Category: Current Issue Features

Where Are We? Where Do We Want To Go? How Do We Get There?

You probably recognise questions from the Fijian COP Presidency’s note on the Talanoa Dialogue. But when plotting the world’s long-term pathway to 1.5°C, these questions also become particularly relevant for the discussions.

 

“Where do we want to go?” and, “how do we get there?”, are especially key when thinking about long-term strategies. Article 4.1 of the Paris Agreement tells us that we need to achieve a balance of sources and sinks by the second half of the century. So by working backwards from this 2050 horizon, countries can design a sustainable pathway for national development.

 

ECO has been encouraged to hear countries talking about long-term strategies in the negotiations these past two weeks.  They were mentioned within both the common timeframes and the APA global stocktake agenda. The latter of which’s outcomes also reflect the three above questions and lists long-term strategies as an ‘other source’ of input. But it’s not enough that parties are making positive statements on long-term strategies. The worth of such strategies depends on their ability to answer the three questions in the title in detail. These strategies need to be more than just ‘visions’ for the future. They must be meaningful, transparent and developed inclusively.
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International Expectations For Polish Presidency And COP24

Next year will be the third time COP takes place in Poland — this time in the city of Katowice. Remember the business-driven “Coal Summit” that coincided with COP19 and made international news from Beijing to Paris? It undermined Poland’s presidency and lead to Poland being labeled “Coaland.”

But the forthcoming Polish presidency is also a chance for the government to finally step up and help lead the transition and strengthen global climate action.

First, let’s make a few things clear for “Coaland”. COP is no space for coal organizations and coal lobbyists, as demonstrated by the backlash against the US’s pro-coal side event this week. Events promoting coal around paradoxical concepts such as “clean coal” or “zero waste coal” are, simply put, offensive and their aim is to distract attention from what’s most urgently needed across the globe, including in Poland: phase-out of fossil fuels. In Poland, more than 5800 people die prematurely every year due to air pollution from the country’s coal power plants, and the Polish government continues to play into the pocket of the coal sector. These facts are certainly known outside of just the COP bubble.

Moreover, the label “Coaland” represents only one face of Poland.
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“It’s not that we don’t trust you… but”

ECO senses that Parties got stuck in the narrative: “it’s not that we don’t trust you… but” and haven’t been able to get past the “but.”
How can we can move towards more ambition if there is no trust among parties?
ECO believes that a common sense of trust is the only way that parties will be able to move forward, toward a successful COP23.

At COP18, developed countries were asked to submit information, alongside their strategies and approaches, on how they intended to respect their commitment of scaling up finance to reach the US$100 billion per year goal by 2020. The following year, they agreed to communicate bi-annual ex-ante qualitative and quantitative information on how they would provide funds from 2014 to 2020, further confirmed in 2015 via Article 9.5 of the Paris Agreement.

In Marrakech, Parties were asked to identify as many possible matters related to the implementation of the work programme of the Paris Agreement they thought were not properly addressed — one of which was Article 9.5 of the Paris Agreement.
In Paris, under COP, all countries agreed “to initiate, at its twenty-second session, a process to identify the information in accordance with Article 9.5 of the Paris Agreement’’.
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The Lofoten Declaration: A call to tackle fossil fuel production

While ‘fossil fuels’ somehow managed to escape mention in the text of the Paris Agreement, there is a growing call in these halls for Parties to confront the primary driver of climate change head-on. The bottom line is that we have more readily and economically available oil, coal, and gas in already operating fields and mines than we can afford in any carbon budget that keeps us below two degrees, let alone 1.5. To start with, about two thirds of all existing fossil fuel reserves — more from coal, less from gas — need to be left in ground. To prevent the worst effects of climate change, we need to call an end to the fossil fuel era and embrace the 100% renewable energy epoch.

Yesterday, high-level delegates called on wealthy fossil fuel producers to make the first move and quickly put an end to new fossil fuel exploration and expansion. They also called for ‘producing countries’ to begin a managed decline in production, while planning for a just transition for affected workers and communities.

