Category: Current Issue Features

The People’s President

This week, following the impeachment of their former president, the Republic of Korea elected a new president: Mr Moon Jae-in, a veteran politician from the centre-left Democratic Party. President Moon said he would be a “president for the people”. He emphasized his direct communication with the people, a welcome contrast to his predecessor Park Geun-hye.

 

President Moon also underlined that when it comes to major issues, he would raise media attention and open a forum at Seoul’s historic Gwanghwamun Square (where the country’s voices came together demanding change during the impeachment protests).

 

ECO hopes climate change, including national climate policies and international cooperation, will be among the issues President Moon will highlight in his new role if he really wants to become the “People’s President”. He can walk the talk by:

  • accelerating the implementation of mitigation actions and revising the NDC with enhanced transparencytowards participation from the people
  • drafting a long-term strategy that considers the Paris Agreement’s goal of limiting global warming to 1.5°C, thereby sending a clear and strong signal to citizens, businesses and investors.

 

In addition, given the relatively recent development of its economy, South Korea should consider increasing support to vulnerable developing countries dealing with climate impacts, and loss and damage.
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Time is of the Essence on Transparency

Transparency, covered by Article 13 of the Paris Agreement, is crucial to make sure the Paris Agreement works. Without strong transparency provisions, how will we even know if we are on track to reaching the Agreement’s objectives and if everyone is implementing what they pledged. Transparency is also really complicated. For anyone not aware of this, it became apparent in yesterday’s contact group. A big part of the discussion is still focused on the conceptual elements of Article 13. But delegates, you only have until 2018 to finalize strong modalities, procedures, and guidelines, so it is time to really get to work on these.

 

The objective is to build a common, robust, and inclusive framework to enhance clarity and effectiveness. Sure, the agreement must account for different national circumstances, allow for flexibility where needed and reflect equity. But it also has to be strong enough to make all countries accountable for doing what they pledged.

 

The modalities, procedures and guidelines need to be robust enough to ensure we get the necessary level of detail on individual Parties’ actions and the support they are providing or receiving. Delegates should also make sure we get information on how countries are implementing their commitments in a way that respects overarching principles reflected in the Agreement, including the integrity of ecosystems, human rights, food security, just transition, indigenous peoples’ rights, gender equality, and intergenerational equality.
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The one GAP we need

As every avid ECO reader will know, ECO hates gaps. For years, ECO has called on delegates to do all they can to close the adaptation gap, plug the finance gap and reduce the ambition gap as fast as possible. But this time around, there is an in-session workshop to support the development of a GAP – and ECO is all in favor.

 

That is because this GAP refers to the gender action plan and the UNFCCC urgently needs one. Women’s rights should be central to every aspect of the UNFCCC negotiations – but they still are not.

 

While there will be no formal negotiation session on the gender agenda item at Bonn, there will be a 2-day workshop starting today, open to all Parties, UN organizations, observers and other stakeholders. The objective is to make progress on a gender action plan, mandated under the COP22 extension of the Lima Work Programme on Gender. The outcome will inform negotiations towards a decision at COP23.

 

Join the workshop and show support for women’s rights today from 10.00 to 13.00 hrs and tomorrow from 15.00 to 18.00 hrs in Room Santiago de Chile.

Finding our feet on land and food

After a satisfying feast at last night’s reception – thank you! – ECO feels truly grateful for food security. But don’t be fooled by the reception. In the real world, a free lunch takes hard negotiations.

 

The Paris Agreement has set us some key challenges when it comes to issues of land, food, and agriculture. As the climate clock continues to count down, and after the awkward lack of progress on agriculture in Marrakesh, we hope that Parties have come to Bonn keen to find common ground and build momentum.

We all know that it is challenging to find a way forward because agriculture is more than a sector in which to reduce emissions. It is the basis of food security, a source of livelihood for over three billion people, a contributor to nutrition and health, and a foundation of identity. A sector this complex must be approached carefully.

It’s therefore time for SBSTA to set up a work programme on agriculture and food security, to discuss these issues in depth, and make important recommendations as the APA process writes the Paris rulebook.

Parties must consider a number of key challenges. How can we safeguard food security and human rights in the face of climate change?
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Family members pitted against each other.

Is this the latest trashy TV soap? No, just the day-to-day inner workings of the Trump administration.

 

The US administration may make a decision on its continued participation in the Paris Agreement today (though we’ve heard that a few times before). Pulling the U.S. out of Paris would be wildly out of step with what the vast majority of Americans say they want (among them, numerous mayors, governors, senators, members of congress, business leaders civil society and faith leaders). It’s easy to get lost in the craziness of the never-ending White House soap opera — Ivanka and Jared versus Steve Bannon and Scott Pruitt, and on and on.

 

While the White House stumbles toward some sort of action on Paris, ECO know this much already: backing away from climate action would hurt the U.S. It will damage America’s diplomatic ability to cut good deals on trade, security, and development (and this American president really likes cutting good deals, or so we’re told). It will isolate the U.S. Government and U.S. companies when competing in the ever-expanding market for clean energy. And it makes will make it much harder for allies and partners to trust whenever the U.S. makes a commitment — who’s to say they won’t back out again next time, the thinking will go.
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0.1% 

This week, ECO saw some developed countries and regions finally making pledges to the Adaptation Fund. This unique instrument has served an important niche function in the landscape of financing for climate adaptation efforts in vulnerable countries. In the context of some Parties hemming and hawing about whether the Adaptation Fund should be continued, these pledges confirm what ECO and others have known all along: the Adaptation Fund is relevant and necessary. So ECO extends kudos to Germany, Sweden, Italy, and the Walloon and Flemish Regions of Belgium.

