Monday, 21 December 2009

Copenhagen fails on bunkers

In the end COP15 produced no progress whatsoever on bunker emissions or finance; in fact the texts to come out of the meeting do not even mention them. At the start of negotiations to addresses these emissions at IMO the EU made it clear that if there was no global action taken then it would prepare regional measures of its own. The EU didn't push hard enough for a fair, ambitious and binding agreement in Copenhagen but they have probably done everthing that could reasonably be expected of them to get global measures on bunker emissions and they now have a green light for regional mesures and in particular the inclusion of emissions from ships visiting EU ports in an EU emissions trading scheme.

Friday, 18 December 2009

Little news, no progress

Despite informal negotiator level drafting group meetings yesterday there has been little progress on the bunker issue. Saudi Arabia and others overnight refused to allow further "informals", suggesting instead that the issue be left to ministers. There remains many differences of opinion in the draft text and it is unclear what ministers could do with it in its present form. With only a handful of environment NGOs people still in the conference centre the information coming out of the negotiations has slowed but what there is suggests that the negotiations are still a long way from agreement on bunkers (and indeed many of the other issues) and that time is running out.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Come on EU

In a press release issued in the last hour Environment NGOs have responded to the recent Norway proposal by calling on the EU to fight back with the least developed countries and others who still believe that a strong deal is both necessary and possible.

Norway’s proposal sends responsibility for action on bunkers back to ICAO and IMO without any sense of urgency or commitment to absolute reduction targets other than a vague reference to keeping warming below 2 degrees. There is also no reference to the pivotal role that bunker revenues can play in climate finance. Norway’s proposal risks continued inaction and political paralysis. The whole idea of raising the aviation and shipping issue in Copenhagen was to use the occasion of wider negotiations to break the political deadlock and agree a fast track to introduce reduction measures. That chance is now slipping away as is the likelihood of releasing billions of dollars of urgently needed additional climate finance.

In order to break the bunkers deadlock, environmental NGOs call on:
* All delegations to act on the urgency of the situation and have Copenhagen link early global action to reduce bunker emissions to a significant program of climate finance for developing countries.
* The Copenhagen Agreement to set the level of ambition, the framework for revenue distribution and a fast track timeline to agree on global measures in ICAO and IMO.
* The United States to declare its willingness to use revenues from bunker mitigation as climate finance. Such a declaration from the USA would quickly trigger a developed country (Annex 1) offer of climate finance in return for global bunker mitigation.
* Emerging economies to agree to participate in a global bunker mitigation process or see regional measures imposed by the EU and USA without any access to the revenues generated.
* Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) to support bunker measures on the condition that routes to their countries will be exempted and revenues will flow to the most vulnerable states.
* Latin American countries to accept that any trade impacts will be low for them and, in any case, more than compensated by access to climate financing.
* OPEC to support bunker measures provided a proportion of revenues are used for clean technologies within the sector.

Bunkers in the news

This morning has seen a flurry of press interest in the bunkers issue at Copenhagen, with stories on Reuters, in The Australian national daily, and in the UK's Daily Telegraph. Gordon Brown and Richard Branson are reported as supporting action on bunkers. While Reuters is down beat, the others suggest a deal is still possible. More general reporting on the summit this morning is gloomy and the chance of bunkers bucking the trend diminished last night with the appearance of an extremely weak proposal from Norway. More on this later.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Bunkers a late finisher?

The general feeling about the talks is gloomy to say the least but hope remains that bunkers mitigation, helped by its potential to raise funds for climate adaptation, may rise to the surface of the talks and provide ministers and heads of state with a success story. While the actual negotiations have disappeared into the hallowed halls of ministers and heads of state and taken the old negotiator's text with them, the issue is increasingly visible in the comments and publications of key players in the talks. Bunkers remains high on the agenda of the host country and COP15 President, the EU presidency today described fees from maritime and aviation as "crucial" for a climate deal, and the French jointly with Ethiopia (representing the Africa Group) have called for "taxes on sea freight or air transport". A number of obstacles remain, but the future of the bunkers issue now almost certainly lies with ministers and heads of state and the intersecting of a number of other elements of the negotiations.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

US gets bunkers fossil

The fossil of the day award, given by environment and development NGOs to the country that has done most to hinder progress during the negotiations, goes to the US today for its blocking of discussions on bunker finance. The US has been supported in this by Saudi Arabia with the informal ministerial meetings making little progress as a result. Developing countries that might counterbalance the effect of the US and Saudi Arabia are having trouble covering all the meetings and have not made it to the bunkers meetings in the numbers needed.

NGO appeal to ministers

In an open letter to environment ministers attending COP15 Norwegian NGOs supported by others at the summit have today made an appeal to the Norwegian Environment Minister to show strong leadership and pilot the talks towards an ambitious and equitable outcome to reduce GHG emissions from shipping and aviation.

