Category: Current Issue Features

“Loss and Damage” from Concept to Action

ECO was thrilled to be able to participate in the informal session of the loss and damage discussion beyond the first contact group. But this excitement was watered down when a Party proposed to delete the paragraph that allowed relevant organisations to express their views and provide input on the possible activities in the work stream of the Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage (WIM), before the first meeting of the Executive Committee in 2017.

Input from observers helps to enrich the discussion, provide experiences and lessons learned from around the world and identify the possible activities that the WIM should take into account to fulfil its objectives.

Additionally, the concept of a “placeholder” on loss and damage finance, instead of more defined work activities, is disturbing. It almost seems like developed countries are procrastinating on the subject. ECO is confident you’ve got it in you to agree to write a submission on enhancing mobilisation of financial support before March.

Next Steps to Get to $100 Billion

Finally, the juicy discussion on long-term finance under COP agenda item 10a is getting off the ground. It’s not surprising that virtually every developed country that spoke yesterday celebrated their roadmap towards the $100-billion-a-year promise. And of course they highlighted their projection that public adaptation finance may double by 2020. Maybe developed countries even think they are off the hook when looking at those projections. Yet, with a closer look, a few additional things come to mind that may require COP action.

Let’s start with a key fact. Doubling adaptation finance by 2020 would mean only a fifth of the $100bn would be public finance for adaptation. While a welcome increase, a gross imbalance is still projected between mitigation and adaptation, and Parties may wish to address this in any COP22 decision on long-term finance. They could do so by urging developed countries to increase adaptation finance way beyond the roadmap’s projections. Quadrupling instead of doubling would be a fair start, in ECO’s view. After all, adaptation needs are set to soar dramatically in the near future, especially given the lack of ambition in countries’ NDCs.

ECO was delighted to hear Bangladesh questioning the inclusion of market-rate loans as climate finance.
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Gathering Speed on Pre-2020 Action

In preparation for the high-level part of the Facilitative Dialogue on enhancing ambition and support taking place next Wednesday, ECO would like to raise the profile of the helpful guiding questions proposed by the Presidency. In particular, we would like to ask, what immediate domestic steps should countries take to raise overall ambition?

ECO wouldn’t be ECO without proposing concrete ideas for immediate domestic action. Before convening for the 2016 Dialogue, Parties should consider policies that: improve energy efficiency, for example in buildings, remove fossil fuel subsidies, price carbon emissions, scale up renewable energy procurement procedures, divest national pension plans and other public funds from fossil fuel companies, require financial institutions to report on investment in fossil fuels, retain and restore natural forests, improve agricultural practices, reduce wasteful consumption, in particular food waste, or subsidise public transport—and that’s just to name a few!

Developed countries must take lead by scaling up their own actions and support. In this context, accelerated ambition must mean no new fossil fuel infrastructure. Even the potential carbon emissions from the oil, gas, and coal in the world’s currently operating fields and mines would take us beyond 2°C of warming.

Key to the Success of First Global Stocktake

Given the current lack of collective ambition, the Global Stocktake is a crucial tool to make a serious assessment of the Parties’ progress on meeting the objectives they all signed up to in Paris, and identify what still needs to be done. The Global Stocktake must gather momentum by ensuring broad ownership over its process and its conclusion.

ECO has identified one crucial feature of the stocktake: it must recognise not only information provided by Parties (through their reporting) and intergovernmental organisations such as the IPCC, but also information from other agencies and non-state actors, including research institutions and civil society. This inclusivity will build momentum by encouraging these institutions to close the knowledge gaps that currently exist in important stocktake areas, thus ensuring that the science that the Global Stocktake considers is really the best available.

Why would anyone want to exclude any useful information from this crucial process already so long before the first Stocktake in 2023? ECO has a hard time understanding why Parties would want to limit this scope, especially since they are deciding the modalities of a long-lasting regime.

CDM Pitfalls: The Facts

Before negotiators convened, Panama sent a signal to the carbon market world on how essential robust stakeholder consultation is. Following years of protest and controversy, Panama withdrew its approval from the Barro Blanco Clean Development Mechanism hydroelectric power project, effectively preventing it from issuing offset credits.

Barro Blanco, not only had little environmental integrity, but also serious social, environmental, and human rights consequences. ECO applauds the Panamanian decision but remains concerned for communities still affected by the ongoing “test flooding” of the reservoir.

The constant roars of airplanes overhead must be reminding negotiators of ICAO’s enthusiasm for international offsets. It is urgent that any market mechanisms learn from the Barro Blanco experience and incorporate a rights based holistic market design that moves beyond offsetting, ensures environmental integrity, genuinely furthers ambition, and works towards the Sustainable Development Goals.

ECO longs to believe that emphasis in the Paris Agreement and Article 6 on the need to respect human rights in climate action really will mean something on the ground. Specifically, this means clear guidance for local stakeholder consultation, safeguards in line with best practice among multilateral finance institutions, and a grievance process for when implementation goes wrong.

