The UNFCCC delegates and a few of observers have had a long night. The closing plenaries of the two subsidiary bodies for the implementation (SBI) and for the scientific and technical advice (SBSTA) started late in the afternoon and finished early in the morning. Especially SBI, where three major issues had to be discussed: civil society participation, loss and damage and the budget of the UNFCCC (for 2012 and 2013). After a long session that started at 17:30 to finish at 2 in the morning, only two of these main points were discussed: the civil society participation and loss and damage.
The resolved two topics have been intensively discussed by the parties and especially the item concerning loss and damage. Loss and damage is a kind of insurance system against/for? climate related natural disasters occurring in the developing countries. For example, in the case of the last floods in Pakistan, this system could have been activated to meet the urgent needs of the populations displaced or affected. Saudi Arabia wanted to include a reference to response
measure (a system to allocate money to the oil countries for the loss of revenues due to the decrease in fossil fuels consumption). All the countries, except Qatar (who hopes to host the next COP in 2012) refused on the grounds that response measures is related to mitigation and not adaptation. After a TINY modification of the text at 2am this morning, the chair, Robert Owen-Jones adjourned the meeting.
The other issue discussed was the enhancement of the civil society participation in the negotiations. As usual, Saudi Arabia, and more exceptionally Antigua and Barbuda tried to undermine the participation capacity of the civil society whereas all the other groups and countries wanted to make the UN process more transparent and open. The
draft decision was amended and our ability to participate reduced, we will see next year how this new decision plays in the negotiations. As of Friday morning, the discussion on budget for the UNFCCC still remained.
At 12:30am, the chair is going to resume the SBI session and the delegates are now going to discuss the budget of the UNFCCC. Through the Cancun agreements, the parties gave more work to the Secretariat for the organisation of the workshop, the redaction of the technical papers… In consequence, the UNFCCC had to increase its budget by 15%
to meet all its objectives, money that most of the developed countries are not really keen to provide.
The process may block again. Money, commitment, mitigation, some countries always have a good reasons to stop the process from moving forward!
The UNFCCC delegates and a few of observers have had a long night. The closing plenaries of the two subsidiary…Read post →
In the maelstrom of the climate negotiations in Copenhagen and Cancun, developed countries agreed on transferring money to developing countries in order to help them adapt to climate change. However, the negotiations unfortunately happened during a difficult period for mobilizing “public resources”; several countries had to break their piggy banks just to save their economies from collapse. Crunched for resources, developed countries argued that the money needed for adaptation could not come from public sources alone, funds would need to come from “innovative sources”.
Among these innovative sources proposed by the Advisory Group on Finance (LINK) before Cancun, an old idea! Everyday, billions and billions of dollars are exchanged on the financial markets. Most of these transactions are not taxed and go freely from a country to another one, from one bank to another – without control. Implementing a tax on these transactions, even at a really small scale (0.05% in one proposal) would help to resolve two major issues of our century: adaptation and more transparency in financial transactions.
The Robin Hood tax campaign in the UK, for example, even at such low levels, could generate more than $32 billion per year on UK transactions alone. In Copenhagen and in Cancun, the industrialised countries agreed to come up with $100 billion per year by 2020 to support developing countries’ adaptation and mitigation efforts. Considering that even $100 Billion annually won’t be sufficient (the World Bank – claims that at least $75 billion annually is necessary for adaptation, alone) it is urgent and necessary to develop and implement this innovative source as a new levy for adaptation and mitigation in the developing world.
Furthermore, this tax has an incredible positive side effects. In order to tax these financial transactions, governments will need more clarity and transparency on the exchanges in these markets. This could help right a financial system that is totally opaque and impenetrable. The current lack of transparency is one of the reasons the last financial crisis took such a massive toll on Western government’s coffers (and not only Western).
What makes me happy in this debate is the position of France (my country). Since the Climate Conference in Copenhagen, France has strongly advocated for an international transaction tax. When it was proposed at the G8, prior to the Copenhagen Conference, the idea saw support from many developed countries, including the UK and Germany, but was strongly rejected by the United States of America. In a session at the Climate negotiations today, a NGO representative wanted to hear the (American) chair of the LCA track, Daniel A. Reifsnyder, gave his view on whether or not such a tax could be adopted in the near term. He answered by: “I don’t see it adopted soon”. The American opposition has not changed yet.
At a level of only 0.05%, this tax will generate enough money to cover the adaptation and mitigation needs of the developing countries without having any side effects on the economics or households around the world.
One question still remains in my mind: when do we start?
In the maelstrom of the climate negotiations in Copenhagen and Cancun, developed countries agreed on transferring money to developing countries…Read post →
Several times in the recent history of the climate negotiations, developed and developing countries agreed on keeping the increase of the global average temperature below 2°C. However, following what the countries pledged in Copenhagen in 2009 and after in Cancun in 2010, the emission reduction pledges will not be enough to meet this 2°C goal. Several gaps must be filled if we do not want them to become an abyss of uncontrollable human and environmental consequences. The European Union is calling it the “ambition gap” and NGOs in the Climate Action Network call it the “gigatonne gap”. In order to address the gap, some actions must be urgently taken: increase emission reduction pledges of the developed and developing countries and close loopholes in accounting.
Increasing emission reduction pledges: in 2007, the IPCC stated that if we want to keep the increase of the global temperature below 2°C, developed countries have to reduce their emissions between 25 and 40% by 2020 (relative to 1990 levels). However, the current voluntary commitments of the developed countries stand far from this range – between 12 – 19% according to a recent report from WRI.
