NGO Germanwatch's Climate Risk Index shows that small island states such as this year's COP president Fiji are especially vulnerable to extreme weather events. Source - CLEW 2017.
09 Nov 2017 | Julian Wettengel

COP23 - Day 4: EU CO2 market deal signal for Bonn / Climate Risk Index

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German state secretary for environment says ETS reform shows EU can work together on climate policy / Negotiators progress on technical details of Paris rulebook / COP president Fiji was world's third most climate-impacted country in 2016 / Launch of Global Coal Exit List / Climate protection secures Germany’s role as technological pioneer – German climate researchers / Conserving and restoring forests

EU emissions market reform deal important signal for UN climate conference

German state secretary for environment Jochen Flasbarth said last night’s deal to reform the European Union Emissions Trading System (ETS) was an important signal for the UN climate conference in Bonn.

EU negotiators reached an agreement aimed at pushing up the price of allowances to emit carbon dioxide, despite widely differing positions between different member states, Flasbarth told the Clean Energy Wire.

Speaking in Bonn, he said the agreement represented a compromise between “very different energy policy interests, for example from a coal-oriented country like Poland, a renewables-oriented country like Germany and several nuclear power oriented states.”

 The deal is now subject to official approval by member states and the European Parliament.

“Our ambition and what we have achieved so far is more than in other regions with relevant emitters – China and the US,” Flasbarth said. “I believe that now we show we’re capable of making decisions and implementing them and this is good for the COP.”

However, he added that the EU still lacked the kind of “fresh dynamic” currently seen in Canadian climate policy, and warned that member states should not see the reformed ETS as a substitute for additional national measures to reach European emission reduction targets.

Higher EU carbon prices would support domestic climate policy, the state secretary said. But to switch from, for example, carbon-heavy coal to cleaner gas, “a separate national policy is required.”

“I foresee that some will see this reform as a solution to it all – which it is not,” Flasbarth stressed. 

Negotiators progress on technical details of Paris rulebook

Negotiations in Bonn saw “lots of progress on the technical and process bits” of rules to implement the Paris Agreement, Camilla Born, senior policy at Advisor E3G said at a press briefing.

“We’re getting to the point where negotiators start hitting the limit of their mandates and we start seeing some of the more political issues which the ministers will be taking up in the second week,” Born said.

This involved creating a common system of rules while understanding that some countries would need support because on their own they lack necessary capacities.

German state secretary Flasbarth said there were worrying signs that some parties were trying to “re-introduce past disputes in the current talks”.

He said there were “enormous efforts to resurrect the old division of the world in Annex I countries and non-Annex I countries”, that imply different transparency rules and mitigation efforts for industrialised nations and countries in transition on the one hand, and developing nations on the other.

Regarding the call from developing countries to formally put pre-2020 action back on the agenda, E3G’s Born said “we’ve been a little bit the victim of our own success, because Paris happened earlier than we previously thought.”

Because the agreement had already entered into force, negotiators were now working to complete implementation rules in 2018. “This means that we haven’t had a home, a concrete space, where we’ve been able to talk as much about pre-2020 ambition as we would have liked,” Born said.

She added that the Fijian presidency had begun to create this space with the introduction of informal negotiations at the beginning of the week. “We need the Fijian presidency to really grip this, and really identify where these discussions can be had.” 

Climate Risk Index shows vulnerability of small island states

Fiji, which holds the presidency for this year’s COP, is ranked third on a list of countries most affected by extreme weather events in 2016.

This year’s Climate Risk Index by NGO Germanwatch reiterates that small island states and developing countries are hit far harder than industrialised nations, Fiji’s Permanent Secretary for Local Government, Housing and Environment Joshua Wycliffe said at a presentation of the index on the sidelines of the Bonn conference.

“Recent storms with intensity levels never seen before have had disastrous impacts on island states,” Germanwatch’s David Eckstein, one of the index’s authors, said.

The index ranks the impact of weather events such as storms, floods and heat waves according to the number of human lives lost, and the economic cost of damage per unit GDP.

It indicates levels of exposure and vulnerability, “which countries should understand as warnings in order to be prepared for more frequent and/or more severe events in the future,” the report says.

The three countries most affected in 2016 were Haiti, Zimbabwe and Fiji. For the period from 1997 to 2016, Honduras, Haiti and Myanmar topped the list. This was because of exceptionally devastating events: hurricane Sandy in Haiti, hurricane Mitch in Honduras, and cyclone Nargis in Myanmar in 2008.

‘Who’s Who’ of the global coal industry

German NGO Urgewald has launched a database of large coal companies on the sidelines of COP23.

Urgewald says its Global Coal Exit List (GCEL) is the first database to include all large coal companies spanning all steps of the value added chain – from mines to power plants.

It is intended to be a research tool for investors, banks and insurance companies to gauge the “coal content” of their portfolios and enable effective coal divestment.

The GCEL provides information on aspects including annual coal production, the share of coal in the companies’ turnover or power production, and installed capacity. The website features graphs on global rankings.

Climate protection secures Germany’s role as technological pioneer – German climate researchers

A group of German scientists have issued a statement at COP23, calling for Germany to ensure its status a technological pioneer through climate action.

The statement is framed as a “message to Berlin”, where political parties are currently holding talks to form a new federal government.

The German Climate Consortium (DKK) comprises leading climate researchers from more than 20 renowned research organisations.

The scientists say the world needs comprehensive climate research and national role models like Germany to succeed in stabilising the climate, and it is Germany’s own interests to be a pioneer in renewables, mobility and climate policy.

Only an accelerated coal exit can guarantee that both global emissions reduction targets and Germany’s own short-term targets are met, the statement says.

It also stresses that decarbonisation of both transport and the agriculture sectors are essential for Germany to become largely climate-neutral by 2050.

The DKK sees a price on CO₂ as the “urgently needed accelerator of the energy transition in Germany and the world.”

Conserving and restoring forests for climate protection – The Bonn Challenge

Forest restoration has developed from a niche issue into a key climate policy focus thanks to the “Bonn Challenge” a representative of the German environment ministry said presenting the project at the German pavilion.

The international programme, launched by Germany and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in Bonn in 2011, aims to restore 150 million hectares of deforested and degraded land worldwide by 2020, and at least 350 million hectares by 2030.

The challenge was “not just another campaign”, but rather an implementation platform, Stewart Maginnis, Global Director of the Nature-based Solutions Group at IUCN said at the presentation in Bonn.

Maginnis admitted it was difficult to quantify the progress so far, as “one doesn’t reforest overnight” but said an initial progress report in December would provide further details.

Forest restoration pledges are to become part of the UNFCCC parties’ determined contributions and, as such, part of the Paris Agreement.

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