COP 24 concludes with the Barcelona Agreement

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Happy faces among all COP 24 participants upon reaching the Barcelona Agreement

This week’s COP 24  was concluded on Wednesday as a consensus was reached and all delegations signed the The Barcelona Agreement. The comprehensive agreement saw some key novelties that will shape the negotiations at upcoming COPs, especially related to mitigation.

Most notably, the countries agreed to enhance their ambitions to limit global average temperature increase to well below 2°C and striving for 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, peak global emissions in 2025 and to form three new categories of countries: Developed, developing and least developed countries. The categorisation is based on IHDI, will be monitored by a special UN taskforce and includes transition periods and the possibility to request reclassification in order to get all signatories on board.

As for adaptation, the delegations agreed on merging the Adaptation Fund into the Green Climate Fund and aiming for a fund size of USD 100 billion annually by 2020, USD 145 billion annually by 2025 and USD 195 billion annually by 2030. Nonetheless, the signatories did not agree on how to reach these fund sizes, postponing this decision to COP 25. Another milestone was the appeal to the UNHRC to establish a widely accepted definition of climate refugees and to include them in the 1951 Refugee Convention.

In the market mechanism group, countries agreed on combining and integrating CDM and JI into the Sustainable Development Mechanism and allowing all countries that have adopted and ratified the Paris Agreement to invest in and host SDM projects. Another milestone was the definition of the concept of additionality. The Barcelona Agreement defines an SDM project as additional if anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases by sources are reduced below those that would have occurred in the absence of the registered SDM project activity. Lastly, the signatories agreed that they should pledge a specific amount to REDD+ funding with the minimum goal of raising yearly funds necessary to prevent the 30% of deforestation by 2030 in this COP, which is to be increased at least in alignment with the size of the GCF. The Barcelona Agreement in full can be read here.

COP 24 also saw the re-entry of the United States in the Paris Agreement, as reported earlier by El Observador. As a result, delegations can look back at a successful Conference of the Parties and can be hopeful about what future COPs have to bring.

 

 

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Love is in the air! United States back into the Paris Agreement – Multitude of side agreements reached

On the final day of COP 24 in Barcelona, love seemed to be in the air as a multitude of side agreements was reached in addition to the Barcelona Agreement. Most notably, the United States has officially re-entered the Paris Agreement, representing a great milestone in UNFCCC negotiations!

France took a leading role in the negotiations by initiating contact and writing draft statements, ultimately resulting in the re-entry of the United States in the Paris Agreement. The re-entry was managed by negotiating side agreements that are of huge interest to the Trump presidency. Key NATO countries reached an agreement for all members to meet the NATO commitments. The relevant countries, besides the United States and France, are Germany and Norway. The increased commitments will be spent on a threefold of elements:

  1. Defence spending
  2. Transatlantic biofuel programme aimed at converting the equipment and vessels to biofuel
  3. Mitigation.

The United States delegation expressed its delight and is proud to present the results to President Trump upon landing again in Washington DC.

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Happy delegations as the United States re-enters the Paris Agreement

Furthermore, the Delegations of the People’s Republic of China and the United States of America have come to an agreement to strengthen the collaboration between these two world powers. The agreement entails the United States of America re-entering the Paris Agreement and lifting tariffs on Solar Panels, while China commits to opening up the Free Trading Zones to US American organisations, in an effort to better protect US American IP.

The delegations of Norway, Germany, Mexico and Japan also announced bilateral technology transfer agreements that were concluded during informal sessions of COP 24. The countries would like to emphasise their intention to further promote and support the collaboration of all countries regarding technology transfer to continue reducing emissions ambitiously and to support adaptation efforts to the adverse effects of climate change.

