A stumbling block at COP 23 – Finance

huddle-Fiji-in-BonnThe cost of mitigating climate change is estimated at 200-350 billion Euros (236-413 Billion USD) per year by 2030. It is a manageable sum in terms of a global burden, only 1% of global GDP. In terms of who pays and how much to pay, however, it becomes a disputed figure. For example, developed countries agreed in 2010 to “mobilize” 100 billion USD annually by the year 2020 in paragraph 98 of the COP16 decision 1/CP.16. Unresolved issues regarding this commitment remain, even in 2017.

Philosophically, this divide has on one side the developed countries as having the ability and the responsibility to pay. Developed countries use more energy than under developed countries. On the other side, the underdeveloped countries need financing and the know-how to ensure that future development in their countries is environmentally friendly and sustainable.

At COP23, this issue came to the forefront where it stopped the APA closing plenary dead in its tracks on Wednesday afternoon, the day the APA was scheduled to close. Negotiations lasted through the night. The underdeveloped countries, led by the G77, wanted developed countries to make concrete commitments through the biennial communication requirements as required by Article 9.5 of the Paris Agreement. The G77 also referred to Paris Agreement Articles 13 (transparency) and 15 (compliance) to make this requirement enforceable.greendollars

In response the developed countries argued that Article 9.5 is a procedural matter and that the G77 countries want to discuss the dollar commitments. They argued that this is beyond the scope of the Paris Agreement.

The result was to urge both sides to act on their commitments and to refer this matter to a High Ministerial Dialogue for further discussion.  In other words, onwards to 2018.

 


We are working on it!

Island in the oceanAttending COP23 as an observer is a privilege because you are able to attend international multilateral negotiations. You witness established alliances use their power as a block and observe the dynamics of side negotiations. In these international multilateral negotiations, delegates agonize over words and paragraphs. They set their lines in the sand early and often. All of it done with diplomatic speak and collegiality but sometimes some get close to stepping over the line. Most of all, it is a privilege because you get to see the world trying to solve a problem collectively. With all this privilege, there is no denying that at times, these negotiations are frustrating. On rare occasions, the frustration causes one to think that the process is not working.

In a conversation with a delegate, I asked whether he is experiencing such frustration. Stalled talks are particularly challenging for him because he is from a Small Island Developing States (SIDS), which the United Nations considers as vulnerable nations because of climate change effect.  SIDS are usually located in the paths of hurricanes, which are happening with more frequency and more force. In the summer of 2017, for the first time, this delegate’s country issued mandatory evacuations from one of the outlying islands because no available shelter was adequate against the wrath of the coming storm. In the aftermath, the island became uninhabitable.

Additionally, SIDS are very vulnerable to rising sea levels. If water levels continue to rise, the oceans will soon reclaim these islands. Their challenge is their reluctance to make these issues public. Because their economy is dependent on tourism, climate change effects will drive off tourists, which will hurt an already fragile economy.

To answer my question, the delegate simply smiled. Then he started looking around at the other delegates and asked how many countries are represented. I told him there are delegates from 170 countries. He asked what are they all doing here? I told him that they are working on climate change issues. He replied with an even bigger smile, “exactly!” and repeated shortly after– We are working on it.

It is true that the COP process is complicated. One is instantly overwhelmed by the structure. There are three processes contained within the COP (UNFCCC, Kyoto Protocol, and the Paris Agreement). Furthermore, each convention, protocol, or agreement has its own framework, and they sometimes intersect with each other. Having said that, the complexity of the process really lies in the magnitude of participants. At last count, there are one hundred and seventy countries that have ratified the Paris Agreement. These countries represent different needs, levels of development, levels of ability, and a different sense of urgency. Even with the common shared goal of limiting the increase in the Planet’s average temperature, the complexity is how to arrive at the desired results. In other words, who does what and who pays for what is the main source of difficulty at the COP negotiations, but…..

We are working on it!