Developing countries can also share the international burden; the IPCC recommends they deviate their emissions by 15 to 20% from what is being called their Business as Usual (BAU) scenario. However, during a presentation given by the AOSIS group yesterday, it seems that the current pledges of BAU deviation for developing countries (and especially the biggest emitters) is not sufficient. Moreover, at the beginning of the session, Oxfam International released a study explaining that developing countries carry 60% of the current mitigation burden while the developed countries barely share 40% of the global goal (LINK).
The responsibility truly taken by the developed countries is consequently extremely low and weak. They fail at fully taking into consideration the principle of common but DIFFERENTIATED responsibility. Loopholes plague mitigation rules, actually canceling out the already inadequate domestic/national efforts pledged. Poor accounting rules in LULUCF (Land Use, Land Use Changed in Forestry), for instance, could permit Annex 1 countries to hide important quantity of GHG.
What’s called “hot air” is another controversial issue, this only concerns the ex-USSR countries for which emissions totally dropped after 1991 and the collapse of the USSR. The rules being defined by the year 1990, these countries can consequently keep increasing their GHG emissions and even sell a lot of carbon credits on the market without having to make any domestic efforts of mitigation.
In 2010, different research institutes and even UN bodies warned the world about the consequences of this gap. According to UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme), if this gap of 5 to 9 gigatonnes of CO2eq is not addressed quickly (LINK to the report) we can expect an increase of the global temperature between 2 to 5°C by the end of the century.
It is now a matter of urgency that developed and developing countries reconsider their emission targets and close the existing loopholes.
Japan and an Anonymous Group of Countries were awarded “Fossil of the Day” by a coalition of more than 600…
Japan and an Anonymous Group of Countries were awarded “Fossil of the Day” by a coalition of more than 600 environmental and youth groups on the third day of UN Climate Talks in Bonn Germany. “Fossil” awards are given to countries judged to have done their ‘best’ to block progress in the negotiations. Below, are excerpts from the media release:
First Place Fossil is awarded to Japan. It is the three-month anniversary since the tragic earthquake and the Fukushima nuclear accident and today Japan reiterated their position to include all technologies in CDM, which includes nuclear energy. Just when Japanese people initiated events to show solidarity and to demonstrate against nuclear energy in more than 100 areas all over Japan, it is hard to understand their position. Did they do not have the time to reflect their position based on this tragic experience? We urge Japan to listen to their own people and come up with a new position right away. Japan can actually lead the discussion and persuade others to exclude nuclear from the CDM!
The second placed fossil goes to ….well we aren’t exactly sure. Flying in the face of enhanced NGO participation, an important focus of this session, and the mantra of transparency, ‘an unknown Party or group of Parties’ approached the Chair to block the valiant efforts of Ambassador De Alba to open the LCA informal on legal issues on Friday afternoon. Not only do we need fair, ambitious and legally binding efforts to save our dear planet, those discussions should take place in an open and transparent manner. Just as we have supported the call for Parties not intending to commit to a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol to come clean with their intentions, we expect the same level of transparency with respect to legally binding intentions under the LCA – and that starts with opening the informal to observers. For your non-transparent ways, this Party or group of Parties gets an Anonymous Fossil.
Japan and an Anonymous Group of Countries were awarded “Fossil of the Day” by a coalition of more than 600…Read post →
In the last night of climate talks in Cancun, parties to the UNFCCC decided to set up workshops over the course of 2011 to better appreciate the implementation of the Convention. One of those workshops, under the Long-term Cooperative Action (LCA) track, focused on mitigation targets of the developed countries and took place today.
As defined in 1992, the objective of the UNFCCC is to find an agreement that could limit the dangerous impacts of climate change on humankind. Limiting this risk means reducing the emissions of greenhouse gases responsible of this change. In the UNFCCC process, it is called “mitigation”.
This morning’s workshop focused on the mitigation efforts of the developed countries, and I was able to catch presentations by Canada, the European Union (EU), Switzerland and the Alliance of the Small Island States (AOSIS).
Canada came first, explaining their total committment to limiting the dangerous impacts of climate change, notably by investing 6 billions of dollars at the federal level in ‘carbon capture and storage’ and biofuels. Unfortunately, those two technologies have not proved their environmental efficiency. Canada then recalled their commitment to reduce emissions 17% by 2020, (with 2005 as a reference year). With climate change worsening by every month without action, this commitment is actually less ambitious than their original Kyoto commitment from 1997. In terms of efforts… they can – for sure – make it much better!
After Canada, the European Union presented their mitigation plans. They look like the best in class – unfortunately it’s a class of dunces. The EU’s efforts could be improved in ambition (notably by committing to 30% by 2020 instead of 20%, which they’ve indicated is possible). At the moment, even not doing as much as they’ve signalled they could, the EU’s commitment as a block makes them a leader among developed country’s in mitigation.
Then Switzerland talked. They have the same mitigation objective as the EU, -20% by 2020. In the talks, their position usually follows the European Union one. But instead of making the efforts at the national level by reducing the consumption of fossil fuels (for heating, transportation, industry and others) they decided to off-set 80% of this reduction. In other words, their efforts will be extremely low and weak compared to what they could have done if they had decided to actually reduce their emissions domestically. For a country that sees itself as a leader, the details are disappointing.
The last presenter was the Federated States of Micronesia on behalf of the Alliance Of Small Island States (AOSIS). Her presentation had a number of slides, but it was a powerful visualization in her first slide held my attention. She showed a graph comparing global emissions to sea level rise. Over the last twenty years, the upward-curving line plotting emissions data is matched with an upward-curving line plotting sea level rise.
We know that several island States like Micronesia have large populations on deltas and coastal zones, living in extremely low-lying areas. I can’t help but wonder if some developed countries, by their lack of seriousness and political will, are not playing with the number of people who will have to flee in the next decades.
About the authorFlorent Baarsch
Writing on adaptation to climate change. Sometimes blogger @lemondefr following #UNFCCC #climate negotiations.