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The Norwegian, Japanese, German and Mexican delegations

Another multilateral agreement was signed by USA, France, China, Qatar, UAE, Iran, Saudi-Arabia, Angola, Nigeria and Venezuela for a period of 10 years. The OPEC countries strongly wish to set the road towards diversifying away from oil and gas dependance. Hence, the delegation of Qatar, Iran and United Arab Emirates initiated a ‘parallel’ agreement to increase technology transfer of solar energy as follows:

  1. France and the United States of America will invest in solar energy projects in Qatar, Iran and United Arab Emirates in order to transfer know-how and increase efficiency in the countries
  2. China will in parallel invest on large scale projects in Nigeria, Angola and Venezuela to introduce and increase the current solar surface in these countries. In light of this agreement, Qatar, Iran and UAE will re-direct know-how in the long term to less developed OPEC nations, to ensure all implemented projects are continued in the most efficient manner
  3. In return, the USA and France will receive a 5% reduction on the annual average oil price of the OPEC basket from imports from Qatar, UAE, Iran and Saudi-Arabia; China will retain its ownership of infrastructure

Lastly, the Kingdom of Cambodia and Federal Republic of Germany announced „the Alliance“. The countries believe that this Alliance might be perceived as a „best practise” case for cooperation among LDCs and developed nations. The investments shall be made in cooperation with German and Cambodian Universities.

The role of the alliance is as follows:

  1. Increase renewables as a source of energy (wind and solar energy) in Cambodia
  2. Raise awareness about climate change issue
  3. Use a potential of Cambodia, to become a leader of Renewable energy among LDCs
  4. Create a friendly environment for international investment in Climate Change solutions in Cambodia
  5. Create a Renewable energy hub for the rest of South-east Asian countries in Cambodia
  6. Obtain the access to a new promising market by private sector
  7. Support of the sustain development of LDCs

As far as sources of finance are concerned, they will be collected from private companies. The Cambodian government already committed to create specific regulations for the launching of this Alliance, in order to create a friendly environment for German FDI.

A very fruitful day of negotiations at COP 24 in Barcelona!

Developing countries seemingly lose out in final negotiations in the market mechanism group

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The final session of the market mechanism working group yielded some heated discussions once again. The session kicked off with a re-evaluation of the funding of REDD+ in response to a comment released by El Observador earlier, as the Mexican delate picked up on the concerns about the ambiguousness of the „prevention of the 30% of deforestation by 2030″. Nonetheless, talks initiated about the inclusion of an additional statement on the monitoring and revisiting of the funding, but the concept of 30% still remained unclear. Some countries, most notably South Korea, seemed to be in a hurry and favoured speed over clarity, undermining the strength of the agreement. 

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Heated Discussions in the Market Mechanism Working Group

In addition, a surprise section on the eligibility of countries for REDD+ projects was agreed on. The parties agreed that all countries are eligible for participation in REDD+ projects, while the focus should be on countries that are most vulnerable to deforestation and forest degradation and that lack the necessary financial resources. This however raises significant questions about the fairness and equality of the distribution of REDD+ projects. 

In the discussion on the hosting of SDM projects, delegates however seemed to realise allowing all countries to be eligible might yield an unequal split of the allocation of projects. For instance, the South Korean delegate pointed out that China currently receives 75% of SDM projects, which was venomously defended by the Chinese delegate. Nonetheless, countries such as Canada, China, Russia, Mexico and the UK campaigned for giving preference to countries where projects have the biggest impact, favouring the current system that is heavily tilted towards a small number of countries.

As a result, the final agreement states that all nations having adopted and ratified the Paris Agreement can host SDM projects. The parties only agreed to support least developed countries and developing countries, but did not agree on giving them preference. This looks like a big blow to developing nations aspiring to receive a more equitable SDM.

Along similar lines, the delegations failed to reach conclusive agreement on taxation on aviation and shipping, despite an emotional pledge by Norway that was backed by a multitude of countries. Instead, the parties agreed on postponing this matter to the next Conference of the Parties.

 

El Observador Morning Brief – May 16

Good morning, distinguished delegates and honourable chairs,

New day, new news! The last day of COP 24 kicked off with the breaking news that Nepal has been hit by natural disaster, and that India has dispatched immediate help while China has remained silent. This has been linked to China’s isolated stance in the negotiations, seemingly placing itself above other nations. It will be interesting how this develops throughout the final day.

Secondly, El Observador reported possible tensions between the American and Australian delegations, which look to act more in isolation in comparison to COPs before, leaving the US alone in some working groups. This reportedly follows heated conversations over the course of last summer, where presidents Trump and Turnbull clashed. Nonetheless, the parties still have a day to come together and reunite!

