Category: Current Issue Features

A valuable step to increase ambition

ECO likes to recall success stories and is eager to replicate them. A big success story was the Structured Expert Dialogue (SED) under the 2013 – 2015 Review. The task of the SED was to consider new science (especially from the Fifth Assessment Report of IPCC) and send the new intelligence in a condensed way to the COP.

In October the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) will adopt the Special Report on 1.5 degrees (SR1.5). COP 21 asked the IPCC to produce it in time for the Facilitative Dialogue at COP in 2018. The SR1.5 is a key instrument to start the implementation of the temperature targets agreed to in Paris.

ECO suggests two potential approaches on how to work with the SR1.5 in the Talanoa Dialogue and the COP — a workshop and a special event

The Talanoa Dialogue could include a workshop, very soon after the IPCC Special Report approval, so that in-depth exchanges could take place between the main authors of the IPCC SR1.5 and delegates from Parties and Observers. A report of the workshop could then be considered at SBSTA 49 (during COP24). To reduce costs and increase participation, the workshop and the additional intersession or the Pre-COP 24 meeting could happen back to back.
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The EU ETS reform, and what does this mean for the carbon markets?

Early Thursday morning, EU institutions reached a final agreement on the reform of the bloc’s carbon market for the period 2021 to 2030. Covering around 40% of EU’s greenhouse gas emissions from the energy, industry and aviation sectors, the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS) is currently the largest cap and trade carbon market in the world. But with a notorious oversupply of pollution permits that has kept carbon prices hovering around 5-7 EUR/tCO2e for the past five years, the ETS has long been the region’s problem child. ECO remains disappointed at the new agreement.

 

A real reform of the system would have simultaneously slashed the enormous allowance glut, sent a strong decarbonisation signal to energy and industry, and made sure that auction revenues go to sustainable and clean technology. The success of the reform has to be judged on the delivery on all of these aspects.

 

It is now clear that the reform will not bring the scheme in line with the Paris Agreement climate goals or with mid-century decarbonization.  However, the EU did make some small improvements with regard to the permit surplus: For the first time, some unused allowances will not be released to the market and could be cancelled, potentially leading to a reduction of 2-3 billion allowances in the long term.
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Let it shine – “in the light of equity” in the Global Stocktake

The negotiations on the Global Stocktake (GST) represent a key opportunity to advance one of the most unfinished areas of the Paris Agreement — differentiation and equity in the new regime. It’s an opportunity that we better take seriously, because right now we’re in danger of sliding back into unhelpful old patterns; instead of exploring new ideas on how to take into account countries’ different stages of development, levels of capability and historical responsibility.

 

Equity, like science, is an overarching principle of the GST that needs to guide all of its workstreams. First though, ECO wants to remind everybody that equity in the context of Article 14 refers to equity between countries. Equity and differentiation allow us to consider how national actions contribute, at different scales and in different ways, to real collective progress.

 

Key inputs are already exist in the NDCs. Many Parties have already explained their views and perspectives of differentiation and equity in their NDCs and we suggest that one key task in the GST is to look at them. Likewise, civil society and research institutions are already developing approaches and methodologies for relevant analyses. The GST should allow them to be taken into account.
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Transparency: Seeing Through the Magnifying Glass on Item Five

With all the talk of “skeletons” in the APA informals, ECO knows that the enhanced transparency framework will be the true “backbone” of the implementation guidelines of the Paris Agreement, providing instructions for the reporting and reviewing of Parties’ commitments and actions. The transparency framework needs to have strong bones if it’s going to truly support the responsibility of building trust and confidence between Parties and promoting effective implementation.

 

Many aspects of the existing transparency system work well and should be built upon, but it’s still far from perfect. Delays and incomplete information not only impact understanding, but also hold up critical review efforts to identify capacity-building gaps and needs. ECO believes the Paris Agreement means moving to a world where “common modalities, procedures and guidelines” will both allow transparency and comparability of all Parties’ action and support; and deliver benefits for developing countries in enhanced capacity (with adequate support). ECO believes that it is possible to have a certain level of flexibility for countries that need it without jeopardizing transparency or a common approach that drives continuous improvement overtime.

 

With so much at stake, it seems worth pointing out the overarching benefits of an effective and robust transparency framework.
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4 Years is Long Enough! Time for Loss and Damage Finance

From the devastating Atlantic hurricane season to catastrophic flooding across South Asia, 2017 has delivered harrowing reminders of the human cost and grave injustice of climate change. Loss and damage from climate change is not a future hypothetical but a growing current reality, affecting millions around the world.

 

AOSIS, LDCs, G77, Africa Group, AILAC – we heard you loud and clear at the opening of SBI and the past days’ consultations and couldn’t agree more! We simply cannot let this COP – the ‘Pacific COP’ – go by without real progress in action and support on loss and damage.

 

First, it is long past time to elevate loss and damage within the negotiations. This means making it a permanent agenda item of the subsidiary bodies and under the CMA negotiation process. We must link work on loss and damage to all elements of the Paris Agreement, including the Global Stocktake and the Transparency Framework, in a clever but effective way. Permanent agendas are critical because other than annual reports of the Executive Committee on its work, there is currently no way for Parties to oversee the larger Warsaw International Mechanism on Loss and Damage (WIM) aspirations or the achievement of Article 8 of the Paris Agreement.
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Meet the U.S. People’s Delegation

ECO welcomes a new delegation at the COP this year.

