Draft Gender Decision Available!


A local farmer from North Kivu Province, DRC. Credit: UNPhoto / Sylvain Liechti (from Mary Robinson Foundation: Climate Change)

Following up on my post from December 3rd, the advance unedited version of the draft decision on the Lima work programme on gender has been released. The decision varies considerably from the conference room paper presented by Malawi at the first session on gender at COP20, but it still includes the same underlying value that women and gender incorporated into the UNFCCC. Among other provisions, the decision “Encourages Parties to support (a) training and awareness-raising for female and male delegates on issues related to gender balance and climate change, and (b) building the skills and capacity of their female delegates to effectively participate in UNFCCC meetings via training on, inter alia, negotiation skills, drafting of legal language and strategic communication; . . . Decides to clarify the meaning of the term “gender-responsive climate policy” from an implementation perspective and improve the development and effective implementation of gender-responsive climate policy; . . .[and] Requests the Executive Secretary to appoint a senior gender focal point, who is an expert in this subject matter, to develop and ensure the implementation of, within existing resources, an action plan for the two-year work programme on gender and climate change.”

As Mary Robinson said “No society can develop – economically, politically or socially – when half of its population is marginalised.” Hopefully this decision will lead to furthering the participation of women in the UNFCCC and in sustainable development policies generally.

La Route a Paris

This post was co-written by Rebecca Davidson, Cynthia Sirois, and Tracy Bach

IMG_5456Just like in Warsaw last year, the final ADP decision came down to the last minute, of the last hour, of the last day of COP20/CMP10 in Lima. The ADP was originally scheduled to close in a Thursday afternoon plenary. Not for the first time at this COP, negotiators worked into the wee hours of the night on Friday hoping to come together on issues addressing how parties will communicate their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs), as was directed under paragraph 5 of Decision 1/CP.17 and how parties should contribute to closing the pre-2020 ambition gap. With a newly drafted decision in hand on Saturday morning (now 16 hours after the official close of the COP), Parties were still quite clearly apart on the inclusion of loss and damage, the balance of mitigation with adaptation and finance in the INDCs, and how to ground all of this work under the Convention principles like common but differentiated responsiblities and respective capacities (CBDRRC).

COP20 President, Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, has taken a very active role throughout the two-week meeting, and many have complimented his efforts to promote clarity and transparency for all Parties. As the close of the meetings neared, and with the draft decision still far from being “adoptable,” his guidance became even more determined. Having called Lima a tipping point for the new agreement, and recalling his plea to “help me…don’t leave me alone”, he officially took over the leadership of the ADP from its co-chairs. “Now”, he declared “we need to help ourselves. We are representing the world, and we are representing what the world is seeking.”

IMG_5469On Saturday morning, as parties gave their final Interventions, the singular point of accord was that the draft decision was not ideal for anyone. Nonetheless, a range of parties endorsed adopting the late Friday night draft decision with warts and all, as a basis for working toward more agreement in the upcoming Geneva ADP negotiations specially schedule for February 2015.

Negotiating blocs such as EIG (with Switzerland speaking) and AILAC (with Chile speaking) were willing to move forward with the current draft. Ditto EU, US, Japan the Russian Federation and New Zealand. Singapore, Belize and the Marshall Islands also urged Parties to move forward with the current text, despite its imperfections.

But as the Saturday morning ADP plenary continues, a dichotomy emerged. Whether labeled as red lines or red flags, the rift over how the decision refers to the tenants of the Convention, and its provisions and principles, surfaced again and again. Between developed and developing countries, major disagreement about how differentiation and the so-called binary system of responsibility falls out within the framework of the draft Decision, and what it implies for the agreement to be developed in Paris.

IMG_5490The Sudan, on behalf of the Africa Group, Malaysia for LMDCs, India, China and Tuvalu were not willing to compromise, asserting the needs of the vulnerable people that they represent.  Tuvalu, in particular, noted that we should not let this COP be the one where the world’s poorest were denied. They asked the COP President to reconsider the draft.

The delegate from the Marshall Islands made a very compelling plea. “We cannot leave Lima with empty hands on the road to a successful Paris agreement.” He noted that the world doesn’t have much time both at this conference and in terms of Climate Change. His country is running out of time and its very existence is in danger if the issues surrounding climate change are not resolved quickly.