Speaking of collaboration, last night saw some intense alliance building again, where a group of nations have reportedly come together to make a new proposal of the reclassification of countries. Additionally, a preliminary draft regarding REDD+ has been made, which is currently being discussed in the market mechanism working group. Friends of the Earth, WWF and 350 commented that they hope this will expedite negotiations so that parties can focus on aviation and shipping, especially related to finance.

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REDD+ draft meeting

Furthermore, sources have reported France is close to bringing the United States back into the Paris Agreement, so we’ll stay tuned about how that goes! Other big news is that the mitigation working group is making strong progress, where the parties have agreed to a proposal made by China. There is agreement on a non-punitive, non-adversarial proposal, where there can be punishment for extreme cases.

Lastly, ATTAC and Greenpeace continued to campaign for a progressive agreement, which was however mocked by the distinguished delegate of Saudi Arabia, who simply put the ice in his drink.

El Observador will stay on top of all these things and continue to cover COP 24 in Barcelona!

El Observador Evening Brief

Distinguished Delegates, honourable Chairs,

what a day! A lot has happened since El Observador Morning Brief, so let’s dive right in!

The wind of change that has been blowing through the streets of Barcelona seems to have nourished the local flora – blossoms of peace are springing all around! After North and South Korea (as reported by El Observador) have set their differences aside and embarked on a path to piece, the delegations of several states in the Middle East have followed: Despite conflicts in the Middle-Eastern region, such as the Qatar-Gulf crisis, the countries of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and Iran announced to El Observador that they are putting political matters aside for the purposes of achieving the long-term temperature goal set out in Article 2 of the Paris Agreement.

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Maybe, this blooming has been fueled by alcohol? To the dismay of some delegates and other representatives, the OGP, the World Coal Association and the International Gas Union have brought some fuel of a different kind to the people – clever marketing stunt or a show of a lack of morals?

On the other side, delegates took a step back from negotiations during the WWF, Friends of the Earth and 350.org side event and brainstormed causes and effects of climate change. They wrote these on post-it notes and then took turns grouping them by related issues issue. Mixed groups brainstormed potential solutions that would be best for the future of the EARTH.

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Furthermore, in response to the joint statement by the members of the International Association of Oil & Gas Producers, the World Coal Association and the International Gas Union, the members of WWF, Friends of the Earth, 350.org, Attac and Greenpeace, WindEurope and IRENA have issued the following statement:

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Meanwhile, some breakthroughs were made in the working group on Market Mechanism. The parties agreed on the principle of additionality, defining it as follows:

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This breakthrough was followed by an update on compliance, where the parties agreed on a two-tier system under the administrative mandate of the Green Climate Fund, with the notable exception of the US. There is still some work that needs to be done, but this part has passed as of now. The text reads as follows:

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Nonetheless, a lot remains to be done, as there are still a lot of agenda points left to be covered tomorrow.

Further, the delegation of Singapore has announced the launching of a South East Asian Climate Change Fund initiative, welcoming the following members: Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and Philippines. The role of the SEACCF is to be to assist South East Asian countries in their mitigation and adaptation efforts against climate change, raise awareness about climate change issues, provide financial support for mitigation and adaptation projects, provide technical support though technology transfer, develop green growth opportunities in the region, and to provide governmental assistance for policies in favour of a less carbon emitting economy. Funds are to be collected from public and private parties. The Singaporean government already committed to participate with a $100 million ($20 per capita) contribution for the launching. The SEACCF aims to be complementary to the Green Climate Fund who cannot assist each country equally. The Singaporean delegation has shared with El Observador that they are inviting further nations to make commitments and take strong actions against climate change. With large parts of the discussions in the Adaptation Working group circling around the question of merging the Adaptation Fund and the Green Climate Fund, it remains unclear how an additional fund will be perceived by the delegations.

With this, El Observador wishes you a good night…see you tomorrow!

Slow but nuclear start to market mechanism negotiations

COP 24 in Barcelona has started this morning with the first round of negotiations, but the Conference of the Parties seems to have gotten off to a slow start. In the working group on market mechanism, important issues were postponed, such as the integration of SDM under the bureaucracy of GCF as proposed by Korea.