 

The delegation represents a country whose people are deeply committed to climate action. A country with universities, businesses, cities, and states that are pushing forward with plans to achieve bold climate targets like 100% renewable energy. A country that believes in science, respect, and the importance of the global community. A country that currently has a President and Administration who believes in none of these things.

 

Meet the U.S. People’s Delegation, a delegation of climate activists and community leaders from across the United States who have come to COP23 to represent the true spirit of the nation and to push for bold climate action that goes above and beyond the Paris Agreement.

 

The U.S. People’s Delegation is stepping in to fill the void left by the Trump Administration, which announced its intention to exit the Paris Agreement. This administration is here at the climate talks not on behalf of the American people, it seems, but on behalf of their friends in the fossil fuel industry (the main side event hosted by the “official” U.S. delegation this year is an infomercial for “clean” coal).

 

Instead of speaking for this fossil fuel driven and dirty past, the U.S.
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Emissions Gap Report Highlights Need for Higher Ambition

Last week’s UN Environment Emissions Gap Report showed that the world’s ‘distance to target’ on carbon emissions continues to grow. The gap between current NDCs and the 1.5 and 2 degree trajectories ranges between a huge 11 and 19 gigatons of CO2 equivalent emissions for 2030, 20-35% of present emissions.

Scientists suggest that the even with full implementation of current NDCs 80% of the carbon budget for 2 degrees will be depleted by 2030, and would be fully depleted for the 1.5 degree target. And that is if countries actually fulfill their NDC commitments, which is in doubt for the US, Indonesia, Australia, and several others.

The conclusion is that current NDCs are not enough. Governments already know that their combined pledges for 2030 are insufficient, particularly those of industrialised countries. The IPCC Special Report in autumn 2018 will show this ever more clearly, but governments should not wait for this to act.

There is good news, however. Global CO2 equivalent emissions — not just energy-related CO2 — seem to have plateaued between 2014 to 2016. Moreover, there is growing potential for cost-effective carbon cuts, defined as below $US100/ton CO2, until 2030. This means that the number of policies with minimal or even negative costs have been growing significantly.
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Brazil Considers Massive Oil Subsidy

Picture a country where renewables make up nearly 50% of the energy mix, where sustainable biofuels are commonplace, and where huge strides have been taken to reduce wasteful carbon emissions; more so than any other country over the last decade. One may think such a country would be poised to lead the world in developing a green economy. But Brazil has apparently chosen to change course and become a petrostate instead.

 

Ever since it discovered large offshore oil deposits, Brazil has reduced support for ethanol and doubled down on dirty energy. About 70% of all its energy investments in the next decade are earmarked for fossil fuel projects, mostly offshore oil and gas. As if this weren’t bad enough, President Michel Temer is now supporting a tax break for oil companies that could amount to US$300 billion over the next 2 decades – even as the country flounders in the worst recession in its history. 

 

While Brazilian negotiators in Bonn vow more climate ambition and peddle biofuels as a climate mitigation solution, President Temer has sent a welcome package for oil majors, an emergency bill (Medida Provisória ), to Congress. It has a deadline of December 15 for approval. If it clears Congress, oil companies will flow into Brazil like an oil slick.
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Bula! Tor the Talanoa Dialogue

ECO read the informal note prepared by COP22 and COP23 Presidencies on the features of the facilitate dialogue in 2018 (a.k.a “Talanoa Dialogue”) with great interest and believes that the note reflects rich consultations they had with Parties throughout the year. It can serve as a good start for discussion to finalize the “design” of the dialogue at this COP.

The dialogue will be the first opportunity for Parties to recognize the gap we have and to explore ways to ramp up their ambition.  The increase of ambition could take various forms but one thing is clear: the Dialogue has to inspire Parties to take concrete actions to put us back on the right track to achieve the Paris Agreement’s purpose.

ECO finds it a great idea to have both COP23 and COP24 Presidencies navigate the Dialogue.  We trust both presidencies to conduct the Dialogue in a “Talanoa” style, meaning, in an “inclusive, participatory and transparent” manner. We also welcome the fact that the note recognizes the role of non-Party Stakeholders in convening national, regional or global events as well as in preparing analytical and policy relevant inputs. There are still some issues to be resolved in the design but we also recognize that we do not have much time left till the end of this COP.
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The Adaptation To-Do-List for COP23

ECO listened carefully to governments’ opening statements and is pleased to hear that adaptation is not forgotten. Ambitious adaptation is necessary for countries’ sustainable efforts to succeed despite the growing impacts of climate change, which are unavoidable. Contributions such as the 50 million Euros pledge for the Adaptation Fund by Germany on day 1 of COP 23 should inspire other developed countries to follow suit.

So, adaptation is crucial. However, as is often the case, adaptation is scattered across various agenda items and it is easy to lose sight of the full adaptation picture. That is why ECO is offering this handy guide:

    • Adaptation Fund (AF): The easy answer to the question of whether the AF shall serve the Paris Agreement is: YES! And Parties could agree on this answer here in Bonn, while sorting out remaining details in the next year.
  • Adaptation Communications: Under the Paris Agreement, Parties should make progress on the guidance required in order to report what they have been doing on adaptation, outlining their plans for future actions, and informing the Global Stocktake. Just repeating what is already enshrined in the Paris Agreement is not enough. Parties have to say what they want in the adaptation communications, capture common points, sort out the differences and start to write down the draft guidelines!

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