Fossile Fuel Projects to be included in SDM?

Is this the future?

After a slow start plagued by procedural issues in the Market Mechanism working group, an astonishing push by some oil producing countries gained a surprising amount of traction: Fossile fuel projects should now also be included under the SDM mechanism. Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Iran are pushing for this particular proposal. They are supported by African nations and other developing countries. Benin for example, emphasised its support namely because investment in oil and gas is essential for their economic development. 

The main opposition to the idea comes from the EU and Canada. They are supported by the European Wind Energy Association and IRENA that stated: “SDM are about the future. Fossile Fuels are about the past”

Some other countries however, did not take a strong position on the issue. Canada for example simply mentioned that “it is an important topic and we need to talk about it”

This approach may be problematic for the negotiations as a whole. According to climate expert Fukuyama “it is impossible to incorporate fossile fuels in the SDM if the world should reach the 1.5° target decided upon already.”

An even greater problem however is the role that the US is playing in these negotiations. They are in the process of withdrawing from the Paris Agreement, and do not actively participate in the negotiations. As the US representative told Klima Anzeiger: “SDMs will not matter to us anymore”. Still, after some further questioning, the US delegate clarified that in reality “We [the US] support every country that supports fossile fuels”. 

Confronted with this position, the Chinese delegate lost his temper. “The USA has a very unconstructive position. It is not surprising, but it is a pity that they don’t want to compromise for such an important issue”

During an unofficial gathering with the EU, China, Brazil and several other delegations, a proposal was prepared suggesting that fossile fuel projects should be supported under the SDM only if they increase the efficiency of existing infrastructures.

The UK delegate explained, that the EU would only support this in order to reach a general consensus in the negotiations and that they would not actually make use of this scheme considering that they do not believe it to be moving in the right direction.

However as of yet the issue is still unresolved. We are left with the question: Will COP 25 really result in the promotion of fossile fuels?


To punish or not to punish: that is the question

Mitigation working group

The general expectations for the COP 25 are high; especially after an early agreement on a strict limit of global warming to 1.5°C increase of temperatures compared to pre-industrial levels, the focus now lies on the mitigation working group. In addition, ambitious position papers and declarations of intent published prior to the COP have increased expectations among observers and environmentalists with regards to binding sanctions. Ultimately however, the big question remains if common ground can be reached between all delegations?

Will there be an agreement on joint sanctions in the mitigation group?

The implementation of binding sanctions for countries that do not meet their commitments would be an historic breakthrough in climate negotiations. Indeed, the circumstances have never before been so favorable – as an ambitious mitigation draft and important declarations of intent from major negotiating parties suggest.
The current draft by the MUNFCCC chair of mitigation includes sanctions including comprehensive reports and monetary penalties in case of incompliance. In addition, decisive parties such as the respected delegation of China suggests the implementation of a punitive compliance mechanism to enhance mitigation efforts to close the gap between the 2°C path and current emission levels. Brazil additionally proposes a fine of $33,45 for every emitted tons of CO2e exceeding their NDC, however suggest to limit the sanction for Annex 1 countries only. A similar proposal comes from the delegation of Saudi Arabia, which also supports differing sanctions for developed and developing countries. These proposals however contradict the position of various European countries although also strongly favor  binding sanctions, do not propose limiting to developed countries only. Similarly, for the position of the Unite States which officially does consider penalties to a revised green fund, without having specific details or conditions shared yet. 

Resistance however is inevitable. Important parties including Russia speak out in favour of a compliance committee that remains non-adversarial, non-punitive and non-sanctioning, despite an emotional opening statement. Additionally, Argentina and Australia are against binding sanctions since they are afraid of a lower target setting.

Innovative proposals are the subject of discussion

In addition to the above mention positions, new solution proposals will be discussed. For instance, a coalition of South American states proposes the installation of a global climate justice tribunal in order to hold nations accountable for their ecological dept. On the other hand, a rather extreme alternative is suggested in the position paper of Germany, that urges to restrict international trade of non-compliant countries.  

Who will be able to assert themselves in the upcoming negotiations? The world looks eagerly at the events in Cologne….

If not us – who? If not now – when?

The first session of the COP 25 in Cologne has seen many awakening and emotional opening speeches by the distinguished delegates.

The distinguished delegate of Brazil encouraged his fellow delegates to hold a deep breath to remind us of the importance of the rainforest, despite international concern regarding the recent political movements in his home country under the new government of Jair Bolsonaro. Meanwhile the distinguished delegate of Tuvalu highlighted that his home will not exist anymore in 15 years time if the sea-level continues to raise at the same pace. His emotional closing sentence earned an enthusiastic applause from the fellow delegates:

“This is not about doing the right thing – this is about survival, and we’re not ready to die yet.”

The charming delegate of Ecuador (the only one to address the media team in her opening speech) urges for a global justice tribunal in order for all countries to contribute their fair share. According to her, Ecuador is one of the countries affected the most, while it has contributed the least.

Whilst the distinguished delegates of almost every nation opened the conference and outlined the importance of the upcoming days, the delegation of Hungary attracted attention by its absence. According to our reliable sources, they have been seen sipping a spicy Goulash in “Laszlo’s Ungarische Küche” just over the road.

