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OPINION: CDKN’s live blog from COP22 – Marrakech, Morocco – Week One


Scroll down for mini-blogs from CDKN commentators as events in Marrakech unfold.

Sunday 13th November

12:00 pm Janet Strachan, LEDS GP Co-Director, reports on discussions in the past week on the links between public policy and private financing for climate action.

How can public finance be used in a smart way to lower investor risks and bring the private sector on board?

Peter Story of the CTI Private Financing Advisory Network (PFAN) raised the need to rapidly scale up the preparation of individual projects for the private investment pipeline (PFAN has completed 300 to date) to allow for the bundling of projects for international investors. If risk-adjusted and well categorised projects grouped by technology or sector are presented at scale, these could unlock private finance at scale. Risks – such as political risk or off-taker risk can be insured (e.g. the risk that energy distribution companies are unable to make payments on time to buy renewable power – or that a project fails to deliver renewable energy on time to a company that has contracted to use the energy produced as a result of the project). Peter suggested that covering these risks could be a good use of public funds to leverage private finance – along with services in designing bankable proposals and connecting investors to projects.

And what about carbon trading? Negotiators are grappling with some of the realities of creating the new mechanism created under the Article 6 of the Paris Agreementto contribute to the mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions and support sustainable development”.  Safeguards and ambition need to be built into the rules now to ensure it supports ambitious low-emission development outcomes. We heard that a major agricultural enterprise in a central Africa is negotiating a feed-in tariff for bioenergy, but costs are higher than for other renewables. Yet, selling sustainable biomass could benefit a lot of farmers and be an important measure in achieving both mitigation and sustainable development goals together. Could it sell certified emission reductions to fund the difference in costs if such a scheme existed? In the absence of trading, is this what the Green Climate Fund is intended for?

Time for new language, new concepts and new approaches on co-benefits?

Hearing the latest research on co-benefits from action on climate change, the challenge came from the floor that ‘co-benefits’ is the wrong framing, since the core benefits are developmental. There is a sense that old language needs to move on. While some are using language around multiple benefits and multiple objectives of low emission approaches to development (Centre for Policy Research), others want a new narrative for action under the Paris Agreement. For example, Philippines, is seeking 6.75 percent GDP growth per annum while addressing poverty and debt issues. How can it define its model of sustainable development and build this into its emissions pathway? CDKN’s Connie Espinosa set out the impact of sharing co-benefits with Peru’s Ministry of Finance (while avoiding using co-benefits language explicitly), in helping to finalise the INDC just ahead of its submission. Ultimately, the implications of climate change must frame how we build our new and emerging cities and the infrastructure that does not exist yet. It’s a way of doing things, bringing-in resilience and biodiversity, and being development oriented in an integrated way – not about maximizing co-benefits of mitigation actions.

 

Friday 11th November

10:00 pm Ben Bostock, Daphne Amevenu, Kiran Sura and the Negotiations Support Team round up the day’s events:

    • Investment in renewable energy in Africa is high on the agenda at COP22, with The Africa Renewable Energy Initiative presented to a large audience of businesses, researchers and activists. It aims to mobilise large amounts of funding, to back an additional 10GW of clean energy by 2020.
    • Australia has ratified the Paris Agreement – a significant step forward considering it is one of the world’s worst per capita emitters with heavy use of coal-based energy
    • The Climate Action Tracker (CAT) revealed an updated prediction of where countries Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) will lead us. They predict a 2.8degC warmer world than the pre-industrial norm, based on these pledges – not too dissimilar from last year’s prediction of 2.7 with 2016 being a year of little action. This report adds to the data and analysis already provided this month by the United Nations Emissions Gap Report.
    • The US President-Elect’s transition website  has been launched. The section on US Energy Independence looks to ‘end the war on coal’ – but at this stage, only focuses on domestic energy.

3:00 pm Susannah Fitzherbert-Brockholes discusses Southern businesses and the COP22 adaptation agenda:

When I reported from COP21 last year in Paris, I described how businesses were present in the side lines of the negotiations, and with a loud voice, but that their voice was predominantly from the global North and almost entirely focussed on mitigation issues. My comment at the time was that businesses and people in developing countries are going to be most affected by the impacts of climate change, and that ensuring their engagement in the tackling climate change, and in particular on adaptation, would be essential to achieving climate compatible development.

I have therefore been really pleased to hear the voice of Southern businesses coming through strongly on the adaptation agenda here at COP22. Yesterday I attended an event where I heard the environmental management lead from an African company, describing how they had made adaptation a core part of their risk management strategy. She described how they saw climate adaptation as an essential part of protecting business continuity. Leadership from their CEO and the fact that, as a public entity, they are required to report on what their doing to adapt to climate change, were both cited as key drivers for action. Investor pressure to disclose how they were ‘transitioning’ to being a low-carbon and climate resilient business was also seen as an increasingly important part of this.

