Category: Current Issue

How UNFCCC Can Co-pilot Aviation’s Climate Deal

Airlines face a big problem with numbers when it comes to the sector’s Carbon Offset and Reduction System for International Aviation (CORSIA) — the planned global measure to offset the sector’s emissions growth above 2020 levels.


That’s because we’re not quite sure how CORSIA’s numbers will add up. As airline emissions continue to grow, airlines will need to buy an increasing number of offsets from other sectors. But the Paris Agreement makes this tricky, as all states have submitted pledges which aim to be economy-wide, and increase in ambition over time. So, when an airline buys an offset, how can it be sure that the emission reduction isn’t being claimed by a state or someone else?


There are many ways that CORSIA can screw up the numbers: for example, if the same emission reduction is sold to two different airlines, or sold once but claimed elsewhere. This is worrying because: given the sector’s major and growing climate impact, it badly needs a working mitigation measure that can assure who should claim what reduction.


The good news is that states, airlines, and civil society are hard at work trying to fix this problem. However, the UN agency running this measure, ICAO, can’t solve this problem on its own.
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Bring Climate-Induced Migration Issues to the Table!

The fact that COP23 will be the first COP under the presidency of a small island state, Fiji, draws particular attention to the plight of those that are most vulnerable to the effects of climate change. One of the starkest impacts will be the forced migration of millions of people, as sea levels rise and natural disasters grow more frequent.


As recently as this past Wednesday, Vanuatu was hit by cyclone Donna, and cyclone Ella also came close to striking Fiji. As climate change progresses, these extreme events will only intensify, along with other effects such as desertification, sea level rise, and soil erosion. These phenomena will drive millions of people away from their homes, often with no hope of return. The International Displacement Monitoring Centre estimates that roughly 22.5 million persons are already displaced each year because of climate change. Future forecasts indicate that there may be as many as 200 million to 1 billion climate migrants by 2050. These climate change induced migrations will affect developing countries, as well as developed countries. However, not all people have the same capacity or economic ability to resettle.


In light of this, the UNFCCC climate talks must be an arena to discuss the important issue of climate-induced displacement, especially now that the Paris Agreement has explicitly connected climate change to human rights.
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Text or Bust

There comes a time, in every round of negotiations, when a clamour builds for a negotiating text. The decision to shift into textual negotiations is not to be taken lightly. ECO knows well the impact on our dear negotiators of the first glimpse of square brackets on the screen. It inevitably triggers polarization, and retreat into single-minded defence of every one of their valued textual creations.

But sooner or later, on the way to the 2018 package, negotiators have to bite the bullet and dive into textual negotiating mode. There seems to be a surge of enthusiasm for doing this during COP23 in November. ECO would strongly argue that it is necessary to reach a text at COP23. Being mindful of this, the submissions and workshops need to help countries make the leap forward towards text.

Reflecting the submissions and the workshop, the Pre-COP should gather key political questions, such as flexibility and differentiation, for Ministers to provide clear guidance to their negotiators.

There is also the question of what kind of text will emerge at COP23 and how to generate its elements. Will the paragraphs be full-blown legal text? Or should the first step be a more descriptive text that would be converted into legal text at a later date?
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Bringing Science to the Spotlight

On Saturday, ECO expressed its expectations on the Facilitative Dialogue (FD 2018), highlighting it as the next big opportunity.

One important contribution to make FD 2018 a big opportunity will come from the Special Report of IPCC on 1.5 degrees, which is expected to be adopted in September 2018. We remember the positive experiences with the Structured Expert Dialogue (SED), which was the delivery vehicle of the results of IPCC AR5 to the UNFCCC. The SED helped to communicate the new scientific background to the delegates. So what is the best way to bring the results of IPCC SR1.5 to FD 2018?

As the Second Periodical Review will begin its work only in 2019, another procedure is necessary to extract the relevant results of IPCC SR1.5, and summarize them in a report which should be presented to FD 2018.

