Posts Tagged ‘Durban; UNFCCC; Kyoto Protocol; UN Climate Change Conference;Tosi Mpanu Mpanu; Luiz Alberto Figueiredo; Indaba; ;’

The Shining Path to Lima

Sunday, November 23rd, 2014

by Felix von Geyer

As the world’s climate negotiators pack their bags this week for darkest Peru where the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change will host its twentieth Convention of the Parties (COP 20), New Orator sheds light on what some of the key issues will be.

The Lima UN Climate Change Conference will aim to hammer out as much of the draft text required for next year’s Paris COP 21 as possible for the world’s governments to commit to a global climate treaty and framework ‘with legal force’ that is to be implemented by 2020.

This is what governments agreed to at the 2011 COP 17 in Durban where they agreed that any 2015 agreement would be informed by the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The IPCC was quite categorical in its report that fossil fuels needed to be phased out by the end of the 21st century.

More specifically, the International Energy Agency stated in its recent World Economic Outlook, that the IPCC’s global carbon budget is likely as much as 1000 gigatonnes of CO2 before global warming would exceed 2 degrees increase in average global temperatures and deliver serious climate change.

According to the IEA, the current state of the world’s global energy infrastructure means that carbon budget will be used up by 2040. Only in 2011 the IEA stated that to avoid exceeding 2 degrees, the world had until 2017 to avoid a 100 percent locking-in of the global energy infrastructure that would create serious climate change.

The IEA message remains clear. All parties to the framework should include a mitigation component that should address their country’s energy infrastructure and transition to a low-carbon future. Speaking on Thursday, IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven outlined 5 pathways for negotiators and policy-makers to consider as climate talks reconvene in December:-

A downward bend of the global emissions curve by 2020 is necessary to create a pathway to reduce global emissions; a focus on decarbonisation of electricity; an immediate reshape to accelerate innovation in low-carbon technologies; a mobilisation of otherwise non-climate goals such as economic development, air quality improvement and liveable communities and achieving fiscal balance as goals best promoted through emissions reductions within the energy sector. Finally, strengthening the energy sector’s resilience to climate change.

Van der Hoeven was forthright that governments must get started immediately in addressing these fundamentalsand should reflect these pathways within their INDCs. Essential components of an Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) should include policies and actions to unlock existing high emissions assets; the new landscape of emissions trading schemes; energy metrics to track decarbonisation progress and targets to reduce air pollution and GHG emissions.

To achieve this requires an agreement to phase-out fossil fuel subsidies and transfer that investment into renewable energies between 2014-2035 to achieve a so-called 450 Scenario – where emissions do not increase beyond 450 parts per million by volume, the level at which IPCC scientists believe serious climate change will be unleashed.

Yet the question remains, how will governments and the UN framework approach the whole issue of INDCs at the Lima climate talks?

The task ahead of Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, Peru’s Minister of the Environment and President-Designate of COP 20 will be to create an ‘elements’ text that comprises elements of a draft negotiating text with the express view that it will become the negotiating text for Paris 2015. The starting point will be a ‘non-paper’ due from the Chairs of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action set up in 2011.

As Elliot Diringer, Executive Vice-President of the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES – formerly the Pew Center for Climate Change) think-tank said during a webinar on Thursday, there are three options. One is to have mitigation included with adaptation, finance, technology and capacity-building. The second is to have differentiated mitigation levels for developed and developing countries following the line of thinking of Common but Differentiated Responsibilities and Respective Capabilities (CBDRRC) that could also take the same approach as the Kyoto Protocol in partitioning emitters into Annex 1 countries – effectively developed nations who are historically responsible for the bulk of GHG emissions, and non-Annex 1 developing countries who may be allowed a higher emissions profile in their quest for economic development and poverty alleviation or eradication.

The final option is mitigation only.

However, the timeframe for mitigation and other national commitments might be contentious with 2025 and 2030 becoming likely competing timeframes. However, the recent US-China accord agreed between US President Obama and Chinese President Xi two weeks ago could create a spirit and intent akin to previous language of contraction and convergence, where developed countries supposedly act first to reduce emissions while develop countries converge mitigation efforts to meet developed countries’ efforts but at a later point, similar to the 2007 Montreal Protocol agreement to eliminate ozone depleting substances.