After almost 10 more hours of intense, behind-closed-doors negotiations with COP President Pulgar-Vidal and ministers of Singapore and Norway empowered by him to speak with parties on his behalf, the COP20/CMP10 final plenary was held in the Lima hall.  Just minutes before midnight, a new, final draft text was presented to the room and the gavel was banged.  Nonetheless, despite the COP’s consensus position, Tuvalu asked for the floor as the gavel’s rapping and attendant applause echoed in the hall.  This small island nation, which speaks for the least developed countries negotiating group (LDCs), spoke intensely and purposefully toIMG_5474 register concerns about the need for stronger loss and damage inclusion (besides the WIM progress recognition in the text’s preamble).  Many other parties laid out their specific concerns about the divisive issues outlined from the start (see above).  In this way, the route a Paris has been laid out as a bumpy one, littered with the potholes and frost heaves borne of continued mistrust and unresolved applications of the major shift away from “top down” international climate change obligations (as embodied in the Kyoto Protocol) to nationally driven commitments.

Stay tuned for more detailed analysis of the final text and the path of negotiations to a new agreement.

Is a CDM+ underway?

cdmAs previously debated in this blog, the future of CDM remains greatly uncertain. To try to tackle this uncertainty, Brazil has submitted a proposal for an Enhanced Clean Development Mechanism, or CDM+. The proposal, submitted to the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP), is a response to the new market-based mechanism requested in decision 2/COP 17.
Brazil has great interest that CDM continues under the new international framework.  Besides being one of the countries that most benefited from CDM projects during the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, Brazil already has in place the necessary institutions and knowledge to enable even more CDM projects. Thus, proposing that the new market-based mechanism be similar to the well-known CDM does not come as a surprise. But one particular aspect is different under the new proposal: the possibility of voluntary cancelled CERs still be accounted towards countries’ nationally determined contributions (NDC) financial targets and pledges.

The proposal is a good attempt to save CDM, which in the past years has lost debate space to other mechanisms (e.g. loss and damage, and REDD+), and has barely reached ADP discussions. But the proposal is already being deeply criticized by other countries, in particular the European Union. The expression “double-counting” of CERs in different markets was continuously used during this week negotiations, in a clear reference to the Brazilian proposal for after 2020.  While the double-counting language was not included in the final CMP decision regarding CDM due to lack of agreement, the issue will continue to underline future discussions as Parties move on to a new international agreement.

Loss and Damage – In or Out?

7-climatechangThe evolving fate of loss and damage (L&D) and the Warsaw International Mechanism (WIM) we have been covering has been less visible during this COP than the larger ADP effort to lay the groundwork for an agreement in Paris next year. However, the absence of loss and damage in the draft decision on ADP published early this morning is among the core issues many developing countries have identified as preventing them from agreeing to the document. It remains unclear whether or not it is among the “deal breaker” points for several negotiation groups, including the Least Developed Countries, Small Island States and the Africa Group.

While we wait for Parties to reach enough agreement to close the COP 20 today, we can share some insights from a side event earlier this week that considered whether anchoring adaptation and L&D in the Paris agreement is desirable or not, and different approaches for doing so.

Panelists included negotiators Pa Ousman Jarju (The Gambia, for LDCs), Mr. Gottfriedvon Gemmingen (Germany for the EU) and Mr. Antonio CanasCalderon (El Salvador of the LMDC), along with Koko Warner (UN University) and Sabina Minninger (Bread for the World). Overall, there was significant difference between the approach of the EU and that of the LDCs, with the former focused exclusively on a risk management approach and an insistence that L&D is a part of adaptation. Of the panel, only the EU representative was opposed to anchoring adaptation and loss and damage in the Paris agreement.

Mr. Jarju, in representing the LDC position, insisted that anchoring adaptation and the WIM in the Paris agreement in equal parity with mitigation is essential because it would allow for the necessary holistic approach warranted by the inherent linkages between the three. The LDCs also support a global adaptation goal, and a financial facility able to provide swift, agile and sufficient financing for addressing losses and damages.

In his remarks, Mr. von Gemmingen suggested there were some points of convergence with the LDCs’ positions, but in acknowledging the real risks of loss and damage, he maintained that the ways to address it are through adaptation and risk management. Mr. von Gemmingen’s posited several points arguing against anchoring adaptation or the WIM in the Paris agreement:

  • Article 2 is a mitigation objective, although adaptation aspects are included and can be dealt with by mitigation.
  • The UNFCCC does not need to reinvent the wheel, and should have only a strong analytic role.
  • It is not self evident that a new instrument would be more effective than already existing instruments and model processes dealing with certain aspects of risk.
  • The work of the WIM will continue for a longer period than the new agreement.
  • Loss and damage has been dealt with under the COP, and continues to be dealt with there with all existing institutions and approaches because it belongs among the more general considerations.

