AfricaFocus (Washington, DC)

Africa - Little Momentum in Climate Talks

analysis

"We agreed in Bali in December 2007 to build a much stronger international climate regime to better cope with recent alarming analysis of the disastrous effects of climate change. But instead of achieving this new regime, we now see quite unbelievably an attempt to dismantle even the weaker regime that we now have. Instead of a legally binding system to lock in adequate emissions cuts to 2020 for developed countries ...there is now the most likely prospect of a 'voluntary pledge' system in which developed countries merely state what they can do" -- Martin Khor, South Centre

Khor goes on to note that there is still some hope for progress at the climate conference in Durban this year, including formation of a new Green Climate Fund, and at least continuation of the current Kyoto Protocol commitments by a minimum number of developed countries. But in fact, he notes, it is the developing countries which are now making the greatest commitments to act to slow climate change, even though the developed countries are those who bear the greatest responsibility.

This AfricaFocus Bulletin contains (1) this summary analysis by Martin Khor of the state of the talks, (2) a report by the South Centre on a conference in Beijing on low-carbon growth initiatives, and (3) a note from Oxfam on the new study they have commissioned analyzing the pledges by developed and developing countries.

Another AfricaFocus Bulletin, sent out by e-mail today and available on the web at http://www.africafocus.org/docs11/ren1107.php, reports on rising levels of investment in renewable energy, particularly in developing countries, despite the lack of progress in global climate talks.

Two additional sources on the critical issues connected to the proposed Green Climate Fund are the following:

Official Background on Green Climate Fund negotiations http://unfccc.int / Direct URL: http://tinyurl.com/63wq4u4

Civil Society Recommendations on Green Climate Fund http://www.boell.org/web/140-749.html

For previous AfricaFocus Bulletins on environment and climate issues, see http://www.africafocus.org/envexp.php

--editor's note

The global climate regime on the brink

South Bulletin 55, July 11, 2011

By Martin Khor South Centre http://www.southcentre.org

[Below is the Note distributed at the South Centre press conference during the UNFCCC session in Bonn, held on 16 June 2011. It explains why the global climate regime is at the crossroads and can either unravel altogether or still evolve into a new fair deal.]

We agreed in Bali in December 2007 to build a much stronger international climate regime to better cope with recent alarming analysis of the disastrous effects of climate change. But instead of achieving this new regime, we now see quite unbelievably an attempt to dismantle even the weaker regime that we now have. Instead of a legally binding system to lock in adequate emissions cuts to 2020 for developed countries collectively and individually -- which is what was agreed to -- there is now the most likely prospect of a "voluntary pledge" system in which developed countries merely state what they can do, without a formal system of assessing the adequacy of each country's target or the adequacy of the collective effort. This will itself be a disincentive for developing countries, when they see those who are supposed to lead the process, falter instead.

Disastrous Projection of Pledges

Top climate scientists in a UN Environment Programme report show how disastrously off-mark such a voluntary system can be. Instead of cutting their emissions by at least 25-40% below 1990 levels in 2020 as required (or by more than 40%, as demanded by developing countries), the developed countries will actually increase their emission by 6% in a bad scenario (based on the lower end of pledges and the use of loopholes) or will only cut by 16% in the good scenario (based on the upper end of pledges and without the use of loopholes). The calculations are based on the pledges the developed countries made under the Copenhagen Accord.

These pledges, together with the figures from announcements made by some developing countries, show that the world is moving in the direction of a global temperature increase of between 2.5 to 5 degrees Celsius before the end of this century, according to the UNEP report. This is far removed from the 1.5 or 2 degree "safe limit", and is a recipe for catastrophe. In 2005 the global emissions level is estimated at 45 Gigatonnes (i.e. 45 billion tonnes) of CO2 equivalent and in 2009 it is estimated at 48 Gton. With business as usual, this will rise to 56 Gton in 2020, which is on the road to disaster. The scientists in the UNEP study agree that emissions have to be limited to 44 GtCO2e by 2020 to stay on a 2 degree limitation course. Based on the Copenhagen Accord pledges, the emissions in 2020 could be 49 Gton under a good scenario, but as high as 53 Gton (almost like business-as-usual) in the bad scenario.

Developing Countries Doing Their Share

It is evident that all groups of countries have to contribute to improving this disastrous situation.

However the Annex I countries are obliged to take the lead, and show the way. But their pledges so far are deficient, as a group. And the intended downgrading of the regulated system to a deregulated system goes in the wrong direction.

An Oxfam press release last week on their newly commissioned paper says that industrialized countries which are most responsible for the climate crisis are not pulling their weight.

"Their competitors in developing countries -from China to India and Brazil - have pledged to do more to rein in emissions and start building prosperous low carbon economies. Europe and the US risk being left behind."

New figures from the forthcoming Stockholm Environment Institute overview of the pledges show that:

China's total emissions reductions could be nearly double those of the US by 2020.

The emissions reductions of developing countries could be three times greater than those of the EU by 2020.

The emission reductions of China, India, South Africa and Brazil- the BASIC countries - could be slightly greater than the combined efforts of the 7 biggest developed countries - the US, Europe, Japan, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Russia by 2020.

