Ludwig was encouraged last year when Parties reaffirmed the fundamental value of effective participation by observers and agreed to further enhance the engagement of observer organizations. However, yesterday Ludwig was surprised to learn that the Parties had decided to alter their previously transparent practices and conducted the discussions on inclusiveness and transparency behind closed doors. Ludwig is left wondering: surely enhancing stakeholder engagement does not mean kicking civil society out of meetings to which they enjoyed access in the past?
Category: Current Issue
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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The importance of the Global Stocktake for enhancing the ambition of future climate action cannot be overstated. Since equity and ambition are two sides of the same coin, the Parties decided to conduct the Global Stocktake “in the light of equity.”
It is important to review what “equity” in this context means. It is very clear from the context of the UNFCCC and the Paris Agreement that it refers to the right to development and eradication of poverty. Hence, the Global Stocktake needs to be conducted in a manner that reflects these notions of equity between countries. Parties have already put forward, in their NDCs and in their APA submissions, very interesting suggestions regarding how equity has and could further inform the national determination of their contributions. This information is by no means sufficient, but it’s a start, and it should be used as the basis for future consideration of the role of equity as an overarching principle informing all streams of the Global Stocktake. In addition, further creative thinking about how to conduct a Global Stocktake that is informed by the principle of equity between countries is badly needed.
Additionally, we know that the Global Stocktake must assess collective progress towards the long-term goals of the UNFCCC in a comprehensive manner.
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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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While the APA discussions on transparency of support had a bit of a difficult start, it’s good to see that the SBSTA negotiations on accounting modalities for the provision of climate finance have already entered the stage of detailed discussions.
There seems to be general agreement that better accounting of the climate-specific components of committed funds is desirable. However, ECO wagers that some developed countries may hope to get away with rather generous methodologies when counting projects or programs where climate is only one of many objectives.
A solution suggested by one Party is that the receiving and the providing country mutually agree on the proportion reported as climate-specific. This could help developing countries in assessing support received, another post-Paris concept that should move forward.
Other useful ideas have been tabled, such as the proposal to count loans and other non-grant instruments on the basis of their grant equivalent – this is a better proxy for fulfilling UNFCCC Article 4.3, to cover the incremental cost of action. But delegates should not be swayed by the US’s attempts to shoot down the idea by insisting that loans are a valid instrument under the Paris Agreement’s Article 9. That may be true, but accounting for loans on a net basis does not negate their validity at all.
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ECO has long supported the Technical Expert Meetings (TEMs), even though discussions haven’t yet translated into accelerated action. TEMs provide a useful space to discuss real-life sectoral and technological climate solutions, and recently more opportunities have been given to observers to engage in the Q&As. However, this week’s events on “Cross-cutting issues in urban environments and land use” have been a mixed bag.
Starting with the Good; the mitigation TEM event on “Partnerships that deliver technical and financial support for accelerated implementation of actions in Cities” got straight to the point. Looking at the role of financial institutions in providing access to financial support to deliver on sustainable urban development, this TEM had key strategies and sectors, including a useful discussion on simplifying processes for accessing finance.
Next, the Bad. Thursday’s “Collaboration Forum” was supposed to be an interactive session between national, regional and city governments, international organisations, and private sector. Full points for the city representatices who turned up early, eager to engage and with materials in hand. But with no apparent organisation, facilitation or icebreakers from the Secretariat, the process was chaotic, and frankly, rather awkward.
Then there was the downright Ugly. The event on “Attracting private sector engagement for ambitious mitigation actions in land use” may be one of the most blatant greenwashing efforts ever hosted by the UNFCCC.
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The vote was bipartisan. It was fast. And it is the first time the Trump Administration has lost a major vote on anything in the U.S. Congress. As Canada prepares to announce its own methane rules, the vote sends an important signal: Americans are not ready to abandon their values. They’re in it for the long haul.
Methane is a powerful agent of global warming. The big problem starts when unburned gas gets into the atmosphere. Releasing methane into the air makes no sense, and yet leaks and releases occur throughout the natural gas supply chain. If not better mitigated, methane leaks and releases could spell major trouble for the climate. That’s why the Obama Administration sensibly decided to regulate it, requiring companies to limit methane releases on public lands. When the Trump Administration launched its attacks on clean air and clean water, it targeted this methane rule as one of several to dismantle.
U.S. NGOs vowed to fight back – in Congress, in the courts, in boardrooms and alongside Americans from all political parties who want a better future. They didn’t manage to stop Congress from rolling back rules to protect America’s mountains from being blown up to mine coal.
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