By Tory Hoffmeister
As global warming hits the world’s most vulnerable regions, developing countries continue to take matters into their own hands in the attempt to protect their citizens and economies. The issue of Loss and Damage featured significantly in a number of developing countries’ Intended National Determined Contributions (INDCs). The INDCs, which are now called Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) following the successful conclusion of the UN climate talks last December in Paris, represent countries’ main national climate change plans and, beginning in 2020, will be revised every five years.
The latest issue of the Inter-American Dialogue's Energy Advisor includes a response from the CDL's co-director Guy Edwards on the following questions:
What is the outlook for reaching a deal at the December meeting? How much have Latin American countries committed to fight climate change, and how much should they be doing relative to more developed and more polluting countries, such as the United States and China? What role should the private sector play in a the climate debate, and would an agreement change the way that companies do business in Latin America and the Caribbean?
"A new global climate deal to be wrapped up this December, which will come into force from 2020, will likely have major implications for Latin America. It could include a long-term goal to reduce global emissions and promote building resilience to climate impacts, and how rich countries will support developing countries. A strong deal is critical for Latin America’s future as uncontrolled emissions will accelerate impacts that could sabotage the economy. The region plays very important roles at the U.N. climate talks and offers potential solutions. Brazil has made impressive reductions in deforestation and associated emissions, while Mexico and others are advancing policies to stem emissions and promote renewable energy. But in the face of competing priorities, these policies are sometimes undermined or ignored. The region accounts for 9.5 percent of global emissions, but its average per capita emissions are higher than most developing countries and some in Europe. An ambitious climate deal would signal the end of business as usual. Emissions from energy and agriculture represent an expanding share of the region’s portfolio so these sectors need cleaning up. Big opportunities exist in the areas of clean energy, sustainable transportation, protecting biodiversity and energy efficiency, which are good for the economy and citizens. Developed countries must support the region, but the latter needs to attract more low-carbon investment. Latin America requires private sector champions to back a sustainable development agenda to help diversify the region’s economies away from fossil fuels and engage on how a climate deal will affect the region."
By Timmons Roberts and Guy Edwards
The United States and Brazil today made a joint announcement on climate change following a meeting between Presidents Dilma Rousseff and Barack Obama at the White House. Beyond the positive step of these two major leaders talking again, what can we make of it?
New Brookings Institution Paper On How A New Global Agreement Can Catalyze Climate Action in Latin America
By the Climate and Development Lab
Photo Credit: Gonzalo Baeza
Today, Brookings Institution publishes a new paper by Guy Edwards, J. Timmons Roberts, Monica Araya, and Cristián Retamal on how the current round of the UN climate talks can catalyze climate action in Latin America. Members of Brown University’s Climate and Development Lab conducted the research for the case studies on Brazil, Costa Rica, Mexico, Peru and Venezuela: Alison Kirsch, Sophie Purdom, Zihou Jiang, Cassidy Bennett, Camila Bustos, Alexis Duran, Maris Jones, Victoria Hoffmeister, Ximena Carranza-Risco, Marguerite SuozzoGolé, Allison Reilly, and Jeff Baum.
In December over 190 countries will converge on Paris to finalize a new global agreement on climate change that is scheduled to come into force in 2020. A central part of it will be countries’ national pledges, or “intended nationally determined contributions” (INDCs), to be submitted this year which will serve as countries’ national climate change action plans. For Latin American countries, the INDCs present an unprecedented opportunity. They can be used as a strategic tool to set countries or at least some sectors on a cleaner path toward low-carbon sustainable development, while building resilience to climate impacts. The manner in which governments define their plans will determine the level of political buy-in from civil society and business. The implementation of ambitious contributions is more likely if constituencies consider them beneficial, credible, and legitimate.
By Monica Araya and Guy Edwards
This year marks a watershed for Latin America as governments decide what they are willing to contribute to a new climate agreement in Paris this December. This is not just a question of offers to tackle climate change - how governments define their plans will determine the level of political buy-in from citizens, civil society, and businesses. The implementation of ambitious and solid contributions is more likely if constituencies consider them beneficial, credible, and legitimate.