 

Negotiation agenda


Future of the Adaptation Fund: Developing Countries vs. Developed Countries

adaptation-fund-logoThe Adaptation Fund (AF) is a mechanism created through the Marrakesh Accords but funded through the Clean Development Mechanisms (CDMs) described in the Kyoto Protocol. The intention of the COP in the creation of the AF is the facilitation and funding of adaptation projects in developing countries to strengthen their resistance to climate change. Two percent of the funds invested in CDMs go to the Adaptation Fund where the money can then be divvied out to developing countries when they send in proposals. But the Kyoto Protocol was only intended to last ten years. Enacted in 2010, the Kyoto Protocol will reach its end in 2020 and with the end of the Kyoto Protocol comes the end of CDMs, and thus the end of the funding for the Adaptation Fund.

At COP23 there have been significant concerns about the future of the Adaptation Fund, where future funding will come from, and if that means the Fund will operate in the same manner as before. But these issues, as most do, draw a dividing line between developing countries and developed countries. In the most recent review of the Adaptation Fund in COP23, developing countries continued to emphasize the critical nature of the Fund in providing critical finasudanncial assistance as these countries attempt to adapt to the increasing effects of climate change. Many developing countries have emphasized the need for the increase in the scope of the Adaptation Fund, finding the review of the Adaptation Fund Board too narrow and limiting the abilities of these countries to acquire necessary funding. Developing countries also emphasized the need for certain aspects of the Fund that have caused them concern. This includes predictability, adequacy, and consistency. In particular, the Least Developed Countries negotiating group advocated for a further integration of the Adaptation Fund into the Paris Agreement in order to facilitate the continuance of the Fund and the assistance it provides to the LDCs.

Developed countries, on the other hand, had little opinions on the continuation of the Adaptation Fund. In the Marrakesh Accords, the purpose of the Fund was intended to assist in developing countries on their climate change resilience initiatives. No benefit was gleaned by the developed countries in the implementation of this Fund. And they will glean no benefit from the continuance of this Fund under the Paris Agreement. But there was no equal assessment in how to address the Adaptation Fund from the perspectives of the developed countries. Some countries enjoyed the small-scale implementation techniques that function well through the Adaburkina_faso_tearfund1_1ptation Fund. Other countries advocated for the continuous improvement of the Adaptation Fund to reinforce the constantly changing needs of developing countries. Overall, developed nations appeared to be ambivalent towards the Adaptation Fund and its future; striving forward to complete the agenda item with as little fanfare as possible.

The future could be bright for the Adaptation Fund. It has the ability to further the needs of developing countries to reduce the damage sustained in the ever-increasing extreme weather and natural disasters the world is facing. But if actions aren’t taken in COP23 and future COPs then when the Kyoto Protocol ends in 2020 those funds will be out of view for the vulnerable countries that need it.


LDCs – Concern, yet hope, entering Week 2 of COP22

Courtesy www.afd/frAt the end of the first week, many were expressing concern that Marrakech’s purported COP of Action wasn’t measuring up for the world’s most vulnerable countries. Yesterday morning, Least Developed Countries (LDC) Chair, Tosi Mpanu Mpanu, identified troubles on key issues of ambition, adaptation / loss & damage, and climate finance. In particular, he noted that:Screen Shot 2016-11-15 at 3.37.17 PM

  • The Paris Agreement rulebook development is being stymied and strong action on pre2020 commitments is not materializing.
  • Adaptation needs of the most vulnerable, exploding as a result of inadequate mitigation by developed countries for decades, are not being addressed in a balanced manner, with even the adaptation registry being complicated. And, foot dragging on other seemingly simple decisions, such as the review of the Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage (WIM), is eroding trust and confidence that the global community will concretely respond to the very real and devastating losses and damages increasingly suffered by poor countries on the front lines of climate change impacts.
  • Developed countries have been blocking the Paris-mandated inclusion of the Adaptation Fund in the Paris Agreement rulebook, and the developed country recent “roadmap” to reach the promised $100 billion/year by 2020 lacks credibility – – unfortunate circumstances in the face of developing countries’ low-carbon climate resilient development needs now estimated to collectively exceed $4 trillion.

