Category: Current Issue Articles

Insurance Charity is Not an Option

Four years after the decision to create the Warsaw International Mechanism (WIM) on Loss and Damage, Parties are discussing a five-year work plan, which should have been started last year. In Paris, Loss and Damage was finally differentiated from Adaptation. However, American, Australian and European negotiators keep arguing that they don’t see how Loss and Damage is different from Adaptation. Really?!

 

The reality is that we are living in a warming world. Each year we see the impact of extreme weather events increasing, wiping out decades of development in some countries. For instance, this September, 96% of Dominica was destroyed by two hurricanes in just two weeks. So far, the money Dominica has received is mostly humanitarian assistance, which was promised after tropical storm Erika two years ago. This money will barely cover the cleaning costs, let alone to allow the country to provide relief to its population and rebuild to become resilient enough for coping with more intense and frequent hurricanes in the future.

 

ECO hears that the new InsuResilience Global Partnership, which builds on previous G7 and G20 agreements, will be launched today. ECO resists any notion that an insurance-only approach is adequate to address loss and damage.
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Far from Climate Finance Goal, Farther from Climate Justice

On the Climate Finance Day of Action, ECO calls on the developed countries and Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs) to honour their climate finance pledges up to 2020 and beyond. They should look at the climate finance pledges for 2020 they made themselves as the​ absolute minimum baseline level for support to reach the Paris climate goals and to enhance resilience of communities.

ECO is extremely disappointed to learn from this year’s Climate Finance Landscape Report that national climate finance went down. Plus, there are still several countries that haven’t even made a 2020 finance pledge (ECO is looking at you: Norway, Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden…)

In other bad news, MDBs’ fossil fuel finance went up from 2015 to 2016 – contrary to the urgent need for the Big Shift in investment from fossils to renewables. Given low levels of finance for renewable energy access, there is now more than ever an urgent need to phase out fossil fuel support. These funds must instead serve to boost renewable-based energy access.

Additionally, upon reaching the US$100 billion goal, the negotiations on accounting will be key to ensure that finance pledges are scaled up without dodgy accounting. Parties must not be allowed to double count for their pledges with other donors, but instead must agree on a more accurate method of counting adaptation finance.
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FIJI COP HIGH-LEVEL SEGMENT CHEAT SHEET: From Conceptual to Political

Welcome to Bonn, Ministers! While it would have been nice to be in warm and sunny Fiji, the beautiful city of Bonn has welcomed us with its first snow of the season. If the

weather is forcing you to take time away from statement writing for coffee breaks, we at CAN have taken it upon ourselves to provide you with a cheat sheet to make

your lives easier. While there is much talk on transforming conceptual discussions to technical

work here at COP23, many items seem to be at risk of becoming more political. Unfortunately, the progress made so far lacks the urgency required and we need your help to clear these

roadblocks. With two full days left of technical negotiations, we hope that your negotiators

work effectively as a team to manage this task. Here is a list of things that we will all be taking note of and assessing you on.

 

Talanoa Dialogue:

The Talanoa Dialogue is critical in determining our pathway towards achieving the 1.5 degrees

limit set in the Paris Agreement. Talanoa must be a process that will unlock further ambition in the pre-2020 and post-2020 period. Both the Fijian and Polish presidencies will play a major role in making this a success.
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Argentina Must Maintain G20s Climate Momentum

Like it or not, the G20 is an important political space where leaders of the top 20 economies of our world who account for about 3/4 of global emissions — make political statements that attract a lot of attention, particularly from the business and finance communities. ECO would like to acknowledge the great job that Germany did this year in making the climate crisis, and the implementation of the Paris Agreement, a core issue of its G20 presidency. Of course, this upset one country in particular (you can imagine who). But after very tough negotiations in Hamburg, agreement was reached and there were several climate related outcomes.

 

As far as ECO knows the next G20 presidency: Argentina, is committed to ensuring that addressing the global climate crisis stays on the G20 agenda. At least that is what Chief of Cabinet and President Macri stated publicly several times during the Hamburg summit including in the middle of a concert next to Shakira and Prime Minister Trudeau. No doubt about it, Argentina is in a great position to push for an ambitious G20 agenda on climate and energy: it was one of the first countries to update its NDC and is experiencing the benefits of renewable energy deployment like never before.
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We ain’t wastin’ time: Time to Get Real About the Adoption Fund

It seems as if developed nations spent the first week of COP 23 listening to the song “Sitting On The Dock Of The Bay” by Otis Redding.

 

ECO is astonished! At this Pacific COP, developed countries have been wasting time looking for arguments to avoid recognizing the urgency to increase support for loss and damage. Are you going to sit at the dock of the bay while millions suffer the worst impacts of climate change?

 

ECO hopes that this week developed countries won’t just watch the tide roll in, but recognize that loss and damage is more than just an article in the Paris Agreement. Ideally, countries will come to a consensus on a transparent process that will allow future ongoing discussions on loss and damage finance.

 

Some of the richer nations seem to be resting their bones on the basis that they have plans to provide US$100 billion per year by 2020. This still remains a promise as the quality of all funds to be provided depends on how predictable, adequate, transparent and sustainable they are. Are rich countries forgetting the current imbalance on adaptation finance and the lack of adequate transparent rules to track their commitments?
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Make our planet (gr)eat again – Why implementation of agriculture discussions is critical to climate talks.

The Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) agriculture negotiations have been focussed on the way forward for a long time. Over the years, Parties have compiled their shopping lists and proposed recipes. Last week they came into the kitchen and properly started cooking.

 

ECO was looking forward to tasting G77’s offering, a nutritious (and not particularly exotic) dish called “implementation”. Our stomachs rumbled when G77 put together the ingredients for SBSTA negotiations to deliver meaningful action on the ground, by linking specifically with the Subsidiary Body on Implementation (SBI).

 

ECO thinks that “Implementation” is delicious, nutritious and necessary – especially when food systems are at such risk of climate impacts, and industrialised agriculture is contributing to climate change. But EU, New Zealand and Australia raised all sorts of objections. It seems they just don’t like “Implementation”. Not even with ketchup. So, they won’t let anyone else eat either.

 

ECO hopes that when Parties return to the kitchen today, developed countries will remember that climate action is all about implementation. Perhaps Parties would like to try ECO’s suggested dish of “Joint SBSTA/SBI Work Programme”. At any rate, we encourage them to stay in the SBSTA-Agriculture kitchen. Bonn appétit, everyone!

This is Not a Drill: Geoengineering is on the Rise

As carbon emissions remain prominent across the globe,  a group of entrepreneurs and researchers at Harvard University backed by venture capital are planning to expand their research on geoengineering through Solar Radiation Management (SRM). SRM techniques aim to block sunlight from entering the atmosphere, or reflect solar radiation back into space, thus – according to speculative models – creating a cooling effect on the planet. However, SRM potentially opens the door to negative impacts, such as disruption of the life-sustaining hydrological cycle like the Monsoon in Asia. In the past, planned real-world experiments have been cancelled after a public outcry, but this new initiative claims to be different.

 

The research, also known as a stratospheric controlled perturbation experiment (SCoPEx) is the first formally announced outdoor geoengineering experiment, and plans to spray water, sulphates, and chalk into the upper reaches of the atmosphere over the southwest United States in order to test their effectiveness in blocking sunlight. Though the experiment itself may not be harmful, it could build momentum for large scale SRM experiments and eventual deployment and to entrench the technology as a “viable” solution to climate change in the public’s mind.

 

ECO recalls that in addition to ethical concerns about manipulating the Earth’s thermostat, SRM does not reduce GHG emissions, air pollution, or marine acidification; and it could undermine sustainable development goals.
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Getting the Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples Platform right at COP23

The Fijian presidency has rightfully stressed that the operationalization of the Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples Platform is a critical outcome that must be delivered on at COP 23.

 

For more than 20 years, the UNFCCC has failed to allow indigenous peoples to have their voice adequately heard. This is despite the value of indigenous peoples’ experiences and traditional knowledge for mitigating and adapting to climate change in harmony with ecosystems. Recognising the need to strengthen the participation of indigenous peoples in the process and the value of traditional and indigenous peoples’ knowledge, Parties agreed in Paris to establish a Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples Platform. They agree that this platform will deliver three functions: knowledge, capacity for engagement, and climate change policies and actions. Most importantly, the Platform will be operationalized at COP 23.

 

Parties have now only 5 days left to agree to the structure of this platform. These discussions must be guided only by two bases: ensuring the effective delivery of the three functions, and respecting the five principles laid out by the indigenous peoples Caucus — including the full and effective participation of indigenous peoples both in the design of the platform and its structure.
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Fossil of the Day

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The US, Australia, Canada and the EU receive the Fossil of the Day for refusing to get serious about loss and damage finance.

 

For all the policy geeks out there, while decision 2/CP19 provides the Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage (WIM) with a mandate to ‘enhance’, ‘facilitate’, ‘mobilize’ and ‘secure’ finance for loss and damage, in the negotiating room, our fossil recipients, consistently refer it to the Standing Committee on Finance or even higher levels, where it is also absent from the discussion. Basically, they were seeking to twist, water down, and delete references to finance from the loss and damage decision text.

 

We would have thought that the US Administration – with its own territory of Puerto Rico still recovering from the devastation of Hurricane Maria – would, perhaps, have rediscovered at least one empathic bone in its body. But apparently, this was waaaaay too much to ask for; as it aggressively led the charge to delete references to finance in the loss and damage text. Some might think this level of intervention was a bit rich coming from a country that has talked about pulling out of the Paris Agreement, but it looks like they plan on taking others down with them.
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Loss and damage finance seeking a home

In an ironic twist, loss and damage finance seems to be suffering from displacement. ECO hears that developed country delegates keep trying to shunt the issue of loss and damage finance into some mythical ‘elsewhere’, claiming that discussions on the WIM were not the right place for it. ECO reminds delegates that 2/CP19 is a passport for the WIM into the world of loss and damage finance – with a clear mandate for the WIM to ‘enhance’, ‘facilitate’, ‘mobilise’ and ‘secure’ finance for loss and damage.

 

Is a taskforce the answer to the thorny issue of where loss and damage finance belongs? With the right mandate — clear outcomes and timeframes, instructions to consider innovative sources of finance that go  beyond insurance, a budget to be effective, and an invitation for civil society to engage, it may well be. One thing is for sure – after four years of the WIM not addressing its mandate to enhance finance for loss and damage, something has to change.