While cheering the $80 million committed to the Adaptation Fund this week–reaching the Fund’s  fundraising goal for COP22 –it’s important not to lose track of the broader perspective. There is a growing gap between pledged adaptation finance and science-based estimates of adaptation finance needs. The recent United Nations Environmental Program Adaptation Finance Gap Report estimates that $56-73 billion are needed for adaptation in developing countries annually now, rising to $140-300 billion in just 13 years.

ECO reminds Parties here on the last day of the “Africa COP” that current pledges to the Adaptation Fund–although most welcome–will contribute to plugging a mere 0.1% of the adaptation finance gap. ECO urges developed country Parties to mind this gap by stepping up with pledges closer to the scale of the problem when planning future budgets for adaptation support.

The Great COP24 Swap

Hosting negotiators in Bonn in 2017 is a creative solution to facilitate Fiji’s COP23 Presidency. ECO is very much looking forward to the leadership it knows Fiji will bring to this role. While reduced capacity in Bonn might prove challenging, we trust that logistical hurdles will be leaped to ensure that civil society participation is not a casualty of the workaround.

Looking ahead, we see that an Eastern European country is scheduled to take over as President for COP24. Indeed, Poland, having hosted in Warsaw in 2013 and Poznań in 2008, has expressed interest in putting recent COP experience to use in 2018.

ECO notes that this would mean 4 of 6 COPs between 2013 and 2018 being hosted in Europe. We anticipate huge political momentum for increasing Paris Agreement ambition at the 2018 Facilitative Dialogue. Regional swaps have occurred for past COPs. COP24 might be the right moment for a country outside of Europe to take the Presidency and showcase its leadership abilities.

Dear Ministers, with Adapt-Love from Marrakech…

The charming, narrow streets of Marrakech’s Medina teach you to share and co-exist. Perhaps the COP’s large open venue has had the opposite effect on Parties. Yesterday the High Level Ministerials twice passed over or delayed the opportunity to listen to civil society, doubling down the exclusion of civil society from most of this COP.

In the spirit of co-existence, multiple civil society constituencies—youth, women, farmers and environmental NGOs—brought together their diverse perspectives to convey their priorities on adaptation finance in just a few minutes, though to no avail. So ECO steps forward to provide space to voice their concerns.

Adaptation, a pillar of Paris Agreement, needs urgent, ambitious, and transformative public climate finance for vulnerable and impacted communities. The recently released US$100 billion roadmap shows that adaptation finance flows by 2020 will double the current levels. Yet that will still fall far short of the parity with mitigation finance that the Paris Agreement asks for. That gap cannot be filled by profit-seeking private finance, which favours mitigation activities. As well, that will favour richer developing countries, because they are more capable of absorbing private investment. That’s why developed countries should prioritise adaptation to help protect development gains in developing countries.
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$23 Million for the CTCN… and Counting

It’s always nice to have money in your pocket, so the Climate Technology Centre and Network (CTCN) must be feeling cheerful. In a long anticipated announcement that was sprung as a surprise in Marrakech, the CTCN received the grand sum of… US$23 million!

While not as much money as expected, these voluntary contributions provide welcome assurance for the survival of the CTCN and its ability to deliver technical assistance to developing countries. Presented in an undramatic fashion, Canada, the EU, Korea, Switzerland, and the US hope to set an example for supporting ‘technology sharing’. These founding contributors hope to reemphasise the importance of the CTCN as a core mechanism for delivering technology for climate action.

To be clear, this is desperately needed. CTCN staff have spent an extraordinary amount of time securing funding. Of course, their time is better spent on delivering technology support—not having to carry a begging bowl to the capitals. A reliance on voluntary contributions impairs the sustainability and predictability of the CTCN budget and erodes its effectiveness and its mandate. Parties need to support a more regular process for replenishing CTCN funding, especially in the new Technology Framework.

ECO hopes the example set by these donor countries galvanises others to contribute and support developing countries in effectively developing and deploying technology to address mitigation and adaptation.

Adaptation Fund

ECO is concerned about the survival of the Adaptation Fund. Created in the old times of the Kyoto Protocol, it was given the chance for a new life through the Paris Agreement. However, the way developed countries are “revisiting” its existence has us really worried about all those issues we thought we had clarified in Paris.  

“We fully support adaptation finance”, they say. “But we don’t see how the Adaptation Fund itself is ‘technically and legally’ ready to serve the Paris Agreement. The Fund was created to be supported by Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) revenues. Since that has failed, we will have to rethink the Fund itself”.

Readers, can ECO remind our dear negotiators to re-read some old decisions they took right here in Marrakech back in 2001 when the Fund was established? 

Let’s remind each other that 15 years ago we decided to establish the Adaptation Fund, period! We also agreed that the CDM would fund it, along with other sources, including finance provided by Annex I Parties (developed nations).

We truly hope that these rhetorical battles will end soon and Parties acknowledge once and for all the importance of the Adaptation Fund serving the Paris Agreement.