Political and religious leaders, progressive businesses, and most importantly, people from all walks of life have spoken with one voice: calling for immediate and ambitious climate action. The Peoples’ Climate March in New York, and associated events across the world, sent a clear call to all governments that they need to step up, phase out fossil fuels and massively scale up renewable energy. It’s a huge task, but ECO thinks that negotiators here in Bonn can take concrete steps forward.

First of all, negotiators should start by strengthening their pre-2020 commitments on mitigation and finance. That is unless we want to renegotiate the terms of the 2015 agreement and make it 4°C-compatible? ECO thinks not.

Secondly, they need to create the space for ambitious INDCs in the post-2020 agreement by negotiating the backbone of UFIs, or ‘Upfront Information’, requirements. ECO has long been calling for these UFIs to set meaningful and concrete benchmarks for ambition and equity. It’s now crunch time. The key elements that need to be discussed in Bonn and agreed at the Lima COP are outlined below:

Soon, soon, soon! While INDCs are going to be nationally determined, they are contributions towards a global effort. These contributions should be measured against a country’s fair share, and they should measured well before Paris. That’s why it’s crucial for the INDCs of all developed countries and developing countries with equivalent capability and responsibility to come in early, and at the latest by March 2015, so they can be reviewed in light of equity and ambition. This equity review will determine whether collectively these nationally determined contributions set us on a climate-safe trajectory. It will also show us if what each country has proposed is equitable and fair in relation to the requisite global effort and respective capability and responsibility. It’ll encourage countries that fall short of what is required to increase their ambition before Paris.
Short, sweet and upwards! There is an imminent threat that at the end of this week that the EU will adopt a woefully inadequate 2030 energy and climate package. ECO can only (re)emphasise the need for the EU to raise its ambition levels and to support universal 5 year commitment periods, in order to avoid locking in low ambition for the next 16 years. Commitments should run from 2020-2025 and increase (drastically) after that. ECO says: no backsliding!
Lots and lots! Developed countries have yet to understand that providing climate finance is as much part of their fair share of global efforts as their own mitigation contributions. ECO suggests that the Paris agreement include new collective targets for the provision of public finance. These collective targets will have to be supplemented by individual financial commitments from contributing countries in order to achieve the collective target – and that’s where the INDCs come in: tell us what you plan to do on finance as well as domestic mitigation. ECO is very open-minded on the scope: countries can sign checks AND they can shift money domestically away from fossil fuels towards the good stuff, renewables.
Deal with it! Climate impacts are being felt everywhere and we need to address these impacts, both on the ground, and in the INDCs. Those most affected need to have clarity on the global adaptation response. They will also need to be able to measure if the progress being made on adaptation is sufficient to deal with climate impacts that are already evident, as well as impacts likely to be faced in future.

In the wake of last month’s public demand for much greater action on climate change, what’s needed is clear: real progress on all of these fronts by governments and their negotiators, right here, right now.

What’s wrong with you, EU?

At the end of this week, EU leaders will decide on Europe’s climate and energy future. Agreement on the post-2020 Climate and Energy Package make the EU the first to announce an international offer.

Other countries will be intently looking at the ambition and quality of the key elements that form the Package: the emissions reductions target, the renewable energy target and efforts to increase energy efficiency. These elements are likely to be parts of many other countries’ INDCs, the EU should be wary of exposing itself to criticism as an unambitious first mover. Given that the EU is a major proponent of a global carbon market, other parties (including China) will also be looking at the impact of the package on the EU ETS.

Many EU leaders stood up at the New York Climate Summit and talked about the need to agree on an ambitious global climate deal in Paris. Yet, at the same time they announced they would be adopting a 40% emissions reduction target by 2030, which is way below the EU’s equitable share of effort for a below 2°C trajectory (much less a 1.5°C pathway), and not in line with the 2050 target agreed by EU leaders in 2009 of 80-95% emission reductions. A 40% reduction cannot be the last word from Europe in the run up to Paris. ECO suggests that two things must be inserted in the EU deal next week:
A commitment that EU leaders will meet again BEFORE Paris to revisit the level of ambition in the EU’s INDC, and to adopt a 2025 commitment (see related article in today’s ECO).
An inclusion of the two little words “at least” before the “40%” to indicate that Europe is leaving open the possibility that it will do its fair share on emission reductions up to 2030.

