Category: Current Issue Lead Article

Cheatsheet for Parties

How to answer questions at the high-level facilitative dialogue on enhancing ambition, a 101.

Where should Parties be with regards to mitigation ambition by 2020, and what should the factors for success be?

  • All Parties—particularly developed countries—need to take more action by 2020, including providing more support to developing countries.
  • Many Parties are on track to over-achieve their 2020 targets, which should be welcomed by the COP, but it should also be noted that over-achievement opens the door for more ambitious targets in the future. 
  • In addition to stronger near-term efforts and future targets, Parties should be participating in meaningful initiatives e.g. on renewable energy.
  • Stronger political will and a spirit of cooperation are important factors for success. They have enabled the Paris Agreement’s early entry into force, and now need to be applied to enhance action pre-2020.

What immediate domestic steps should countries take to raise overall ambition, and how can these be facilitated?

  • Announce at least one of these: fossil fuel subsidy reform, public funds divestment from fossil fuels, coal phase out, new fossil fuel infrastructure cancelling, efficiency standards increases, renewable energy support, affordable and attractive public transport, natural forest retainment and restoration, agricultural practice improvements, or reduction in wasteful consumption.

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VIP Checklist

ECO is delighted to hear that approximately 80 Heads-of-State and Ministers made their way to Marrakech to show continued climate leadership in the high-level segment of the COP, the CMP and the CMA today.

Want to know the level of leadership shown by your Heads-of-State and Ministers? Keep track by completing this check list (tick all that apply). Come on, you know you want to…


Marrakech: From Regime-Building to Ambition-Building

Dear Ministers, We warmly welcome you to COP22 with its cool breeze and dusty trails.

The entry into force of the Paris Agreement less than one year after COP21 is a remarkable achievement. But if ECO has learned anything in more than 25 years of climate change negotiations, it is to not rest on its laurels.

Last week presented us with a stark reminder that all countries need to focus on delivering the promises of Paris. Ministers, you came to Marrakech to spell out the necessary details of the decisions taken in Paris, and by doing so seek to underpin real climate action at home.

You came to tell fellow ministers how, inspired by the Paris Agreement, you have taken immediate further action, so that the ambition gap can be closed. This early action is essential to achieving the Paris goal of limiting warming to 1.5°C.

Sadly, what in COP-land is called the 2016 ‘facilitative’ dialogue began with only limited preparation and ended with recycled statements. ECO calls on you to use this weeks’ high-level part of the facilitated dialogue to present your enhanced ambition for mitigation, adaptation and support.

The next big moment in climate politics will come in 2018.
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Germany’s Got a Long-Term View

Maybe being awarded the Fossil last Wednesday helped because Germany has pulled itself together and ended the fight between the ministries of environment, economy, agriculture and transport. It also finally published its 2050 climate action plan yesterday.

Let’s give them a big hug! We know, it’ been painful. Germany is now the first country to present a detailed long-term low greenhouse gas emissions development strategy outlining how it intends to decarbonise its economy. What ECO likes about the plan is that it includes interim targets for 2030, broken down by individual sectors: power, industry, transport, buildings and agriculture. This gives citizens, companies and investors the clarity they need. Germany also recognises its international responsibility, placing the plan (which includes an explicit reference to international climate finance and support for developing countries to implement their NDCs) in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals.

This has to be a short hug, though: Germany has to get back to work. Fossil lobbyists were successful in stripping many good elements from the plan. There are quite a few gaps in the document that need to be strengthened:

  • The headline targets—a range between 80 and 95% reduction by 2050—are still not enough to deliver Germany’s share of the global effort urgently needed to limit warming to 1.5°C.

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Unfinished Business

ECO readers know that to keep warming to well below 1.5°C, we need to increase ambition before 2020. The good news is that there are countless opportunities for reducing emissions more quickly. Developed countries in particular have responsibility for increasing their ambition and providing the necessary support so these opportunities can be realised.

Marrakech needs to deliver an ambitious outcome on pre-2020 action—both on mitigation and means of implementation. The package should include progress on finance (particularly the roadmap to US$100 billion and outcomes from the High-Level Ministerial Dialogue on Long-Term Finance), strengthening of capacity building, a new framework for Global Climate Action, and meaningful outcomes from the Facilitative Dialogue on ambition and support (which should be reflected in a COP22 decision). ECO would like to remind delegates that the Facilitative Dialogue is not about congratulating yourselves on existing activities. The technical part should focus on identifying concrete ways to do more, individually and in collaboration, so that Ministers can agree on and announce new actions to close the pre-2020 gap next week.

Here are a few ideas ECO would like to suggest:

– Parties who have not yet ratified the Doha Amendments should; can you believe we still have to say this.
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Donald Trump’s election as the next U.S. president was a [unexpected][climatic][shocking] ending to a turbulent campaign that tapped into the anxiety felt by many American voters over globalisation, immigration, stagnating incomes and shrinking economic opportunities. The election revealed a deeply divided electorate: while Hillary Clinton received the most votes nationally, overwhelmingly won the youth, women and people of colour, Donald Trump won in enough states to prevail in the electoral college, thereby securing the presidency.