By Timmons Roberts and Guy Edwards
The Rio Grande has long been a borderland where illicit goods flow north and south. Today it became a new axis for cooperation on a major global commons problem: climate change.
Today Mexico’s Secretary for Foreign Affairs José Antonio Meade Kuribreña and Secretary for Environment and Natural Resources Juan José Guerra Abud publicly launched Mexico’s national pledge on climate change ahead of the Paris negotiations scheduled for later this year. The launch of Mexico’s “Intended Nationally Determined Contribution”—or INDC according to the not too catchy lingo of the U.N. climate change negotiations—makes Mexico the first developing country to put forward an INDC. Only a few other countries have done the same. The United States is expected to roll out its INDC next week.
Conference Discusses Latin American Countries’ National Contributions to New Global Climate Agreement
By the Climate and Development Lab
Last week Brown University’s Climate and Development Lab co-organized a conference on the state of the U.N. climate negotiations which are set to create a new global agreement this December. The conversation assessed Latin America’s importance and leadership on global and national climate governance with a focus on Latin American countries’ efforts to prepare their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs). The INDCs will be a key element of a new agreement and will include information about a country’s efforts to reduce it emissions and adapt to climate impacts, among other issues.
By Alexis Durand
Photo: Push Europe
Activists lay down in the halls of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Warsaw, Poland last week, forming the letters “W.T.F.” with their bodies. The letters stood for “Where’s The Finance?,” and their message was clear - the failure to revamp the funding to help developing countries green their economies and prepare for climate change impacts had turned the conference into a deep disappointment.
The frustration expressed in the action reflected the sentiments that defined the recent international climate negotiations, the 19th Conference of the Parties (COP19). COP19 was expected by many to be ‘the finance COP,’ and some hoped that this round of negotiations would produce a fair agreement on the future of climate finance and pave the way for further finance negotiations in Paris in 2015, when the global climate deal is supposed to be struck.
Most nations agree that developing countries need pledges of financial assistance from wealthier nations to contribute to domestic efforts to reduce their emissions and to adapt to the effects of climate change. The World Bank estimates that developing countries’ needs will increase to hundreds of billions of dollars a year by 2020. However, developed and developing countries have vastly different ideas of the form this support should take. Because of these tensions, COP19 has failed to produce a meaningful pathway towards equitable climate finance. Should we be surprised? An autopsy of climate finance and the political tensions surrounding it reveals that the possibility of a powerful and just climate finance deal for 2013 was truly dead on arrival.
In Copenhagen in 2009, developed countries collectively pledged US$30 billion per year to support mitigation and adaptation efforts in developing countries. Parties pledged to scale-up the yearly sum to US$100 billion after this ‘fast start’ finance period ended in 2012. Although countries indicated that they have successfully delivered the agreed-upon sum during the fast-start period, the outlook for long-term funding is grim. It seems that mobilized finance has plateaued after the fast-start finance period, and the Overseas Development Institute notes that pledges to UN climate funds have dropped 71% in 2013.
The issue of increasing the overall quantity and effectiveness of funds was advanced only fractionally during the Warsaw negotiations - transparency remains low, recent pledges are modest, and effective and just delivery of funds is still not assured.
The political climate at the negotiations made progress towards an improved new period of scaled-up climate finance impossible. At COP19, the climate finance conversation remained split sharply along the divide between the global North and South. Many of the 48 Least Developed Countries continued to push for quantifiable pathways for developing countries’ efforts to scale up climate finance, arguing that predictability is critical for them to plan their actions. Additionally, they want the newest multilateral UN finance channel, the Green Climate Fund, to be well funded and to finally begin operations.
But none of the developed countries have yet committed to a scaling-up pathway. Indeed, the UK is the only developed country to declare that countries should commit to roadmaps to scaling up public finance. This adverse political climate, spurred by North-South tensions and conflicting ideologies, made the creation of an equitable and just climate finance scale-up system unlikely.
Certainly, progress has been made at COP19. Several developed countries have publicly pledged funds to UN climate finance channels. The Adaptation Fund reached its modest US$100 million fundraising goal during the COP, and the Green Climate Fund announced that it is completing the final steps that will enable it to begin operations.