Germany, the UK, Sweden, Denmark, Belgium, Netherlands, Slovenia, Estonia, Luxembourg, Spain, Portugal, Finland, and Austria are all pushing for “at least” 40%. A large share of European businesses have also spoken out in favour of going beyond 40% emission reductions by 2030. Unfortunately a few countries remain in opposition. Poland is leading the opposition and using the threat of a veto to extract more financial support for its coal industry. It does not help that France, the future COP president, has been totally silent on this issue.

The EU is also preparing to set a target of “at least” 27% renewable energy in 2030, which actually means that the target will fall behind real world growth in renewables in Europe after 2020. Such low targets would mean that the EU, once a leader in the development of renewable technologies, could fall behind in this sector and lose out on all the associated economic benefits. The renewable target is binding only at the EU level, not on member states (mostly because of opposition from the UK), leading the International Energy Agency to question its credibility. France has supported the UK, despite its own brand new Energy Transition Law, which contains a binding 32% RE target for 2030.

Leaders are also discussing a 30% energy efficiency target. Energy savings hold the key to improving the EU’s competitiveness and energy security. Yet even this modest target is being opposed by the UK government, despite the Financial Times calling roof insulation Europe’s “secret weapon” against Russian gas imports.

Roll up your sleeves

ECO wants all negotiators to understand that what they are doing here really does matter to the lives and futures of billions of people and ecosystems around the world. In a little over a years time, the world needs to see an ambitious and equitable agreement which does not condemn the poorest and most vulnerable to a future of disasters and permanent state of emergency. Negotiators need to make progress this week on four items related to adaptation and loss and damage in the 2015 agreement.

First, the 2015 agreement must highlight the requirement for all climate action to be guided by certain principles; in particular recognising the needs of vulnerable people, communities and ecosystems as well as rights-based approaches, gender-equity and broad participation. Though the 2010 Cancun Adaptation Framework contains some ‘guiding principles’, these aren’t even referenced in the current draft ADP text. This puts the UNFCCC 2015 agreement at risk of being the least people-centred and rights-based of the three international frameworks currently under discussion. Drafts for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the post-2015 Disaster Risk Reduction Framework contain much stronger wording on people’s needs and human rights.

Second, it is clear that emission reduction efforts must be at the core of INDCs. But some developing country groups have stressed the need for the INDCs to also cover future adaptation measures, seeing this as a way to strengthen adaptation measures in both the international and domestic contexts. ECO believes that including adaptation in INDCs should be seen as an important opportunity for all Parties to strengthen their own awareness of climate risks and adaptation needs, but stresses that important conditions must be put in place. Adaptation measures cannot replace mitigation contributions. The adaptation components of INDCs must be voluntary and countries must be able to choose when they submit these components, and if they should come alongside or separate to their mitigation pledges. Including adaptation in the INDCs should reinforce ongoing adaptation planning efforts that are already underway in the preparation of National Adaptation Plans. ECO suggests that Parties fully consider existing NAP guidance materials readily available.

Third, ECO sees the need for progress on the idea of a global adaptation goal. The Cancun Adaptation Framework represents a good start; however, it fails to link the level of adaptation action required, and the support needed for such action, with proposed levels of mitigation and associated global warming. This is a fundamental problem as temperature increases beyond 1.5°C would, in many countries, require much higher levels of adaptation, and could even exceed thresholds of what can be adapted to. The current 2015 negotiation text contains elements that could address this shortcoming, especially the idea of a global goal on adaptation. This week we need in-depth discussions on what a meaningful adaptation goal would look like, and the identification of key questions which require further work between now and Paris. In line with the expected costs in poor countries, this global goal should include an objective for public adaptation finance from developed countries (and others with similar capability). ECO also calls on Parties to create a review mechanism to assess collective progress towards fulfilment of the adaptation goal and its related objectives.