Understandably, delegates and reporters have questions about the implications of a Trump administration for domestic emissions reductions. ECO is confident that the rapidly expanding deployment of clean energy solutions by states, cities, and businesses across the country is enough to continue the drive to decarbonise the US energy economy, regardless of the actions that a President Trump takes—or doesn’t take. But a cut back on federal policy leadership, will no doubt impair the US meeting its 2025 emissions commitments.

President-elect Trump emphasised his campaign promise to create millions of new jobs for American workers. The most effective way to do this is by embracing the renewable energy revolution. While there are divisions between Democrats and Republicans on climate policy, there has been bipartisan support for investments in clean energy as well as in climate resilience. 
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The Danger and Opportunities of 1.5°C for Smallholder Agriculture

The decision to limit global warming to 1.5°C is vital for small scale family agriculture, which is especially climate-vulnerable. However, as the UNEP emissions gap report highlights, there is still too much distance between the Paris Agreement targets and Parties’ NDC commitments. This gap reveals a clear imperative for countries to reaffirm and set an ambitious course towards attaining this goal during COP22, a sentiment echoed across platforms here this week.

Maintaining and increasing ambition is crucial, but ECO reminds Parties that they should also consider how these commitments will be met. In order to meet the long-term goal, IPCC scenarios estimate that up to a billion hectares of land need to be dedicated to negative emissions efforts such as bioenergy—a strategy that can threaten land rights, trapping farmers between a warming world and restricted land access. If done wrong, climate action in the land sector could have massive negative impacts on food security, adaptive capacities, development potential, gender equality and the livelihoods of communities dependent on small-scale agriculture, as well as on biodiversity and ecosystem integrity, with an increased risk of land-grabbing and rises in food prices.

To ensure the 1.5°C target is reached in the best way, Parties need to be proactive in reducing their emissions before looking at offsets.
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First Rule of Holes: When You’re in One, Stop Digging

Now that the Paris Agreement has been signed by 193 parties and ratified by over 100, one message is very clear: the era of fossil fuels is over. But it seems that not everyone has gotten the message. In many countries, the coal lobby stubbornly believes it can delay the inevitable.

Let’s take Brazil as an example. Brazil likes to boast about being a climate champion. But its Congress just approved a billion-dollar subsidy to the coal industry. Equally problematic, this comes at a time when coal represents less than 5% of electricity generation in Brazil, but over 20% of emissions. Has anyone in the Brazilian Congress done the maths?

The coal industry spends a fortune on lobbying. But President Temer now has the chance to veto this subsidy, as tens of thousands of Brazilians have urged him to do. The world is watching closely, and expects meaningful action from a country that could otherwise be one of the first to reach 100% renewables.

But it’s not only Brazil where coal still dreams of a future. Forbes Magazine recently described Japan as having a “renewed love affair with coal”, with over 40 new plants being built, planned or proposed before 2020.
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Marrakech: Going Beyond Shoulder Patting to Action

The past year was tremendous for climate action. The Paris Agreement entered into force on Friday. HFCs are finally on their way out., The international shipping and aviation industries have started to reduce their emissions. With this success echoing through the COP halls, there couldn’t be a better time for a pep rally for COP22.

But, we are up against our greatest rival, and cannot afford time-outs. 2016 is set to be the hottest year on record, with a disastrous El Niño and massive coral bleaching in tropical seas. Carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere passed the dangerous 400ppm threshold and continues to rise.

While the NDCs that were pledged in 2015 bend emissions into a downward trajectory, we’re still not on a safe path. UNEP’s Emissions Gap Report shows that our climate curve remains on a pathway towards 3.4°C warming by 2100. It confirms that global emissions in 2030 will still be 25% higher than they should be for a 2°C pathway.

In ECO’s view, Marrakech should be the start of the process to strengthen countries’ ambition, in line with 1.5ºC and national long-term strategies.

The facilitative dialogues in 2016 and 2018, and the first global stocktake in 2023, are built-in mechanisms to assess progress and scale up ambition.
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Q&A for the Ministerial Pre-COP meeting

The countdown to COP22 will intensify at the Ministers meeting on 17 October intended to clarify key issues before the conference. The incoming Moroccan presidency and outgoing French presidency have prepared a handy Q&A for Ministers to come prepared to the meeting. ECO has answered the most relevant questions for you exclusively in this issue of ECO.

Mobilisation of means of implementation 

1) What to expect for the roadmap towards the USD 100 billion? 

Like all good financial tools and plans, the roadmap needs to have clarity and predictability. It needs to provide an accurate and detailed forward-looking account of how the US$100 billion will be mobilised in addition to the existing efforts being made. This should include the types of instruments, sources, channels, etc. as well as public-private leverage ratios. ECO has said it dozens of times: greater clarity on financial support to mitigation and adaptation will generate confidence in developing country Parties. It will also showcase the amount of finance flowing in the coming years by 2020 which will help developing countries integrate NDCs into their planning and implementation. Of particular note would be building on the OECD’s 2015 report on progress towards the $100 billion goal. This means grants should be reported at face value and present net positive flows into developing countries.
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