Category: Current Issue Lead Article

The Year Of Talanoa

2018 will be the year of the Talanoa dialogue. ECO is encouraged to see the design of the dialogue take shape and thinks the presidencies’ design is fit for purpose. But ECO also wants to emphasize a few important points.


Parties made good progress in finding a solution to the question of how to deal with pre-2020 by adding a pre-2020 stocktake to COP24 and COP25. However, they must be mindful of achieving appropriate balance between this proposed new pre-2020 stocktake and the political phase of the Talanoa dialogue process at COP24.


Increased NDC ambition and stronger pre-2020 action and support are needed to fulfill the Paris promise. Pre-2020 is important, especially in the context of “Where are we?” and to make the best of the short time available. But we also need the Talanoa Dialogue to provide relevant forward-looking information and political momentum towards preparing the NDCs that Parties will communicate by 2020 (per paragraphs 23 and 24 of 1/CP.21), in other words those for the 2026 to 2030 period. Those NDCs must be more ambitious/bold than what’s currently on the table, lest 1.5°C slips out of our hands.


ECO likes the idea to have both Fijian and Polish presidencies preside over the Talanoa process from start to finish – this is a great way of ensuring consistency and to allow the process to start early.
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Climate change education and participation: from mainstreaming to negotiating the matter!

Education Day is a great opportunity for all actors to exchange information on best practices and to define the next steps to enhance partnerships for climate education.
Climate education is not just a Bonn Zone topic. It is also something to be found in the Bula zone. As education is highlighted in the Paris Agreement under Article 12, along with training, public awareness, public participation, public access to information, and international cooperation. To discuss these elements, the Action for Climate Empowerment group (ACE) was created in 2015, and meets every year during COPs and SBs and works to enhance education on climate change and on the five other elements.
This year, the informal consultation group on ACE, focal points, and observers met several times to develop conclusions, which were presented in front of parties during the SBI’s closing plenary.
ACE has now been officially recognised as part of the UNFCCC negotiations due to the 6 elements of ACE being formally recognised as fundamental to the implementation of the Paris Agreement. ECO is pleased that both parties and observers can provide submissions.
ECO is already brainstorming. These submissions should include topics that will feed the next workshop at the SB meeting in April/May 2018.
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Climate Chancellor with empty hands

ECO is looking forward to Angela Merkel’s visit to COP23 today. With negotiations on a new government in Berlin at a decisive point, the German Chancellor cannot stay long in Bonn. What message will the so-called “climate Chancellor” bring to the delegates and the world watching the conference? Reading leaked papers from the current negotiations in Berlin, ECO is worried that Merkel will come to Bonn with empty hands. It´s not about money this time. ECO welcomed Germany’s €100 million pledge to the Adaptation Fund and the Least Developed Countries Fund. But this time it’s about something money can’t buy: Germany’s credibility on climate action.

Reading the leaked papers, ECO can tell that Merkel is not willing to start the long overdue, real phase-out of coal. The reduction of only 15 to 30 million tonnes of coal emissions that Conservatives and Liberals are pushing for is ridiculously low compared to the needed 100 million tonnes to close the German emissions gap in order to reach its national climate target for 2020. But on top of that, Merkel does not support measures to significantly reduce emissions from road transport, giving in to pressure from German car makers.

Only yesterday, we learned that Germany’s CO2 emissions are on the rise again, for the second year in a row.
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Loss and Damage Mythbusting

ECO has been a fly on the wall at a number of meetings with developed country delegations and has been … disturbed, shall we say, by the utter nonsense and misinformation delivered at such meetings. ECO wishes to address the misconceptions and present nothing but the facts on loss and damage.


Myth 1: There is no mandate for finance for loss and damage:

In 2013, the COP gave the Warsaw International Mechanism (WIM) a clear mandate for loss and damage finance. COP decision 2/CP19 says three times that the WIM will enhance or mobilise finance. The Paris Agreement Article 8 also makes clear that finance for loss and damage will be enhanced, or strengthened, on a “cooperative and facilitative basis”.


Myth 2:The WIM has been talking about “finance” by talking about insurance

To be clear: insurance is not finance. Insurance is a measure that you might choose to take with the provided finance; one amongst many activities that a country might decide on as an appropriate strategy in the face of loss and damage. For infrequent and extreme events insurance has a role to play – but overall a limited role. Vulnerable countries should not be paying insurance premiums to insure themselves against impacts from climate change – a problem they had almost no role in creating – it flies against the principles of the Convention, and against that of the Paris Agreement.
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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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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.

Why pre-2020 action matters for Paris

After yet another year of extreme weather events, which devastated many communities across the world, it is clear that urgency of action has become more than a slogan – it is a reality! Delivering on promises of action and support in the pre-2020 period is not only fundamental to maintain trust among Parties (though it does that as well); to limiting the severity of growing climate impacts (yep, it does that too); or making it easier to increase ambition post-2020 (are you getting that this makes sense on many levels yet?); but’ simply put pre-2020 action is crucial to reaching the objectives of the Paris Agreement.

Without ambitious action now (we all know what ‘now’ means, right?), we cannot keep global temperature rise to 1.5°C or well below 2°C. The best available science tells us that greenhouse gas emissions need to peak by 2020 and decline thereafter.

Need we say more? This is why ECO believes that there is great value in having a dedicated space for discussions on Pre-2020 – while also using all existing channels to consider relevant efforts for advancing pre-2020 action and the necessary support to enable this action in all countries.

A Small Step for a Non-Party Stakeholder, a Giant Leap for the Process

ECO was excited to be part of the Presidency’s Open Dialogue yesterday. The event was unique because it allowed Parties and Non-Party Stakeholders (NPS) to gather around the same table and participate in a discussion, unlike the usual style of statements or interventions in plenaries, where typically observers get only very short slots at the very end.

ECO appreciates both the Presidency’s and Secretariat’s efforts which paved the way for this very much needed form of conversation between Parties and NPS. It was also great to see so many Parties participating in this event.

Two topics were selected for this session: “NDC enhancement and implementation” and “enhancing observer access to and participation in formal meetings”. Both are close to our hearts! Our hearts are also exceptionally warm since our representatives had the opportunity to make points on the importance of the Talanoa Dialogue as perhaps the last opportunity to increase mitigation ambition in order to bring us to a 1.5°C-compatible pathway. Additionally, our colleagues stressed NPS’ role of creating platforms for cross-border collaboration and that this form of conversation should continue.

We found these exchanges quite useful. However, ECO also believes there is room for improvement in regards to the methodology of the discussion.
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Are Developing Countries Satisfied with Half Filled Promises?

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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Germany: a Climate Leader or a Climate Laggard?

ECO was pleased to hear the German environment minister announcing a new pledge of €50 million for the Adaptation Fund (and the development minister adding another €50m for the Least Developed Countries Fund). This has been a welcome signal on day 1 of the COP23 – and all the other rich countries now have nearly two weeks to contemplate if they follow suit.

What the minister did not mention in her opening speech is that the current government has slowed down renewable energy expansion and failed to agree on a phase-out plan for coal. This is at odds with the majority of the German population who favour a coal exit. Last Saturday, Bonn saw the largest climate march ever in Germany, with people demanding climate justice and a rapid coal phase-out. It may have slipped some delegates’ attention, but Bonn is not even 50km from the Rhineland coalfields, Europe’s largest source of carbon pollution with huge open-pit lignite mines and coal power stations.

In fact, German greenhouse gas emissions have not gone down for the past 8 years. Germany is going to miss its domestic 2020 reduction target of 40% compared to 1990 levels by a wide margin if the new government does not act decisively.
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