Nevertheless, new pledges fall far short of the agreed-upon value and developing countries’ needs. Additionally, transparency remains dubious, and no further action was taken at the COP to ensure that the finance is “new and additional” (as promised), or that it is distributed as grants rather than loans. Pathways to scale up climate finance to the agreed-upon US$100 billion by 2020 were not established; even proposals to create an intermediate target (US$70 billion by 2016) were not accepted. Developing countries left COP19 without a predictable source of funding.
In light of the results of the fast start finance period and the political climate at COP19, it is not surprising that negotiators failed to justly resolve the issue of climate finance. After all of the negotiations and dialogues, trust between developed and developing countries was lower than ever, and developing countries had no confidence that developed countries will scale up finance adequately.
This raises the question: Is the demise of the possibility for a just climate finance deal symptomatic of a greater disease? For decades, conflicting ideologies have created a climate stalemate, preventing the creation of a robust international climate action plan. Compromise is a difficult pill to swallow, and sometimes developed countries must be willing to reach an agreement on developing countries’ terms. As we approach the milestone COP21 in Paris, nations need to act collectively to protect mutual interests, prioritizing finance delivery to promote global climate justice. A paradigm shift is necessary to resuscitate the possibility of just climate finance and an effective climate regime.
This article was originally published here.
CDL in the News
28 Dec 2018 - Edwards in the NYT on electric vehicles in Latin America
24 Dec 2018 - The Public's Radio RI interviews Roberts on how the fossil fuel industry outspends environmental groups on campaign contributions & lobbying
19 Dec 2018 - EcoRI News: New Report Claims RI Climate Council Falling Behind Targets
17 Dec 2018 - 'We must move beyond business as usual,' says new report on Rhode Island's inadequate climate plan.
12 Dec 2018 - Isabel Cavelier, Guy Edwards and Lina Puerto “COP25 en 2019: reto y oportunidad para elevar la ambición climática en América Latina” El Espectador
4 Dec 2018 - Whitehouse, Ciciline meet with climate lab
28 Nov 2018 - Edwards quoted in New York Times story on Brazil backing out of hosting UN summit on climate change
11 Oct 2018 - Brookings Institute Climate reality requires starting at home: Weaning from fossil fuels
23 Sep 2018 - Edwards quoted in Financial Times on Argentina energy future
13 Jul 2018 - Europe and Latin America can blaze a trail on implementing the Paris Agreement
1 Jun 2018 - Brookings Institute One year since Trump's withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement
21 May 2018 - Edwards article in World Politics Review: Is the G-20 Heading for a Showdown With Trump on Climate Change?
11 May 2018 - Edwards Op-Ed in Washington Post
22 Jan 2018 - Roberts Op-Ed The climate solution no-one in Davos will be talking about
15 Dec 2017 - Edwards' article on how Regional and domestic politics could sabotage Brazil's bid to host UN climate change talks in 2019
8 Nov 2017 - Roberts quoted in Reuters story on financing loss and damage
9 Oct 2017 - EcoRI article describes Roberts' testimony against the natural gas power plant proposed for construction in Burrillville, Rhode Island
17 Sep 2017 - BBC Radio 5 featured a live interview with Roberts about Trump's conditions for staying in Paris
4 Sep 2017 - Roberts comments on the use of his work in a report by Rhode Island Department of Health on the proposed power plant in Burrillville, Rhode Island
17 Jul 2017 - Roberts mentioned in NPR's story on the US having a say in UN climate spending
15 Jul 2017 - Roberts calls for solid climate policies in RI
5 Jul 2017 - Roberts demands swifter action on CO2 release
5 Jul 2017 - Roberts demands RI Governor Raimondo to take climate action
30 Jun 2017 - Roberts gives advice on owning and using electric cars