Some Southern businesses are already demonstrating leadership in climate adaptation and engaging nationally and internationally to share lessons with other businesses. There is of course much more to do to raise awareness of climate risk and support businesses, both large and small, to integrate adaptation into their core business strategies. There is a clear role here for the donor community to support this awareness raising and, going further than that, enhance access to the finance needed for action. In particular for those small and medium-sized enterprises that are so often left out of the debate.

Raising the voice of Southern business at the climate negotiations is an important starting point, so that non-Party actors can contribute to the process, support increased ambition and ensure incentives are aligned to the action needed.

10:00am Charlotte Ellis and Kamleshan Pillay discuss financing climate-resilient infrastructure in Africa.

Read about the lessons learnt form 27 CDKN-supported finance projects here. 

Thursday 10th November

7:00 pm Ari Huhtala on lively discussions about energy choices and how they will help or hamper achievement of the Paris Agreement:

An unusually energetic and passionate side event “Fossil fuel supply and climate policy: Key steps to enhance ambition” was held on Wednesday by the Overseas Development Institute (ODI), Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) and Oil Change International (OCI).

The event brought together experts and policy makers to discuss ways for climate policy to address fossil fuel supply along with demand, and thus align energy strategies with climate and sustainability goals. I learned that subsidies to fossil fuel production often conflict with consumption subsidies generating confusion and waste of resources. I also learned a useful new term: zombie energy. When unviable (coal, oil or gas) fields are being subsidised, the power produced from them can be called zombie energy. If you eliminate subsidies to such fields, or declare moratoria on new fossil development, you are likely to reduce production. However, we also need other financial instruments to leave carbon in the ground. Knowing risks and numbers always helps.

Although only two percent of carbon emissions come from fuel production, managing a decline in production would be an effective way of influencing the market and consumption. A question was asked: Are current initiatives simply greening fuel production or actually managing decline?

The message from the panel was clear: Carbon capture and storage is unproven technology and very expensive, but maybe needed for negative emissions to reach the 1.5C goal. Hopefully advances can be made to achieve this through yet unknown and cheaper technologies in the coming decades. In the meantime, and to minimise the need for such measures, it would be best to leave all unexplored and untapped reserves in the ground.

6:00 pm Ben Bostock, Daphne Amevenu, Kiran Sura and the Negotiations Support Team round up the day’s events:

      • Discussions continue informally among delegates as to the likely approach of US President-Elect Trump and the Republican Congress toward the Paris Agreement, following yesterday’s election results. There is widespread confidence that Paris Agreement can go ahead without the US – which would take 4 years to withdraw if it chose to do so. With 189 Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) on the table, significant peer pressure exists to not renege on the American commitment – especially pressure from the world’s biggest emitter, China.
      • In the APA, the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Paris Agreement, several of the most climate vulnerable countries and country groups – including the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) and the Africa Group – made the case for common renewals of countries’ 5-year commitments -i.e. across all Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). Currently, the ambition of countries’ collective NDCs is leading us towards a 3 degree Celsius rise in global temperature – well above the Paris agreement ambition of between 1.5 and 2 degrees.
      • In climate finance, developing countries would like to recognise the Adaptation Fund under the Paris Agreement as soon as possible, as well as a re-examination of the GCF and the financial architecture as a whole, to see where collaboration and coordination can be improved.
      • Forestry Day saw many exciting announcements at the COP. Google and the FAO showcased a collaborative project, which provides free software Collect Earth. This uses satellite imagery to enable data collection through Google Earth – allowing open source assessments of trends in e.g. LULUCF, agricultural/urban monitoring, desertification. More than a dozen initiatives on mitigation and adaptation projects related to forests were announced globally, across Asia, Africa and South America – with Brazil revealing a new strategy to reduce deforestation of the Amazon by 90% before 2030.
      • The UK Government outlined how it will proceed with a complete phase-out of coal in the UK by 2025 – and has expressed its continued commitment to spending £730 million annually on renewable energy projects across this Parliament.

 

Wednesday 9th November

5:00 pm Ben Bostock, Daphne Amevenu, Kiran Sura and the Negotiations Support Team round up the day’s events:

Today, there was much chatter among COP22 delegates as they learned of Donald Trump’s win of the United States election. This was to be expected given the US’ global (current and historic) share of greenhouse gas emissions and importance in the climate arena.

      • Tosi Mpanu-Mpanu, Chair of the Least Developed Countries Group – comprising 48 of the world’s poorest and most climate vulnerable nations – remarked positively and optimistically on:
        • The strength of the current agreement, with the commitments which the US are already tied into
        • The economic opportunities which the Paris Agreement opens the door to
        • The difference between campaign rhetoric and actions in office
      • The UNFCCC Standing Committee on Finance (SCF) released its biennial report on Climate Finance. This found:
        • Annual climate finance flows were up 15% in 2014 compared with 2011/12
        • The desired balance of spending between mitigation and adaptation is currently still around 75:25, rather than the desired 50:50
        • Much investment needs to be made into granular, web-based, country level data
      • There are concerns that the finance flows are too slow to support the climate action plans of African countries. The submitted plans are either entirely or completely conditional on receiving international aid.
      • Over 100 nations have now ratified the Paris Agreement – with the Philippines and Japan on their way to ratification. They will not have completed the ratification process in time for COP.