However, the level of ambition remains essentially contested as does the concept of a binding agreement ‘with legal force’ as agreed at the Durban climate talks during the infamous huddle in the early hours of Sunday morning.

Diringer for one cannot see how a Paris Agreement next year could be any more legally binding than the Kyoto Protocol – from which Canada, the world’s leading rogue nation on climate change, withdrew during the final year of the first period without penalty despite failing to reduce any of its greenhouse gas emissions below 1990 levels. Instead Canada’s own emissions projections for 2035 will likely be 35 percent beyond 1990 levels. This emissions profile will exceed 2005 levels by around 15 percent compromising Canada’s pledge at the Copenhagen 2009 talks to reduce its emissions in line with the US to 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020.

Consequently Diringer stated that a binding commitment will not actually guarantee countries will meet their commitments. However, he did offer the caveat that any substantive agreement might be slow, as is often the case until the last moment at climate talks. But where van der Hoeven’s first request is for countries to seek to a downward bend on the global emissions curve by 2020, Diringer cannot see that initial INDCs will put the world onto a 2 degree or 450 ppm pathway.

For Lima to prove a success and provide any shining path on the way to Paris will require having all the elements in place for an agreement that can be seamlessly scalable to increase all future levels of ambition for mitigation, adaptation, technology and finance without the need to renegotiate the framework agreement itself.

Under the mango tree – Durban climate talks branch out but still bear no fruit

Saturday, December 10th, 2011

If the so-called Indaba text is the mango tree to provide an abundance of fleshy, ripe fruits, then it has still a long way to branch out at the UN climate talks in Durban.

Reaction to the South African Presidency’s Bigger Picture text was mixed. While a Japanese delegate member said the bigger picture might require ‘higher definition,’ Democratic Republic of Congo negotiator Tosi Mpanu Mpanu called the text a ‘small improvement,’ he stated that it required clarity in order to provide greater ambition under the Kyoto Protocol and not put further pressure on least developed countries to undertake any mitigating action.

Mpanu Mpanu eloquently said that to have any mangoes required the Indaba text to provide the mango tree.

The Indonesian delegation described the text as ‘so-so, but we hope for better.’

Indeed the ability of the Indaba text to cross-fertilize many issues without alienating anyone party is critical to the success of the 17th UN climate conference, known as COP 17. The revised text has now included the Kyoto Protocol but at the expense of the 2007 Bali Action Plan while deferring any commitment to steeper mitigation targets.

Paragraph 3 of the new Indaba text included greater reference to agreements both at Copenhagen and the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Action previously established under the Bali Action Plan, the latter would be phased-out at the end of next year’s COP 18 to be held in Qatar.

The text now includes Kyoto members in the development of a Protocol or ‘’another legal instrument’’ that would be applicable to ‘’all Parties under the UN Framework Convention.’’

However, this would make no distinction between developed and developing countries and obligations under the concept of Common But Differentiated Responsibilities or historic responsibilities, Friends of the Earth Policy Analyst Kate Horner told Platts.

A member of the Mexican delegation countered this argument to say that the text did not need to include all references while Brazil’s chief negotiator Ambassador Luiz Alberto Figueiredo praised the progress over the first Indaba text for being more ambitious, its references to Kyoto. ‘In principle, it seems to be what we want,’ he told New Orator.

However, of general concern is the lack of ambition on mitigation action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that could now be deferred until after 2014 as the text calls for all commitments to be informed by the forthcoming 2014 IPCC 5th Assessment Report, as well as the 2013-2015 review of the subsidiary bodies.

While the Indaba text has branched out to touch more issues and appeal to more parties’ positions, its success will inform the 132-page Long-Term Co-operative Action which in turn informs the Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol and subsequently trickle down to Kyoto issues such as Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF).

Yet while the text may have branched out, the world waits to see any action on climate change through any open and televised plenaries where the nation’s big emitters justify their positions to the world, rather than through a system of closed meetings.

If Durban produces any mangoes, they may be the firm, unripe variety that leaves the world in a climate pickle. That outcome will likely be discovered late into the night.