 times the global average.

Developed countries, especially the US, appear to be trying to take advantage of how their emissions grew rapidly in previous decades to craft a deal that places little to no obligation on their airlines.
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Human Rights: the Pre-Marrakesh Homework

 

While formal climate negotiations will only reconvene in November, other UN bodies continue their work to support the full implementation of the Paris Agreement. Their respect of the UNFCCC mandate means that climate negotiators still need to play their own part.

In early July, the Human Rights Council adopted a new resolution on human rights and climate change. Other human rights bodies, such as the Committee on the Rights of the Child and the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, are also scheduled to focus their work in the coming months on the implications of climate change.

Even though the Council had already adopted resolutions on climate change and human rights in the past, this year’s resolution was unique in emphasising heavily the role played by the UNFCCC on these issues. The resolution recalls the language included in the Paris Agreement affirming the necessity for Parties to respect, promote and consider their respective obligations on human rights when taking climate action. It also emphasises the need for early ratification and effective implementation of the Agreement, and calls upon states to consider, among other aspects, human rights within the framework of the UNFCCC.

But the Council was careful not to step on the toes of climate negotiators, refraining from adopting any prescriptive conclusions.
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Brexit: Keep Calm And Up Your Global Climate Leadership

June 23: the day those careful, reserved Brits voted to leave the EU. Wow. The outcome sent shockwaves around the world. Alas, the climate keeps changing and ECO hasn’t stopped demanding that the UK, and the EU’s other 27 member states, shoot for higher climate ambition.

In practice, the UK won’t leave the EU until 2 years after they trigger “Article 50”—which, rumour has it, will not happen until 2017. In the meantime, the UK, the EU and its other 27 member states will all need to ratify the Paris Agreement. Brexit may be an upheaval, but it is not an excuse for delaying ratification. ECO calls on the EU to speed up its effort sharing decision and show that collaboration on climate must persist regardless.

And as for the UK’s own leadership on climate change, ECO was not impressed when it heard the UK was merging their climate department with business and industry. Some stressed the opportunities to be gained through integrating climate considerations into industrial projects, but it’s up to the UK to prove them right. The final outcome remains to be seen, but, dear United Kingdom, ECO will not let you off the hook.

The Pre-2020 Opportunities Package

It’s on everybody’s lips and on everybody’s mind: COP22 is going to be the Action COP. The Moroccan presidency will need to do their utmost to start closing the ambition gap with concrete action on mitigation, adaptation and support. ECO invites Parties to join the incoming presidency in its efforts to build on the spirit of Paris.

The 2016 facilitative dialogue, finance high-level event, agreement on a capacity building work program, engagement of the high-level champions, and the high-level event to strengthen cooperative initiatives within the Global Climate Action Agenda can all be harnessed to help drive greater ambition.

The COP22 facilitative dialogue should aim to capture over-achievement by various countries and regional groups on the Cancun pledges, and should explore how NAMAs in the UNFCCC NAMA Registry pipeline could be supported to unlock potential short-term mitigation ambition even before Marrakesh. ECO also calls for developed countries to have a close look at what concrete sectoral commitments they can bring to the table.

At SB44, we saw the first ever technical expert meetings (TEMs) on adaptation, and two TEMs with follow-up dialogues on mitigation. The biggest challenge is converting the TEMs from a knowledge forum to an implementation one, developing a synergistic relationship with the various institutional bodies within UNFCCC and the broader Action Agenda.
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Don’t Let Bonn Lull You

ECO is somewhat concerned that after this week in Bonn, and following on the excitement of 177 countries signing the Paris Agreement last month in New York, delegates are being lulled into a false bonhomie. Much still needs to be done to ensure the Paris Agreement’s timely entry into force and to complete work on the various mechanisms, NDC guidelines, accounting rules, enhanced transparency framework and other key aspects of the Agreement. These issues should be given the careful consideration they need to get it right.

Only 17 states, so far, have deposited their instruments of ratification, and their emissions represent just 0.05% of total emissions. ECO is quietly optimistic that the agreement could enter into force this year or early next, though. The US and China are planning to ratify this year, as are some other countries, and the EU will at least initiate its ratification process before the (northern hemisphere) summer. However, several key countries are yet to signal when their own domestic ratification processes might deliver.

We cannot wait. Countries must ratify the Agreement as soon as possible, and then work diligently to ensure that the objectives are met, by rapidly ramping up their ambition in line with limiting global temperature rise to 1.5°C.
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Roadmap to $100bn Must Specify Adaptation Finance

Between now and Marrakech, developed delegates should start reflecting how much adaptation matters to the continent that is going to host COP22. Africa (along with many other countries, to be sure) is already bearing the brunt of climate change: crops are failing, water is diminishing, and lives and livelihoods are under threat from climate change. These mounting impacts are underscoring the frightening lack of adaptive capacity in many developing countries and communities, and the need for donor countries to ramp up financial assistance to enhance adaptation and resilience.

ECO calls for the African COP to pick up this unfinished business from Paris. Mark a turning point in adaptation finance. As developed countries get serious (finally!) about drafting a roadmap on how they will meet their $100-billion-a-year promise, they should explicitly spell out to what extent they will significantly increase annual adaptation finance by 2020. It’s not that hard. The GCF managed to do it. They set a goal to allocate 50% of their resources to adaptation. Surely developed countries can set a similar target for adaptation finance.

What’s needed at COP22 is not window dressing, but a real change increasing adaptation assistance to developing countries. This doesn’t mean shifting around existing aid budgets.
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