COP24 dairy – day #9

Ayman Shasly, from the Saudi Arabia delegation. [Photos by IISD/ENB - Kiara Worth]

Over this special series on COP24, EURACTIV gives you a glimpse into the goings on of the UN climate conference in Katowice and what is driving the conversation there. In this edition: An update on the negotiations, postponing climate ambition, 415 institutional investors, a climate damages tax, and more.

On the negotiation side. Saturday evening saw a dramatic two and half hour in Katowice as four major oil and gas producers vetoed a proposal to “welcome” the landmark 1.5°C IPCC report,  which forms the backbone of the ongoing climate negotiations at COP24.

Instead, Russia, the United States, Saudi-Arabia and Kuwait insisted it was enough for the delegates to “take note” of the report’s conclusions. Without a consensus on how to characterise the report, this means delegates will have to resolve the matter later this week.

Brigitte Collet, France’s climate ambassador, expressed her disappointment.

And Valerie Masson-Delmotte, French climate scientist and IPCC co-chair expressed her perplexity.

“This is indeed disappointing and a very bad signal but definitely not the end of the story,” said Lola Vallejo, climate programme director at French think tank IDDRI. “This decision is putting pressure on the Polish presidency which until now chose not to focus on climate ambition,” she told EURACTIV.

David Levaï, who leads IDDRI’s activities on international cooperation for climate action, recalled that the 1.5°C IPCC report has been adopted by all parties, including the four countries opposed to welcoming it.

Still a lot to be done. Delegates did succeed to reduce the number of options in the negotiating text on the rulebook as well as give it more clarity. But there is still a lot to be done, Brune Poirson, State Secretary to Francois de Rugy, France’s Minister for Ecological Transition, told journalists at a press briefing on Monday (10 December).

The two main issues are transparency (which implies a measurement, reporting and verification process, or MRV) and finance, Poirson said.

She said she was more optimistic that delegates will be able to adopt the rulebook by the end of this week rather than seeing negotiators engage in raising climate ambition during the two-day Talanoa Dialogue (10-11 December), the political and crucial phase of the on-going negotiations.

More money. Speaking at the ministerial high-level dialogue dedicated to climate finance on Monday (10 December), Brune Poirson announced that France will add €15 million in the adaptation fund to the €5 millions it has already contributed. In addition, Paris will also contribute to the fund dedicated to the most vulnerable countries with €20 million.

Institutional investors. 415 investors representing over $32 trillion in assets issued a statement where they reiterate their full support for the Paris Agreement and strongly urge all governments to implement the actions that are needed to achieve the goals of the Agreement, “with the utmost urgency”.

While investors continue to make significant investments into the low-carbon transition across a range of asset classes, much more needs to be done by governments to accelerate the low carbon transition and to improve the resilience of our economy, society and the financial system to climate risks, the statement reads.

“The ambition gap is of great concern to investors and needs to be addressed, with urgency. It is vital for our long-term planning and asset allocation decisions that governments work closely with investors to incorporate Paris-aligned climate scenarios into their policy frameworks and energy transition pathways,” the 415 investors write.

Germany. Germanwatch, the New Climate Institute and the Climate Action Network released on Monday (10 December) its annual Climate Change Performance Index that shows Germany is falling further behind in climate protection.

The country once praised for its energy transition (the Energiewende) and for taking the lead on climate change now comes at the 27th position, five places below its rank last year.

Saudi-Arabia. In the wake of Saturday evening’s decision not to welcome the 1.5°C IPCC report, journalists received an e-mail sent by the media team of Saudi-Arabia.

Its main message: If the Kingdom does not welcome the report published last October, it is however favorable to another IPCC report, albeit between 2021 and 2022. A move that would de facto postpone action in two to three years.

The note reads:   

“Dear members of the press,

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia recognises the efforts of the IPCC in developing a comprehensive, neutral and non-policy prescriptive reports, including the 1.5°C Report.

We recognise that the current gaps, including the limited literature and scientific uncertainties in the 1.5°C Report still requires further research and analysis in order to address these gaps.

In fact, the Summary for Policy Makers of the IPCC 1.5°C Report indicates gaps and challenges across different chapters. For example, some of the gaps noted in the report itself include “impacts of mitigation on sustainable development” and the “statement for knowledge gap in the integrated assessment economy wide costs and benefits of mitigation”; while the limited literature noted in the Report includes “the literature on total mitigation costs on 1.5°C pathways.”

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is hopeful that the IPCC 6th Assessment Report will address these gaps and challenges, and that a consensus to welcome it among all parties can be reached.”

The 6th Assessment report is due in October 2021, while the synthesis report is due in June 2022.

 USA. For the second time in a row, the US delegation organised on Monday (10 December) an event aimed at supporting “clean coal”. In a remake of COP23 which took place in Bonn under the Fiji Islands presidency last year, the event turned into havoc.

Activists filled up the room while chanting “keep it in the ground” and “Shame on you”. Numerous participants waiting outside the room also started chanting with them. The representatives of the coal industry present at the event barely looked embarrassed. The action lasted half an hour before activists left the room and the event could start. Albeit, in front of an almost empty room. 

Climate damages tax. A “climate damages tax” levied on oil, gas and coal companies could raise $300 billion a year by 2030 to bail out communities paying the price of global warming, the WWF said in a proposal released on Monday (10 December).

“We recommend that the CDT is introduced in 2021 at a low initial rate of $5 per tonne of CO2, increasing by $5 per tonne each year until 2030 to $50 a tonne, with the expectation that it is increased at the rate of $10 per tonne annually after that to reach $250 a tonne by 2050. The increasing rate of tax will help incentivise the phasing out of fossil fuels by the middle of the century, and help keep CDT revenue for loss and damage at roughly $300 billion a year over this period,” the proposal reads.

It is to set up a funding facility for loss and damage so that countries and communities faced with this kind of devastation have recourse to speedy and substantial financial assistance

“There is a price for heating up the planet and to date the fossil fuel industry have fled the table without paying the bill. When climate change has brought devastation, poorest countries and communities have been left to pay,” the proposal reads, adding that it can help rectify this situation by making the fossil fuel industry pay for their damage.

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