There should thus not be an excuse not to enter a Kyoto 2nd period on the ground that major developing countries are not doing their fair share.

Still Hope For Durban If ...

There is still hope for Durban, however, if enough developed countries decide they will stay with the Kyoto Protocol (KP) and fulfill its second commitment period starting 2013. And that those who stay out of Kyoto will make a comparable effort, inside the Convention (AWG-LCA). Developing countries for the first time are making targets, and those of the largest countries have been credible.

There is little time left to salvage a credible global climate change regime as Durban is the last chance to continue with the Kyoto Protocol without a gap (the first period ends in 2012).

We also hope that there will be sufficient progress on finance and technology, especially with the firm establishment in Durban of the Green Climate Fund, the Technology Mechanism and an Adaptation Committee - three new institutions that are essential to assist developing countries. The negotiations on the Fund and the Technology Mechanism are so far progressing, but a spurt is needed to get final results in Durban. There cannot be a postponement on these, nor the placing of conditions that these will be established only if some developed countries get what they want out of developing countries in other areas.

NOTE: The overall understanding on mitigation reached in Bali: (1) that the Annex I Parties in KP would take on adequate 2nd period commitments on aggregate and individual reduction targets consistent with what science requires; (2) that the US would make its own comparable commitment in the Convention, in accordance with Para.1b(i); and (3) developing countries would undertake enhanced mitigation actions with financial and technological support, both of which would be measurable, reportable and verifiable (MRV).

This three-piece Bali understanding is now unraveling with alarming speed. The KP is in mortal danger, as most of its Annex I Members show clear signs of abandoning ship. The new vehicle they are looking to join is vastly inferior. It is the voluntary pledge system that the US had been advocating, in which individual developed countries state how much reduction they would like to set as their target. In the system, there is no aggregate target to be set in accordance with what the science says is required. There is no formal mechanism to review the commitments (individual and aggregate) and to get Parties to revise them so that they meet adequate levels. The mild discipline is that there will be a periodic review on whether the Parties meet their pledged targets, but not a review as to whether the pledges are adequate.

Towards green low-carbon growth?

South Bulletin 55, July 11, 2011

A conference, held on 22-24 June 2011 in Beijing, heard plans by China and other countries for achieving green lowcarbon development to combat climate change. Despite an upbeat mood, the difficulties are many and serious.

Despite the slow progress in the global climate negotiations, some developing countries are already taking their own climate actions to reduce emissions and adapt to the effects of climate change.

Of course, their actions will fall far short of what is required, unless the funds and technology expected as a result from the global talks materialize and unless the developed countries also cut their emissions greatly and leave more "carbon space" to the developing countries.

The Chinese government organized a conference on "green low-carbon development" in Beijing on 22-24 June, bringing together international and local experts with national and provincial policy makers.

That China hosted this event itself was significant, as it is the largest developing country in both population and economic size. It has also become one of the two largest Greenhouse Gas emitting countries in the world.

But as pointed out at the conference, China is still a middle-income developing country, ranked rather average among developing countries in both per capita income and per capita emissions.

Nevertheless, the spotlight has very much been on China, not least because its high economic growth on top of its economic weight means that what happens in the country has a significant impact on global climate change.

The conference was meant to open China's plans for scrutiny and comments. The list of actions being planned is impressive. As enumerated by Ms. Sun Cui Hua, Deputy Director-General of the Climate Change Department of the National Development and Reform Commission, these included ten policy areas.

The first was implementing climate change macro policies. The targets in the recently unveiled 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-15) include:

Non-fossil fuel to account for 11.4 per cent of primary energy consumption;

Cut by 30% of water consumption per unit of value-added industrial output;

16% reduction in energy consumption per unit of GDP;

17% cut in Carbon dioxide emission per unit of GDP (en route to the pledged goal of 40-45% reduction by 2020 compared to 2005);

Forest coverage rate to rise to 21.66 per cent and forest stock to increase by 600 million cubic meters.

Not mentioned by Ms. Sun, but which will have equally important implications is the new 7% average annual GDP growth target for the 2011-15 period. This is a reduction from the annual growth of 10-plus percent per year that China has been used to.

A cut by 3 to 4 percentage points in GDP growth will in itself mean a large reduction in emissions growth, on top of the cuts in emissions intensity of GDP.

Other policies or actions announced by Ms. Sun included:

Establishing a fund in China to finance its climate actions.

Launching low-carbon pilot projects in selected cities and provinces.

Using market mechanisms including new conditions for enterprises, and a pilot programme on emissions trading.

A low carbon certification system to identify industries and products and encourage upgrading of enterprises.

Compiling an inventory of greenhouse gases, including building the capacity of local governments and having a guidebook for enterprises.

Strengthening legislation to accompany the policy measures

Education and campaigns for low-carbon lifestyles.

Strengthening international cooperation through exchanges and South-South cooperation.

Enacting policy measures in various sectors and improving forecasting and early warning for extreme weather events.