23 Jun 2017 - Roberts comments on how voters are persuaded by the terms 'climate change' and 'global warming'
20 Jun 2017 - Roberts' involvement in local climate group is helping to fight fossil fuel development
3 Jun 2017 - WPRO Radio's Steve Klamkin interviews Roberts on the Paris Agreement
2 Jun 2017 - Roberts comments on US involvement in the Green Climate Fund
2 Jun 2017 - BBC Radio 5's Faye Rusco interviews Roberts on Trump's withdrawal from Paris
2 Jun 2017 - Roberts discusses the role of mayors and private sector companies post US pull-out of Paris
1 Jun 2017 - Roberts gives more details about the US withdrawal from the Paris Agreement
1 Jun 2017 - Roberts organizes emergency protest in RI
1 Jun 2017 - Roberts comments on the implications of US withdrawal from the Paris Agreement
1 Jun 20117 - Roberts share his views on the US exit from the Paris Accord
31 May 2017 - Roberts cited on the far-reaching implications of US withdrawal from the Paris Agreement
31 May 2017 - RI left vulnerable if US pulls out of Paris Accord, says Roberts
24 May 2017 - Roberts chimes in on Trump's proposed EPA budget
30 Apr 2017 - Roberts helps to 'fact check' Trump's first 100 days in office
25 Apr 2017 - Roberts lobbies for people's march in RI to mark Trump's first 100 days in office
23 Apr 2017 - Roberts cautions against threats to science at march for science in Rhode Island
7 Apr 2017 - White House Chronicle's Llewelyn King interviews Roberts on Trump’s executive order and climate policy directions
10 Mar 2017 - Roberts quoted in Providence Business News about new proposed fossil fuel infrastructure in Rhode Island
6 Feb 2017 - Devex article on climate finance under the new administration quotes Roberts
18 Jan 2017 - Roberts featured in NPR Marketplace segment on Obama's $500m donation to the Green Climate Fund
29 Dec 2016 - Roberts quoted in Common Dreams article about the state of environmental justice in 2016
19 Nov 2016 - EcoRI profiles Roberts and the new Civic Alliance for a Cooler Rhode Island
14 Nov 2016 - Roberts featured in Rhode Island Public Radio segment on Trump and the Paris Agreement
12 Nov 2016 - Roberts quoted in Climate Home article on Republican plans to defund climate change programs
10 Nov 2016 - Roberts quote appears in EcoRI article about Trump and the environment
9 Nov 2016 - Roberts quoted in InsideClimate News article on COP22 reaction to Trump's election
9 Nov 2016 - Science Daily discusses new CDL article on paying for loss and damage
9 Nov 2016 - Roberts quoted in Climate Home article on COP22 reaction to Trump's election
8 Nov 2016 - Roberts' paper on paying for loss and damage discussed and quoted in Phys.Org
7 Nov 2016 - Roberts' paper on paying for loss and damage discussed and quoted in Futurity article
21 Sep 2016 - Roberts quoted in a Breitbart News article about Clinton's support following shift in climate change language
20 Sep 2016 - Roberts quoted in a Climate Home article on Clinton's language around climate change after Sanders' endorsement
5 May 2016 – Climate Home quotes Edwards on the announcement that Patricia Espinosa will lead the UNFCCC from this July
5 May 2016 - Dialogo Chino quotes Edwards following announcement that Patricia Espinosa will replace Christiana Figueres as head of the UNFCCC
24 Apr 2016 - Deutsche Welle quotes Edwards on how ratifying Paris Agreement can boost prosperity in Latin America
23 Mar 2016 – Edwards provides extended quote to Dialogo Chino on Obama’s trip to Cuba and Argentina
25 Dec 2015 - ConexiónCOP conversó con Guy Edwards sobre el nuevo acuerdo climático y America Latina
14 Dec 2015 - Rhode Island Public Radio quotes Roberts on how Paris Climate Pact should steer New England toward clean energy
11 Dec 2015 - Associated Press quotes Romain Weikmans on “Wild West” account on climate finance
10 Dec 2015 - Climate Home talks to Roberts about the lack of an independent system on climate finance
The pieces featured in the blog are authored by CDL members and a diverse group of partners from around the world. The opinions expressed in these articles are the sole responsibility of the authors and do not reflect those of Brown University.