Moreover, the delegates seemed to be caught up with understanding of additionality and market mechanisms in general. Furthermore, a promising proposal by Friends of the Earth that there shall be a maximum to the total number of projects that each country may host under SDM has not yet been picked up by the delegates.

Lastly, talks have started about the inclusion of nuclear energy under the SDM. Nonetheless, the inclusion of nuclear might distort credits markets completely, which is something the delegations have not seemed to realise yet. Senior Advisor Dr. Steve Kennedy commented „distinguished delegates may wish to exclude nuclear power on principle, or on the premise that if a project was funded it would generate vast numbers of carbon credits killing the market price.  However, in reality the likelihood of a nuclear project being funded is very low due to the long time required for construction and the vast cost involved“.

We’ll stay tuned if any progress will be made in this afternoon’s sessions!

El Observador Morning Brief

Good morning, honourable Chairs and distinguished Delegates,

last night has seen some intense coalition building and new incentives, while the delegations’ opening statements yielded some interesting thoughts.

A member of the US delegation has taken the time to speak with El Observador last night to elaborate on their surprising move to sign the joint statement of the permanent members of the UN Security Council (as reported yesterday), saying that it was to be understood as a “show of good faith” from the US side. Delegate Karl Hendrik Bingen explained that the US “will do its best to reach a deal that will do good for the American people, but will need a framework that is revised” and that the US is definitely seeking to sign a new agreement. In their opening statement, the US delegate (notably wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat) stressed that a re-entry to the Paris Agreement would be “subject to conditions”, without specifying them.

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France welcomed this move, and having previously championed for the aforementioned joint statement, once again showed its leadership by welcoming back the US to the negotiating table in their opening statement. Furthermore, France provided further highlights as the delegation called upon a reclassification within the Annex I and Annex II regime, naming the current classification “outdated”. Russia reiterated this wish and it will be extremely interesting to watch how the other delegations respond to these statements and whether actionable changes will be decided at this Conference of the Parties.

Another highlight was made by the Resilience Coalition, which was mentioned repeatedly by a number of delegations and put out a response statement to the one made by the UN Security Council, as can be seen below.

Resilience Coalition Respond to the UNFCCC Joint Statement UNSC

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El Observador talked to the Resilience Coalition, which reiterated that it is open to welcome further delegations. The Resilience Coalition is currently composed of the delegations from Chad, Niger, Angola, Rwanda, Nigeria, Cambodia, Guinea, Senegal, Uganda, Philippines, Tanzania, Vietnam, Benin and Cameroon. The coalition advocates to increase climate funding substantially, increase the importance of both adaptation and climate-change related sustainable development in the UNFCCC, include the REDD+ under the SDM and include afforestation and to focus on projects for countries most vulnerable to climate change (based on the IPCC vulnerability index).

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Other developing nations’ opening statements were closely aligned with these positions, and made emotional pledges to motivate developed countries to take the lead in tackling climate change. Most notably, Vietnam stated it is “at war for the planet”, while the delegations from Tuvalu and the Marshall Islands surprised the other delegations by saying: “Right now, you might not know who we are, but you will know us in the future as we will be climate change refugees and live together with you in your countries.” Certainly, this will help in preventing “being overlooked” as one of the delegates speaking on behalf of AOSIS put it.

Another aid to progressive viewpoints were statements made by a group of NGOs, which brought an inflatable unicorn and stated there’s not enough room for all of us on their raft. Consequently, the NGOs called for “results”.

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Further interesting comments were made by Norway, which has confirmed that it has set aside a “very generous budget to help” less developed nations. The Norwegian delegation stressed that their nation is “ready to help”, but that the funds will be distributed only to those nations meeting strict goals for reducing deforestation. A suggestion made by the delegation is for all countries to commit 1% of GDP to fight climate change. Other climate finance propositions include amping up funding for the Green Climate Fund, up to as much as 300 billion dollars per year.

Lastly, South Korea not only surprised with peace negotiations with their brothers in the North (as reported previously by El Observador), but also with their announcement of sweets for all delegates. Thank you!

Distinguished delegates, honourable Chairs, El Observador wishes you a successful day of negotiations!