Norway & Singapore take the helm

The environment ministers from Norway and Singapore will today take over the bunker issue and chair a meeting with all Parties to discuss key outstanding issues: targets, finance and how to handle the issue of "common but differentiated responsibility" issue. There will be no drafting just an attempt to find the compromise that attracts most support. They are due to report back to the ministerial plenary later in the day. The choice of Norway and Singapore will be seen as unfortunate in some quarters. Norway has recently come under criticism for watering down its own bunker proposals early in the process and Singapore has been less that supportive on bunkers at ICAO and has the world's fifth largest fleet, with an open ship register ("flag of convenience").

Monday, 14 December 2009

Connie's on side

At an informal meeting this afternoon Connie Hedegaard, the President of the COP and Denmark's Climate Change Minister, emphasised the need to find innovative new sources of climate finance and specifically mentioned the billions of dollars that could be mobilised by bringing international shipping and aviation emissions into the agreement. Earlier in the day she proposed that bunkers, along with six other issues that require further high level negotiation, should be dealt with by special working groups chaired by pairs of ministers, one from the developed and one from the developing world.

Booted out

The NGOs have been booted out of the room where the President's ministerial consultations are supposed to consider bunker emissions and finance, and there is still no sign of the bunkers drafting group reforming. A joint-NGO press release has just gone out in an attempt to encourage progressive elements in the negotiations to hold their ground, and to raise the profile of the implications of failing to get a global deal on bunker emissions.

President's consultations

There's rumours that the informal drafting group on bunkers will meet later today but in the meantime the issue of bunkers has appeared on the agenda of the President's informal consultations, which were due to start at 11:30 but have been delayed until 13:30. This is the process that is meant to sort "major issues requiring political guidance". The NGO bunker group have been leafleting those entering the room with a simplified bunker message.

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Talks postponed

Having waited all day for the next meeting of the informal group on bunkers, they met only long enough to postpone any further talks until Monday.

Bunkers ECO article

Today's edition of ECO, the newsletter published by environmental NGO's attending COP15, contains an excellent summary of what is at stake for developing countries if the UNFCCC fails to tackle the bunker issue. Expect growing bunker emissions and regionalised market mechanisms with revenues going to developed countries instead of helping mitigation and adapatation in the most vulnerable parts of the world.

Africa Group miss bunkers opportunity

Following up on yesterday's poor AOSIS showing on bunkers the Africa Group late last night announced a bunkers-free proposal for a COP decision; yes not one single mention of the need for mitigation and finance despite the latter presenting a huge opportunity for financing mitigation and adaptation in the developing world, and the former threatening any prospects of meeting a 2 degrees target!

Friday, 11 December 2009

Negotiations set back

After a promising start negotiations on bunkers have taken a nasty turn. A new text discussed this afternoon defers almost entirely to the IMO and ICAO, and the hard EU targets of this morning have disappeared leaving only vague references to "sufficiently ambitious mid-term and long-term" goals. There's no resolution of the dispute over global all ships application and one can only hope that tomorrow sees a few of the developing states that would benefit from a global approach getting involved to counterbalance the effect of China, India, Saudia Arabia etc.

From seven to two

The informal bunkers drafting group met this morning to look at a new paper containing just two text options based on the previous Option 1 (Norway et al), Option 4 (EU) and old text on the use of revenues for adaptation and mitigation. The facilitators were asked to produce a single new text and the informal group will meet again this afternoon to discuss it further. The informal group has to report to LCA tomorrow so by the end of the day today we should, for better or worse, have a good idea of the shape of things to come on bunkers.

Poor AOSIS showing on bunkers

The association of small island states (AOSIS) has today published a legal text as a formal proposal for the negotiations. The group has traditionally been at the forefront of efforts to tackle climate change, with an agreed position that measures should aim to keep warming below 1.5 degrees, and environment groups are supporting their most recent initiative. Unfortunately the proposal's text on GHG emissions from bunkers is entirely inadequate with the influence of a few small island states with open ship registries (i.e., flags of convenience) clearly evident in the drafting. In particular the proposal suggests that continuing technical and operational work at IMO will be sufficient, when clear targets and timelines for work at IMO must be agreed in Copenhagen, and reductions on the scale necessary will only be possible with a suite of measures that also includes market-based instruments. Bunkers are a huge potential source of revenues for climate change adaptation and mitigation, and it is a crying shame that the interests of a few small island states with large ship registries should have been put before the obvious adaptation needs of some of the most vulnerable countries.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Targets and the European Parliament

The next few days are going to be critical in deciding whether Copenhagen can break 12 years of inaction on GHG emissions from shipping & aviation. A key issue is not just that the bodies responsible for regulating these industries (IMO and ICAO) get clear instructions from COP15 but that GHG emission reduction targets are agreed for these sectors. As talks start on the bunkers text the EU proposal for targets (-10% and -20% for aviation and shipping respectively by 2020 on a 2005 baseline), the only one in town, will come under increasing pressure. One potential ally in the fight to keep those targets in is the 45 strong delegation from the European Parliament due to arrive next week. A recent European Parliament resolution called for the EU to strengthen its position in the negotiations and for shipping and aviation to be subject to the same reduction targets as other industries.