For Ms. Warner, the crux of the question is priorities. She pointedly stated that L&D is programmed into our future because of past choices; that we need to deal with it; and that if we don’t deal with it in the Paris agreement, it will happen and we won’t be prepared, creating serious disruption to sustainable development. She also contended that the UNFCCC needs to send the signal, and that WIM must be in the Paris agreement in order to send that signal – that is the UNFCCC’s responsibility. With this issue, in Ms. Warner’s estimation a high political priority, she emphasized that whether L&D is large or small depends on the decisions here.

IMG_0832As we wait to see if consensus will be reached on the ADP draft decision nearly a full day beyond the planned closing of COP 20, these side event insights help in understanding the thorn this issue poses in the draft ADP decision.

One final note is that despite the fact that L&D can be found in the “Elements for a draft negotiating text” referenced in the draft decision Annex, the multiple options for how it might be addressed range from deeply anchored to not included at all. If countries clearly doomed to loss and damage can’t get it into the COP 20 ADP decision, they will very likely have a hard road ensuring its survival in the Paris agreement negotiating text.

“Hit the ground running.”

downloadWith this statement the Executive Director of the Green Climate Fund (GCF), Ms. Hela Cheikhrouhou, reported on the current status of the fund. The interactive session held on Thursday at COP 20 provided a brief overview of the latest GCF decisions, and laid out the expected deliverables for next year.  Offering an optimistic perspective, Ms. Hela affirmed that grants are scheduled to start being distributed next year in the hope that approved mitigation and adaptation projects can be presented at COP 21.  But for the GCF to be able to do so, the interested countries will have to do their homework and develop functioning institutions to tackle climate finance flow. From GCF’s part, Ms. Hela explained that procedure rules will be kept simple to allow “less process, more access.” 

This seems to be the ideal approach; climate funds bureaucracy has been one of the main obstacles for these funds to effectively reach vulnerable countries  - least developed, small island, and African countries.  But is this a fair procedure?  Many in the session raised concerns related to the hurry in approving projects for Paris 2015, and how this simplified, speed process will once again negatively impact countries that are more vulnerable to climate change impacts.  

climatefinancingsign_0The imbalance between least developed countries and larger developing countries has been seen through the years, and is present in several of the mechanisms adopted under the UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol.  The most critical example is the clean development mechanisms (CDM). During the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, countries like China, Brazil, and India were responsible for hosting the majority of CDM approved projects. In the financing context, this gap is based on vulnerable countries’ lack of institutional capacity to properly enable climate finance flow.   

The bottom line is that less process is ideal, and it will lead to more access.  But without the right rules in place, it will not provide access to those countries that might be the highest in need. The readiness process offered by the GCF, while promising, will make difficult for these countries to take advantage of the fund resources if greater support for capacity building is not provided on time.  A lot of work will have to be done, but 2015 “hit the ground running” approach will, once again, leave the most vulnerable countries behind – the opposite direction of GCF’s goal.

REDD+ Recap

At COP 20, SBSTA made no progress on the Warsaw REDD+ framework on safeguards.  Philippines, Sudan, the EU, Bolivia and the US spoke in favor of developing further guidance on safeguards. The Africa Group said that further guidance is not needed, but that additional review of REDD+ in coming years should evaluate that question. Panama, on behalf of the Coalition for Rainforest Nations, said that now is the time for the implementation of REDD+, not to develop further guidelines.

Also this week, the International Tribunal on the Rights of Nature convened in Lima on December 5 and 6th. Cases ranged from fracking in Bolivia, mining in Ecuador, the BP Gulf Oil spill to… REDD+. Parties presenting their case against REDD+ alleged that the program is inherently flawed, as it is a commodification of nature. Further, Ninawa Kaxinawá, president of the Huni Kui people in Acre, Brazil claimed that REDD+ violates ILO 169, as the program has relentlessly failed to engage indigenous people in the decision-making process.

Ninawa Kaxinawá, President of the Huni Kui

Cassandra Smithie, a translator and interpreter, and Ivonne Yanez of Oilwatch presented evidence that REDD+ results in land-grabbing in the global south, by developed countries, who wish to offset their pollution. In other words, REDD+ allows companies to continue business as usual at the (further) expense of indigenous people elsewhere.