To make this happen, ECO appeals to the Fijian Presidency to have this issue discussed at COP 23; and suggests that the design of FD2018, to be adopted in COP23, should allow the space for sound scientific inputs from the IPCC SR1.5, taking into account lessons from the Structured Expert Dialogue. In the open-ended informal consultations on FD2018, many constructive propositions were tabled, notably from South Korea on behalf of EIG, on how FD 2018 could benefit from IPCC SR1.5.
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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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Warming up to Transparency

ECO wants to congratulate Parties for the (mostly) constructive, (mostly) forward looking and (mostly) honest discussions seen in the multilateral assessments and the facilitative sharing of views. And while some Parties might have liked to see the heat turned up on the US, the collegiate nature of the discussions showed the true value of transparency – it’s all about building trust. That’s not to say that some did not deserve a bit of sizzle.  With uncertainty over the US administration’s commitment to climate action, China made a strong point questioning the United States on the public health cost of retreating from the Clean Power Plan. However, many more Parties took it at as an opportunity to share success stories, best practises and lessons learned.


In the Multilateral Assessment, countries largely reported being on track to meet their 2020 targets, and both Canada and France stood out by highlighting an increase in non-state actor and local authority engagement. Perhaps even overachievement of some of these targets might be on the table. ECO hopes countries will be coming back to the table to tell these stories and energise the Facilitative Dialogue in 2018.


The facilitative sharing of views, meanwhile, was a space to reflect on the benefits of starting reporting early, with many countries, including Indonesia and Malaysia, reporting MRV and capacity development needs resulting from reporting under ICA.
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The CDM and Article 6

Dear Delegates,


How are those SBSTA Article 6 negotiations going?


Since ECO is not allowed in the room, we cannot be sure. We heard that headings were being thrown around, so at least there might be an outline of things to talk about.


While discussions continue about the future of internationally transferred mitigation outcomes (ITMOs), the Sustainable Development Mechanism, and how non-market approaches might function, we’re giving some thought to the future of the CDM.


The news that a comprehensive study for the European Commission found 85% of CDM projects lack environmental integrity (i.e. don’t really reduce emissions) and only about 2% of projects really delivering a mitigation benefit is distressing. This on top of the news from a few years back that JI wasn’t very good either. For the sake of the climate, we have to do better – especially when these credits are used to increase emissions beyond commitments.


There is a lot to learn from the CDM and it was a valuable experience. But as we approach the end of the last Kyoto commitment period, it is time to learn, move on, and make Article 6 fit for the climate purpose. In the Paris Agreement world, we need to build on good building blocks and delete undesirable parts (projects lacking environmental and developmental integrity) – we can’t adopt a copy-paste approach.
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Transparency Work Mode ON

ECO believes that expeditious work is necessary to achieve a robust, common transparency framework with built-in flexibility that is inclusive and allows for continuous improvement. This framework needs to uphold environmental integrity and ensure double counting is avoided. This will only be possible by building constructive, practical linkages between different thematic areas. ECO commends Parties for working in an encouraging manner even when positions diverge. That being said, forward progress is needed without leaving anyone behind.


To address the cross-cutting nature of transparency, both a call for submissions and a second technical workshop are good ways forward to advance the issue..


The nature of the workshop should be technical, to provide participants with an opportunity to facilitate understanding of key issues and find a common landing zone on the interlinkages. This is crucial to ensure the robustness and coherence of the framework with other parts of the Paris Agreement. These areas include accounting of NDCs (art. 4.13), the mechanism and cooperative approaches (art. 6.4 and 6.2 respectively), adaptation communications and the AC registry (art. 7.10, 7.11 and 7.12 respectively), financial support (art. 9), technology transfer (art.10) and capacity building (art.11). ECO would like to remind Parties in the spirit of Paris that non-state actors are of value in this area and the proposed transparency workshops should be open to observers.
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Indigenous Peoples Platform

ECO welcomes the open multi-stakeholder dialogue which takes place today and tomorrow to consider how to operationalize the local communities and indigenous peoples’ platform that was established by the Paris Agreement.


Indigenous peoples have vital contributions to make to climate change action. To ensure that these are shared, ECO encourages the local communities and indigenous peoples’ platform to strengthen recognition and inclusion of indigenous peoples’ knowledge and traditional knowledge in matters related to climate change. It should also enable indigenous peoples from all genders and regions of the world to participate fully and more meaningfully in the UNFCCC process; in line with their right to choose their own representatives. Parties should build on the experience of other intergovernmental fora that have established mechanisms ensuring that governance benefits from indigenous knowledge.


ECO calls on Parties to be bold and to create, through meaningful consultation, a robust local communities and indigenous peoples’ platform ensuring that indigenous knowledge can effectively guide the implementation of the Paris Agreement.