Bunkers talks start

At last they are talking about bunker mitigation! There's still no official drafting group but informal discussions took place early this afternoon and parties involved reported progress and an agreement that the chairs of the group would produce a new composite bunkers text drawing on the 7 options and discussions during the meeting. The outcome of these discussions will have to be reported to the ad hoc working group on Long-term Cooperative Action (LCA) on Saturday so a discussion on the new draft text is likely tomorrow.

Finance mention

A small but useful development has seen finance from bunkers mentioned in a non-paper on finance and governance from the UK, Mexico, Norway and Australia. This is new for Australia and Mexico and a nice return to the issue for the UK. Finance is important because using revenues from a bunker financial instrument for mitigation and adaptation in developing countries might be a way of winning developing country support for a sectoral approach to reducing emissions from aviation and shipping.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Bunkers emission projection

Consultants AEA Technology have calculated that emissions from shipping and aviation could account for 92% of global emissions by 2050 if total emissions are cut by 80% and shipping and aviation follow a business as usual growth path. The findings are contained in a report that was presented at an EU side event this morning. These industries have done nothing to reduce their emissions since Kyoto. This clearly has to change and the report shows how important real reductions within the industry will be.

Movement on target setting

The IMO has been defending its role as the organisation that should be responsible for developing GHG mitigation measures for shipping. The Australia proposal (Option 5) argues for a shift of responsibility to the UNFCCC and others have said that if the IMO can’t do the job properly then it should be superseded. Shifting responsibility for technical work is not really an option but many are now saying that the setting of targets for shipping should take place in Copenhagen and under the auspices of UNFCCC. Surprisingly, this now appears to be the position of the IMO itself which announced yesterday in a working group here that it would implement targets and timelines agreed in Copenhagen. Norway also appears to be changing their position. In their most recent bunkers proposal (Option 1) they describe IMO establishing mid-term and long-term goals but at an IMO side event hosted by the EU today the head of the Norwegian delegation at IMO talked about Copenhagen providing a target for shipping “at least as ambitious” as the wider agreement. The International Chamber of Shipping has also said they support a Copenhagen target for shipping.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

IMO side event

Only arrived this morning and only just made it to the IMO side event where I was a panellist. Very short presentation from IMO and then questions for the panellists. I stressed the need for UNFCCC to set targets and timelines if IMO is to do anything this side of 2020, and pointed out the importance of real cuts inside the industry rather than relying on offsetting. The event was short but there was at least an exchange of views, unlike the heavily stage-managed ICAO aviation event that followed; if I was them I wouldn't want to be answering questions either.

Bunkers in leaked new draft agreement

A leaked text for a new Copenhagen agreement prepared by the Danish hosts has caused a stir today, with developing countries in particular angry at the text’s shift away from the principle of “common but differentiated responsibility”, but the paragraphs on bunkers mitigation (14) and finance (23) are not that bad. The former talks about a UNFCCC mitigation target for shipping/aviation that is then implemented at IMO/ICAO, while the latter says revenues from bunker market-based instruments should be used in developing countries. Leaked text doesn't officially exist of course and negotiations continue (officially at least) on the old texts.

Bunkers texts

I should have added previously that at the start of play here the negotiating text contained seven separate proposals (plus some extra bits) for text on bunker emissions - see pages 101-102. Option 1 is a Norway proposal, now supported by Japan, Canada and the US. Option 4 is the EU proposal with some support from developing states. Option 5 is from Australia. Option 6 was from China but looks like it might have been withdrawn. Para 26 is a Nigerian proposal with its roots in the IMERS initiative. Option 7 (delete everything) is from Kuwait! At the moment it is not clear what will happen next with these texts and we are not even sure if there will be a drafting group set up to develop them further.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Welcome to the COP15 bunkers blog

Over the next two weeks we will try and keep you up to date with developments in the negotiations that relate to greenhouse gas emissions from fuel burnt by international shipping and aviation ("bunkers" for short).

Together these sectors emit close to 1.5 bn tonnes of CO2, more than the sixth largest national GHG emitter, and emissions are projected to double or triple by 2050. Difficulties with apportioning responsibility for these emissions to individual countries resulted in them being excluded from the agreement reached in Kyoto in 1997. Developed countries were left with the responsibility for developing measures via the International Maritime Organisation and International Civil Aviation Authority but twelve years later there isn't a single legally binding measure in place.

To overcome the problem of allocating emissions environmental NGOs are advocating a global sectoral approach for both shipping and aviation, but this creates it's own problems in respect of the UNFCCC principle of common but differentiated responsibilities, with developing countries reluctant to agree to anything that applies emission reduction targets to their national shipping and aviation industries. One way around this problem may be to capitalise on the potential of both industries to raise revenues for mitigation and adaptation in develop ling countries. If market-based instruments can be used successfully to that end then bunker finance could be the key not just to getting agreement on a sectoral approach for these awkward emissions, but also generating a substantial new flow of climate finance that might help broker a wider deal in Copenhagen.

Confused? Then take a look at our FAQs document.