Italy's Environment Ministry Director General Corrado Clini said other countries should learn from China in prioritizing low-carbon technologies. China had become the leader in investments for low-carbon technologies, spending US$34 billion in 2010 compared to USA ($17 bil), UK ($12 bil), Spain ($11 bil), Brazil ($8 bil), Germany ($4 bil) and Canada and India ($3 bil).

Data on recent performance in China's energy and emissions were given by Wang Zhongmin of the China Institute of Standardization, who said that energy consumption per unit of GDP fell by a total of 19% in the 11th Five-Year Plan period (2006-11). Energy use per unit of copper smelting dropped 36% and per ton of cement by 29%, while backward enterprises and technologies had been closed down.

During the period, the energy conserved was more than 600 million tons of standard coal, which meant there was an accumulated reduction of carbon dioxide by over 1.5 billion tons.

Europe's climate policy was presented by Jurgen Lefevere of the European Commission who said that the EU countries had decoupled emissions from GDP growth, as domestic emissions had fallen 16% while GDP grew 40% between 1990 and 2009.

He reiterated the EU target of 20 to 30 per cent emissions reduction by 2020 (compared to 1990) with a reduction of 80-95% by 2050 through a road map that includes emission reduction plans for various sectors, the use of key technologies and investments.

The EC had identified additional investments (needed for climate change actions) of Euro 270 bil a year in 2010-2050. This would be more than offset by benefits, including fuel-saving of Euro 175-320 bil a year; halving of imports by 2050, reducing the bill in that year by Euro 400 bil; and health benefits of Euro 88 bil a year in 2050, and 1.5 million net jobs created in 2020.

Despite the positive domestic plans by China and the message from Europe that decoupling growth and emissions is possible, experts also highlighted the huge challenges facing developing countries in reducing their emissions growth while maintaining their ambition of high economic growth.

Some developed countries had not even got their "decoupling" act together yet, as their emissions have continued to climb.

For developing countries, who also have to battle not only poverty but the increased effects of climate change (such as floods, drought and hurricanes), moving into action to cut emissions will be difficult. This is where the global climate negotiations come in.

They have to deliver huge emission cuts in developed countries and provide sufficient funds and technologies to developing countries so that they have the atmospheric space and the resources to do their own decoupling of emissions from economic development.

Developing countries pledge bigger climate emissions cuts than world's richest nations

6 June 2011

http://www.oxfam.org / Direct URL: http://tinyurl.com/6yk6azh

"All countries need to do their fair share to tackle climate change. Yet rich industrialized countries which are most responsible for the climate crisis are not pulling their weight."

Tim Gore Policy Advisor for Oxfam

A new study for Oxfam reveals that developing countries are pledging to cut their emissions of greenhouse gases by more than developed countries. Oxfam estimates that over 60 per cent of emissions cuts by 2020 are likely to be made by developing countries.

From Monday delegates from 195 countries are gathering in Bonn, Germany to resume negotiations on a global deal to tackle climate change. At last December's climate conference in Cancun, countries recorded their pledges to cut emissions of greenhouse gases, but making comparisons between them has proved difficult because every country calculates and records their pledges in different ways.

The new analysis by the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI), commissioned as part of Oxfam's new global GROW campaign, compares four of the most widely respected studies of these pledges. All the studies show that developing countries have pledged to make bigger cuts in their greenhouse gas emissions than industrialized countries, compared to a business as usual scenario.

Tim Gore, Oxfam's climate change policy advisor said: "All countries need to do their fair share to tackle climate change. Yet rich industrialized countries which are most responsible for the climate crisis are not pulling their weight.

"It's time for governments from Europe to the US to stand up to the fossil fuel lobbyists. Their competitors in developing countries - from China to India and Brazil - have pledged to do more to rein in emissions and start building prosperous low carbon economies. Europe and the US risk being left behind."

New figures from the forthcoming SEI overview of the pledges show that:

China's total emissions reductions could be nearly double those of the US by 2020.

The emissions reductions of developing countries could be three times greater than those of the EU by 2020.

The emission reductions of China, India, South Africa and Brazil - the BASIC countries - could be slightly greater than the combined efforts of the 7 biggest developed countries - the US, Europe, Japan, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Russia by 2020.

Oxfam's analysis also shows that the total emissions cuts pledged by all countries are not sufficient to prevent global temperatures rising above the 2 degrees target agreed by governments in Cancun. Global temperature increases of more than 1.5 degrees will have catastrophic consequences for societies across the globe.

Gore said; "In the end, cutting emissions isn't about who does the most, but whether the total efforts are enough to avoid devastating levels of global warming - we will either sink or swim together. The pledges currently on the table mean we are sinking."

The new analysis of efforts on emissions cuts comes days after Oxfam published a report "Growing a Better Future" which forecasts that average prices of staple foods such as maize will increase by between 120 and 180 per cent by 2030. Up to half of this increase will be driven by climate change.

Gore said: "We need bolder action to cut emissions and stop climate change driving generations of children into hunger. All countries must step up and deliver their fair share of the emissions reductions needed. Countries must also ensure the most vulnerable get the support they need to adapt. Rocketing food prices signal climate change red alert".

Oxfam is calling for action on climate change as part of a new global GROW campaign to ensure everyone always has enough to eat.

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