Nevertheless, we are predicting fruitful negotiations over the coming days, since the economically  powerful nations such as the United States of America, Russia and China have indicated their interest of a cooperative conference.

COP 25 has begun

Draft agreements: Current versions now available

After a long night of alliance building, the official negotiations of the COP 25 in Cologne is about to start with the individual opening statements of the distinguished delegations. The draft agreements by the three working chairs indicate ambitious negotiation targets. 

The lull before the storm – COP 25 delegates have arrived in Cologne

Welcome Speech to the Delegates

Delegates from all around the world found their way to Cologne in Germany to discuss urgent matters with regards to climate change. The evening before the conference was characterized by friendly gestures and informal chats amongst the delegates at the University of Cologne. However, the welcoming ambience was overshadowed by the news of the green island of Northern Europe – Ireland’s parliament has just become the second European country (after Great Britain) to declare climate emergency. The distinguished delegate of Ireland clarifies:

“The intent of this declaration is to find a „better answer“ to the urgent pressure climate change is putting on our country. Amongst others, this allows the use of extraordinary means for climate related topics and it forces the government to take more immediate action. The Irish delegation at COP25 in Cologne will of course act according to this mandate of its parliament in the upcoming negotiation days and also encourages other countries to do so! “

Nevertheless, as the evening moved on and some more Germen brew was consumed, the topics moved on and some tongues became more loose. Klima Anzeiger was in the thick of the action and observed how various groups got formed and strategies were discussed. 

Probably the biggest meeting of the night was held between the 28 EU countries. Despite having a populist government, the Italian delegation let it be known that “Europe stands united” during these negotiations. Rumour has it that the coalition plans to use its numerical advantage to approach other countries separately and in this way try to convince them about their ambitious goals.

Meeting of Island Country Delegates

Another significant meeting happened among island countries, where the delegate from the Maldives appears to have taken a leading role. Once again negotiation tactics seem to have been the most important topic, centring around the question whether a hard or a soft negotiation approach would yield better results. Either way the island nations appeared to be unanimous in the opinion that they deserve some special support, since they suffer consequences of climate change that they did not cause. Other rumours were yet more vague.

The gathering of west African nations seemingly failed, because a significant number of delegates turned up late. Consequently, there was no time left to convene the meeting.

Overall it seems like the delegates are ready for the negotiations, but kept their cards close to their chest. The next few days will show if the distinguished delegates will be able to reach a final consensus.

Singapore pushes for a Fuel Tax for Airlines – But can it find Partners?

Singapore – Does the little red dot stand alone, or will it find partners?

As the negotiations come closer, expectations around the world are rising. For now it remains unsure if the delegations will find a compromise to effectively tackle climate change.

An early indication may be given by the position of Singapore: It enters the negotiation with a proposal for a fuel tax for airlines. This is an ambitious position for a small, open nation dependent on access to the wider world and may lead the way for other countries.

In another proposal, Singapore aims to promote electric cars by awarding carbon credits to countries implementing what it calls “sustainable solutions”. Singapore does not specifying how exactly the mechanism would work. This proposal might turn out to be controversial, as it promotes a specific industry. Other countries also still remember the issues with the Kyoto protocol where too many carbon credits were issued, essentially making the instrument useless. 

Singapore is pushing in the right general direction. However, the crucial question will be whether Singapore can find partners to promote its ideas. As is often the case, ASEAN does not appear able to establish a common position (yet).

The coming days will show if a consensus can be reached. Singapores initiatives show that there is ambition, but the negotiating parties should not forget that no country can achieve success on its own.

Meet Your Media Team

Klima Anzeiger is an independent investigative source of information for all participants of the CEMS MUNFCCC conference in Köln. Klima Anzeiger provides daily updates, breaking news and inside scoops during the negotiations. Meet your Team!

Gregor Schafroth

Gregor Schafroth is a Swiss St.Gallen home student and spent his semester abroad at Korea University in fall 2018. As a previous country delegation member and later special environmental correspondent at The Economist he will focus on crisp reporting right to the point without failing to make a cost benefit assessment of any proposal. 

Martin Schweizer

Martin Schweizer is originally from Switzerland. He is a University of St. Gallen CEMS student and spent his semester abroad at the University of Sydney. He served Indonesia as a honourable delegate at the UNFCCC 2018 in Barcelona. Unfortunately, he was sacked after the negotiations in a not so honourable way and therefore decided to become a journalist for Fox News.

Andrin Mondstein

Andrin Monstein is a home student at the University of St. Gallen and just recently finished his CEMS exchange at London School of Economics and Political Science. As a former representative of the Norwegian delegation, he is well familiar with UNFCCC negotiations. On his popular YouTube channel he shares daily insights in his vegan life in a Siberian burrow.

Sojourner Morell

Sojourner Morrell is originally from NYC studying at Hunter College and is currently on exchange at Bocconi University in Milan. A relative newcomer to the UNFCCC meetings Sojourner is eager to join the team. Having worked internationally in the fashion industry for over a decade, Sojourner has decided to shift focus and is currently assistant executive editor at the Wall Street Journal.

Klima Anzeiger publishes media statements and positions upon request – just connect to the editorial team on Facebook, stating your name and the country you represent. In addition, Klima Anzeiger is always open to insider infos and protects the anonymity of all its sources!