Finally, loss and damage is fast becoming a reality for millions of poor and vulnerable people worldwide. The establishment last year of an international mechanism on loss and damage was only a first step towards recognising the tragic implications of unabated climate change. ECO thinks that the 2015 agreement should recognise the Warsaw international mechanism and contain concrete provisions to increase its ability to support the world’s poorest and most vulnerable communities and ecosystems. The Paris decisions must hold countries accountable for the costs of climate change impacts according to their contribution to the cause of the problem. This is necessary in order to secure additional finance for the necessary measures to address loss and damage.

Five is the magic number

A decision in Lima that commitment periods will operate in 5-year cycles is vital to the integrity of the Paris agreement. ECO wants to remind all delegates in Bonn that a 5-year commitment period:

Avoids lock in: current pledges are far from being consistent with the below 2°C goal, much less the 1.5°C required by the most vulnerable countries. Five-year commitment periods allow for greater dynamism and ratcheting up of global ambition.

Incentivises early action: setting a target that has to be met 10 years from now, rather than 15, compels government to reduce emissions quickly, rather than delaying action.

Maintains better synchronicity with the cycles of IPCC reports: a more dynamic system is more responsive to the best and latest available science.

Creates stronger national political accountability: many governments operate on 5-year electoral or planning cycles. A 5-year commitment period requires a government to act within its elected or planning term rather than leaving action to its successors.

ECO welcomes the support for 2025 targets from the United States, AOSIS and the Africa Group. We hope to see others joining them this week. We believe that the 5-year national planning cycles in countries such as China and Saudi Arabia synchronise naturally with an international 5-year cycle. We hope that these countries will also support a 2025 target as an outcome of Lima.

A 5-year commitment period, combined with a robust ratcheting up process, is essential to operationalise the ultimate objective of the convention. Without a negotiating cycle that facilitates a substantial increase in global ambition, we will fail to avoid dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.

ECO Lonely Hearts Corner

Dear ECO,

I’m a 6,000-year-old woman (but a lady never reveals her true age) looking for suitors who are prepared to send me ambitious INDCs. I enjoy slow change, spinning around, long orbits around the sun, regular seasons, and cute and fluffy animals. My dislikes include comets, mass extinctions, ice ages, solar flares and fossil fuels. I’ve had a rough relationship history and my sudden break up with the dinosaurs wasn’t easy either. Currently, I’m in an extremely abusive relationship with Homo Sapiens, they’re keeping me sweating.

I must admit that I have volatile tipping points and I have become icy cold and uncomfortably hot in the past. I’m afraid that if I have to deal with further weak promises and empty “commitments”, I may do something rash and enter a state of anger that will make the hurricanes, droughts and storms that you’ve seen before look mild.

I’m hoping to retain my stability by receiving lots of INDCs from suitors who are:
Interested in 5 year commitments periods (I need some long term security and not another decade in a destructive relationship)
Transparent about the level of effort that they will invest in my wellbeing
Willing to indicate how much money and other support they will provide to keep me happy
Upfront about how much external support they will need to make the relationship work if the INDC is from someone with less capability
Adaptable: I have some historical scarring that is likely to make any future relationships difficult and I will need all the INDCs to indicate adaptation plans as I blow off steam
Passionate about equitable relationships and my long-term prosperity
Willing to review, and if necessary improve, their contribution to making our relationship work
Willing to submit to expert counselling to ensure that they are doing enough to make a long-term relationship work
Willing to start work immediately to prevent any further damage to my person

Suitors that have caused harm in the past and that have lots of resources, send me your ambitious proposals by March 2015. Those out there who have caused less harm or that have low capability can send their proposals by June 2015.

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