Ah, Sweet Reunion

ECO felt the sweet tinge of elation, like when you meet a good old friend, when several Parties made a strong case for common 5-year commitment periods in yesterday’s APA informal. It was probably no coincidence that it was some of the most climate vulnerable countries (AOSIS, CARICOM and the Africa Group) that led the charge.

As has been emphasised many times, the NDCs currently on the table will lead to 3°C of climate catastrophe. That would spell doom for many, and leaves us with little to no choice. We need to speed up the transition considerably, starting now. Including via new and stronger NDCs from Parties in the coming few years. Failing that will lock the world in to catastrophic warming before the ink on the Paris Agreement has even dried.

ECO is perplexed that many Parties still labour under the delusion that no increase in action is needed this side of 2030. So far, many parties have been reluctant to enhance their NDC. This is rather curious as Parties advocating for 10-year commitment periods last year kept assuring, and then reassuring, ECO that such lengthy commitment periods would not lock in low ambition. ECO had even, being such a helpful soul, suggested that maybe 5-year commitment periods would be a much more reasonable approach.
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Challenging Sacred Cows

It’s great that today is Farmers’ Day! That way, ECO gets to celebrate and protect the 2 billion smallholder farmers who feed most of our fellow planet dwellers, using less than a quarter of the world’s farmland.

Large-scale industrial agriculture drives the majority of emissions from the agriculture sector. Synthetic fertilisers create high levels of emissions. They require large amounts of water, threatening water tables and wetlands and making crops more vulnerable to climate change. What’s more, intensive meat production generates high levels of methane emissions and deforestation to grow livestock feed.

In contrast, many smallholder farmers—especially women in developing countries—use agroecological techniques to strengthen adaptation, nurture biodiversity, soils and natural fertility, all while avoiding emissions.

Putting all that into consideration, it is time to freshen up the SBSTA agriculture talks, which have gone stale. With clear references to food security, sustainable consumption patterns and human rights in the Paris Agreement, negotiations on agriculture have a critical opportunity to make these a reality for the world’s farmers facing climate change.

A new SBSTA Work Programme on Agriculture and Food Security is critical to provide a sustained space for open dialogue, where countries can consider how to implement their own agriculture NDC pledges, whether on adaptation, mitigation or both.
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[____]: What this holds for the world?

Don’t worry, ECO gets out of the (UNFCCC) house every now and then. Or at least enough to know that there’s something going on in America right now, and it could mean good or bad news for the climate.

The Paris Agreement was a watershed moment for the world: it signified a global commitment to climate action. With the US election (finally!) over, the new President will have an opportunity to catalyse further action on the climate, sending a clear signal to investors to stay on track transitioning to renewable-powered economy on track.

Climate is an important diplomatic area for the US, as seen during COP21. It is also an area where the next President should continue to build collaborative relationships to address climate change. All over the world, climate change action is gaining momentum. While ECO might be late to (or recovering from) the US election party, stay tuned for the reaction from Marrakech to the next American President tomorrow.

All Hands on Deck!

Many of us have spent years in the UNFCCC bubble, where every bracket, and every comma (especially the commas) matter. Slowly, though, we are lifting our gaze and seeing that there is more to action already occurring on the ground. One concrete example is right in this COP’s backyard—the Ouarzazate Solar Power Station. It is one of the world’s largest solar thermal power plants. It will provide renewable energy to more than one million Moroccans. ECO is impressed by such an innovative project.

This project convinces us that we can learn from the good things already happening out there. Non-state actors, such as cities and regions, businesses, and civil society groups are paving the way by demonstrating ambition and concrete achievements. Can these “outside processes”, such as Global Climate Action (GCA), help increase ambition inside these processes?

Another question remains: How can non-state actors help raise ambitions for the 2018 facilitative dialogue, including leading by example through setting science-based targets? And how can the efforts by state actors help to ensure credibility, ambition and transparency in voluntary initiatives and coalitions under the heading of GCA?

So-called inside and outside processes are both needed to function well. Each can enable and assist the other to create virtuous cycles so that all actors can do more.
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Four Conclusions on BA2016

 Now that the Standing Committee on Climate Finance (SCF) has presented its 2016 Biennial Assessment (BA2016) of climate finance, the report’s key findings and recommendations are meant to guide negotiators through the next two weeks’ worth of climate finance agenda items. ECO finds four items to be particularly noteworthy:

First, the SCF had the interesting recommendation (probably inspired by studying the chaotic jungle of past Biennial Reports) that Parties should be enabled to provide additional information on, you guessed it, how they have identified finance as being “climate-specific”. ECO reads this as a finely-worded, slightly ironic critique of what’s plain for everyone to see: the current, very lenient reporting system creates the temptation to overstate the climate-relevance of provided funds. Of course, ECO is quite sure this would never happen because anyone would seek to inflate their numbers. But to many it seems like a lot of work to track down what portion of funds was aiming specifically at climate action. That’s especially for flows where climate is one of many objectives. Clearly, tightening these reporting guidelines should be addressed in the SBSTA negotiations on accounting modalities.

Second, the BA2016 confirms what every other climate finance report has said: the continued existence of an ugly imbalance between adaptation and mitigation in climate finance (with the notable exception of the UNFCCC funds).
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