Work did continue yesterday, while heads of state and ministers arrived for the high-level segment. By the end of the day, among some positive developments were two improved draft decisions on the WIM (here and here). (More on these to come.) Additionally, the Green Climate Fund expedited grants for Liberia’s and Nepal’s National Adaptation Plans. Climate finance remains a hot topic on this week’s COP22 agenda, in particular, the upcoming High-Level Ministerial Dialogue on Climate Finance; so, Screen Shot 2016-11-15 at 3.09.30 PMhope remains for new and encouraging news on that front. (Check back with us on this, too!)

 

Photo credits: Action Time courtesy www.afd/fr; Informal negotiations courtesy iisd enb


Powerful Statements from the Plenary

I am not one of the three in our group in the plenary today, but I have been watching the live streaming for the past 4 hours.  Various heads of states are now giving their 5-10 minutes statements.  I just listened to the Prime Minister of Mali, Modibo Sidibe and the President of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez.  Below are my hastily taken notes from their speeches (both through UN translators so these texts not the specific words of these leaders):

Photo source: Wikipedia

Mr. Sidibe  – “I want to tell you a story about my relationship for the past 50 years with a river – the Niger river – I was born in the central delta on the banks of this river.  I was 5 years old when my grandma warned me of swimming in this river b/c it was turbulent and deep.  She said a city of water spirits lived down in the depths. 

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Continue reading


Happy Human Rights Day!

Human Rights Panel

On this day in 1948, the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  To celebrate the anniversary of this historic text and the principles it proclaims, several leaders in the human rights field gave a panel presentation today at COP15.  Panelists included Martin Wagner of Earthjustice and Ulrich Holstein of the U.N. Human Rights Council, as well as distinguished speakers from the Seychelles, Kenya, and the Inuit people of Canada.  They each emphasized the vital importance of taking human rights into account during the climate change negotiations.  The panelists explained that emissions reductions targets are inherently a human rights issue because anything over 1.5 degrees and 350 ppm condemns entire nations to devastating consequences and, in many cases, complete disappearance.  Continue reading


Negotiations Breakdown?

COP 15 President Connie Hedegaard

COP15 President Connie Hedegaard about to start 3pm meeting after suspension of the plenary re-opening the session

The morning started out with a flurry of activity.  After some discussion about the logo and how certain parties felt it represented the end of Kyoto, the COP plenary commenced with the Tuvalu delegation proposing a contact group to review its protocol, which was proposed and tabled six months ago.  As proposed, the Tuvalu protocol is a legally binding agreement meant to complement Kyoto through amendments, as well as the creation of a new protocol entitled the Copenhagen Protocol.  In no uncertain terms, Tuvalu stated it was here to “seal the deal” and wanted nothing less than a legally binding document.

In response to the request for a contact group, many of the AOSIS countries expressed great enthusiasm noting they are the states most impacted by the effects of climate change.  As Cape Verde stated, “we will be the first to diasappear…in this climate crisis.”  Other countries strongly opposed the creation of a contact group, most notably, China, India, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela.  The opposition was clear in expressing their feeling that the parties’ focus should not be on new texts.   The United States was unsurprisingly quiet.  Most alarmingly, however, countries within the G77 that had formerly been aligned were clearly divided.  Continue reading


Most Vulnerable Nations Call for Financing Reforms

After a somewhat sleepy day yesterday, the discussions at COP15 are picking up in passion and intensity.  In this morning’s Plenary I (a meeting of the Subsidiary Body for Implementation or SBI), one of the main topics was the status of the Global Environment Facility, i.e., one of the most important mechanisms for financing climate-related projects in the developing world.  A representative from the GEF (pronounced “Jeff”), which is implemented by the World Bank, recited a litany of successes, touted the billions of dollars spent to date on climate-related projects, and identified the many tons of CO2 emissions reduced or avoided.  He also acknowledged the need for reforms in the GEF and outlined a number of key reforms that are already underway.  In response, delegates from numerous developing countries commended the managers of the GEF for their efforts at reform.  However, many of these delegates, particularly those from the least developed countries (known as “LDCs”) such as Sudan, Nicaragua, Benin, Iraq, Antiga & Barbuda, passionately and firmly called for more fundamental and extensive reforms.  Continue reading