There is clear dissonance when one juxtaposes the lack of progress at COP 20 to the testimony presented at this weekend’s tribunal as well as evidence presented by CIFOR and others at the COP. It is clear that the integration of public participation principles is essential in order for REDD+ to offer non-carbon benefits, and indeed for it to accomplish its goal of curbing both deforestation and emissions. The principles of free, prior and informed consent must be integrated into the REDD+ framework under SBSTA. Now that the first monetary goal for the Green Climate Fund has been met, REDD+ projects are already lining up around the block for funding. The question remains whether safeguards and methodological guidelines will be put in place at Paris to ensure that projects are ethical and effective.

Down to the Wire

This post co-written by Rebecca Davidson and Cynthia Siriois

The ADP train rolled on today. hella-lineWe began the morning waiting outside Paita, a 550 person capacity negotiation room. While waiting in the long observer line, I overheard a Party delegate from an African country complain to a UN security guard when he was denied access to the room because it was already over capacity. He demanded to speak to the Co-Chairs and it seems as though his and others’ voices were heard. The meeting was rescheduled for the much larger Cusco Plenary hall, which can seat over 1000. Even so, space was at a premium and parties and observers alike were packed into the pressure cooker.

A new draft text was released late last night that condensed the previous days 56 pages of alternative text into 7 pages of paragraphs with no more than three options each. Parties were given the opportunity to speak to which options they preferred and offer solutions if they were not satisfied with the specific language of a particular option.

Consensus of preferred options crossed and bisected “typical” negotiating bloc lines. For example, the USA, Colombia, and South Africa all preferred the language of paragraph 9’s option 3 which relates to communication of INDCs, and that includes a much broader list of scope and specifics. Japan, Australia, and Switzerland all supported option 2, which limits the “laundry list” approach to elements included in INDCs. Pakistan, Nicaragua, and the EU all preferred option 1 of paragraph 13 which discusses accelerating the full implementation of the decisions and enhancing pre-2020 ambition, while China and Cuba like option 3, which again provides a more detailed description of how that will occur (including an “Accelerated Implementation Mechanism” which everyone is questioning). Despite the seemingly odd preference spread, most parties commented that they were willing to find “common ground” and continue working to meet the COP President’s goal of finishing this decision before leaving Lima by Saturday.

Some Parties’ statements were particularly compelling, and stood out like a bright ray of sun in an otherwise dark (and sweltering) room. The EU was surprisingly vocal about coming back together and finding convergence, essentially wanting to move from a positions-oriented negotiating stance to an interests-based dialogue. They noted that many Parties are simply repeating statements made previously, and not helping to finalize a decision – especially with only hours remaining. As a model of their proclaimed flexibility, the EU crossed the mitigation-INDC line and suggested their willingness to be flexible on adaptation on a voluntary basis. The Philippines also proclaimed their interest in compromise. And of particular note (and with a round of vibrant applause) suggested that the human rights of indigenous people and women be included in the decision in Paragraph 14. Mexico also received a rousing applause. Both for their support for gender and indigenous people, as well as for their very recent contribution to climate funds. This is a landmark move made by a developing country, showing their willingness to open climate-finance doors and acknowledge the importance of addressing the needs of developing nations.

CuscoFor the first time this week, the sense of urgency was visceral and real. Parties will be working into the wee hours this morning, as we just learned that the Closing Plenary is scheduled (possibly) at 2 am Saturday December 13th, at the conclusion of the Contact Group finalizing a decision text. Keep your eyes out for it!

As the representative of Uganda quipped earlier today, we are “dancing to the tune of Mr. Climate Change”. Time to make a decision, and start heading toward a substantive agreement in Paris, 2015.

The Inevitable Linkage Discussion


Let’s face: it is almost the end of 2014 and we are still negotiating an international agreement to mitigate climate change for after 2020. The good news is that several countries have taken the initiative, and adopted climate change policies. These policies vary from emissions trading, carbon taxes, performance standards, among others. But what role will these regional, national, or sub-national policies play under the new international agreement? Yesterday, the International Emissions Trading Association (EITA) held a side event to address this question. The discussion, “Linkage Among Climate Policies in the 2015 Paris Agreement”, had as panelists leader researches on the topic: Robin Stavins, from Harvard University; Daniel Bodansky, from Arizona State University; and Dirk Forrister, from  EITA, among others. The discussion was based on the latest report from the Harvard Project on Climate Agreements, “Facilitating Linkage of Heterogeneous Regional, National, and Sub-National Climate Policies Through a Future International Agreement” (November, 2014).

The concept of linkage is fairly simple; it refers to the idea that distinct carbon pricing instruments can be linked together to meet the general goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The linkage can occur is two ways: direct and indirect. The direct linkage occurs when two different schemes mutually accept the emission reduction units from one another to meet their goals. The indirect linkage occurs when two programs, for example cap-and-trade schemes, do not allow the trade of allowances between their programs, but both are direct linked to a third, common trading scheme.