It’s clear that climate leadership is being redefined. Self-proclaimed climate leaders cannot approve the exploration and expansion of fossil fuels, cannot pour billions in public money into dirty energy subsidies, and cannot pretend that the world can continue to produce oil, coal, or gas for decades to come.
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Do You Stand With Fiji – Or With Trump?

At the first ever COP hosted by a vulnerable island state, in a year that has witnessed record breaking temperatures, extreme weather events, climate skepticism, fake news, and stupidity in the form of incessant tweets, ECO asks: Developed countries, do you stand with Fiji and the vulnerable, or do you stand with Trump?

If you think this question isn’t relevant to you, then you (a) are not a developed country or (b) have a serious identity problem.

If you are neither of the above and your Head of State believes that the Paris Agreement benefits the citizens of your country and the world, then ECO urges you to take a clear stand now. The unwillingness of developed countries to constructively engage in pre-2020 action means that something which could have been resolved last week is now holding back progress across all items.

Developed countries have been unwilling to acknowledge the need for a political space to address the lack of sufficient action and support in the pre-2020 period. That may be because they refuse to recognise their part in it. But the urgent need for world leaders to actually deliver is not just a matter of adding an agenda item, avoiding duplication, or filling in non-headings in non-papers.
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IT’S THE EFFICIENCY, STUPID

ECO has previously highlighted a major opportunity to build on the benefits of a global phase out of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), by coupling the switch to refrigerants with low global warming potential (GWP) with energy efficiency improvements in the appliances that use them. By improving the energy efficiency of cooling appliances, countries can cumulatively avoid another 40-50 billion tonnes of CO2 emissions, in addition to the 70 or more billion tonnes of CO2 equivalents avoided thanks to the HFC phase down by 2050.

Parties to the Montreal Protocol are examining possible incentives for such appliance efficiency improvements under that regime. Meanwhile, the UNFCCC, as the regime under which CO2 emissions are regulated, and through which countries are developing their low-carbon development, has much to offer. Wouldn’t it be nice if for the 30th anniversary of the Montreal Protocol we ratified the Kigali amendment?

ECO recommends that, Parties should ensure that improved energy efficiency, is not limited to appliance efficiency, and is recognized as means of significantly increasing ambition during the Talanoa Dialogue next year. The recent UN Environment Emmissions Gap Report showed that energy efficiency in many forms can significantly contribute to a 1.5° C trajectory in a cost-effective way, by reducing more than 10 Gt of CO2 by 2030.
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Bula! See you at the Talanoa!

In recognizing the need to urgently enhance the action, we at ECO, along with the Parties, are quite excited for the 2018 Talanoa Dialogue. There is nothing ECO loves more than a good dialogue, especially one that will help identify new opportunities for cooperation, collaboration, and action. ECO believes that the Talanoa Dialogue has something for everyone, answering questions about where we are in terms of current action and pledges, where we need to be to reach the global peaking of greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible and a balance between emissions sources and removals by sinks in the second half of the century, and how to get there (solutions!). We believe the Dialogue has the potential to identify meaningful and timely ways for countries to accelerate climate action. There are significant opportunities to strengthen climate action in a way that can provide substantial economic and social benefits, equity, and help attain sustainable development objectives.

 

We need to collectively get on the trajectory for transformation and ECO looks forward to the Talanoa Dialogue delivering real change and action on the ground, both now and into the future. Enhanced action is crucial to avoid the worst impacts of climate change and support those most vulnerable., To do this we must aim for 1.5C.
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Patience pays off: Parties finally agree on Agriculture!

ECO’s head is still spinning from all the hugging and selfies in the Agriculture negotiations yesterday. And it’s no wonder. After five years of frustrating negotiations, the Agriculture working group has finally come to an agreement and forwarded a major new decision to the COP. Congratulations, Parties!

The newly agreed joint work between SBSTA and SBI will finally let talk become action. Looking ahead, implementation is the name of the game.

ECO is as stunned and thrilled as you are. After years of procedural and political discussions, we’re looking forward to talking substance and taking action on the real issues facing agriculture in the face of climate change – in particular how agroecology can play a key role in adaptation, and how non-CO2 greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture can be reduced. We wish Parties the best of luck in this exciting new phase of Fiji’s legacy on Agriculture.

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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