Category: Current Issue Lead Article

Way Forward on L&D

While loss and damage has seemed all but forgotten at this SB, ECO expects the UNFCCC’s first Pacific island Presidency to inject COP23 with a strong dose of the reality of climate impacts, thus directing some much-needed attention towards L&D. Although there is no major decision on L&D for November, Fiji’s own extreme vulnerability to losses and damages should create a push for ambitious outcomes.

 

At least some L&D discussion will occur at COP23, when the Warsaw International Mechanism’s Executive Committee reports on its efforts to flesh out its five-year work plan. So here are a few suggestions on what needs to happen before COP23 to ensure progress on L&D befitting a Fiji Presidency.

 

First, Parties and non-state actors should actively engage in the drafting of the WIM’s five-year work plan, especially at October’s ExCom meeting. Usually, work plans are negotiated in technical bodies and then reported to the COP, but are not reopened to substantial revisions. Therefore, key issues, such as institutional arrangements and additional sources to provide financial support for loss and damage, must be addressed in the ExCom’s pre-COP draft. ECO will be carefully monitoring how Parties — especially wealthy countries that have resisted supporting L&D despite pledging to do so in Paris — contribute to the ExCom’s work.
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Long-term Strategies: The Time is Now!

It is no secret that, while Parties’ NDC’s represent an improvement over business-as-usual trajectories, they fall short of meeting the Paris Agreement’s temperature goals. Moreover, global emissions are not on track to peak by 2020, let alone steep reductions thereafter. According to the UNEP Emissions Gap Report, to have a likely chance of limiting warming to 2 °C, carbon dioxide emissions need to drop to net zero between 2060 and 2075. To limit warming to 1.5 ° C, carbon dioxide emissions need to drop to net zero 15 years earlier, between 2045 and 2050. This will require significant transformation at an unprecedented scale and pace.

If our global community is to have a fighting chance of meeting these temperature goals, we urgently need to embrace more long-term and holistic strategies for our global development. Failure to do so risks driving investments towards incremental improvements: like replacing coal with natural gas or improving efficiency of fossil-fueled vehicles and appliances. These improvements, while sufficient to achieve NDC targets, are not sufficient to achieve the transformative changes, like transitioning to zero-carbon energy and electrifying vehicles, necessary to decarbonize the economy.

The Paris Agreement and its associated decisions recognize this need and invite Parties to submit mid-century, long-term low-greenhouse gas emissions development strategies.
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FD2018 – A Crucial Opportunity To Enhance Our Mitigation Ambition

ECO believes that the Facilitative Dialogue in 2018 has three key aspects:

First, it presents an opportunity for Parties to take another look at their NDCs in relation to what we want to achieve collectively. Many NDCs were crafted in a hurry and there may be some areas that were not apparent but are worth exploring. There may be multiple ways to enhance the NDCs, and the FD2018 needs to result in a clear commitment by all countries to do so by 2020.

Second, it allows states to capture the positive momentum built by various non-state actors. The design of the FD2018 must ensure strong linkages between the planned events and activities of non-state actors and the FD2018.

Third, it provides an occasion to analyse what kind of support is necessary in the NDCs. For example, it should look at what is needed to implement the conditional action that some countries put forward, and how to meet those needs. Those “needs” might present further opportunities for international cooperation.

ECO would like to see all of these aspects addressed in the FD2018 to support the enhancement of NDCs by 2020 in an equitable manner.

ECO further hopes that the Presidencies will be able to finalize the design of the FD2018 by COP23, so that Parties can start the process from the beginning of the year 2018.
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Don’t think twice (About the Adaptation Fund)!  

One of the hottest topics ECO is covering this week is the Adaptation Fund, and how it will serve the Paris Agreement. Two things are happening right now.

 

First, SBI is having discussions about the third Review of the Fund. This review should be completed by November 2017, and aims to give an idea about the current state of the Fund by presenting its current progress, opportunities, and challenges.