As wisely explained by Daniel Bodansky, to address this issue the new international agreement can follow three distinct approaches.  The first is to expressly forbid any linkage between different carbon pricing schemes. The second approach is to be silent about the issue, and the third, preferable approach is to allow linkage between different carbon pricing schemes. Allowing linkage would provide a number of benefits to participating countries, including: cost savings; improvement of individual market, through the decrease of market power and price volatility; and equity distribution. Another main interesting point is that, as Robert Stavins (left) pointed out, allowing the linkage between different schemes can potentially increase overall national emission reduction ambitions, as more market options are made available. 

To allow linkage between different climate policies, all panelist agreed that the new agreement shall include a paragraph as simple as possible. As proposed by the panelists, the paragraph shall be limited to expressly allow linkage, define key terms, and provide basic guidance regarding tracking emissions to ensure the environmental integrity. In their opinion, further detailed rules shall be decided by future meetings of the Conference of the Parties. 

While challenging, linkage is already happening in different levels. In fact, the issue is very similar to the decision, in 1997, to allow the co-existence of emissions trading, joint implementation, and clean development mechanisms under the Kyoto Protocol. Countries are also already dealing with this issue in the national, or sub-national level. California and Quebec Emission Trading Schemes, for instance, are linked since 2013. The same is true for the European Union and Norway Emission Trading Schemes, that signed their linkage agreement back in 2007. Other linkage agreements are expected to happen as the number of cap-and-trade programs increase; up to date there are 20 regional, national, or sub-national trading schemes in operation or scheduled to enter into operation. The linkage issue will not go away, and several examples and options have already been deeply discussed. The remaining question is if the Paris agreement will take the necessary step and deal with this issue, or if the new agreement will be silent. 

Universal Energy Access

A side event today, entitled “Achieving Universal Energy Access: A development imperative in addressing climate change,” highlighted the need to address global energy poverty. In examining a need to address climate change on a global scale, the emphasis is often on less, not more.
But the reality is that 20% of the world lives without sufficient power, which results in grave living conditions. 4.3 million people die annually due to smoke from cook stoves with insufficient ventilation. Of course, these impacts have a disproportionate impact on women and children. 3.5 billon dollars are needed to get clean cook stoves around the globe, and an additional  $50 billion is needed to accomplish universal energy access by 2030. The UN Sustainable Energy for All Program is working to address energy poverty, with a goal of distributing 100 million clean cook stoves by 2020 in 170 countries.

Climate change mitigation should not provide a barrier to universal energy access. For everyone in the world to have access to power would only require a 2.9% increase in energy generation and a 0.8% increase in global GHGs But traditional energy planning is anti-poor, so as we seek to reinvent the grid to embrace renewables, energy access must be incorporated into this vision. Future grid-planning must recognize energy poverty; measure energy services not just supply; and prioritize adequate finance.

Loss and Damage Mechanism – decision reached on Executive Committee makeup

We reported Wednesday that the December 5 joint SBSTA/SBI recommendation on the Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage (WIM) contained 3 different proposals for the makeup of the permanent Executive Committee. Later that night, at the COP President’s informal stocktaking, we learned that this issue had been resolved and the SBSTA and SBI Chairs had forwarded proposed final decision language to the COP President. This morning, in the COP/CMP Plenary held to adopt Subsidiary Bodies’ conclusions and decisions already agreed to, we witnessed completion of the process.

Following today’s adoption, the permanent Executive Committee of the WIM will be comprised of 10 non-Annex I Party members and 10 Annex I Party members. Eight of the non-Annex I Party members are stipulated in the decision: two each from the African, Asia-Pacific, and the Latin American and Caribbean States, and one each from Small Island Developing Sates and Least Developed Country Parties.

The decision also calls for “taking into account the goal of gender balance pursuant to the decision 23/CP.18.”

Interestingly, the final Executive Committee makeup is a seemingly new equation for a mechanism of the UNFCCC. The related Adaptation Committee is made up of 16 members, with representatives of the 5 UN regional groups (2 each), SIDS (1), LDCs (1), Non-Annex I (2) and Annex I Parties (2).

Hallway talk on Wednesday, following release of the proposed decision, was not positive. Observers wished for greater designated LDC and AOSIS representation, even if the two unassigned non-Annex I seats could potentially go to these groups. It seems we can expect the new Executive Committee’s work to be scrutinized. At least the WIM work can begin.