 

Tuesday 8th November 

4:00pm – Connie Espinosa, CDKN’s Latin America and Caribbean Director

How ready are we for ACTION at COP22?

On the first two days at COP, most of the side events have been very much focused on what have become important questions at COP22: how to implement and how to raise ambition for future Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). After all, this COP in Marrakech is inviting all for Action, Achir or Acción!

Now, it’s interesting to realise that action might be happening a little bit faster than expectations; for instance, the Paris Agreement entered into force before the Convention itself was ready from a governance perspective. COP22 is serving as a meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement (CMA1), from which we might hear a delay in its work until the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Paris Agreement (APA) agrees the rules and guidelines for the Paris Agreement.

It’s also interesting to see that this ‘little’ governance aspect is not restraining  participants at COP22 when inviting deep reflections on how to increase ambition for future NDCs – this is particularly surprising since all the international policy “excitement” (or pressure) from Paris, has passed.

Some of the conclusions of side events focusing on “how to increase ambition” are that that actors should:

      • update country information to understand the sectoral sources of greenhouse gases and improve modeling;
      • reduce the gap between scientific information and policy making;
      • increase political will and align the interests of different economic sectors that are facing the climate challenge;
      • ensure multi-stakeholder participation processes;
      • assess co-benefits and the competitiveness dimension of mitigation and adaptation measures.

I have to confess that after listening to these and other conclusions, I wonder if in order to understand the challenge in front of us, we should – rather – reflect about the lessons learned of the INDC preparation process (where ‘I’ stands for ‘intended’ – the ‘I’ is dropped since the plans were accepted as part of the Paris Agreement).  Why? Because we have already heard these messages before. So, what will make the difference this time in order to generate a different result from the process we saw when countries built their INDCs?

We need to radically rethink the way we present the challenge – in a variety of ways.  We need to change our thinking about time, and our habit of juxtaposing short versus long term action; we need to change our inclination to pose development versus climate change action; and we need to conceive solutions along multi-level and multi-sector dimensions. In addition, we need to strengthen our ability to facilitate processes at national and subnational level, approaching actors from different sectors and building a vision for the future that the majority will recognise as their own.

 

12:00pm – Ari Huhtala, CDKN’s Deputy Chief Executive, summarises the emissions challenge facing countries:

Today I attended the side event by United Nations Environment on their Emissions Gap Report. CDKN’s Executive Chair Simon Maxwell sits on the advisory panel of this significant report. I was pleased to hear more detailed descriptions of the various chapters, following the launch co-sponsored by CDKN in London last week. The main message is urgency. The following six steps were identified as crucial in narrowing and eliminating the emissions gap of some 12-14 gigatonnes that is necessary to limit global warming to two degrees:

        1. Immediate action;
        2. Rapid upgrading of mitigation technologies;
        3. Rapid phase-out of fossil fuel use;
        4. Development of carbon removal technologies;
        5. High energy-efficiency improvements;
        6. Attention not only to end-of-century warming scenarios but also to peak emissions.

Non-state actors can reduce emissions in the order of a few gigatonnes in addition to actions listed in countries’ national commitments: the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs), but they alone will not close the gap. If the emissions gap persists, many of the Sustainble Development Goals, it is implied, cannot be achieved. The UNEP Emissions Gap Report provides important messages to steer high ambition at COP-22 and NDC implementation.

 

8:00am – Kiran Sura, CDKN’s Head of Negotiations Support, reports on the latest UNFCCC Conference of Parties, in Marrakech:

You would be forgiven for not realising that COP22 got underway in Marrakech yesterday, with the most contentious US Presidential election reaching a head today. But our minds are firmly focused on the next round of international climate negotiations taking place in Morocco. Following the grand political moment in Paris last December – which saw some 196 parties adopt the Paris Agreement – this COP is very much a roll-up-your-sleeves meeting. Delegates from around the world have descended on Marrakech to negotiate how to convert the ambitious goals of the Paris Agreement in to reality on the ground.

Key issues that will be the focus of technical but nevertheless fierce negotiations will be:

      • the form and content of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs);
      • how the global stocktake will be conducted;
      • a transparency framework to understand what action is (or isn’t) being taken;
      • how to meet and scale up climate finance for developing countries; and
      • a future work programme of the Warsaw International Mechanism on loss and damage.

But first things first. Before any negotiations actually get underway, it is likely that Parties will call for a suspension or adjournment of the first Conference of Parties serving as the meeting of Parties to the Paris Agreement or CMA1. The Paris Agreement entered in to force on the 4 November, far earlier than many had expected and before much of the detail of the agreement has been worked through. Therefore to ensure that those parties that have not yet ratified the agreement are still involved in the decision-making process, the CMA1 may be postponed until 2018.

 

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