 

The Fund’s work has been applauded by developing countries, mostly because of its direct access structure and its focus on the most vulnerable. It promotes country ownership, and allows countries to manage their own adaptation projects. In Marrakech, the Fund over-performed, exceeding its resource mobilisation target goal of US$80 million. This accomplishment is a tribute to the momentum the Fund has, and shows what developed countries should do to contribute to the operationality, efficiency and sustainability of the Fund under the Paris Agreement. This momentum is also seen in the strong need and demand for concrete localized climate change adaptation projects. In March this year, the Fund’s Board received 23 project submissions to review.

 

Second, ECO is paying close attention to the APA negotiations about the future of the Fund and how it will function under the Paris Agreement after 2018.
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Facilitative Dialogue 2018 – the next big opportunity!

While the Moroccan and Fijian Presidencies undertake informal consultations on the Facilitative Dialogue 2018, and before hearing about Parties‘ expectations, ECO has some ideas about the direction of travel for FD2018. Actually it’s simple:

Ambition Mechanism = Facilitative Dialogue 2018 + Second Periodic Science Review + Global Stocktake 2023

FD2018 is the next big moment to strengthen the effectiveness of the Paris Agreement. We all know that the emissions gap is much too wide. Waiting for 2023 and ambition rising actions initiated by the Global Stocktake would be a huge delay that we can’t afford.

Instead of thinking of it as a single isolated event, Parties might prefer to leverage regional and high level meetings for the FD2018. In 2018, climate change must surely be on the international agenda:  the G7 and G20, the World Economic Forum, the Climate Vulnerable Forum, Petersburg Dialogue, even a possible 1.5°C Forum to discuss the IPCC Special Report. And all of those can feed into the outcome of the FD2018.

Parties should welcome inputs to the FD2018, including those from non-state actors – for example, the Global Climate Action Summit in California in September 2018, and from researchers, think tanks and others.

FD2018 can be envisioned as two parts: a technical phase and a political phase.
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Where the Rubber Hits the Road on Accountability

Accountability and verification of progress in meeting commitments are essential to increasing transparency, and creating confidence that countries are taking actions in line with their capabilities and responsibilities.

In Cancun and Durban, Parties established the International Assessment and Review (IAR) and International Consultation and Analysis (ICA), as a two-phase verification process for developed and developing countries.

Today and tomorrow, 28 countries will be subject to multilateral scrutiny on their climate efforts — the second part of the two-phase verification process. Countries being evaluated include the US, Canada, Japan, Switzerland, France, Russia, India, Indonesia, Morocco, Thailand and Malaysia. Following a technical analysis of country reports during the first phase, this exercise allows for a more comprehensive picture of the actions taken by countries, for a better understanding of how each country gathered the information included in their reports, and for sharing best practices and lessons learned.  It also provides an opportunity for other Parties to raise questions and concerns, and for the Party under review to respond and clarify its thinking, or highlight its efforts to fulfill its requirements.

 

Although the current process is designed to be facilitative and kind to the countries on the hot seat, it ultimately has to help answer the question: is the country in question living up to its obligations and responsibilities?
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Marhaba to our climate action talanoa!

The 2020 pledges and the NDCs submitted in 2015 were a step forward for global climate action. But they still leave us with two unresolved problems: a huge emissions gap, and a huge gap in climate preparedness that is hitting vulnerable communities the hardest. Looking further into the future, with the Paris Agreement and Agenda 2030, Parties have recognized the enormous challenge the global community is facing: In the next three and half decades, we collectively have to improve the wellbeing of all people around the planet, while putting in place zero-carbon economies and societies that are more inclusive, and protect the vulnerable.

In Fijian culture, when problems cannot be resolved through traditional means, the community has an additional resort — they organize a “talanoa”, a relaxed gathering open to anyone. It is intended to be as inclusive as possible, so that new solutions can be forged. Likewise, ECO recalls that in Morocco, the word “marhaba”, meaning “welcome” and “come in”, reflects openness and willingness to discuss and take the next step together.

Recognizing the role of our High-Level Champions from Morocco and Fiji, ECO wants to say “marhaba” to all Parties and non-state and sub-national actors to our planetary talanoa: the Marrakech Partnership for Global Climate Action.
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Time for clear communications on Adaptation communications

When countries submitted their INDCs, which later became their NDCs, ECO was very pleased to see that nearly all developing countries included adaptation components. This was because it provides a more complete picture on the significant and yet unmet needs that many vulnerable countries face to advance adaptation. ECO encourages Parties to move constructively forward on the adaptation communication discussion here in Bonn. This could finally lift the political attention given to adaptation to the level of attention given to mitigation.

 

Overall, ECO would like to see the following elements being addressed in adaptation communications:

  • National sustainable development circumstances;
  • Impacts, risks and vulnerabilities, at different temperatures including 1.5 and 2°C;
  • Current trajectories and worst case temperature scenarios;
  • Legal, institutional and policy frameworks;
  • Decision-making processes and application of adaptation principles (based on Art. 7.5);
  • Costs of adaptation and support needs;
  • Monitoring and evaluation of adaptation.

 

ECO feels that the purposes of different instruments, to be used for adaptation communications, can be clearer: NDCs are key to outlining forward-looking objectives and targets for action that are related to the overall NDC submission and the Global Stocktake; National communications focus on providing information on adaptation actions and policies already undertaken; National Adaptation Plans (NAPs) can, as a primarily national planning tool, provide a roadmap towards achieving the objectives outlined in the NDCs.
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Adaptation Finance: Final Stretch

It is no surprise that finance has been pushed to what ECO hopes is actually the last day of COP22. Until last night, an agreement to give the Adaptation Fund a future life under the Paris Agreement had not been found. ECO is well aware of the question marks many developed countries have about whether (or how) the Adaptation Fund should serve the Paris Agreement. Well, that can be sorted. Just decide to work it out. When? Next year.

ECO finds it unwise to leave COP22 without a clear political decision that the Adaptation Fund will serve the Paris Agreement. This would be seen as a blow to the spirit of cooperation and solidarity, which were so eagerly celebrated with the announcement of the Marrakesh Action Proclamation. Also the Fund holds significant importance to many, given the successful delivery of adaptation support.

As if this wasn’t enough for the final finance stretch of COP22, the long-term finance decision is also still in limbo. While developing countries are asking for increased adaptation finance, developed countries want to see their roadmap welcomed, even if that implies accepting their accounting methodology, which has considerable gaps. The delivery of the roadmap could be recognised as a contribution to enhance transparency in how developed countries intend to meet their US$100 billion goal.


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Seize the Date: 2018

Parties came to Marrakech pledging to turn the Paris Agreement into action. But some countries don’t seem to see the need for a COP decision at all, let alone a decision that enables Parties to start discussing how to make the Facilitative Dialogue in 2018 a successful part of a momentous year to increase overall ambition.

ECO wants a clear decision from COP22 that recognises the importance of a robust, inclusive, and transparent Facilitative Dialogue that takes advantage of the benefits of ambitious climate action, and achieves the objectives of the Paris Agreement.

Parties should welcome the ability to design a Dialogue that represents an opportunity to take stock of progress already made, identify concrete steps to accelerate implementation, take account of the latest science (e.g. the IPCC report on 1.5°C), acknowledge front runners, and identify further opportunities for cooperation, in a facilitative manner. Waiting until 2023 for the Global Stocktake will be far too long to seize all of the opportunities already at hand.

Here are some lessons learned from past review exercises: agree a process for an effective and impactful Facilitative Dialogue, welcome Parties and non-Party stakeholders to share their views on what would lead to success and how to get there, start with an informal workshop in Bonn in May, and help Parties think through the options and opportunities for an effective process.
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